The Best File Formats for High-End Audio

The Best File Formats for High-End Audio

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.

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