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The Difference Between MP3 and WAV Files

September 27, 2017 - By  
Categories: Digital Audio, The Lounge

Sound files on your computer come in many formats. The formats most commonly used are WAV and MP3. What is the difference between WAV and MP3? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each? How do you convert a WAV file to an MP3 file and vice-versa?

What is a WAV file?

A WAV file is a Waveform Audio File Format. It is the standard file type used for uncompressed audio on PCs. WAV’s are lossless and raw, containing a sound akin to CDs, not vinyls, tapes, or highly compressed MP3’s. (That is, if the WAV file’s bitrate is 16 bit / 44.1 bkps.)

What are the the advantages of WAV files?

WAV files have a “crisp,” uncompressed sound quality, when 16 bit / 44.1 kbps bitrate is used. (With much lower bitrate, WAV’s sound “dirty.”) Also, WAV files “loop” smoother in beatmaking programs.

What are the disadvantages of WAV files?

When containing the optimum sound quality, WAV files are high in disk space. A WAV file of one four-minute song can be about 35 MB.

What is an MP3 file?

An MP3 is the sound portion of an MPEG file. The audio is compressed to approximately one-tenth of its original size (the size of a file with its equal length in WAV format). If compressed tight enough (to a low enough bitrate), you can hear a decrease in the sound quality.

What are the advantages of MP3 files?

MP3’s contain lower file size. You can use them for emailing, embedding, web pages, and web videos.

What are the disadvantages of MP3 files?

You don’t get the “perfect” uncompressed quality audio from WAV files. However, if you want an MP3 with “crisp” sound and minimal disk space, use 128 kbps as a bitrate.

Also, MP3’s are bad for “looping,” if you are trying to “loop” a sound with a beatmaking program.

How do I convert MP3’s to WAV’s and vice-versa?

If you’ve been following my tutorials, you most likely own FL Studio. Let’s use that to convert. Shall we? (I recommend PC users do this.)

If you are converting an MP3 file to a WAV file, or the other way around, begin by searching for that file on your hard drive. Most likely, if you open FL Studio, you will be unable to see that file’s name on the display at the left of the opening screen. This is because FL Studio only displays files from this destination.

“Program Files (x86) > image-line > fl studio 12 > data > patches > packs.”

Once you locate your file, copy or move it to the directory above. I recommend copying or moving that file to its own folder, under “packs.” Give it a name like “NEW STUFF.”

Once your file is in that directory, you should find it on the FL Studio display area. When you find it, drag it to the playlist. After your file ends up in the playlist, route it to a mixer track, but don’t change the volume.

To silence the “fruity limiter” in the mixing board’s “master” channel, left-click the tiny green “dot” to the right of the slot reading “fruity limiter.”

Now once your file is on the playlist, go to File (on the top left of the screen) and choose Export.

This will give you a choice of exporting to WAV file or MP3 file. With the option you select, choose the default quality for the best sound.



Another note on the difference from MP3’s and WAV’s…

Remember when downloading songs was first permissible? Back in the late ’90s to early 2000s, file sharing sites started allowing computer users to download songs for free. These were MP3’s, not WAV’s. If they were WAV’s, they’d sound uncompressed and “crisp,” but they’d take FOREVER TO DOWNLOAD!!! Considering the limitations of Internet connection speed and computer disk space at the turn of the century, I see why.

Only now, we can use WAV or MP3’s with that 128 bitrate I mentioned, and you’ll hardly know the difference.

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Posted In:  Digital Audio The Lounge

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