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What is WAV?

Audio Format Description

WAV (or WAVE), shortening for Waveform audio format, this standard Microsoft and IBM audio file format was created for storing audio on PCs. It is a version of the RIFF bitstream format method good for storing data in "chunks", and thus also close to the IFF and the AIFF format used on Amiga and Macintosh computers, respectively. It is the primary audio format which is now in use on Windows systems for raw audio.

WAV format contains uncompressed audio in PCM format (i.e. pulse-code modulation). PCM audio contains two channels of 44,100 samples per second, 16 bits per sample. Such lossless storage method keeps all the samples of an audio track. That is why WAV format is extensively used by professional users and audio experts for maximum audio quality. WAV audio can also be edited and manipulated with relative ease using software. It is the standard audio file format for CDs.

Uncompressed WAV files are quite large in size, so, as file sharing over the Internet has become popular, the WAV format has declined in popularity. However, it is still a widely used, relatively "pure", i.e. lossless, file type, suitable for retaining "first generation" archived files of high quality, or use on a system where high fidelity sound is required and disk space is not restricted. Still many people prefer to rip CD to WAV to retain original quality.

In spite of their large size, uncompressed WAV (though that format can be different from the Microsoft WAV) files are sometimes used by a few radio broadcasters, especially those that adopted the tapeless system "D-Cart", which was developed by the Australian broadcaster ABC. Non compressed formats are used in this application to preserve sound quality, and have become more economical as the cost of data storage has dropped. In the system of "D-Cart", the sampling rate of WAV files is usually at a 48 kHz 16 bit stereo, which is identical to that of the Digital Audio Tape.

N.B.: Audio CDs do not use WAV as their sound format, using instead Red Book audio. The commonality is that both audio CDs and WAV files have the audio data encoded in PCM. WAV is a data file format for computer use that can't be understood by CD players directly. To record WAV files to an Audio CD the file headers must be stripped and the remaining PCM data written directly to the disc as individual tracks with zero padding added to match the CDs sector size.


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User-friendly WAV Converter

More frequently, the smaller file sizes of compressed but lossy formats such as MP3, ATRAC, AAC, (Ogg)Vorbis and WMA are used to store and transfer audio. Their small file sizes allow faster Internet transmission, as well as lower consumption of space on memory media. However, lossy formats trade off smaller file size against loss of audio quality, as all such compression algorithms compromise available signal detail. Try Factory Audio Converter. It is truly easy-to-use, requires no skills and does the job perfectly. Download it now to convert to and from WAV in 3 easy steps.

  • FLAC to WAV
  • OGG to WAV
  • APE to WAV
  • WAV to AAC
  • WAV to MP3
  • WAV to WMA
  • WAV to FLAC
  • WAV to OGG
  • WAV to APE
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Tutorials

CDA to WAV

Step-by-step tutorial with screenshots describing how to rip CDs to WAV.
 

WAV to MP3

How to convert WAV files to MP3 with comfort.
 
 

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Edward Appleton, English physicist