Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
WAV (or WAVE), short for WAVEform audio format, is a Microsoft and IBM audio file format standard for storing audio on PCs. It is a variant of the RIFF bitstream format method for storing data in "chunks", and thus also close to the IFF and the AIFF format used on Macintosh computers. It takes into account some peculiarities of the Intel CPU such as little endian byte order. The RIFF format acts as a "wrapper" for various audio compression codecs. It is the main format used on Windows systems for raw audio.
Though a WAV file can hold audio compressed with any codec, by far the most common format is PCM audio data. Since PCM uses an uncompressed, lossless storage method which keeps all the samples of an audio track, professional users or audio experts may use the WAV format for maximum audio quality. WAV audio can also be edited and manipulated with relative ease using software.
As file sharing over the Internet has become popular, the WAV format has declined in popularity, primarily because uncompressed WAV files are quite large. More frequently, compressed but lossy formats such as MP3, Ogg Vorbis and Advanced Audio Coding are used to store and transfer audio, since their smaller file sizes allow for faster transfers over the Internet, and large collections of files consume only a conservative amount of disk space. There are also more efficient lossless codecs available, such as Monkey's Audio, FLAC, TTA or Apple Lossless.
- A summary of the WAVE file format
- Another summary of WAVE file format. This page also includes a list of the various compression codes supported by WAV format (that is, in addition to PCM, also uLaw, aLoaw, ADPCM, GSM)
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