Accelerate Video Game Development

Audio File Formats

Leszek Król

We noticed that many young indie developers ask the question what is the best music format for their games. There are so many audio file formats these days. Which ones to choose? In this article we will look at this topic more closely and show you the advantages and disadvantages of various solutions and their practical application in real situations.

General Audio Types

There are compressed and uncompressed audio files, which may have either a lossy or lossless quality to it. They can be divided into three types:

  • Files without compression - they take up the most space and their quality is determined by the sampling frequency and bit resolution. The main representative of this type of file is WAVE (WAV).
  • Files with lossless compression - these files contain exactly the same information as files without compression, but thanks to intelligent coding techniques take up less space. In this group there are many formats such as: WMA, FLAC, Apple Lossless and others.
  • Files with lossy compression - these files, using compression algorithms, do not contain full information, only the part that is the most audible for the human ear. There are many formats in this group, such as MP3, Ogg, AAC and others

MIDI, WAV, AIF, AIFF, MP2, MPG, MPE, MPEG, MPEG2, MP3... Why are so many different types of formats? The answer is simple each of the devices has a different characteristics and limited space. If space is premium, such as on smartphones or portable game consols then the smaller-sized compressed files are really all you need.

So how do you choose? Here’s a breakdown of common format types, some of their important characteristics, and reasons why you would use them.

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Leszek Król