WAV vs FLAC

As someone working with audio, you may have to bounce things down to one format or another due to the needs or requests of a client. In tat case you will want to know what formats exist as well as their specifications, benefits and shortcomings. This article is going to compare two such audio types that are popular among engineers and applications, WAV and FLAC.

The WAV Format

WAV File

WAV is an acronym for Waveform Audio File Format. Initially released and supported in 1991 by Microsoft and IBM the WAV is compatible with Macintosh computers as well as terminals partisioned with the Linux kernel. It is capable of holding both compressed and uncompressed audio data, making it quite flexible for a varieety of needs. It is the standard format for CD audio in which it runs in stereo (two channels, though 65,536 are possible) at 44,100 samples per second (but has a range of 1 HZ to 4.3 GHz) with 16 bits per sample. One major downside of this format is the size of an audio file, which are limited to 4 GB. Even average length songs could be very large making file sharing difficult or limited in the early days of the Internet when broadband access as rare.

The FLAC Format

FLAC File

FLAC stands for Free Lossless Audio Codec. As you can imagine this format is lossless, meaning the files can be compressed but the end result experiences no information is lost. The listening experience and quality are retained for the audience. As much as half of the original file size can be reduced making this format popular for computer users. However, it has an open source history dating back to only 2001. The FLAC is scalable from 3 to 32 bits per sample as well as a sampling rate between 1 Hz and 655,350 Hz.

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