Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Fundamental File Formats - Part 6


There are lots of types of audio files available for computers.  5 important ones are used frequently for basic computer users.

  • .mid/.midi this is a format used for synthesizers and keyboard and was an early audio type. Occasionally you can still find files in this format used for games and they can be added to PowerPoint presentations.

  • .mp3 format is the most popular format for music files.  .mp3 format is a compressed format that allows for smaller file sizes. It has been around since the 90's and was made widely know by Napster a file sharing tool that made sharing of .mp3 files a common but illegal practice.  This is still widely used and you can purchase .mp3 files from Walmart.com, Amazon.com, and other legitimate sources. This format is convenient because you can transfer the file to other computers and devices and it will play.

  • .wav format is an uncompressed format which means typically larger file size.  The recording features on Windows uses this format to create audio files. These files are often used to add sounds to system events like opening or closing a window. .wav files are also the format used to add sound effects to animation and events in Microsoft's PowerPoint.

  • .aac format is a compressed format that was popularized by iTunes.  Apple uses this format to distribute the songs it sells on iTunes. This format allows for drm or digital rights management which allows Apple to create limits on the number of devices that can play the song and prevents unauthorized users from using it.  The requirement for drm on iTunes was recently changed and songs from iTunes are now drm free.

  • .wma is short for  Windows Media Audio and is similar in nature to .aac. It is a drm format that was developed for Windows.  Like .aac it is a compressed format that uses better compression techniques than .mp3 which means both .aac files and .wma files can maintain a higher fidelity with a smaller file size than .aac

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