TOP 10 most popular audio formats

The world’s most popular MP3 format has become the leader due to powerful advertising and promotion. And if we take it in terms of sound quality and in terms of compression and saving disk space, it is not the most efficient.

If you look closely, it’s obvious that every audio software is designed to have an option to work with MP3. Now even video software can handle this format. And that’s not to mention audio converters and special software converting youtube to mp3. 2020 is rich in musical events: The Beatles celebrates 60 years, Queen and Aerosmith – 50 years. Which means there are many awesome videos and great songs awaiting us this year. Therefore, it is important to make sure that you are listening to your music in the best possible quality.

As real field studies have shown, a good idea to rank the top ten of the best audio formats turned out to be an impossible task in principle.

Too different competition conditions for unequal participants. In addition, some corruption schemes or lobbies of transnational corporations in the field of audio recording interfere in our good cause to help people choose the best sound product.

Therefore, a compromise decision was made – to divide the test subjects into three groups and to compare and identify leaders by groups.

Three main types of audio formats

  • Without compression.
  • Lossless compression.
  • Lossy compression.

Uncompressed audio recording formats show their best only on high-quality, professional audio equipment.

If you have a budget tablet or smartphone in your hands, then wonderful music will sound in your gadget, but you will not hear it simply because the hardware and software resource and speakers or headphones are not able to reproduce such a high sound quality.

On the other hand, if you start MP3 sound recording through professional stereos and amplifiers, you will hear such noise and rattling in the speakers that, again, this kind of use will turn out to be completely meaningless.

Audio rating by type of sound-reproducing equipment

  1. For professional equipment – uncompressed audio formats.
  2. For semi-professional equipment – audio formats with compression. But no loss.
  3. For budget equipment – audio formats with compression and lossy.

In the first case, the hardware is so expensive that it’s ridiculous to worry about saving money on media.

In the second case, the owner of the Apple device will obviously be able to call himself to spend to buy additional memory.

In the third case, if a person buys a budget smartphone, then saving on the size of stored music is very important.

sound waves vector

Audio formats by high quality sound

This includes uncompressed formats.


Pulse Code Modulation. The original analog audio is sampled as is, without any modification.

PCM is the most common audio recording format used on CDs and DVDs. Multichannel dolby, surround, subject to high-quality speakers, sounding almost one-to-one with live performance.

If you like to sit down in front of a home theater and immerse yourself with empathy for the main and secondary characters of the movie, that’s it.


Quite an ancient format, developed already in 1991. Well, the old masters always thought of high quality.

Many people consider WAV to be an uncompressed format. But in fact, it is a container and it may contain compressed files.

In most cases, WAV contains uncompressed PCM audio. Therefore, the quality is high. But even for one minute of recording, about 32MB of memory is spent. Fairly good Windows and Mac compatibility.


An analogue of WAV from Apple developers. This is also a container and also most often contains sound in PCM format. Good Windows compatibility.

Lossy compressed audio formats. Truly popular formats for everyone.


According to the MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3 standard. It appeared back in 1993 and instantly won universal love precisely for its economy in memory consumption.

  • One CD can store the entire discography of your favorite band.
  • Throw a few discs into the glove compartment and you can enjoy music during a long trip.
  • You can during this time listen to all the books of all writers worthy to listen to them.

The MP3 format is such a sound eunuch, from which they cut out all the most unwilling, but began to show the ability to store and save. So MP3 is a very economical format.

The main advantage is that it is supported on absolutely all devices.


An advanced way of audio encoding. The younger but advanced brother of MP3. Has slightly improved sound characteristics and higher compression ratio.

Applies to Android, iOS, iTunes, YouTube, Nintendo and latest PlayStation versions. Also a common format.


In general, this is not a format, but a container, but most often it contains the Vorbis codec.

  • Significantly improved sound quality relative to other lossy compression formats.
  • It is possible to record files with lower weight with the same sound quality.

More economical than MP3. The problem is that the OGG format is free, so no one invests money in its promotion. So it may not be supported everywhere and incompatibilities may arise. Then you have to convert to MP3.


The proprietary format from Microsoft, therefore, although it is an improved version of MP3 and OGG, it has not received widespread use and is not supported on most devices and platforms.

Council. If it is possible to use WMA instead of MP3, use the first one. More economical and more pleasant to the ear.

Lossless compressed audio formats

For owners of advanced, expensive devices, branded mobile and desktop computers, complete with high-quality headphones and speakers.

The disadvantage of such formats is that the file sizes of the same recording duration will be approximately two or three times larger.

However, although lossless compression is declared, do not be confused with Hi-Fi audio recordings. There are minimal, albeit noticeable only for musicians, losses.


Free lossless audio codec. Its advantage is its widespread popularity, almost like MP3.

  • Compression ratio is up to 60% of the original file.
  • Supported on most software platforms and devices.

Can be a cost effective alternative when burning CDs. Almost indistinguishable in sound, but the bonus of saving nearly half the disk space.


Format for owners of Apple brand devices, as others may not be supported.

Slightly less good than FLAC in terms of compression ratio.

But Apple owners simply have no choice – the free FLAC format does not work on principle on iOS and iTunes.

WMA Lossless

An improved version of the aforementioned WMA. Slightly inferior to FLAC and ALAC. It has a significant advantage over ALAC, as WMA is well supported on Windows and Mac.

However, it is not widespread, so if you have many different devices in use, incompatibility is likely.


Well, we have considered all the most famous, widespread and having the best audio formats and briefly talked about the features of their use.

So now you can confidently decide in which case and in which format it is better to convert your sound recordings, music and audiobooks.