Converting audio formats is one of the routine tasks of producers and sound engineers. In this guide, you’ll learn what types of audio files there are and how to convert them.
Why do audio formats need to be converted?
Converting audio formats is called audio conversion. Different audio formats serve different purposes. Conversion is therefore necessary to make audio material playable and usable in different contexts. The audio files that a producer or sound engineer works with have a different format than the audio files you download to your hard drive. From this, in turn, the audio formats used by services for streaming music, such as Spotify, are different.
The different types of audio files.
There are three basic types of audio files. Each file type is suitable for different purposes.
Uncompressed audio formats are audio recordings in their original state. These files are very large and contain all the information detected by the equipment in the recording studio. They are suitable for archiving and editing, but are impractical for other applications due to their size. Uncompressed file formats are for example WAV, AIFF, DSD, RAW and PCM.
Compressed lossless files.
To save space for archiving, distribution or playback, you can compress audio files. Compressed lossless files remove some redundant information within the file structure. Although the file size is reduced, all audio data is preserved. These types of files are often used for mixing. Compressed lossless file formats include FLAC, ALAC, APE, and VOC.
Compressed lossy files.
Compressed lossy files remove certain digital information that is not essential to delivering the sound. Most of the original information is preserved, but not all of it. For this reason, these files are referred to as losing weight denotes. These files are suitable for downloading or streaming because they are relatively small in size. Compressed lossy formats are used for most music files, for example AAC, WMA, Ogg Vorbis and MP3.
If you create a file to be used on a desktop on macOS or Windows, you can use a lossless file. However, if you’re working on a project that will be streamed to an iPhone, you’ll get a better user experience with a lossy file.
Use Adobe Audition for audio conversion.
With Audition, audio conversion is easy, whether you want to convert a single file or multiple files at once. Adobe supports many different file types, from high-fidelity files with maximum quality to low-fidelity files, for example for audible alerts and ring tones.