MP3 vs. WAV - Is there a difference?

WAV and MP3 are both highly respected as music formats.

Among audiophiles, with highly trained ears and sophisticated equipment, some are certain that WAV sounds better. Perhaps their case is valid, for them, in that user environment. But how different are WAV and MP3 formats in a practical sense, for broadcasters?

Read on, and we think you'll agree that MP3 files are just as "broadcast quality" as WAV files, and have their own advantages.

WAV frequency response

MP3 frequency response

These frequency response charts show that both types of audio files have the exact same audio reproduction across the entire spectrum until you get up to 17-20 kHz, the range heard by younger people, and by animals, like dogs. There, WAV wins out over MP3.

Does it matter?

The colored part of the charts above shows the portion of the audio spectrum that can be transmitted by FM radio. The grey area is the range that FM radio is incapable of reproducing.

As you can see, in the audio range of FM radio* (and certainly in the range of AM and Internet streams, which are normally even lower response range), there is no difference.

The UP side.

Files in MP3 format are much smaller than WAV files. Even at the very high 320 kbps bitrate used on HeartSong Radio files, they take up less than 1/4 of the space taken by WAV files. That means you can have a much larger library of music on the same hard drive. It also means you can move MP3 files around much more rapidly, because they take less time to copy, upload, download, backup, etc.

Return to HeartSong Radio page.

* FM actually goes a little deeper at the low frequency end of the chart, extending into the sub-audible 20-30 Hz range, though that is just used for signal tones, etc., so we didn't include it in the colored area.

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