Aiff vs. Wav
stevens119
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#1
16th February 2007
Old 16th February 2007
  #1
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Thread Starter
Aiff vs. Wav

Is there any difference in the sound of an *.Aiff file and a *.Wav file. Is there any documentation describing the actual difference in the sound? They must be different. They were created by two different companies as a standard format for each system. But what is the difference really? Would I benefit from using one or the other?
#2
16th February 2007
Old 16th February 2007
  #2
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theblotted's Avatar
 

i believe AIFF is made by Apple. they're both lossless.

i'd go with WAV to be on the safe side, more compatibilty.
stevens119
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#3
16th February 2007
Old 16th February 2007
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Thread Starter
I use wav. I know that they are both lossless formats...but the way they compute the actual numbers has to be different, or they would be the same format. Other than compatibility, are there any advantages to using aiff?
#4
16th February 2007
Old 16th February 2007
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chrispick's Avatar
 

There's no discernible aural difference between AIFF and WAV formats. Both use a bitstream method of storing data in chunks (WAV is based on the IFF file format).
stevens119
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#5
16th February 2007
Old 16th February 2007
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Thread Starter
thanks
#6
16th February 2007
Old 16th February 2007
  #6
Gear Head
 

Does that mean there is no loss in quality if wav is converted to aiff (or vice versa)?

On a related note, let's say you have a mp3 or aac file that you convert to aiff/wav. If i convert that aiff back to mp3/aac (same bit rate as original) is there a loss in quality compared to the original mp3/aiff?
#7
16th February 2007
Old 16th February 2007
  #7
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You can convert between AIFF and WAV all day,it won't hurt sound quality one bit.
The output from a AIFF is bit for bit the same as from a WAV.

The only difference is the way they are stored on disk. One has the most significant byte first and the other one last,don't remember which is which. The file header is probably different as well,have'nt looked on the AIFF specs.

But to all intents and purposes they're the same. With the exception of compability of course.
#8
16th February 2007
Old 16th February 2007
  #8
Gear addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by papercut View Post
Does that mean there is no loss in quality if wav is converted to aiff (or vice versa)?
Correct. They are both 16-bit linear integer formats. The only differences are in how the data is organized in the files.

Quote:
On a related note, let's say you have a mp3 or aac file that you convert to aiff/wav. If i convert that aiff back to mp3/aac (same bit rate as original) is there a loss in quality compared to the original mp3/aiff?
Yes, because MP3 and AAC are lossy formats. There is a loss of quality each time you do the compression. Could be interesting to see what happens if you do the conversion many times... hmm, I'm going to have to try that...
#9
16th February 2007
Old 16th February 2007
  #9
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my impression is that most cd's are in AIFF format and not wav, right?


halcyo
#10
16th February 2007
Old 16th February 2007
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jdjustice's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by halcyo View Post
my impression is that most cd's are in AIFF format and not wav, right?
i could be wrong, but i don't think CDs are encoded in either.
i think they use PCM (pulse-code modulation) encoding because they are a physical, optical format and therefore different than just a binary-encoded schematic (like WAV and AIFF).

someone please correct me here...


cheers.
~j.d.
#11
16th February 2007
Old 16th February 2007
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cornutt View Post
Correct. They are both 16-bit linear integer formats. The only differences are in how the data is organized in the files.
Both format support both 16 and 24 bit data (and probably more.)
#12
16th February 2007
Old 16th February 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdjustice View Post
i could be wrong, but i don't think CDs are encoded in either.
i think they use PCM (pulse-code modulation) encoding because they are a physical, optical format and therefore different than just a binary-encoded schematic (like WAV and AIFF).
Right. I think a key issue here is that people are confusing the data being stored with the encoding format that stores it.

All of AIFF, WAV, and a CD use linear PCM--sample data of 16 bits (or 24, except for CDs) with one sample representing the signal amplitude at the instant of sampling. As such, the formats can be converted back and forth all day because the data itself doesn't change. Think of taking a chunk of text and saving it in TextEdit, MS Word, and whatever other text editor you can think of. Convert formats all day, but the information thus encoded (the text in this case) doesn't change. When you extract the data from any of those formats, you get exactly the same bits.

The differences in format are mostly different ways of doing the same thing; there are probably capabilities in some formats that aren't available (or at least go unused) on others. For instance, you can stick a timecode stamp on the front of a WAV file (and it becomes a BWV file in the process.)

On a Mac, the o/s presents audio CDs as AIFF files through some driver magic, but this is just a convenience that the o/s uses in order to pretend that an audio CD is just another file-centric storage medium. Behind the scenes, the CD is a big long PCM stream with an index on the front that points to where the tracks start and end (and weak error correction), and the o/s does some sleight-of-hand to make it appear like some generic mass storage.

As I often repeat ad nauseum, "bits is bits."
#13
17th February 2007
Old 17th February 2007
  #13
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elambo's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by theblotted View Post
i'd go with WAV to be on the safe side, more compatibilty.
More compatible how?

I know that aiff will make it through the internet (ftp, email, etc.) without any trouble - can the same be said for wav? I haven't tried it much.
#14
17th February 2007
Old 17th February 2007
  #14
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poncival's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by halcyo View Post
my impression is that most cd's are in AIFF format and not wav, right?


halcyo
One thing I have noticed, at least on Mac OS X, is that when you are burning a CD using Toast or Jam, if you put AIFF FIles into the CD Track list, it will burn them directly from the original files. However, if you put WAV files into the CD Track list, it will convert them to AIFF's and store them in a "Roxio Converted Items" folder and burn the CD using those files as the source. I only realized this once I set "delete converted items after burning" and then tried to return later to burn a CD and I got errors "cannot find file roxio converted items..." and I had to re-do my Jam playlist which as you may know can be a hassle if you spend a bunch of time getting the crossfades perfect, etc.

WAVs are generally more compatable across multiple platforms and in general I think Windows is slightly more comfortable with WAVS but they do sound the same.

If you convert an AIFF to an MP3 and then convert the MP3 back to an AIFF, the resulting AIFF will sound like the MP3 because the other 90% of the data IS actually gone forever once that MP3 conversion is complete.

One interesting experiment I did once was to convert an AIFF to an MP3 and then back to an AIFF and then back to an MP3 and back and forth, and there was a considerable loss of quality each time, it's actually kind of an interesting effect but is not as easily obtained as the similar artifacts you can get from using Lo-Fi or Serato etc.
#15
17th February 2007
Old 17th February 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elambo View Post
More compatible how?

I know that aiff will make it through the internet (ftp, email, etc.) without any trouble - can the same be said for wav? I haven't tried it much.
I believe since .wav is the standard for most PC apps, an aiff may need to be converted in some cases on a PC. I would think a cross-platform app or plug could potentially have the same problem. NI Battery 3 is a little funky that way on my mac. But then again, Battery isn't just buggy, it's a giant cockroach.
#16
17th February 2007
Old 17th February 2007
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Henchman's Avatar
The big advantage, is using Bwav isnatead. A sit contains timecode info.
Aif doesn't.
#17
17th February 2007
Old 17th February 2007
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jdjustice's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Henchman View Post
The big advantage, is using Bwav instead.
yep.
#18
17th February 2007
Old 17th February 2007
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theblotted's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by elambo View Post
More compatible how?

I know that aiff will make it through the internet (ftp, email, etc.) without any trouble - can the same be said for wav? I haven't tried it much.
what he said

Quote:
Originally Posted by SFTPH View Post
I believe since .wav is the standard for most PC apps, an aiff may need to be converted in some cases on a PC. I would think a cross-platform app or plug could potentially have the same problem. NI Battery 3 is a little funky that way on my mac. But then again, Battery isn't just buggy, it's a giant cockroach.
#19
17th February 2007
Old 17th February 2007
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chrispick's Avatar
 

Both WAV and AIFF run fine on WinPCs and Macs. i can't think of one media application that doesn't play both formats.

That aside, yeah, Broadcast WAV allows you to embed a lot of media-related info. Not all media apps can address that info, however.
#20
17th February 2007
Old 17th February 2007
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statikcat's Avatar
 

They are practically the same thing. I am pretty sure awhile ago I renamed a .aif to .wav and vice versa and it even worked.

I would call it 'uncompressed' over "lossless" since usually lossless refers to compressed formats like FLAC. Also, when you burn aif or wav to an audio cd it is converted to another format altogether. If you have actual .wav or .aif files on a cd then it is a data cd and not an audio cd.
#21
17th February 2007
Old 17th February 2007
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elambo View Post
I know that aiff will make it through the internet (ftp, email, etc.) without any trouble - can the same be said for wav? I haven't tried it much.
Any file of any type will be transparently passed through FTP and email--they don't care a whit what kind of data it is.
#22
17th February 2007
Old 17th February 2007
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by statikcat View Post
They are practically the same thing. I am pretty sure awhile ago I renamed a .aif to .wav and vice versa and it even worked.
I'd guess that you were on a Mac; the file metadata identified it as an AIFF even though the name didn't match. Alternatively, perhaps the application looked at the start of the file and identified it properly. But they're certainly not the same thing in terms of encoding.
#23
18th February 2007
Old 18th February 2007
  #23
Audio Alchemist
 
Lagerfeldt's Avatar
AIFF is more compatible if you're strictly speaking Mac. WAV files can not be used for some system purposes while AIFF can. Under normal circumstances it's nothing to worry about though.

If you're planning on using the files on a PC or on the internet WAV is more compatible as some older PC's or PC apps won't accept AIFF where as a Mac will accept playback of both formats.

As someone mentioned Broadcast WAV can contain timecode information.

AIFF can/could actually be faster on Mac which can translate to higher track count in a sequencer. At one point in time Logic could get a +1 track higher track count (disk access) when using AIFF rather than WAV (a repeatable test I did in Logic 6). I would suspect this has to do with the PowerPC chip and endian format.

However I have not tested this recently in Logic 7 or on an Intel Mac, and I would suspect AIFF and WAV are the same today.

As a curiosity some bugs in earlier versions of Logic 7 would only happen to WAV or AIFF files but not SDII (still interleaved). But SDII is a very incompatible format.

ZIP the WAV or AIFF file before sending and you are 100% sure of data integrity as the built in checksum system is virtually perfect.
#24
19th February 2007
Old 19th February 2007
  #24
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esaias's Avatar
 

Aiff is big-endian and Wav is little-endian (although there are little-endian aiff's out there)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endianness

WAV has better metadata support and of course broadcast wav's have the timecode...

in terms of audio quality there is no absolutely no difference since the audio is not manipulated in any way in either format, if you can get audible diffenrences i guess that is you software/plugin doing something weird.

and wav is more compatible. With aiff you can have problems for example with samplers which say they support aiff but then you run in to "is it big or little" problem (i've had such problem with yamaha gear, oh shit that was one damn difficult thing to troubleshoot)

-Tomi
#25
19th February 2007
Old 19th February 2007
  #25
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elambo's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dkatz42 View Post
Any file of any type will be transparently passed through FTP and email--they don't care a whit what kind of data it is.
Try telling that to my clients who receive Sound Designer II files via email that lose their metadata info and become unplayable. This used to happen all the time when SDII was more popular, and AOL was notorious for screwing up SDII files, hence my question.

The preference seems to be Broadcast WAV, then WAV, then AIFF...
#26
19th February 2007
Old 19th February 2007
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chrispick's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by elambo View Post
Try telling that to my clients who receive Sound Designer II files via email that lose their metadata info and become unplayable. This used to happen all the time when SDII was more popular, and AOL was notorious for screwing up SDII files, hence my question.
This is why it's a good idea to ZIP files you send. Keeps everything clean and in a single packet anyway.
#27
19th February 2007
Old 19th February 2007
  #27
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BWF (Broadcast Wave Format) is a standard recognised by the following organisations afaik: EBU, ITU, APBU, IRTO, ATSC, CCIR, FCC, NTSC, ISO. (And probably more). AIFF is just an Apple thing.

I would go for the recognised standard whenever possible.

Alistair
#28
19th February 2007
Old 19th February 2007
  #28
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elambo's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by chrispick View Post
This is why it's a good idea to ZIP files you send. Keeps everything clean and in a single packet anyway.
I've never had a problem shooting AIFs via the net. Not ever. But when sending more than one file I always do compact them into one, either zip or sit, just to be safe.
#29
28th January 2009
Old 28th January 2009
  #29
Gear interested
 

I'm a little late here, but I didn't notice it mentioned, so I thought I'd say it.

CDs are encoded with 16 bit 44.1kHz AIFF files. The reason Toast and other apps don't convert your AIFF files when burning to a CD is that it's the native format. If you load a CD into your computer, and drag files straight off the disc, they should come out as AIFFs.
#30
28th January 2009
Old 28th January 2009
  #30
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gorillainthemix's Avatar
 

does anybody still use SDII? I stil have some old PT projects in SDII, but I started switching to AIFF completely now.
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