Home » Music » Wav Vs. Flac: How Different Are They? [Pros & Cons of Each]

Wav Vs. Flac: How Different Are They? [Pros & Cons of Each]

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It doesn’t matter if you are an audio professional or just an average consumer of audio, sooner or later, as long as you are using audio, you will have to deal with audio formats. There are several audio formats available in the world today for a reason. 

Audio formats perform a critical function in the music industry—both on the side of the consumers and suppliers of audio. 

Audio formats are pretty important because they can impact the sound quality of sound recordings, the compatibility of different playback devices, and the ease of distribution. 

One of the most important things musicians and producers should know is which audio file formats are best suited for different audio applications, such as sound recording, audio mixing, and mastering.

Not just audio engineers, ordinary consumers of audio need to know which audio file format is best for them. This is important because compatibility, sound quality, and ease of transfer will always be an issue for reasons that are quite obvious. 

When talking about audio formats, two of the most popular formats that often pop up in lists and debates are wav and Flac. To some, they don’t know the difference between these two formats. On the other hand, some are curious about which of the formats is better. 

There has always been a long debate on which is better than the other. In this article, we will look deeper into these two audio formats and clarify their differences and maybe help you decide which is better. 

FLAC means “Free Lossless Audio Codec.” Simply, the “lossless” in the name FLAC means that you can compress other audio files into FLAC format to save storage space without losing any of the original audio quality.

FLAC was designed to be able to reduce audio files to about 60% of their original size, by creating audio copies that are way smaller and easier to store or distribute.

On the other hand, wav which stands for Waveform Audio File Format is not so different from FLAC. The major difference is that wav is always uncompressed and thus, always larger in size when compared to FLAC. 

All About Wav

When it comes to audio formats, WAV stands as one of the most fundamental and widely used options, particularly in professional audio production and recording.

While the average consumer might never have considered the main differences between audio formats it can’t be denied that the audio format plays a huge role in the quality of the sound produced. 

The Waveform Audio File Format, commonly known as WAV, was developed by Microsoft and IBM back in 1991. Wav is one of the oldest digital audio formats that is still incredibly popular today.

It gained popularity quickly due to its ability to store audio in an uncompressed format. This ensures an accurate representation of the original sound with no loss of quality.

To understand why WAV produces higher-quality sound than other formats (such as MP3) it’s important to understand how WAV works. 

Technical Aspects and Advantages of WAV:

WAV files are encoded using a pulse-code modulation (PCM) method, which samples the audio signal at regular intervals and quantizes the amplitude to produce a digital representation of the analogue sound wave. 

Because it retains the full quality and detail of the audio, WAV is often the preferred choice for audio archiving, mastering, and professional studio recordings.

WAV files are typically large in size compared to other audio formats. For instance, a few minutes of WAV audio can easily occupy hundreds of megabytes, or even gigabytes, of storage space. This can be both a strength and a limitation, depending on the context of usage.

Ideal Scenarios for WAV Usage:

Studio Recording and Mastering: Professional sound engineers and studio professionals favour WAV for recording and mastering purposes. When capturing music or any audio source with utmost precision is crucial, WAV’s lossless format ensures no compromise in audio quality during the recording process.

Audio Archiving: WAV is an excellent format for archiving audio collections, especially for music libraries and historical sound archives. By preserving audio in a lossless format, future generations can experience the same audio quality as the original recordings.

Audio Editing and Post-Production: During audio editing and post-production workflows, WAV files maintain fidelity across various stages of manipulation. This format is preferred when applying extensive post-processing, mixing, and editing to avoid any cumulative loss of audio quality.

High-Fidelity Listening: Audiophiles who value uncompromised audio quality often choose WAV files for their listening pleasure. High-quality headphones or audio systems can better showcase the nuances of WAV-encoded music. 

Moreover, if you have a high-end audio system, whether that is in your home, car or even just a pair of audiophile-level headphones, using WAV audio files will allow you to experience the true capability of that system. 

Specialized Sound Applications: In some professional audio applications, especially in sound design, where pristine audio quality is vital, WAV remains the format of choice due to the unparalleled quality it provides. 

However, despite its advantages, WAV’s large file size can be impractical for certain use cases. This is where other audio formats, such as FLAC, MP3, and AAC come into play. They offer a more efficient compromise between file size and audio quality.

In the next section, we’ll explore FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) and its role as a viable alternative to WAV for specific scenarios, providing users with a more versatile audio format option.

All About FLAC

As we’ve explored the uncompressed WAV format, it’s time to turn our attention to FLAC, a prominent player in the realm of lossless audio compression. FLAC, short for Free Lossless Audio Codec, was developed by Josh Coalson in 2000. 

Unlike WAV, which preserves audio in a raw and uncompressed state, FLAC utilizes clever compression algorithms to reduce file sizes without sacrificing audio quality.

Technical Aspects and Advantages of FLAC:

FLAC employs a sophisticated compression technique that efficiently encodes audio data while still maintaining lossless quality. It achieves this by discarding redundant information and compressing the audio in a way that can be fully and precisely reconstructed upon playback. 

As a result, FLAC files can be up to 50-70% smaller than their uncompressed WAV counterparts without any loss of audio fidelity.

Ideal Scenarios for FLAC Usage:

High-Quality Audio Streaming: FLAC has become a popular choice for streaming platforms that prioritize audio quality. Audiophiles and music enthusiasts can enjoy near-CD quality audio streaming without consuming excessive bandwidth or storage space. 

This is especially important today as many people streaming audio are using mobile devices and mobile data, so making efficient use of their data is a priority. 

Digital Archiving: For individuals who want to preserve their extensive music collections or audio recordings while conserving storage space, FLAC offers an optimal solution. 

Its ability to reduce file size while maintaining lossless quality makes it a suitable format for long-term archiving. This is particularly helpful when you need to store audio on a portable solution like a thumb drive or an external hard drive. You can store plenty of data, have excellent audio and also have portability. 

Listening on Hi-Fi Systems: FLAC is an excellent choice for audiophiles who want to experience the highest possible audio quality when playing music on high-fidelity audio systems or specialized audio players. 

Again, if you don’t want to bind your system to a dedicated system from where you can stream WAV files FLAC is a great alternative. A portable drive loaded with FLAC audio files can plug into your Hi-Fi system and you can enjoy superb quality audio. 

Music Production and Mastering: FLAC can also be used in professional audio production and mastering environments, where it allows for easy file exchange and collaboration without compromising audio quality. 

As modern studios increasingly rely on local networks, the internet, digital tools, and communication across different computers, having a smaller file to work with makes things that much easier and quicker. 

Transcoding to Other Formats: As a lossless format, FLAC can be transcoded to other audio formats without any additional loss of quality. This makes it a versatile choice when converting audio files for specific devices or platforms.

Distribution of Lossless Music: Some independent artists and record labels choose FLAC for distributing their music, as it maintains the audio quality while still offering a manageable file size for users.


While both FLAC and WAV provide lossless audio quality, they differ primarily in terms of file size and storage efficiency. FLAC’s compression advantage makes it more practical for scenarios where storage space is a concern, without compromising audio integrity.

However, it’s essential to note that since FLAC requires decoding during playback, it may require slightly more processing power than playing an uncompressed WAV file. Nonetheless, modern devices and software can handle FLAC playback with ease, making it a viable option for a broad range of users.

In the following section, we’ll delve into a more in-depth comparison between WAV and FLAC, discussing their respective strengths and ideal use cases, ensuring you have a clear understanding of which format suits your specific needs best.

Wav Vs Flac

When it comes to audio formats, WAV and FLAC stand as two prominent choices, each with its unique features and advantages. 

In this in-depth comparison, we’ll explore various aspects of these lossless audio formats, delving into their similarities and differences to help you make an informed decision based on your specific needs and preferences.

Audio Quality:

  • WAV: As mentioned earlier, WAV is an uncompressed format, ensuring 100% fidelity to the original audio source. This format is an exact representation of the original audio and does not involve any data compression, resulting in pristine sound reproduction.
  • FLAC: FLAC, on the other hand, uses lossless compression to reduce file size. The compression is done in such a way that redundant information is removed. This leads to smaller files without any loss of audio data or quality. When decoded during playback, FLAC files provide an identical listening experience to the original source. Overall, in terms of quality, both these formats are excellent choices. 


  • WAV: As an uncompressed format, WAV does not involve any data compression. It preserves the entire audio data captured during recording, resulting in an accurate representation of the original sound.
  • FLAC: FLAC employs lossless compression, meaning it discards redundant information during encoding and reconstructs the original audio waveform during decoding. This compression process allows for efficient file size reduction without any loss of audio quality.

File Size:

  • WAV: Being uncompressed, WAV files are significantly larger compared to compressed formats like FLAC. A few minutes of audio can easily take up 200 MB or more of disk space. In fact, this large file size is one of the primary drawbacks of WAV.
  • FLAC: The key advantage of FLAC lies in its efficient compression. Typically, FLAC reduces file sizes by up to 50-70% compared to WAV. Considering that you also retain lossless audio quality it makes FLAC a more practical choice, particularly for mobile storage solutions like hard drives or for places where storage is limited like a cloud storage account. 

Metadata Support:

  • WAV: While WAV does support metadata, however, its capabilities in this regard can be limited compared to other formats. It typically allows basic metadata information such as track title and artist name but may not support more extensive metadata options.
  • FLAC: FLAC has robust support for metadata, offering the ability to include various tags such as artist, album, track number, and more. This makes FLAC files well-suited for organizing and categorizing audio collections. If you need to add a lot of metadata to your tracks then FLAC will be the right choice. 


  • WAV: WAV is widely supported by most audio software, media players, and operating systems. However, it may not be as widely supported on certain portable devices or platforms due to its large file size.
  • FLAC: FLAC has gained significant popularity and support over the years, making it compatible with numerous media players, audio software, and operating systems. Additionally, many portable devices and high-end audio players now offer native FLAC playback support. However, it does demand a bit more processing power to decode and playback FLAC, so it’s always a good idea to double-check compatibility with the hardware and software you want to use it with. 

Use Cases:

  • WAV: WAV files are ideal for professional studio recordings, audio archiving, and mastering, where preserving the utmost audio quality is critical. It is also suitable for specialized sound applications that demand lossless audio accuracy.
  • FLAC: FLAC is well-suited for high-quality audio streaming, digital archiving of music collections, and distributing lossless music. It also serves as an excellent choice for audiophiles seeking top-notch audio quality on their Hi-Fi systems.

Processing Power:

  • WAV: Since WAV files are uncompressed, which means they require close to no processing power during playback. This means they are suitable for nearly any kind of device or player.
  • FLAC: While FLAC decoding requires slightly more processing power than playing WAV files, modern devices, and software can handle FLAC playback with ease. However, it’s best you make sure your software and hardware support FLAC before investing in this audio format. 

Licensing and Openness:

  • WAV: WAV is a widely used and open format, meaning it is not encumbered by patent issues or licensing fees. Users can freely create, share, and use WAV files without any legal restrictions.
  • FLAC: FLAC is also an open and free format, offering similar accessibility and ease of use without licensing concerns. If licensing and costs of using that format are a concern, you will be just as good with either of these two formats. 

Bit Depth:

  • WAV: WAV supports various bit depths, such as 16-bit and 24-bit, allowing for greater dynamic range and higher precision in capturing audio. This makes it an excellent choice for professional audio recording and mastering, especially when preserving the subtle nuances of music is crucial.
  • FLAC: Similarly, FLAC also supports various bit depths, offering the same flexibility in capturing audio quality as WAV. It ensures that the original audio fidelity is maintained even after compression, making it an ideal format for audiophiles and music enthusiasts. In this case, both these formats are equally as good so it is a matter of what you prefer and what will be a more feasible choice for your project. 

Sample Rate:

  • WAV: WAV files can accommodate different sample rates, including standard rates like 44.1 kHz (CD quality) and higher rates such as 48 kHz, 96 kHz, and beyond. This makes it versatile for various audio recording scenarios.
  • FLAC: FLAC can also support various sample rates, offering the same versatility as WAV. Whether it’s standard CD quality or high-resolution audio, FLAC can faithfully reproduce the audio at the chosen sample rate.

Transcoding Efficiency:

  • WAV: As an uncompressed format, WAV doesn’t require transcoding since it is already in its native state. However, if you need to convert WAV files to other formats, you will experience some loss of audio quality due to the conversion process.
  • FLAC: FLAC’s lossless compression ensures efficient transcoding to other formats without any additional loss of quality. This feature makes FLAC a practical choice when users need to convert their audio files for specific devices or platforms. With a FLAC file, the audio you hear is going to be pretty much the same quality even when you convert it into something else like an MP3. 

Decoding Speed:

  • WAV: WAV doesn’t involve any decoding during playback, making it very efficient in terms of decoding speed. It can be played back with minimal processing power requirements. Even the most basic of players/interfaces will not have a problem playing back WAV files. 
  • FLAC: On the other hand, FLAC requires decoding during playback. This will involve slightly more processing time than playing WAV files. Generally, modern devices and software can handle FLAC decoding with ease, making it a viable option for most users. However, certain interfaces may not support FLAC. So if you need to play audio on a lot of different devices then WAV will be a better choice. 

Audio Editing Support:

  • WAV: As WAV files are completely uncompressed, unchanged and ‘raw’ in a sense, you can easily make edits without ever having to deal with ‘compression artefacts’ or general ‘noise’ in the file due to the audio format that it is in. This leads to very accurate editing. Moreover, since it is a simple uncompressed file, WAV is also supported on nearly all platforms and systems. 
  • FLAC: FLAC files can be a little trickier because they require decoding before editing. This typically introduces a minor delay in the audio playback and also adds an extra step in the editing process. However, once decoded, FLAC provides lossless audio quality for editing purposes. If you are looking for the highest quality and also want the easiest workflow then WAV will be a better choice. 

Audio Transfers/Exports:

  • WAV: WAV files are straightforward to transfer or export between different software and devices due to their widespread support. However, the larger file size might lead to longer transfer times, especially for slower connections. Considering how data is now mostly being stored on cloud storage or through some form of digital network the file size makes a huge difference on the usability of the audio format. Especially where bandwidth is limited. 
  • FLAC: FLAC’s smaller file size compared to WAV makes it more efficient for audio transfers and exports. It allows for quicker sharing of lossless audio files while still maintaining top-notch quality. FLAC files can also be quite large but the same file in WAV can be a significant increase in file size. If portability and transferability are important for you then FLAC will be a better choice. 

Long-Term Storage:

  • WAV: WAV’s uncompressed nature means there is no compression or data reduction applied in any way. This makes it suitable for long-term storage as you don’t have to worry about potential audio quality degradation over time due to the data compression. If you want the highest possible quality with the lowest possible chance of degradation then WAV is the option to go for. However, you will need to ensure that your storage solution is also up to the mark. Sometimes the file may be fine but the storage solution goes corrupt over a long period of time. 
  • FLAC: FLAC’s lossless compression ensures that it retains the original audio quality while offering more efficient storage. This compression is unique in that it doesn’t actually compress the playable audio data but just removes all unnecessary bits of data to reduce storage size. Also, it restructures the file in such a way that the original audio layout remains the same. This makes it an excellent choice for long-term storage of audio collections without compromising audio quality.

Below we have summarized this information in tabular form:

Audio QualityUncompressed, LosslessLossless Compression
File SizeLargeSmaller (50-70% of WAV)
CompressionNoneLossless Compression
Metadata SupportBasicExtensive
CompatibilityWidely SupportedWidely Supported
Use CasesStudio Recording, Archiving,Streaming, Archiving,
Mastering, SpecializedAudiophiles, Distribution
Processing PowerMinimalSlightly Higher than WAV
Licensing and OpennessOpen and FreeOpen and Free
Bit DepthUpto 32-bit Upto 32-bit 
Sample RateUpto 48KHzUpto 96KHz
Transcoding EfficiencyNot needed Efficient (Lossless)
Decoding SpeedNo decoding required Slightly Longer
Audio Editing SupportEasyRequires Decoding Before Edit
Audio Transfers/ExportsLage files to moveSmaller File Size for Transfer
Long-Term StorageUncompressedEfficient Compression for Archival

Pros and Cons of Wav

Here is a quick overview of the pros and cons of WAV. 

Pros of WAV:

  • Excellent Audio Quality: WAV is an uncompressed format, providing 100% audio fidelity, making it the ideal choice for professional studio recordings, mastering, and archiving purposes.
  • Broad Compatibility: WAV is widely supported by various audio software, media players, and operating systems, ensuring seamless playback across different devices and platforms.
  • Minimal Processing: Since WAV doesn’t involve compression or decoding during playback, it requires minimal processing power, making it efficient for real-time audio applications.
  • Simple and Direct Audio Editing: The uncompressed nature of WAV allows for straightforward and precise audio editing without worrying about any additional compression artefacts.
  • Industry Standard: WAV has become a standard format in the audio industry, ensuring easy interchangeability between different audio systems and software.
  • No Licensing or Patent Issues: WAV is an open and free format, meaning there are no licensing fees or patent issues associated with its usage.

Cons of WAV:

  • Large File Size: One of the significant drawbacks of WAV is its large file size, which can be impractical for online streaming, sharing over the internet, or storing on devices with limited storage capacity.
  • Limited Metadata Support: While WAV does support basic metadata, it may not offer the same extensive metadata capabilities found in some other audio formats.
  • Inefficient for Long-Term Storage: Due to its large file size, WAV may not be the most efficient choice for long-term audio archival when storage space is a concern.
  • Less Suitable for Streaming: WAV’s large file size and lack of built-in compression make it less suited for audio streaming services, where efficient data transfer and storage are essential.
  • Not Ideal for Low Bandwidth: Transmitting WAV files over networks with limited bandwidth can lead to slow download and streaming times.
  • Not Space-Saving: Unlike FLAC, WAV does not offer space-saving benefits, which may not be ideal for users with limited storage resources.

Overall, WAV’s primary strength lies in its lossless audio quality, making it the preferred audio format in professional audio production, mastering, and archiving.

However, its large file size can be a drawback for certain situations, such as streaming and sharing over the internet. 

Pros and Cons of FLAC

Here is a quick overview of the pros and cons of FLAC. 

Pros of FLAC:

  • Lossless Compression (Smaller File Size): FLAC utilizes lossless compression, which reduces file sizes yet you get the same audio quality as the original. This makes it an excellent choice for audiophiles and those who seek high-quality audio with lower storage requirements than WAV.
  • Better Suited For Other Purposes: Because of their smaller size they are more practical for streaming, sharing, and storing on devices with limited storage capacity.
  • Widespread Compatibility: Back in the day FLAC was not very widely supported. However, today things are quite different and most interfaces will be able to play FLAC. 
  • Efficient Transcoding: FLAC’s lossless nature ensures that it can be efficiently transcoded to other formats without any loss of audio quality, providing versatility when converting audio files.
  • Versatile Sample Rates and Bit Depths: FLAC supports various sample rates and bit depths, offering flexibility in capturing and reproducing audio quality, just like WAV.
  • Extensive Metadata Support: FLAC provides robust support for metadata, allowing users to include detailed tags such as artist, album, and track information for better organization of audio collections.
  • Ideal for High-Quality Audio Streaming: FLAC’s lossless compression makes it a popular choice for streaming platforms that prioritize audio quality, providing near-CD quality audio streaming.
  • Suitable for Digital Archiving: The combination of lossless quality and smaller file size makes FLAC an excellent format for long-term audio archiving, preserving audio collections without costing too much in storage space.

Cons of FLAC:

  • Decoding Overhead: FLAC requires decoding during playback, which may involve slightly more processing time than playing uncompressed WAV files. However, modern devices can handle FLAC decoding with ease.
  • Not Ideal for Real-Time Recording: Due to the need for decoding, FLAC may not be the best choice for real-time audio recording applications that require immediate and direct playback.
  • Less Widely Supported in Car Audio Systems: Some older car audio systems and portable players may not natively support FLAC playback, limiting its usability in certain devices.
  • Not Completely Lossless for Editing: Although FLAC ensures lossless quality during playback, repeated editing and re-encoding may lead to cumulative degradation compared to the original uncompressed audio.
  • Less Common in Professional Studios: While FLAC is a versatile format, it is not as common in professional studio settings compared to WAV, which remains a staple for studio recording and mastering.

In conclusion, FLAC’s key strength is its ability to offer lossless audio quality while significantly reducing file sizes. If you are looking for a practical choice for streaming, sharing, and long-term archival then FLAC is a great option to consider.

Keep in mind, it requires decoding during playback, and it may not be the best format for real-time recording. 


If you are confused about lossy and lossless formats. Here is a quick rundown to get you up to speed about these systems.

What Is A Lossy Format?

Lossy audio formats employ compression algorithms that discard some audio data to reduce file sizes significantly. 

This data loss is often done in areas of the audio that the human ear is less sensitive to, allowing for a substantial size reduction while maintaining acceptable audio quality for the average listener. Examples of lossy formats include MP3, AAC, and WMA. 

What Is A Lossless Format?

Lossless audio formats, such as WAV and FLAC, preserve the original audio quality without any data compression or loss of information. 

This means that when you encode an audio file into a lossless format and then decode it back, the resulting audio will be bit-for-bit identical to the original source. This is why lossless formats are preferred in professional audio settings, where the highest level of audio fidelity is essential.

What Are The Differences Between Lossy and Lossless Formats?

There are three main differences between lossy and lossless formats:

Use Cases: Lossless formats are preferred for professional audio tasks, archiving, and situations where audio quality is critical. Lossy formats are more suitable for everyday listening, online streaming, and situations where storage efficiency is a priority.

Audio Quality: The most significant difference between lossless and lossy formats lies in audio quality. Lossless formats, like WAV and FLAC, maintain 100% audio quality, while lossy formats sacrifice some audio data to achieve smaller file sizes. With a lossy format you will not get the same (or sometimes not even close to the same) audio quality as the original. 

File Size: Lossless formats have larger file sizes compared to lossy formats. The extent of size reduction depends on the level of compression used in lossy formats. Overall, the difference can be quite significant.

How Are Lossy and Lossless Connected To WAV and FLAC?

Both WAV and FLAC are lossless formats. The difference is that WAV is a completely uncompressed format. This means that WAV will deliver the exact quality as the original file. 

FLAC employs a lossless compression technology. So even though the file size is slightly smaller (due to the compression) the audio quality is still just as good as the original. 

Compressed vs Uncompressed

When deciding between FLAC and WAV, you are essentially choosing between compressed and uncompressed audio formats. 

Depending on what you intend to do, this could make a big difference to your project. Here is what you should keep in mind when choosing between the two. 

Uncompressed Audio Format (WAV):

WAV (Waveform Audio File Format) is an example of an uncompressed audio format. It preserves the original audio waveform without any data compression or loss of information. 

This has a couple of advantages as well as a couple of drawbacks. 


  • Highest Quality Format: WAV offers the highest audio quality possible, making it ideal for professional audio recording, mastering, and archiving. 
  • Perfect for Real-Time Recording: The lack of compression or decoding during playback makes WAV efficient for real-time audio recording applications where immediate playback is essential.


  • Large File Size: One of the primary drawbacks of WAV is its large file size. Uncompressed audio results in significantly larger files compared to compressed formats.

Compressed Audio Format (FLAC):

FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) is an example of a compressed audio format. While there is compression applied, FLAC is unique because you do not lose any audio quality. The compression process only discards redundant audio information, allowing for smaller file sizes without any loss of audio quality.


  • Smaller File Size: FLAC offers significant size reduction compared to WAV, making it more practical for a lot of tasks that are limited by storage capacity and/or file size. 
  • Lossless Audio Quality: Despite compression, FLAC maintains lossless audio quality, ensuring that the audio can be accurately reconstructed during decoding.


  • Decoding Overhead: Decoding is required during playback, which may involve slightly more processing time compared to uncompressed formats like WAV. This can be a major problem in certain situations. 

Choosing Between FLAC and WAV:

The choice between FLAC and WAV boils down to your specific audio requirements and priorities. 

If you prioritize the highest audio fidelity and work in a professional audio environment where storage space is not a concern, WAV is the preferred option. 

On the other hand, if you value efficient storage and need to manage large audio collections, FLAC is the more practical choice. 

FLAC’s lossless compression offers smaller file sizes without compromising audio quality, making it well-suited for streaming, online distribution, and other tasks.


On the topic of audio formats, you will commonly hear the phrases ‘sample rate’ and ‘bit depth (aka bit rate).’ These are two important things you need to consider when choosing an audio format as they have a direct and profound impact on the quality of the output. Here is what you need to know about these two things. 

Sample Rate

The sample rate refers to the number of audio samples taken per second during the recording or playback of digital audio. The sample rate is measured in Hertz (Hz) and commonly represented as kilohertz (kHz), such as 44.1 kHz or 48 kHz.

A higher sample rate allows for a more precise representation of the original audio waveform, especially in capturing high-frequency details and transients. This is because a higher sample rate means you are capturing more information per second of whatever you are recording. 

Bit Depth

The bit depth refers to the number of bits used to represent each audio sample. It plays a significant role in the dynamic range and precision of audio data. Common bit depths include 16-bit and 24-bit.

Overall, the bit depth affects the audio’s resolution and how well the audio accurately represents volume levels and subtle audio nuances of the original file. A higher bit depth allows for a wider dynamic range and better signal-to-noise ratio, resulting in higher audio quality.

Free vs Open-Source

In the realm of audio formats, you will also come across the discussion of free vs open-source formats. Here is what you need to know about these two types of formats. 

Free Audio Formats:

Free audio formats refer to formats that are available for use without any cost. Users can freely access, distribute, and utilize these formats without the need to pay licensing fees or royalties. 

Some examples of free audio formats include WAV (Waveform Audio File Format) and MP3 (MPEG Audio Layer III). WAV is a commonly used format in the audio industry, while MP3 is a popular lossy audio format for online distribution and portable devices.

Open-source Audio Formats:

Open-source audio formats are formats whose source code is made available to the public, allowing users to modify, improve, and customize the format to suit their specific needs.

FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) is an example of an open-source audio format. Its source code is freely available, enabling developers to work on enhancements and customize it according to user-specific implementations.

Which is Better, Wave or Flac? – Verdict

Deciding between WAV and FLAC can be a tough decision. They are both excellent formats (in terms of audio quality) and choosing the right one for you really depends on what your requirements are and what will be most convenient to use in your particular situation. 

Overall, WAV offers the highest audio quality and also gives you a lot of flexibility for audio manipulation and processing down the line. If file size is not a problem then this is certainly the format to go for.

Especially if you are working in the music industry and you need to be collaborating with other professionals. WAV will make it much easier to optimize your workflow and get the best results possible. 

If you need a smaller file size and you need your audio files to be more suitable for quick transfers, cloud storage, streaming or any other similar activities then FLAC will be a great choice. 

Also, if you are an audio engineer or a music professional but you are working with old or less-capable hardware then using FLAC will be less stressful for your machine as it will be less data to process. 

Why Bother About Audio File Format?

The audio file format you choose will first and foremost have a direct impact on the audio quality of your project. Whether you are recording songs, scoring for a film or even if you are just a casual listener, the format plays a huge role in quality. 

For audio professionals who need to further process raw audio the audio format will dictate how easy it is to work with the file, how much manipulation the file can handle, how easily the audio can be converted into other formats for distribution, how efficiently the overall workflow will be, and many other aspects of audio production. 

Also, keep in mind that certain audio formats will cost you money to use in the form of licensing fees or royalty charges. So choosing the right format could potentially also have a financial impact. 

You also want to make sure your hardware will support the audio format you choose. You might pick a great format but if your hardware doesn’t support it, your project will have ended before it even started. 


In conclusion, it is safe to say that there is no single best format for all audio applications. In fact, the reason why we have so many different formats is precisely because people have different requirements in different situations. 

Even on the same project, you may feel the need to convert your audio into a different format to get the results that you need. 

In terms of WAV and FLAC, WAV is certainly the audio format to go with if you are fine with larger file sizes and you can manage the WAV format throughout your audio workflow. However, FLAC is a very good alternative if WAV is out of the question given your circumstances.