Waveform Audio File Format or WAVE is an audio file format that was developed jointly by Microsoft and IBM. It was first released in 1991. The filename of WAVE files end with the extension .WAV or .WAVE. That’s why files in this format are also universally accepted as WAV files. It’s the main format used on Windows PC for raw and uncompressed audio. WAV file can contain both compressed audio and uncompressed audio. The most common WAV files are uncompressed; therefore WAV is frequently regarded as a lossless audio format which retains high sound quality. This file type is also used in radio stations.

Filename Extension: WAV

Category: Audio File

Popularity: Popular among music fans

Developer: Microsoft and IBM

Facts about WAV

  • Although WAV is commonly uncompressed, it still supports lossy compression and the Audio Compression Manager can be used to achieve that.
  • A WAV file does not only contain the audio part, it also has information about the file including the mono or stereo property, bit depth, sample rate and number of tracks.
  • WAV is a derivate of RIFF (Resource Interchange File Format), a generic container format for storing data of sound and video in tagged chunks.
  • The maximum file size of WAV files is up to 4GB. Files larger than this limit won’t be supported to encode in this format.

Pros: Uncompressed WAV files have the lossless audio quality. It’s supported on both Windows and Macintosh OS so its playback on these platforms is without any difficulties. Editing and manipulating this type of file is also easy as it doesn’t require any encoding or decoding.

Cons: Large size will be a concern if you don’t have enough space on your devices. This also makes it limited to share WAV files over the Internet.


Free Lossless Audio Codec or FLAC was developed by Erik de Castro Lopo, Josh Coalson and Xiph.Org Foundation and was initially released in 2001. Both WAV and FLAC are capable of retaining the lossless quality. Let’s have a more detailed analysis of these files through the comparison as follows:

Quality: WAV is an uncompressed lossless audio format and FLAC is a compressed lossless audio format. They are able to maintain the original file quality. Specifically, WAV format can be used on Windows system for represent typically uncompressed audio. Though files compressed by FLAC will be decreased to half of its original size but decompress the FLAC file will get an identical copy of the original audio data.

File Size: WAV audio files will be larger than FLAC files. When an audio file is compressed with FLAC format, the file size will be reduced to around 50-60% percent of the original file size while uncompressed WAV files just represent the uncompressed audio data as is.

Compatibility: FLAC is not as widely supported as WAV. WAV is a main audio format for Windows OS, all devices or gadgets running Windows OS support to broadcast files in this format. Apple iTunes also add support to WAV files. Contrarily, most operating systems won’t play FLAC files unless you download extra software for them.

Programs That Can Play WAV Files

Windows Media Player – Developed by Micorsoft, Windows Media player can play audio and video files. It can also be used for viewing images. This application is commonly utilized in computers running Windows and Windows-based devices. It’s also usable for Solaris, Mac OS X and Mac OS 7.

VLC Media Player – VLC Media Player is one of the most popular media players because it’s open source that can run on cross platforms. VLC is also portable so you can use it to play WAV files in different devices without installation.

iTunes – For Apple users, iTunes is a great tool that can let you play WAV files without installing extra software. iTunes can also be used as a media player, file transfer tool and device manager.

Winamp – This player was originally developed by Nullsoft, but is now owned by Radionomy. It is a media player for Windows, Mac and Android OS. Some of its new features include media library, playlist, music visualization,etc.

All-in-One Solutions for WAV format


Compress WAV files – WAV format is a lossless audio file format. It retains high quality of the original audio data but often with large file size. This file type is very space-consuming compared to other lossless formats like FLAC or APE. Even for lossless music lovers, it is not a good way to store original WAV files. Compress it to a reasonable file size is a nice choice.


Convert URL to WAV – There are quite a lot of online streaming music websites like Spotify and Deezer available for playing, sharing and discussing music online for free. If you intend to save them to your PC, you will need to pay money for them. In such cases, you can adopt a URL converter to convert URL to WAV with no quality loss.


Convert MP3 to WAV – MP3 format is a very common audio format compatible with nearly all kinds of media players and devices. But there are still chances that some gadgets or apps only accept WAV files. For instance, the windows startup music only works with WAV audio files. If you are intended to use your MP3 songs as the startup background music, you’ll have to convert MP3 to WAV.

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