We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Are Audio Files?

By R. Kayne
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
EasyTechJunkie is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At EasyTechJunkie, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Audio files are sound files, or files that play a sound when clicked on. One of the most common audio formats is the wave file, or [filenamehere].wav. Another is the MP3 file, or [filenamehere].mp3. The type of audio format used is indicated by the file extension – the last three letters following the dot. Standard audio players included with operating systems will play common types of audio files, but more exotic sound formats might require downloading codecs for the player to extend its capabilities.

The ubiquitous wave format was developed by Microsoft® and IBM&reg, with Apple® offering up a compatible standard known as the Audio Interchange File Format (AIFF). Both types of files will play on IBM and Macintosh computers. WAV and AIFF are two types of lossless audio formats, or audio files that store the original audio bitstream source without any loss of quality. These formats were originally used for operating system sounds, such as beeps, chimes and spoken messages. As people began customizing their systems, short sound clips from movies and television or favorite song snippets became widely available online as wave files.

A potential drawback of the lossless format is its large footprint due to its high quality. When people began copying music CDs to computer, they quickly learned that ripping to WAV could consume as much as 5BM per minute. A four-minute song might result in a 20MB wave file. Online multimedia content presented another problem, as a lossless audio stream was too bulky to easily download, especially over the standard connection of the day, which at the time was dial-up. Development of compressed files or lossy formats like MP3 answered the call.

A compressed sound file sacrifices some loss in quality (hence the term “lossy”) as a tradeoff for a smaller footprint or file size. MP3 audio files are a perfect example. A 20MB wave file can be converted to MP3 format, resulting in a file that’s just a few megabytes in size. Other lossy formats include Ogg Vorbis (.ogg), Advanced Audio Coding (.acc) or MP4 (.mp4), and Windows® Media Audio (.wma). ACC/MP4 files are slightly smaller in size than MP3s with an encoding scheme that purportedly results in higher quality sound than MP3s. However, many sources claim OGG generates the best lossy audio files, smaller than MP4s with equal or better sound quality.

Going from wave to a lossy format the loss of quality should be minimal though audiophiles will be able to discern the difference. For this reason, many music lovers choose to archive music in lossless formats like WAV or AIFF, then generate lossy files as needed from the originals. Lossy files are fine for use with portable players where storage is limited and quality isn’t as critical. Untrained ears likely won’t hear the difference between an original wave file and its slimmed down lossy counterpart, but keep those lossless originals for burning CDs or playing through the home entertainment center.

Other types of audio files are embedded in “container” formats used for movie files that include sound. Apple’s QuickTime®, RealNetwork’s RealMedia®, and Microsoft’s Audio Video Interleave® (AVI) are a few examples.

EasyTechJunkie is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Soulfox — On Apr 05, 2014

@Markerrag -- developments in new compressed formats doesn't matter just a whole lot at this point, does it? Every media player out there -- even those in cars -- will handle MP3 files. That is the industry standard and it's not likely to change anytime soon.

Look at it this way -- Ogg Vorbis may produce better sounding files and the MP3 format does, but so what? That CD player in your car will read a disc full of MP3 files, but probably won't read OGG ones. That being the case, which format will you want for your car? The answer to that is obvious.

By Markerrag — On Apr 05, 2014

Out of all the "lossy" file formats, MP3 has become the standard over the years. The term lossy is more than a bit misleading -- you do lose some fidelity, but can most people honestly hear the difference on anything but very high end equipment? Probably not.

By the way, the fact MP3 files are so small has contributed a great deal to music piracy. While that probably wasn't the reason the format was developed, it is hard to deny that sharing a 3 MB file is a lot easier than dealing with one that is 20 MB. Even when people commonly used dial-up Internet connections, it didn't take an unreasonable amount of time to download one MP3 file or even a whole album made up of them. The same wasn't true of hefty WAV files.

EasyTechJunkie, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

EasyTechJunkie, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.