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Which format is best WMA or WAV or MP3?


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spoonthumb spoonthumb is offline
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09-Aug-2010, 10:10 AM #1
Which format is best WMA or WAV or MP3?
I have read many threads and would imagine many people are confused by it all. I work in the industry and would like to clear things up a bit.

If you listen to classical music then you should aim to have all your music stored digitally on nothing less than FLAC.
The reason being that once you start compressing classical music performed by a full orchestra you start losing the scale of the piece. The position of the instruments is very important to the whole image of the piece and compression will lose much of the sense of space between them all.

If you listen to pop music i.e, rock, r&b, indie etc, you will lose information only important to big money systems. Listen to e.g. Britney at 192 bitrate mp3 file on a portable stereo will make no difference than a 320 mp3 file. Listen to it on a decent hi-fi from a good pair of Headphones and you will notice a difference.

Imagine how many instruments went into making the music you listen to, how you are going to listen to it and you decide how you will store it. If you paid more that 150 pounds for your system then MP3 80 bitrate is a no no. If you paid over 500 Pounds for it then under 192 bitrate is definately a no no and best avoid mp3 too. In general, a guitar or 2, a drummer and a keyboard don't have too much information to worry about, 192 mp3, WMA or WAV will do fine (roughly speaking). More is best though and who knows maybe tommorrow you will update that system or those headphones, so why not save in the best quality your space will allow?
A decent music system would be made up of a separate amplifier, CD player, turntable if you have vinyl and speakers from a reputable manufacturer. Look online at some of the magazines like What hi-fi or hi-fi choice for an idea of what is decent or not. For about 400 pounds you can get a great amp, cd player and speakers. Then you need to start worrying more about how your music is stored.
Once you compress it you CANNOT go back. It's like cutting your hair, if you cut it too short then it's too short. Pull as much as you like it won't get longer.
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Rafael757 Rafael757 is offline
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09-Aug-2010, 11:12 AM #2
hello, i think u should use mp3 other than the others, the simple reason that it has a higher quality and most of today's technology (as in mp3 players) like ipods only play mp3's so use mp3 (its what i always use)
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09-Aug-2010, 11:43 AM #3
The best sound you can get is with a high-end stereo and vinyl LP's, analog is still better than digital. But there's a limited selection of vinyl, so the next choice is digital media. DVD-Audio is better than CD-Audio but again there's a limited selection, so most of your music on disc media will be CD's.

Now when you're talking about music stored on a hard drive the most common, uncompressed format is WAV files. If you're concerned about quality then that's the format you should use, the problem is that they are very large files. But now that you can get high capacity hard drives fairly cheaply it's not as big a problem as it used to be.

I have a CD I just saved as WAV files and it's about 500MB. So if 1GB = 2 CD's you could get about 2000 CD's on a 1TB drive which are now common. The advantage of saving WAV files is that you can compress them to many different formats later on if you need to while still saving the original.

When you consider compressed audio the most popular lossless format is FLAC and the most popular lossy format is MP3. The advantage of compressed formats is that you can fit a lot of music in small amount of space which makes them perfect for portable players. When you listen to an Mp3 player most of the time you use earbuds, so it's hard to tell the difference between a WAV file and an Mp3 file. If you going to use Mp3 files the best quality bitrate is 320kbps, CBR.

There are also a whole bunch of other formats: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audio_file_format
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10-Aug-2010, 12:51 AM #4
"Best" is just too subjective.
I listen to all kinds of music,including a great deal of classical, and I can't tell any difference between formats except very low bit rate MP3s.
I realize this is partly due to my untrained, probably low-rent hearing, but most people aren't trained musicians or audiophiles, so whatever works is fine for us.
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10-Aug-2010, 02:28 AM #5
Yes good points. The topic in this thread is not which is the best way to listen to music but which is the best way to store it. I hope some will find the information useful as it only sets out to clear some of the confusion. Maybe i just confused people even more. However you choose to store it or listen to it, the important thing is to enjoy it. If you don't because of your equipment or because its not clear enough, then perhaps what i have said may help. If you are happy with your music then listen on and don't try to fix it. Enjoy.
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10-Aug-2010, 02:41 AM #6
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hughv View Post
"Best" is just too subjective.
I listen to all kinds of music,including a great deal of classical, and I can't tell any difference between formats except very low bit rate MP3s.
I realize this is partly due to my untrained, probably low-rent hearing, but most people aren't trained musicians or audiophiles, so whatever works is fine for us.
As it is, the tendency among many is to render sounds into forms that achieve perfection well beyond the ability of any human ears to hear. That is partially due to the belief that the "hearable" will be better quality if even the unhearable is rendered. It may be more superstition than anything and your "low-rent" hearing may be just as good as anyone's.

For good sound, you want uncompressed formats like wav (cda). But for storage, wma probably has the best quality. But you need to go with the flow. Since the vast majority of people use mp3, you will be at a disadvantage to use something else. It's really as simple as that.
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