There is a great deal of confusion in the world of audio these days because there are so many different types of audio files. It’s become difficult for many people to keep track of all the options. If you need to convert your audio files because something won’t play on one of your devices, or you need to use a different file type in order to send or submit it, there is a lot of confusion about what file type to use.
Does File Type Matter When Converting Your Audio Files?
One thing you definitely must be aware of is that when you covert your audio files from one format to another, you may be hurting the quality of the music if you’re not careful. There are times when it makes sense to do this, but you want to be sure that you are aware of WHEN you’re doing it, because depending upon the specific type of conversion you make, you may not be able to backtrack.
Lossy vs Lossless
It’s important to understand the difference between a lossy format and lossless when you’re converting your audio files. The big word to key on in this explanation is “loss”. In simple terms, a lossy audio track has lost something from the original and a lossless format has not.
Let’s start with an easy example. When you rip your own music from a CD, you have a choice on how you want to save that audio file. If you want to save the audio file and retain the highest possible quality, you should save it as a lossless file. This means the original files basically remain intact, so when you play the music from your file, it will be as close as possible as it would be playing it from the cd (taking your speakers into account). The problem with this is that lossless files are usually very large. Depending upon the amount of music you have and the storage space you have available, this can quickly become a significant problem.
If you save the file in a lossy format, it will be much smaller in size. That saves on storage space and also makes it much quicker to download. However, the trade-off is when you use the lossy format, you’re actually removing chunks of data.
That loss of data is going to have an impact on the quality of the music. However, how much of an impact it has will depend upon what kind of an ear you have, how much quality you actually want, and how you listen to your music.
When converting your audio files, many people make the argument that unless you are a “professional level listener” and always use the absolute highest quality of speakers, that you’ll never notice the difference between the two formats.
If you are the average person who just wants to listen to good music and has decent speakers or headphones, chances are you will never even notice the difference. If that is the case, it makes sense when you’re converting your audio fies, to use the lossy audio format and save the space.
Some of the more popular lossless formats are WAV, AIFF, FLAC, Apple Lossless and APE. Some of the more popular lossy formats are MP3, AAC, OGG.
It is important to keep this in mind when you are converting your audio files.