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This is why the same music sounds different
Understanding audio file types and it's trade offs.
Hello to you Friend! We’re counting down to the end of 2019, and the long-awaited 2020 is finally here. I used to joke when I was in my 10s that I would get married by the year 2020, but nature had it’s plans - LOL.
Have you ever bought a super quality expensive headphone, just to try it on with your favourite song to realize it sucks? Today, we’d be learning how best to enjoy listening to almost anything - the developer way - Yeeks!
The base understanding of audio file types is knowing it has compressed and raw audio. There are degrees to both of the 2(two) types. For example, 100% quality would be listening to a live band - nothing sounds better. A joyful moment for me was in a restaurant where a live band was playing some nice jazz - nothings better.
But of course, you can’t always be in a live band, which brings us to the need for recording which has its own degree. Audio engineers connect every instrument and voices into the sound system, and records live. The output recording is called the uncompressed audio file.
Uncompressed Audio File
An uncompressed file is unquestionably the best type of file. And there are 3 most known - WAV, AIFF, AU or raw header-less PCM. 90% of people are more conversant with WAV than the rest. It gives the same quality found in original CD-quality sound files So I’ll reference it more.
You see - when you listen to Burna boy “gbe body e” with a WAV audio file in an headphone, it sweetens more than jollof rice.
The only trade-off is that its a large file, as much as around 10 MB per minute. To get or create the best files you can, you need plenty of storage space. You can always create compressed files for portable use, but you will always have the best quality archive.
Lossless compressed audio format
This is the closest to the best version of an audio file. Algorithms used to make this happen is just amazing. When on headphones, a random person may not notice the difference, but if you’re a sound fan - you will.
A lossless compressed format stores data in less space without losing any information. The original, uncompressed data can be recreated from the compressed version.
Uncompressed audio formats encode both sound and silence with the same number of bits per unit of time. Encoding an uncompressed minute of absolute silence produces a file of the same size as encoding an uncompressed minute of music. In a lossless compressed format, however, the music would occupy a smaller file than an uncompressed format and the silence would take up almost no space at all
(You can scroll past this if you do not want the technical part)
If your music was originally on CD, then the highest depth is 16 bits with a 44.1 khz sampling rate (1,411 kbps). This is called Redbook. The file formats that support that resolution are primarily WAV, FLAC, and ALAC. WAV is uncompressed so the files are very large and most WAV files don’t support metadata such as the album or artist name.
FLAC and ALAC files are both compressed (but not lossy) and do support metadata. If you are entirely in the Apple world, ALAC is fine. But FLAC is the more open format.
What do the numbers mean? 16 bit indicates the dynamic range of the recording - the difference between the quietest and loudest passages. And the 44.1 khz (sampling rate) means that the highest frequency that can be replayed is 22 khz (half the sampling rate according to the Nyquist theorem).
Lossy compressed audio format
Examples are your MP3, AAC, WMA etc.
Lossy compression enables even greater reductions in file size by removing some of the audio information and simplifying the data. This, of course, results in a reduction in audio quality, but a variety of techniques are used, mainly by exploiting psychoacoustics, to remove the parts of the sound that have the least effect on perceived quality, and to minimize the amount of audible noise added during the process.
Now that you know…
Next time you want to jam that music with your headphones on? Try downloading a WAV, or las lasFLAC audio file. You may only need to get a large spaced memory card, but it’ll be worth.
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Thank you, and Merry Christmas in advance!