Many people often talk about headphones, speakers, DACs/Amps, or wires when enjoying the sound. But perhaps clean water must be taken from the source, even if you invest a hundred thousand dollars for a super high-end sound system, but your music source is of low quality; it’s no good!
Today, we will find out the music file formats available on the market and whether any are the best? In general, music is divided into three main categories:
Highest quality music: Uncompressed files
The name says it all; uncompressed music is recorded from the studio and converted to digital form without further editing. Therefore, this is the highest quality music but also has the largest capacity, about 34MB for a minute of 24-bit 96KHz music.
– PCM (Pulse-Code Modulation): This is the most commonly used music file type on CDs and DVDs, measured by two metrics. The sampling frequency (the number of electronic sampling times to see if it is the same as the analog format self or not) and bit depth how many bits are used to represent a sampling.)
– WAV (Waveform Audio File Format): Developed by Microsoft and IBM in 1991. That is one of the most popular high-quality music, often packaged in the PCM format above for easier use by users.
– AIFF (Audio Interchange File Format): is a high-quality music format developed by Apple in 1988. AIFF has many different types for use in different applications, but the type of user is also packaged in PCM format for ease of use. This type of music is not as popular as WAV.
Best trade-off: High-quality compressed music files
These are music file types, although compressed, through intelligent compression methods should preserve almost all the quality from uncompressed file types.
FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) is the most popular music file type in this category, developed since 2001. FLAC can compress original music down to 60% capacity, but with very high quality or even equal to the original. Another advantage is that FLAC is not copyrighted, can be used on all devices, so many people love to use this file type.
– ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec): this can be understood as Apple’s FLAC, developed in 2011. The quality of ALAC is also quite good, but we often see this file in iTunes and iOS more than other types of devices.
Popular but worst quality: Massively compressed music files
Compressed music is being used the most online and offline with the advantage of small to very small size. In most cases, the type of music is still considered ‘adequate,’ but those serious about listening to music should look for higher quality types.
– MP3 (MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3): the most popular music file today, developed since 1993. It’s common to every music player called “MP3 players”!MP3 also has many types; some are so compressed that the quality is reduced to a bad level, but some are considered good, like MP3 320kbps.
– AAC (Advanced Audio Coding): was developed in 1997 to replace MP3 completely, did not do this but has a certain popularity. This form of music has higher compression efficiency, so the quality is usually higher than MP3 and is used in Youtube, Nintendo, and Playstation.
– OGG: An open-source music file developed in 2000, similar to AAC, has better quality compression than MP3, but because the other two file types are so famous, OGG is almost not used by anyone.
So what file type is for you?
– For those who record and edit audio: Use uncompressed file type to keep the highest quality.
– For casual music listeners: Use MP3 as it is the most common file type, but try to find music with a bit rate of 256kbps or higher.
– For serious music listeners: Use WAV or FLAC, the two most popular high-quality music formats. DSD is even higher quality music, but not as popular nowadays!
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