How to open WAV files [Waveform Audio File Format] - Guide
audio file converter for music production and hi‑end audio

How to open WAV files [Waveform Audio File Format] - Guide

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WAV (Waveform Audio File) is lossless PCM audio file format. Read about converter, player, edit software, wav vs mp3 and other.



WAV audio file format is intended for music production, audiophile and scientific applications.



WAV file consists several chunks (information blocks), including audio data block.

WAV audio file format

WAV audio file format


Non-standard chunck are allowable. The chunks should be ignored, if software can't recognize it.

  • Sample rate: up to 2^32-1 Hz;
  • Bit depth: 8 ... 64-bit integer / 32-, 64-bit floating point;
  • Number channels: mono/stereo/multichannel;
  • Minimal signal value: -2^[bit depth - 1]/2
  • Maximal signal value: 2^[bit depth - 1]/2-1
  • Maximal size: up to 4 GBytes (may be expanded)
  • Standard metadata support: no (read details).

WAV specification


WAV metadata

Metadata is information abour musical piece (album, track name, performer, album artwork, other).

WAV format is fexible and can contains audio data in different formats.

There is no standard metadata types for WAV. And ability to write or display metadata depend on used audio converter, player, editor software.

As rule, 2 types of metadata is used:

  1. ID3;
  2. LIST.

WAV files may contains 2 copies of metadata in LIST and ID3 chunks simultaneously.

ID3 metadata format is very flexible and popular and can contains one or several artworks.



WAV expansions


RF64 is WAV file expansion, that allow to expand file size of WAV-file above 4 GBytes. As rule, high resolution music demands huge file size.



BWF is WAV file expansion to store recording studio information and unifying several WAV files to big single audio data block.


WAV64 is WAV format, where 32-bit chunk fields are replaced to 64-bit values. It allow to expand file size.



WAV applications


WAV vs mp3

WAV format have higher size. If compress it to mp3, information losses are there.

There is no univocal answer "what is better: mp3 or WAV?" There is many cases, when no noticeable sound difference between these formats. Exact claim is almost impossible for home researches.

But professional researches show that difference may be there.

It is necessary to remember, that:

  • playback equipment ans software cause distortions,
  • bitrate of mp3 impact to losses of compressed stuff,
  • human ears and brain is not perfect acoustic receiver.

Complex of these factors define audibility of sound difference between WAV and mp3 formats.




WAV and FLAC format have no sound difference.
Sometimes we can read, that difference is there. And there is the hypothesis, why it may be so.
But author never seen safe proofs of the hypothesis.




Here we can discuss DSD vs PCM rather. It's more correct technically.



Read more about WAV



How to open WAV files


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