If you fancy yourself as a bit of a musician, recording your own tunes from time to time is incredibly fun and useful. However, there’re so many different audio file formats to record and store your music as, it can easily get confusing.
Thankfully, we’ve put together a quick guide to choosing the best audio formats when it comes to recording music.
WAV and AIFF
These two are considered to be uncompressed or “lossless” file formats when it comes to recording and storing music. WAV files are exclusive to the Windows operating system, whilst AIFF are exclusive to Apple’s OSX. They’re both stored completely uncompressed, with no loss of quality. This also means that they can be converted between each other without any loss of quality either, despite their different origin platform.
Both WAV and AIFF can result in pretty big file sizes, but are perfect if you’re just recording music at home for your own use.
FLAC and ALAC
Free Lossless Audio Codec and Apple Lossless Audio Codec are essentially the audio versions of Zip files. FLAC and ALAC are specifically designed for audio compression and therefore allow for a file to retain quality whilst being squished in size. FLAC and ALAC files tend to be around half the size of a WAV.
If space isn’t too much of an issue and you’re looking to retain fantastic quality in your music, both FLAC and ALAC are fantastic options. What’s more, they can be converted back to WAV and AIFF easily, without any loss of quality.
MP3, AAC, WMA and Vorbis
These are known as “lossy” formats. Chances are, most of the audio files on your PC, smartphone or audio device are stored in either MP3 or one of the other lossless audio file formats. Much like with FLAC and ALAC, these file formats are all compressed, but to a point where they can’t be converted back without loss of quality.
MP3 files tend to run about 1 MB per minute and is the most popular format for storing audio files. AAC, WMA and Vorbis are also similar in technology, but nowhere near as popular as MP3.
In conclusion, MP3 looks to remain as the most popular file format for storing audio, but the other aforementioned file formats still provide a fantastic solution, depending on what you’re looking for, whether that be compression or lossless conversion.