What is your audio format? Well it’s really quite simple. An audio format is a file format for storing digital audio data on a computer system.
Audio files come in all shapes and sizes. Sure, we are all pretty familiar with an MP3 format, BUT what about AAC, or M4A, or WAV? Is there AN AUDIO FORMAT THAT IS BEST TO USE? Which ones are important and which ones should you be using for your podcast?
The answer is actually quite simple once you realize that all audio formats fall into three major categories.
1. Audio Formats With Lossy Compression
2. Audio Formats With Loss-LESS Compression
3. Uncompressed Audio Formats
We’ll start with Lossy compression. Lossy compression is when some data in your audio recording is lost when you export and compress your file. To put it simply, lossy compression means sacrificing sound quality to ensure that your final file size is smaller and makes it easier to upload.
File formats like MP3, AAC & WMA all fall under the Lossy category.
Now if your microphone is top notch, high quality and your compression software is great, this probably isn’t even an issue. But if that’s not case, don’t be surprised if your audio sounds a little bit different or muffled when you export and upload vs when you first recorded it.
Also, if you record remotely using programs like Zoom or Skype for your podcasts, your audio files will more than likely be exported with some version of LOSSY COMPRESSION and you’ll usually lose A LOT of sound quality because of it.
Now what about the other Category? LOSSLESS Compression. Well that’s super simple. If lossy means you’re losing data, LOSSLESS is the exact opposite. In other words, LOSSLESS compression means you get all your sound quality and you still get to reduce your file size.
File formats like FLAC & WMA all fall under the LOSSLESS category.
Sounds like a perfect match right. Well, there’s a catch. iTunes/Apple Podcasts both provide no support at all for FLAC files, let alone WMAs.
So what about the Third Category? Uncompressed audio files? Uncompressed audio consists of real sound waves that have been recorded and converted to digital format without any processing. So simply put, uncompressed audio files are PURE audio, unfiltered, unprocessed and untouched.
File formats like WAV & AIFF fall under the UNCOMPRESSED category.
Theoretically, speaking, uncompressed audio sounds amazing and you would think it would be the best audio format to use, but they have their issues too. Uncompressed audio files tend to be the most accurate but unfortunately also take up a LOT of disk space. And when it comes distributing your podcast, most podcast hosts may have issues accepting and uploading uncompressed files like WAV because of their size and because they’re simply not usually optimized for web-use.
So with ALL OF THAT SAID. What’s the verdict? What’s the best audio format to use? The answer is…well…ALL OF THEM.
My recommendation for getting the best audio quality for your podcast and distributing is to implement a two-step process:
1. Record and Capture audio using the WAV format. It’s pure, it’s raw and completely unfiltered.
2. When it’s time to distribute your podcast, I would recommend exporting your WAV file as a high quality MP3 (320 Kilobit Rate) or an AAC file to make sure you get the highest quality with the most adaptability.
Now if you’re NEW to podcasting or you don’t even know where to start. That’s ok. Check out our “How-To-Start-A-Podcast” Starter Guide to help you get you get started with creating your own podcast for free today! Thanks for reading the Podcast Overhaul Blog! If you’re new here or if you learned something new today, do me a favor and check out our podcast & feel free to share this article with a friend!