Which audio format should I work with?

There’s a range of audio formats available, so here’s a basic guide to the formats you’ll be coming across most often.

MP3 audio is often more “compressed”, so it’s lower quality, but the files take up less space, and (as long as they’re well recorded!) they’re decent enough for a basic audio clip you don’t have much space for, or which you’ll need to e-mail or upload straight away to a website (since some sites limit the file size which can be uploaded). However, since audio such as WAV is higher quality and better for editing, you may be best using WAV for recording / editing, and then simply converting / exporting to MP3 at the end of the editing process.

AIFF and WAV audio is usually better quality than MP3, and better for editing, if you’ve got enough space – a down side is that the files are generally larger. For Burli, WAVs are best – the version of Burli we have can’t import AIFF, and whilst it can import MP3, WAV is better quality and Burli automatically converts to WAV anyway, so to save your audio getting converted unnecessarily (which can lower quality eventually), choose WAV for sending audio into Burli, if you have enough space. For editing in programmes such as Reaper, Adobe Audition, or Adobe Premiere, use WAV or AIFF where possible. Once you’re editing is finished, you can always pick a different format to export to (e.g. MP3).

M4a audio is a format which devices such as iPhones often record in, and is accepted by Premiere and Audition, but which is not great for editing and not currently accepted by Reaper or by the version of Burli we have. See this link for info about using a smart phone to record in WAV or MP3 instead. However:

If you really have to use the trickier formats, such as M4a, you may be able to convert the file – see here on how to convert files to WAV, and here on how to convert files to MP3.

 

To sum up:

MP3: Not amazing quality but smaller file sizes, so it’s good to use MP3 as the exported version of long files destined for the internet;

WAV: Larger file sizes but better quality, and good for audio you’ll be editing, as it’s accepted by most software;

AIFF: Larger file sizes but better quality, and good for audio you’ll be editing, except for Burli which prefers WAVs preferably, or MP3s if not.

M4a: Avoid where possible, but can usually be converted if needs be.

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