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WAV (Waveform Audio File Format) is a open source audio encoding format designed by IBM and Microsoft as part of the Resource Interchange File Format (RIFF) family. I was release in August, 1991 and first introduced into Windows with the Multimedia Extensions add-on for Windows 3. The format was originally designed to encode uncompressed linear pulse-code modulation (LPCM) audio, but it now supports a variety of different encodings compression algorithms, any in Microsoft's Audio Compression Manager.


My first computer ran Windows 3 with Multimedia Extensions, so WAV audio was one of the first audio formats I used. For many years, even into the 2000s when MP3 began to become popular, I viewed it as the best audio format because it stored audio uncompressed. Sure the files were massive, but, you were sure to have the proper sound. My cousin and I would play with his cheap microphone and record audio that we thought was hilarious. We even once filled up his hard drive with a particularly long recording. The only other format I was aware of was VOC used by Creative Labs because of my Sound Blaster.

In my late-teens, I remember downloading a collection of audio clips from movies and being surprised that they were several seconds long, but had a relatively small file size. Upon checking the properties of the files, I learned that they were using lower bit rates, which accounted for the lower quality audio. This helped me learn about the quality/size trade-off found in audio and video formats. I continued to use WAV for some time, even for ripping audio CDs which took up tons of disk space, until I learned about FLAC, which offers perfect audio quality, but at a tenth of the file size. Since then, I haven't given much though to WAV.


Program Functions Notes
AnyBurn Save
Audacity Open, Save
CDBurnerXP Save
CDex Save
foobar2000 Open, Save
foobar2000 Mobile Open
Gold Wave Open, Save
LMMS Open, Save
MPlayer Open
Rockbox Open
VLC Media Player Open, Save
Winamp Open, Save