Audio File Types – 5 Popular Options to Consider


Each audio file type has unique benefits and drawbacks. Determine which one is best for specific tasks or situations to save time and reduce stressful errors. Here are five popular audio file types and some unique differences between them.

m4a Audio File Type

M4A is an mpeg-4 audio file. It is an audio-compressed file used in the modern setting due to increased quality demand as a result of cloud storage and bigger hard drive space in contemporary computers. Music download software like Apple iTunes use .m4a instead of .mp3 because it’s smaller in size and higher in quality. Its limitations come in the form of compatibility, as a lot of software are unable to recognize the .m4a, making it ideal for only a select type of user.

A businessman in an office listening to audio on laptop.
M4A file types are compressed audio files used by Apple iTunes.

flac Audio File Type

FLAC is Free Lossless Audio Codec. It is an audio file compressed into a smaller size of the original file. What makes the .flac so important is the lossless compression can save size and promote sharing of an audio file while being able to return to the original quality standard. The near-exact amount of storage space required of the original audio file is sixty percent, a strong saving of hard drive space and time spent uploading or downloading.

mp3 Audio File Type

MP3 is mpeg audio layer 3 file format. The key feature of .mp3 files is the compression that saves valuable space while maintaining near-flawless quality of the original source of sound. This compression makes the .mp3 very popular for all mobile audio-playing devices, particularly the Apple iPod. .mp3 continues to be relevant in today’s digital landscape because it’s compatible with nearly every device capable of reading audio files.

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MP3 stays relevant among newer audio file types due to its high quality and small size.

mp4 Audio File Type

An MP4 is often mistaken as an improved version of the .mp3 file, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. The two are completely different, and the similarities come from their namesake rather than their functionality. An .mp4 audio file type is a comprehensive media extension, capable of holding audio, video and other media. The .mp4 contains data in the file, rather than code. This is important to note as .mp4 files require different codecs to implement the code artificially and allow it to be read.

wav Audio File Type

A WAV file is a Waveform Audio File that stores waveform data. The waveform data stored presents an image that demonstrates strength of volume and sound in specific parts of the .wav file. The easiest way to envision this concept is by thinking of ocean waves. The water is loudest, fullest and strongest when the wave is high. The same holds true for the waveform in the .wav. The visuals are high and large when the sound increases in the file. .wav files are usually uncompressed audio files, though it’s not a requirement of the format.

Master your understanding of the trade offs between audio file types to optimize specific audio file libraries. Strong knowledge of benefits and functionality of file types boosts efficiency.

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