Difference Between WAV and MP3 (With Table)

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Audio files are the same as any other computer files. They have digitally created copies of the analog audio signals fed into a computer. Depending on the level of clarity and sharpness required, audio files can be stored in different file formats, with different compression ratios. Highly compressed files may sometimes lose their clarity.

WAV vs MP3

The main difference between WAV and MP3 is that WAV files are uncompressed copies of the original audio signals. Thus the audio quality of WAV files is very high. MP3 on the other hand are compressed copies of the audio files. MP3 format is used to store large files and thus the audio is highly compressed.

The WAV file format is used when high-quality music is desired. In this file format, the audio files are not compressed. Thus the quality of the audio files remains intact. As the files are not compressed, this file format typically takes up a lot of space for storing the audio file.

MP3 is the most common file format used for storing and transferring audio data. The format uses an algorithm to compress the audio files for storage. As the audio is compressed, the quality of the file decreases. With higher compression, the audio further decreases, and the file may even sound distorted.

Comparison Table Between WAV and MP3

Parameters of ComparisonWAVMP3
DefinitionWAV stands for Waveform Audio File formatMP3 stands for MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3
Function FormatThe audio file is uncompressedThe audio file is largely compressed
QualityThe sound quality of the original audio signals is retainedSound quality is decreased heavily
ApplicationUsed only in high-quality CDs, professional recording, etcMost common audio format, used for storing and transferring songs
DeveloperMicrosoft and IBMMoving Pictures Experts Group

What is WAV?

WAV stands for Waveform Audio File Format. It is a digital audio file format used for storing high-quality audio files. It is primarily used for making high-quality CDs and in professional recording sessions, where the quality of the file is very important. WAV file format creates an uncompressed audio copy. As the audio files are not compressed, the quality of the original sound signals is retained in the copy. Thus a high-quality audio copy is obtained.

Because of the uncompressed storing nature of the WAV file, WAV files require a lot of disk space for storing the audio. Thus WAV files are usually larger in size for single audio files than other file formats such as MP3. Because of this, WAV files are not used as regularly as MP3 for storing songs. Because of the size of the file, transferring the files from one device to another by Bluetooth or through the internet is also not possible.

The file quality is very high in WAV format and thus it is mostly preferred by professional recording studios and other establishments for recording and storing music. It is also used for storing high-quality audio in professional CDs for recording artists.   

What is MP3?

MP3 stands for MPEG-1 Audio Layer-3 file format. The file format was created by the Moving Pictures Experts Group. It is the most common type of file format used for storing and transferring audio files. It is an algorithm-based storing format that uses an algorithm to compress the audio files for storing. Thus in this file format, the audio file is compressed before it is stored.

Compression is produced by using a lossy compression algorithm, which reduces the quality of the file. Thus in this file format, the audio file quality gets reduced. Because of the reduction in file quality, the file might sound distorted when played. Thus this format type is not usually used in a professional environment. This file format is generally used for storing music files on personal devices and also for sharing files from one device to another.

Because of the compression, the file size of the audio is reduced to a high degree. This makes it possible for sharing the file using Bluetooth or through the internet. This file format is useful for storing large sets of data as the size of individual files is reduced to a large degree, making it possible to store multiple audio files in the same disc location.

Main Differences Between WAV and MP3

  1. WAV stands for Waveform Audio File format. MP3 stands for MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3.
  2. In WAV file format, the audio file is not compressed. In MP3 file format, the audio file is heavily compressed.
  3. In WAV format, the sound quality of the original audio is retained in the copy. In MP3 format, the sound quality is highly reduced.
  4. WAV file format is used only in for professional recording sessions and for storing the original recorded file in CDs. MP3 is the most common file storage format and it is used for storing music files in personal devices and also for sharing files through internet, Bluetooth etc.
  5. WAV format was first created by Microsoft and IBM. MP3 file format was created by Moving Pictures Experts Group.

Conclusion

Audio files in computers and other electronic devices are stored in a digital format. These files are converted from their original analog format into a digital format that can be interpreted by a device such as a digital music player or a computer.

There are different types of digital formats for storing audio files. The most common type is the MP3 file format. In this format, the audio files are compressed before storing.

This is a universal file format and thus all electronic devices can access files stored in this format.

WAV is another audio file storage format but it is not as commonly used as MP3. In this format, the audio files are not compressed and thus the original quality of the audio is retained. Because of the high-quality storage offered by the file format, it is the preferred format for professional recording artists for storing their recording samples.         

References

  1. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/6288233/
  2. https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-642-03070-3_44
  3. https://books.google.co.in/books?hl=en&lr=&id=O9bcwTHMpN0C&oi=fnd&pg=PR7&dq=MP3+format&ots=BjvRV5sJE1&sig=klK3OVvDR0_fdhdj4vgIXX3WI_4
  4. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/769875/
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