Buzz’s Blog: On Web 3.0 and the Semantic Web

Jan 6 2012   2:24AM GMT

More on audio editing: audio formats

Roger King Roger King Profile: Roger King

Note: I have trouble uploading images to the IT Knowledge Exchange blog server.  To see this blog posting with its included image go to: sound editing.

Editing Sound.

We’re in a series of postings relating to editing sound.


See the previous postings on  cleaning audio, selecting an audio editor, and a couple of basic audio editing principles.  We have also looked at the interface to a popular audio editor, Amadeus Pro, and at basic editing in Amadeus Pro. We looked at a free audio editor, Audacity, and how one of its effects can be used to remove noise.  Most recently, we looked at the way that VST and AU plugins add power to sound editors, and then at the difference between audio editors and digital audio workstations.

Sound formats.

Today, we look at a few popular audio formats and compare them.


If you want your sound to be as close as possible to the original sound captured in the real world, wav and aiff are two very popular choices. The problem is that these uncompressed sound formats can lead to very large files.

But wav and aiff are important for capturing sound in a “lossless” way, meaning that the digital media contains all the information that is captured by the recording equipment. They serve as very good archival formats for permanent recordings that might later be edited and used in a variety of other formats.

By the way, wav, which is short for Waveform Audio Format, is a Microsoft standard. And aiff stands for Audio Interchange File Format and it was developed by Apple.


Perhaps the most popular compressed sound format is mp3. It is used heavily on the Internet. It is a proprietary format owned by the Motion Picture Experts Group, and its full name is MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3. It is highly compressed in that an audio recording in wav format might be reduced by 80 or 90% when converted to mp3.

This sort of transformation is called “lossy”, in that information is removed during the conversion process. But what is removed is for the most part not missed by the human ear. The idea is to remove frequencies not heard by people and to remove soft sounds that are drowned out by other, louder sounds.

The end result is good enough for high quality music.

A competitor of mp3 is wma, which stands for Windows Media Audio, and is also proprietary. And yes, Apple promotes mp3.

More later…

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