Definition of a WAV File
by Alex Cosper
WAV stands for waveform audio file and is identified with the .WAV file extension. It is the universal file storage for audio. Like AIFF, WAV files are uncompressed, allowing the audio to have a full stereo sound compared to the MP3 format.
Microsoft introduced the world to WAV files in 1991 as a feature of Windows 3.1. Three years earlier, Apple introduced the similar Audio Interchange File Format (AIFF) for Macintosh computers.
The WAV file is a lossless format, meaning that audio quality is not lost despite holding compressed data. This allows the sound of the WAV file to be a close replica of the audio source.
The WAV file is easy to edit using audio editing software. The waveform is displayed as a colorful graph, as in and out edit points can be marked with one click while another click edits the in and out points together.
WAV files take up much more space than compressed files. The average 4 minute song can take up 35 megabytes. The same song compressed to MP3 will only take up 5 megabytes.
Even fans of M4A and MP3 digital downloads like to archive their favorite music as WAV files in case they want to hear the full uncompressed sound or make another file conversion. WAV files are ideal for preserving master recordings in an archive where storage space is not an issue.
WAV files can easily be converted into other file types such as AIFF, AAC and MP3 using a software jukebox program like iTunes. However, converting from a compressed file to WAV may not restore the full sound of the original source.