To WAV or not to WAV – is that the question?

To WAV or not to WAV – is that the question?

Well really, that shouldn’t even be a question, right?   The fellows over at give 20 reasons why WAV is better than mp3 – but we won’t list them all, we’ll just link their article here

Although we do agree with the guys at Audio Animal, there are some exceptions and times when uploading an mp3 will suffice.  For instance, if you’re just starting a new project and want to upload your rough demo, an mp3 works just fine.  Or if you’re auditioning an idea to someone’s project, uploading an mp3 is ideal.

With that said, there will be times when uploading a WAV will make a big difference, especially on ProCollabs.

  1. Uploading a WAV for the final mastered track is pretty important. Not only for better quality & overall sound during playback on the site, but it also benefits someone who downloads the final track and plays it on their computer or in their car.  ~Side note~ you can put a price tag on your song once it’s in the Music Library, and many buyers will be looking for a WAV as opposed to an MP3. (We do offer both options)
  2. Licensing opportunities. Initially, the majority of music supervisors ask you to submit an mp3.  However, if you get shortlisted then chosen, they ask for a WAV and many times the instrumental track.  Since ProCollabs handles the file exchange(s) on our site, we only accept WAVs for the license opps we offer.  That way we don’t have to keep the music supervisor waiting.

As I was researching into the whole WAV vs. mp3 debate, I stumbled upon a very interesting article called, “How Well Can You Hear Audio Quality?” featured on

They created a six question multiple choice quiz where you listen to 3 different file types of the same song. There is an uncompressed WAV, a 128kbps mp3, and a 320kbps mp3.  I must admit, I was quite surprised that I was only able to guess the WAV twice out of the 6 questions.  Huh? Good grief, I better clean out my ears!  That quiz really threw me for a loop!

So what are your thoughts?  Do you prefer listening to WAVs or mp3’s?  Or does it even make a difference?  Leave your feedback/comments below.

5 thoughts on “To WAV or not to WAV – is that the question?

  1. Oh yay, a game 🙂 I just did the mp3 comparison test.. and lost!

    In my defense, I will say that I did it using my rubbish laptop sound card. But none the less, 2/6. Boo.

    Very interesting though. I found myself identifying tiny things that sounded off to me, like clicks, hisses, and crackles, only to then find the same artifacts on the comparison tracks too. It got very confusing.

    I’ve not done a comparison test before (not like this anyway) and what I was expecting was to hear some more obvious differences, like loss of punchyness or loss of airyness etc. According to the ear charts, I apparently can’t hear much above 16k (and now you know my age!).. but maybe that was a factor?!

    I’ll also say that some test bias played a part too. I caught myself unintentionally thinking, if the last correct answer was ‘A’, then will the right answer be ‘B’ or ‘C’, or are they trying to catch me out and its gonna be ‘A’ again??

    Again, very distracting thoughts when you are trying to take the test seriously because it biases your final.. guess! (turns out the questions and correct answers are in a random order each time you do it so know that before you give it a try.)

    But besides being impressed by these mp3s – yes, mp3 generally does get a lot of slack – I would never mix a song using mp3 tracks unless I absolutely had to!

    It’s not so bad when you take a single mastered track of a high quality wav file and turn that directly into an mp3, but if you were to mix a collection of 40+ mp3 seps/stems/tracks together then you would surely end up with the equation: barely audible artifacts X 40 = much more noticeable artifacts.

    It goes with out saying, I think, that if you want the best possible output, you need the best possible input, and that’s uncompressed audio.

    Fun article.. thanks!

  2. “…what I was expecting was to hear some more obvious differences…” – Yes, me too! That really threw me off, the quality all sounded very similar. I took the quiz again (with fresh ears) and still got only 2 right.

  3. ShadowofNine

    I got 6 outa 6…Fake news lol

    1. Seriously? You got 6 out of 6? Wow, that is impressive!! 🙂

  4. audiomixingonline

    The most basic reason to use WAV is what happens next to it; for listening – fine. However, if it’s going to be used for anything else, or might be transcoded again later your life will be ruined if you used an MP3. If you’re a rapper and you use an MP3 as your beat, for example to build a track around, then export the final mix as a wav, and then make an MP3 later the process is going to get ugly as you get nasty artefacts. This is why a lot of soundcloud rappers tracks sound terrible – the transcode of the MP3 beat into an MP3 happens twice!

Leave a Reply