There are three major types of music files used in storing different audio data on a computer system. The data can either be compressed or uncompressed when stored. Compressing it will reduce the size of the file and leave more space in the computer. But it is very important to know the difference between an audio codec and a file format. An audio codec encodes and decodes raw data in audio form while data is usually stored in files with a specific file format. All the different types of music files support only a single audio data type (which is made with an audio coder). These types of music files can be grouped into three groups:
* Lossless compression file formats: they include Shorten (SHN), Windows Media Audio Lossless, MPEG-4, DST, MPEG-4 ALS, MPEG-4 SLS, Apple Lossless, ATRAC Advanced Lossless, TTA, Wavpack, APE file name extension, and FLAC.
* Lossy compression formats: these types of music files include Windows Media Lossy, ATRAC, AAC, Musepack. Vorbis, and MP3.
* Uncompressed file formats: which include PCM, AU, AIFF, and WAV.
Uncompressed file formats:
These types of music files are usually stored in .aiff on Mac OS or .wav on windows. The aiff file formats are usually based on the IFF file format (Interchange File Format). The AIFF and WAV are very flexible and effective in storing different bitrates and sampling rates. This is why they are useful in archiving or storing original recordings.
The Broadcast Wave Format (BWF) was made to replace the WAV file format. It ensures that metadata is properly stored in the file. This file format is very important especially in the radio and television industry because it is their major broadcast storing formats. There is a standard timestamp reference that ensures easy integration with different picture elements. Examples of programs that make use of the BWF file formate include TASCAM, Aaton, Fostex, HHB Communications Ltd, and Zaxcom.
Lossless compressed file formats
These types of music files store data easily and leave more space by eliminating irrelevant data. The uncompressed file format is used in encoding both silence and sound with equal number of units per time. Uncompressed minutes of music and uncompressed minutes of total silence usually take the same file size when encoding. But in a lossless compressed file format, the silence might eat up little of no space while the music itself will consume a good portion of space. The lossless file type ensures that the primary compressed data can be recreated. These types of music files include ALAC, Monkey,s Audio, Wavpack, and FLAC. The advantage of the lossless compression music file lies in the fact that it maintains good compression ratio (2:1) while reducing compression time.
Lossy compressed music files
These types of music files even have greater size reduction ratio by eliminating unnecessary audio or video data. It simplifies complexities thereby ensuring greater compression than other types of music files, though this will most definitely reduce the audio quality of the file. But the data loss or quality is not easily notice when listening to the audio. One very good example of this types of music file is the MP3 music format.