The Best File Formats for High-End Audio
For the Best Sound in Your Dallas Home, Choose the Right Format
Music is continuously evolving. Just a few decades ago, CD players were considered “high tech,” yet now you can store thousands of files virtually and have them accessible at the push of a button. You might be familiar with different music file storage types like WAV, AAC, FLAC, AIFF, or DSD, but are you aware that the type of file and how it’s encoded has a huge impact on sound quality?
For a high-end audio system in your Texas home, you need more than just quality speakers—you need music files that are able to reproduce the top-notch sound of the original recording. To learn about these file formats and the difference they can make in the listening experience, read on.
Why File Format Matters
When you think of music files, MP3 probably comes to mind. It’s a very popular method of storing music because you can hold a lot of songs without taking up much space. However, MP3 uses lossy data compression, which means the smaller the file, the lower the music quality. It used to be the case that if you wanted high-fidelity sound, you had to store huge music files, but new advances in file format types have made it possible to preserve original sound quality while keeping storage size small.
The rule of thumb when it comes to file formats is always to go lossless when you can. Some of the most popular lossless file types include FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec), AIFF (Audio Interchange File Format), and DSD (Direct Stream Digital). Each of these formats has its own merits, but honestly, the file format isn’t as important as the coding, which brings us to MQA.
MQA: A Must-Have for High-End Audio
MQA, which stands for Master Quality Authenticated, is a type of encoding method that reduces the size of high-fidelity music files without any loss in quality. Developed by Meridian Audio, MQA makes it possible to not only store tons of lossless music on your computer but also stream it! While popular music streaming services like TIDAL have not yet made MQA publically available, the launch is likely not far off.
The one drawback to MQA is that your sound system will need a Digital Audio Converter (DAC) in order to play the files. The good news is that the converter is quickly becoming a standard component for the top audio manufacturers.
SEE ALSO: How to Build the Perfect Listening Room
Hear It to Believe It
It’s one thing to say that sound quality is better with a certain file format and another thing to actually experience it. Challenge yourself to a music hearing test. Get the same song in two different file formats: one low-quality MP3 file and one MQA-encoded FLAC or DSD file. Then shuffle the songs and try to guess which one is the high-end audio option. You’ll hear firsthand why file format makes such a difference.