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Audio formats

WAV Format
It's not a new format, but rather one of the first audio-standards; WAVE-files are virtually of the same quality as data on audio-CDs and therefore offer the best quality. At the same time these files are very large (10 MB / min.), that’s why they are unsuitable for everyday exchange via the internet.

wma WMA Format
Microsoft’s response to MP3, the Windows Media Audio-standard.
Windows Media Audio among other things is firmly integrated in Microsoft’s Windows Media Player. Above all WMA offers the advantage that copyright-protected songs cannot be published any further (Digital Rights Management). That’s not the only reason why many music- and movie-corporations meanwhile decided in favor of WMA instead of MP3. Like MP3, WMA is almost predestined for the internet by offering streaming capabilities both with WMA and WMV (Windows Media Video). Sound quality is below that of Mp3 however.

ogg vorbisOGG Vorbis Format
The development of the OGG standard began in 1993, then known as “Squish”. OGG was right from the start an open source project and hence is free of any patents. It was designed as a substitute for MP3 and WMA. It looked promising but development stopped.

Although the sound-quality gets better with every further development the files are backwards compatible and can be played with older players as well. Like MP3 OGG offers encoding at variable bitrates. Using this compression parts of the song are encoded with a higher compression than others what depends on the source. OGG is also one of the very few formats that support multi-channel compression. Surround-files could theoretically be compressed with more than two channels. OGG is, like its predecessors, streamable.

vqf VQF Format
VQF is now dead. It suffered mainly of two things: first it was hardly known anywhere and secondly it took the PC about three to four times longer to convert a song in VQF than in any other format. At a bitrate of 80 kbps VQF promised the same quality MP3 does at 128 kbps - so this meant that VQF-files would take 30 % less space. Unfortunately it took twice the CPU-capacity to play VQF than MP3. R.I.P.

mp3pro mp3PRO Format
mp3PRO was supposed to be the next generation of MP3, at least that is what experts used to say. A division of the Fraunhofer Institute is working on this together with Thomson multimedia. mp3PRO is said to offer the same quality of MP3 at half the file size. This is achieved by a further compression of a tone’s high frequencies. This SBR (Spectral Band Replication) is believed to be almost loss-less and represents the PRO in the name. Like WMA mp3PRO is backwards compatible, that means mp3PRO-files can be played with common MP3-players. These files however sound very dull and rustled. In 2001 the new format was first presented to the public - now like WMA equipped with a watermark for copyright-protected files.

aac mp4 AAC Format (also called MP4)
After MP3’s marvelous success especially with the internet-users, the limits of this new format unveiled quite soon: in lower bitrates MP3 rapidly lost quality although the file size was reduced remarkably. This is where AAC (Advanced Audio Coding) comes in. Also developed by the Fraunhofer Institut the format was meant to be MP3’s successor. However the aim was not achieved, even at 96 kbps a heavy loss of quality is noticeable. However at higher bitrates, it's one of the best formats available. More and more software (Apple is strongly supporting this format) and players support this format and it may well become the future of mp3.

monkey's audio Monkey's Audio Format
This format is destined to those who want very high quality. However, it does NOT encode music as it used to, it now just compresses a music file (like Winzip would do) then uncompresses it to the full wave format. Which means file are very big even though the compression is about 50%. With that format you may just burn 2 music CDs onto 1... compared to mp3 which allows you to burn 10-12 CDs onto 1...


other mp3 help topics:

glossary - what is mp3 - legal mp3 download - streaming radio - audio formats - listen to mp3s - connect computer to stereo - cd to mp3 makers - mp3 bitrate - cda to mp3 - wav to mp3 - mp3 to wav - mp3 to cd - id3 tag - normalize mp3 - problems

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