WAV or MP3, what should I use?

When you master a track through MasteringBOX you can choose between WAV and MP3 formats. But which format is better for you? To make things simple we have a quick resume for you:

Use WAV files for CD, iTunes/Google Play, TV, radio, DVD, video or any other media requiring best audio quality. WAV files are uncompressed and lossless, this file format is required in most online music stores such as iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, AudioJungle, etc.

Use MP3 files for web, web videos, in fact for anything on the Internet. This is why label it as “Web Optimized”. An MP3 file is a compressed music file that loads fast and plays with a reasonably good sound quality. There are different levels of possible compression and at MasteringBOX we use the maximum possible which is 320Kbps, considering the actual bandwidth of most users we feel it’s the way to go.

However, there’re many reasons to always choose WAV for your Master, these are the top 5:

1) WAV is more versatile as it provides an uncompressed audio file which can be converted into other lossy formats if needed, while MP3 is already a lossy format and converting it to WAV will result in a quality loss. You will probably need WAV format for your track in the near future.

2) A 44,100 kHz 16-bit WAV has a full frequency response up to 22KHz, MP3 cuts off around the 18KHz mark. We can hear up to 22Khz depending on the age.

3) Even though most humans can’t hear above 20KHz, missing high frequencies perceive how you hear lower frequencies.  More info here.

4) Encoding process can cause clipping on louder masters, this distortion can’t be removed when converting back to WAV. The encoding may also cause small tempo and length variations.

5) Storage is so affordable these days, there’s no argument for saving a lower quality file.

Obviously, the Mp3 format has one clear advantage at MasteringBOX, it’s free, and we all like free stuff! But it may be worth having a top quality output for little money.


Post image under Creative Commons attribute license by Vancouver Film School.

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