There are three groups of audio file formats:
- Uncompressed audio formats: WAV, AIFF, AU or raw header-less PCM
-Formats with lossless compression: FLAC, Monkey's Audio (filename extension APE), WavPack (filename extension WV), Shorten, TTA, ATRAC Advanced Lossless, Apple Lossless, MPEG-4 SLS, MPEG-4 ALS, MPEG-4 DST, Windows Media Audio Lossless (WMA Lossless).
-Formats with lossy compression: MP3, Vorbis, Musepack, AAC, ATRAC and lossy Windows Media Audio (WMA).
There are many audio formats: the usual, which we use every day on our computer, on our players, or on CD players: mp3, or in some cases wma and so on. I personally use mp3, because if its kbps is around 256 – 320 then the quality is perfect and it doesn’t require a big space on your hard drive. For example if 4 minute mp3 music in 320 kbps is 8 – 10 MB then that music in a wav format will be around 30 MB. Very rarely I use wma (Windows Media Audio); somehow I don’t like it so much.
In studios when a band is recording a song nowadays the best way to keep the quality of their instruments sound, is the digital way (but a vinyl record is somehow better, right?). But how do they do that? They record it into a computer (into a PC just like yours in some cases) with really high quality cables and extremely expensive (also the best) sound cards, so the background noise it’s eliminated. After the recording is done, they save it in a wav file format which is the best so far. I remember when I downloaded an album from a band’s website and they asked me in which format do I want to buy it: wav (they said it is CD quality), or mp3 (not as good as the CD quality but it’s almost the same). To be honest I chose the wav file format because the sound quality is much better as the mp3’s. And if I want to listen on my mp3 or mp4 player I just use Adobe Audition 3.0 to convert the wav format into an mp3 file format. But there are many more wav converter software products.
So in my opinion, if you really want to enjoy high quality music you should use the wav format. But a nice mp3 format with at least 192 kbps does its job too. If you want to listen to a digital audio book then the Ogg Vorbis is the best for you. But if you want to enjoy a symphony then try to buy the them in FLAC format. Believe me, this is the best for symphony.