FLAC, MP3, WAV, AAC, OGG. Why are there so many different audio file formats and what do they mean?
All audio file types have a purpose. Different formats are suited to different use cases, such as listening to music on your phone, watching a movie at the cinema or producing a song. There are only two types of audio formats you need to be concerned about before uploading to RouteNote.
FLAC uses lossless compression. Lossless compression holds all of the original audio information in a more efficient manner than uncompressed audio such as WAV. This results in a high fidelity output, with a file size around half the original.
Smaller file sizes mean less storage and bandwidth needed. This makes FLAC perfect for a number of reasons, notably uploading and downloading music online. This is why we primarily use FLAC at RouteNote for distribution.
WAVs still remain a viable options as it’s more compatible than FLAC files, meaning it’s readable by most audio software. It’s preferred by audio producers and editors
FLAC uploads are available for both Premium and Free RouteNote users.
Unlike FLAC, MP3 uses lossy compression, meaning some information is lost in exchange for even smaller file sizes. They still remain a favourite by many stores and streaming services as they are good enough for everyday listening. The majority of data lost is discernible to most listeners, such as very low volume or high pitch sounds.
Even smaller sizes mean even less storage and bandwidth being used. With phone storage, mobile data speeds and data usage still relatively limited, this ensures MP3s are the favourite among most streaming services.
That being said, as storage and data speeds improve over time, more streamers are adopting high fidelity options. While stores and streaming services offering high fidelity music is still relatively low on the ground, there are some exceptions, with more likely to come in the future:
- Tidal – Jay-Z’s streaming service Tidal has been all about high quality streaming since its debut. Tidal offer ‘HiFi’ subscriptions for $19.99/month.
- Amazon Music HD – Amazon Music HD is the new kid on the hi-fi block, introducing its Music HD service late last year. $12.99/month for Prime members, $14.99/month for Amazon customers.
- 7digital – If it’s downloads you’re after, check out 7digital. Albums can be quite costly though, around $15-20.