Audio file format

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A file format for storing audio data on a computer system. There are many file formats for storing audio files.

It's important to distinguish file format and codec, even though most audio file formats support only one audio codec.

Today, one of the most popular audio format/codecs is MP3, which provides acceptable lossy compression for music files.

There are many newer audio formats and codecs, like OGG/Vorbis and WMA which claim to achieve improved compression and quality vs. MP3. While some improvements are unquestionable, format/codec advocates often exaggerate them.

Lossless compression of sound is not nearly as widely used outside of professional applications, as lossy compression can provide a much greater compression ratio, with nearly the same apparent quality.

There are many uncompressed data formats, most popular of them being WAV, which is a flexible file format designed to store multiple types of audio data. A similar approach can be found in the AIFF format.

See also: audio compression, audio codecs