Guide to various audio file formats



Several audio formats are based on the RIFF (Resource Interchange File Format), it is a general purpose standard.

The principle is to define containers and tips, and sundry identified by their first four bytes, which are generally ASCII characters, so that it can be read by technicians who open the file with a hex editor, followed by four bytes which indicate the end (this limits the number of bytes of a RIFF file size 4 GB).

A RIFF file starts with RIFF and the total length, then there is the identifier of the first sub-container, for example ” INFO ” followed by the length of this piece, which begins at the end.


WAV (or WAVE), (Waveform audio format) is a container based on RIFF file format, wherein the identifier is WAVE. It can contain audio coding with reduced flow or not, mono or stereo, it was developed by Microsoft and IBM. The information needed for decoding is at the beginning of the file. WAV allows you to store metadata in the file.

Most often, it contains no audio data reduction, with sampling frequencies and various resolutions.

The file suffix is created. Wav


BWF (Broadcast Wave Format) is a standard audio format created by the European Broadcasting Union as a better WAV for professional use. BWF files include a standardized Timestamp reference which enables and facilitates synchronization with an element of distinct picture. This is the usual recording format of many professional audio workstations television and film.

Stand -alone , file-based , multi – recorders Sound Devices, Zaxcom, HHB USA, Fostex and Aaton all use BWF as their preferred format.


Ogg Vorbis is a free format fruit by the foundation. Ogg is a container that can contain audio lossless soundtracks (FLAC), encoded with the Vorbis psychoacoustic codec, spoken audio (Speex ) and video (Theora). A file ‘ Ogg ‘ can contain one (or a combination) of tracks.


The AIFF is a format for storing sounds on Apple computers. This is equivalent to the WAV format in the Windows world.

Resolutions 8, 16 , 20, 24 and 32-bit (floating point) are accepted.

The file suffix is created. Aif. A variant of AIFF -C compresses the size up to 6x.


CAF ( Core Audio Format ) was developed by Apple to overcome the limitations of older audio containers such as AIFF or WAV.

It is compatible with Apple Mac OS X system from version 10.3 and is readable by Quicktime 7.

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