MP3, WAV, FLAC or APE: which one has the better sound quality?

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In summary, it seems that WAV files are the best format for sound quality. They are heavier than other formats, but they result in the best sound quality.
  • #1
MathematicalPhysicist
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It seems to me though WAV files are heavier than the others in bytes it has the best sound quality.

It's interesting since nowadays you can download more quickly (who knows perhaps this is also a lie... :cool: ) files, so why bother for MP3 or FLAC, the good old WAV file is da best!

Unless of course you have constant interruptions in your internet connection.

YEAH I know I am old since I still listen to music through winamp... :oldbiggrin:
 
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  • #3
jedishrfu said:
Most files now seem to mp4 based
I think you mean mp3.

MathematicalPhysicist said:
It seems to me though WAV files are heavier than the others in bytes it has the best sound quality.
APE and FLAC are lossless formats so unless there is a flaw in your software they result in exactly the same data being sent to the DAC as from a WAV file and therefore identical output waveforms. APE is proprietory whereas FLAC is an open format and is more widely supported.

At a sufficiently high bit rate the difference between the output waveform from mp3 data and the source becomes audibly insignificant. How high this bit rate is depends on the nature of the source and the characteristics of the DAC and amplification equipment, but it is often considered that the maximum bit rate of 320 Kbps is sufficient for any sonically relevant criteria (data from a normal stereo audio CD or WAV file is 1,411 Kbps).
 
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  • #4
pbuk said:
I think you mean mp3.APE and FLAC are lossless formats so unless there is a flaw in your software they result in exactly the same data being sent to the DAC as from a WAV file and therefore identical output waveforms. APE is proprietory whereas FLAC is an open format and is more widely supported.

At a sufficiently high bit rate the difference between the output waveform from mp3 data and the source becomes audibly insignificant. How high this bit rate is depends on the nature of the source and the characteristics of the DAC and amplification equipment, but it is often considered that the maximum bit rate of 320bps is sufficient for any sonically relevant criteria (data from a normal stereo audio CD or WAV file is 1,411 kbps).
What sort of sonically criteria are there?
 
  • #5
Well it is possible for a WAV file to encode a transient from -32,768 to +32,767 in 1/44,000 s, but no audio equipment is capable of reproducing this and no real audio source contains such a transient, so the fact that an mp3 file would not encode such a transient faithfully is not sonically relevant.
 
  • #6
True, I tend to view mp4 files more than listen to MP3 music.
 
  • #7
pbuk said:
(data from a normal stereo audio CD or WAV file is 1,411 kbps).
1411 kbps?
 
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  • #8
sysprog said:
1411 kbps?
Yes Kbps: it was the 320 bps that was wrong: I have corrected it, thanks.
 
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Related to MP3, WAV, FLAC or APE: which one has the better sound quality?

1. What is the difference between MP3, WAV, FLAC, and APE files?

MP3, WAV, FLAC, and APE are all different audio file formats. MP3 is a compressed audio format, meaning it takes up less space on a device but sacrifices some sound quality. WAV is a lossless audio format, meaning it preserves all of the original audio data with no quality loss. FLAC is also a lossless format, but it uses a more efficient compression algorithm than WAV. APE is another lossless format, but it is not as widely used as FLAC.

2. Which audio format has the best sound quality?

Technically, WAV and FLAC have the best sound quality because they are lossless formats and do not sacrifice any audio data. However, the difference in quality between these two formats is often indistinguishable to the human ear. MP3 and APE, on the other hand, do have a noticeable decrease in sound quality compared to WAV and FLAC due to their compression methods.

3. Can you convert between these audio formats without losing sound quality?

Yes, you can convert between these audio formats without losing sound quality as long as you are converting to a lossless format. For example, converting from WAV to FLAC will not result in any loss of audio data. However, converting from MP3 to WAV or FLAC will still result in a decrease in sound quality due to the initial compression used in the MP3 file.

4. Which audio format is best for storing and archiving music?

For storing and archiving music, FLAC is the preferred format. This is because it is a lossless format, meaning it preserves all of the original audio data. This ensures that the music will remain at the highest possible quality, and it can always be converted to other formats later if needed.

5. Are there any other factors besides sound quality to consider when choosing an audio format?

Yes, there are other factors to consider when choosing an audio format. One important factor is compatibility – some devices may not support certain audio formats. Another factor is file size – lossless formats like WAV and FLAC will take up more space on a device compared to compressed formats like MP3. Additionally, some audio formats may have specific features or limitations, such as APE not being able to support metadata like song titles and artist names.

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