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When to use .WAV files – when to use MP3 files? 
 What is the difference between the two formats?

Gilles Arbour

Whenever you license music from premiumbeat.com, you can download both the .WAV and the MP3 versions of the music track. Except in the case of music loops, which we offer for download only in the .WAV format. (See below why)

Use .WAV files for TV, radio, DVD or any other media requiring top uncompromised audio quality. WAV files are lossless, uncompressed, broadcast CD quality music files. WAV files are also the right choice for loops to be processed with Flash for web animations.

Use MP3 files for web pages, web videos, in fact for anything on the Internet. An MP3 file is a compressed music file. It loads rapidly and still plays with a very good sound quality. There are several levels of possible compression but for Internet usage we recommend 128kbps which is what you download automatically from our server when you order music from us. If your project requires a different level of compression you can easily do it yourself with iTunes using the .WAV file supplied with your order.

Why we supply loops only in .WAV format and not in MP3 format

If you are looking for audio loops for your project or for Flash animations, you will notice that our loops are always delivered in the .WAV format – not as MP3 files. Why is that?

The short answer is simple: loops are always delivered in .WAV format and not MP3 format because the MP3 format is not good for creating seamless loops.

The long answer:
A loop is a small audio file, usually 8-30 seconds long that is played over and over again for the duration of your choice or until the viewer does an action like a click to move on to the next section. To ensure that the music plays seamlessly without a pause, the beginning and end of the file is carefully edited to ensure that we don’t ‘hear’ the point where the music ends and begins.

MP3 files are the sound part of an MPEG file. They are incredibly popular with users because the audio files are compressed to about one tenth of the original size. As a result, they take up very little disk space and are quick to download. At the same time, they are able to deliver audio that is almost CD quality. This is why MP3 files are the natural choice when people want music for websites or multimedia presentations.

However, one of the big drawback of MP3 files is that they are just not good for looping. There is always a small silent gap at the beginning and the end of the file. This is because the MP3 compression algorithm leaves a silent space of 10ms to 50ms at the start and end of the file. So if you try to loop the audio, you can hear a short pause – a “hiccup” – at the looping point. In short, you don’t get a seamless loop.

Also called the encoder delay, this gap occurs because the MP3 standard does not define a way to record the amount of delay or padding for later removal. This delay may also vary from encoder to encoder. This makes automatic removal difficult. Worse, even if two tracks are decompressed and merged into a single track, a gap will usually remain between them.

Using .WAV files for looping

On the other hand, using .WAV format gives you a perfect loop. That’s because .WAV files are lossless uncompressed broadcast CD quality music files. Loops can be used to extend a full track or just by itself. WAV loops can also be easily processed with Flash for web animations.

If you use Flash, the process is very easy. All you have to do is import the .WAV file directly into Flash, and place the sound file on a layer. Flash will automatically compress the .WAV file into MP3 format while maintaining the integrity of the loop. Just use the .WAV quality audio format