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Audio Files and Recording Formats

A guide to Digital audio file transcription to help you decide which is the best digital audio file format to record your interviews, dictations or focus groups for transcription.

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Mp3 (MPEG Audio Layer III)

An Mp3 is a digital audio encoding format that uses a form of lossy data compression. This removes sounds of either very high or very low frequencies that cannot be heard by the human ear and means that although these files are small when compared with other audio files, they are very similar in quality to the original audio.

Mp3 file formats are probably the most widely used file format due to the fact that they produce a high quality sound files that are also small.

WAV (Waveform Audio file format)

A Wav audio file format is the standard file format for IBM and Microsoft and is an application of RIFF (Resource interchange format). wav files are most often large uncompressed, raw audio files, with very high sound quality. Although they can be compressed they are typically big files, making them unsuitable for sending via email and increasing both upload and download waiting times.

AIFF (Audio Interchange File Format)

An AIFF is an audio file format developed and used by Apple and is comparable with a Microsoft WAV file. An AIFF sound file contains high quality audio (suitable for use with video) and is generally large in size.

WMA (Windows Media Audio)

Is a high quality, compressed audio fie format that was developed by Microsoft as a rival for mp3 audio files. Another version of a WMA files is WMA Lossless, which contains compressed audio, without loss of fidelity (unlike the former, which uses lossy data compression).


DSS (Digital Speech Standard)

Digital Speech Standard is an audio file format that is compressed to be as small as possible, making it suitable for sending via email, quick upload and download. DSS files were designed specifically for dictation. However, due to the fact that they are so highly compressed,they do not produce they best quality sound files.

This type of audio file allows for easy recording, playback and editing. It also allows the user to insert additional instructional data for the transcription company, such as title, priority, author and more.

AAC (Advanced Audio Coding)

An ACC is a small audio file format that uses lossy compression. Comparable to MP3 (which is was designed to superseed) it generally achieves higher quality sound at a similar bit rate. ACC is the standard format for iPhone, iTunes, DivX, playstation, Smartphones and Blackberry’s.

M4A (MPEG 4 Audio)

An MP4 is a multimedia file that can store audio, video, subtitles and more. An M4A file contains audio only and is generally uses lossy data compression. However, it is also able to use Lossless compression. Newer than an MP3 audio file, an M4A file is smaller and produces a higher quality of sound.

If you would like more information about Digital audio file compression or transcription or audio or video file translation.

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