Article and tests by Jens Adrian
WMA, MP3, OGG, VQF, WAV - not all of these terms are part of the basic vocabulary
of a PC-user, but all of them describe specific audio-formats that have settled down as standards in the last months and years. But which one is actually best?
To set it straight: all formats depicted here (except WAV) describe a
lossy compression. Data is filtered out of the original files, whereby new files are
created that are significantly different from the original. And that means the sound as
well. However with the up-to-date formats this difference is hardly audible. Audiophiles
should take a closer look at a lossless compression such as Monkey’s Audio. A link to it’s
homepage can be found in the links section below.
On the pages following you will find several audio-formats listed,
with brief descriptions what they are, how common and how popular they are. The
scientific background of the individual compression-algorithms is resigned, the focus
lies upon compression-duration, file size and, of course, quality of the converted files,
because the average user generally is not interested in how the formats work, but in how
For this you can look at tests that have been performed to
examine the formats’ performance regarding two categories of music:
1. Classic music with a big orchestra and high frequency tones
2. A pop-CD that has gained numerous awards for it’s outstanding sound-quality
Of course, you can go and see for yourself: there are sound-samples
of all tested bitrates and songs. They can be found either in the tests
themselves or in the comparison-tables.
Just click on the bitrate in each case.
On the other hand conversion-speeds are not to be neglected. This
and which format does have the smallest file-size can also be found in the
comparison-tables. However these values are not significant for the final “judgement”,
that’s solely based on the actual sound-quality of each codec.
You will also find a little summary which audio-codec might have a
future and which one might not have. However most important: which codec actually sounds best - completely
independent from the manufacturers’ promises.
Finally, you will find homepage-links to all manufaturers so you can test or use the audio-codecs yourself.
Next >> Audio Format Descriptions