Short for Waveform audio format (also known as Audio for Windows) is a Microsoft and IBM audio file format (not a codec) for storing audio on PCs, similar to the AIFF format used on Macintosh computers. It is the main format used on Windows systems for uncompressed audio.
Uncompressed WAV files are large in size and as file sharing over the Internet has become popular, the WAV format has declined in popularity. However, it is still a commonly used file type, suitable for retaining 'first generation' archived files of high quality, or use on a system where disk space is not restricted or the time involved in compressing or uncompressing data is unwanted (for example while editing audio).
More frequently, the smaller file sizes of compressed but lossy formats such as MP3, AAC, Ogg Vorbis and WMA are used to store and transfer audio. Their small file sizes allow faster Internet transmission, as well as lower consumption of space on memory media.
However, There are also lossless codecs, such as FLAC, Shorten, Monkey's Audio, ATRAC Advanced Lossless, Apple Lossless, WMA Lossless, TTA, and WavPack that offer lossless but compressed files, but none of these is yet a ubiquitous standard for both professional and home audio.
Last modified 14th Dec 2011