Audio Interchange File Format (AIFF) is an audio file format standard used for storing sound data for personal computers and other electronic audio devices. The format was developed by Apple Inc. in 1988 based on Electronic Arts' Interchange File Format (IFF, widely used on Amiga systems) and is most commonly used on Apple Macintosh computer systems. The audio data in most AIFF files is uncompressed pulse-code modulation (PCM). This type of AIFF file uses much more disk space than lossy formats like MP3—about 10 MB for one minute of stereo audio at a sample rate of 44.1 kHz and a bit depth of 16 bits. There is also a compressed variant of AIFF known as AIFF-C or AIFC, with various defined compression codecs. In addition to audio data, AIFF can include loop point data and the musical note of a sample, for use by hardware samplers and musical applications. The file extension for the standard AIFF format is .aiff or .aif. For the compressed variants it is supposed to be .aifc, but .aiff or .aif are accepted as well by audio applications supporting the format.


Waveform Audio File Format (WAVE, or more commonly known as WAV due to its filename extension; pronounced "wave" or /ˈwæv/ WAV (rarely, Audio for Windows) is a Microsoft and IBM audio file format standard for storing an audio bitstream on PCs. It is an application of the Resource Interchange File Format (RIFF) bitstream format method for storing data in "chunks", and thus is also close to the 8SVX and the AIFF format used on Amiga and Macintosh computers, respectively. It is the main format used on Microsoft Windows systems for raw and typically uncompressed audio. The usual bitstream encoding is the linear pulse-code modulation (LPCM) format.


MP3 (formally MPEG-1 Audio Layer III or MPEG-2 Audio Layer III) is a coding format for digital audio. Originally defined as the third audio format of the MPEG-1 standard, it was retained and further extended—defining additional bit-rates and support for more audio channels—as the third audio format of the subsequent MPEG-2 standard. A third version, known as MPEG 2.5—extended to better support lower bit rates—is commonly implemented, but is not a recognized standard.

MP3 (or mp3) as a file format commonly designates files containing an elementary stream of MPEG-1 audio and video encoded data, without other complexities of the MP3 standard.

In the aspects of MP3 pertaining to audio compression—the aspect of the standard most apparent to end-users (and for which is it best known)—MP3 uses lossy data-compression to encode data using inexact approximations and the partial discarding of data. This allows a large reduction in file sizes when compared to uncompressed audio. The combination of small size and acceptable fidelity led to a boom in the distribution of music over the Internet in the mid- to late-1990s, with MP3 serving as an enabling technology at a time when bandwidth and storage were still at a premium. The MP3 format soon became associated with controversies surrounding copyright infringement, music piracy, and the file ripping/sharing services and Napster, among others. With the advent of portable media players, a product category also including smartphones, MP3 support remains near-universal.

MP3 compression works by reducing (or approximating) the accuracy of certain components of sound that are considered (by psychoacoustic analysis) to be beyond the hearing capabilities of most humans. This method is commonly referred to as perceptual coding or as psychoacoustic modeling. The remaining audio information is then recorded in a space-efficient manner. Compared to CD-quality digital audio, MP3 compression can commonly achieve a 75 to 95% reduction in size. For example, an MP3 encoded at a constant bitrate of 128 kbit/s would result in a file approximately 9% of the size of the original CD audio.

The Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) designed MP3 as part of its MPEG-1, and later MPEG-2, standards. The first subgroup for audio was formed by several teams of engineers at CCETT, Matsushita, Philips, Sony, AT&T-Bell Labs, Thomson-Brandt, and others. MPEG-1 Audio (MPEG-1 Part 3), which included MPEG-1 Audio Layer I, II and III, was approved as a committee draft for an ISO/IEC standard in 1991, finalised in 1992, and published in 1993 as ISO/IEC 11172-3:1993. An MPEG-2 Audio (MPEG-2 Part 3) extension with lower sample- and bit-rates was published in 1995 as ISO/IEC 13818-3:1995. It requires only minimal modifications to existing MPEG-1 decoders (recognition of the MPEG-2 bit in the header and addition of the new lower sample and bit rates).