WAV Versus MP3 Files
Today we answer the question,
"What is best for recording EVPs, MP3 or WAV?"
With all things in paranormal evidence gathering one needs to keep “evidence” in it's purest form. In photography and video-graphy this is referred to as a Raw Image File – which is basically a file that the camera has yet to process into a “standard saving format" such as TIFF or JPEG.
Audio also has a variation of this known as WAV which stands for WAVE AUDIO FILE FORMAT - WAV is the Microsoft version of this format, Apple Macs use AIFF format
Wav. is the recording in its rawest digital form and is usually uncompressed. This format is easily compressed into other formats such as MP3, but as with all compression, will lose some audio quality with the filtering that compression causes.
One disadvantage of the WAV file is its large size, which is due to the rawness of the audio. Many recorders limit this to a 4 gigabyte chunk, which is equivalent to about 6.8 hours of CD quality audio.
Sony Sound Forge uses a 64bit recording option allowing for greater audio sample quality.
Mp3 was devised by the Moving Picture Experts Group or “MPEG” as most people know them. MP3 uses the “Lossy compression algorithm” to encode and compress data, this causes a significant loss of data to make file sizes smaller and easier to transfer.
(you can see a picture representation of this on Wikipedia here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lossy_compression )
Advantages of MP3 are the ability to split and “album-wrap” audio files and the ability to upscale or downsize a file format and audio quality – however neither of these are useful to the paranormal investigator.
Essentially what we are looking for is to keep our EVP files as raw as possible for ourselves and other investigators, as well as audio specialists to be able to evaluate what we have captured in its purest digital form. MP3 format does not allow us to do this, thus the WAV files format is a much more useful tool – the only downside being when one tries to make a video of their EVP capture, some video editing programs use MP3 encoding as standard and therefore the audio quality will drop in the video.
This can also apply to uploads to some social network sites and site similar to Youtube.
Researched and Written by
For the S.A. Paranormal Meet-up May 12th 2012
This site features a "Sound Test" of both formats