AUDIO FILE EXTENSIONS  What are they and types? ▷ 2020

Gone are the CDs, their music devices and, in fact, even the radio. Now digital is taken in all aspects and in its most current version and we listen to everything through files, data or tracks that include sound content that we can reproduce with different programs and appliances.

Part of these is the audio file extension, which Is that which indicates the type of track which is the one in front of us. Of course, we also have other elements, although the one that interests us and which we will talk about next is precisely that.

We advise you to save this post in bookmarks because It will come in handy when it comes to identifying the audios that you download and knowing how to play them. We are going to show you, therefore, what these formats are, why and what they are used for and where and how you can reproduce the audios that they accompany.

What is the extension or format of an audio file and what is it really used for?

what is AUDIO file extension

The format of a file will tell us how it is built, what its characteristics are and what software or program we can run it with. In the case of the audio file extension, what it is going to tell us, in effect, are the characteristics that this soundtrack has.

Each extension assumes a type of quality, compression, program and codecs necessary for interpretation and reproduction, etc. Everybody file types audio consists of a name. The extension would be the alphanumeric group that we find accompanied by a period after said name.

For example, the track “NoMeAcuerdo.mp3”:

It tells us that this song is called “I don’t remember” (“I don’t remember”) and that the extension it has is of type “.mp3”, that is, its characteristics are those necessary for mp3 players can reproduce them.

It is worth mentioning that so that they can achieve it, both they and the files must have codecs, which are small elements that are responsible for encoding and decoding information and who act as interpreters.

The codecs are found in each song or track and correspond to one type of extension or another (also called format). The player of audio that we want to use has to work with those same codecs, so that there is an interaction between the two and the information contained in the file in question can be deciphered.

It should be noted, although we have already said it, that only by knowing the format of a track we can get an idea of ​​its quality. In this regard, there are two essential concepts.

  • Sample rate: A sample is a piece or sample. Audio software uses these to play the tracks efficiently. The rate is simply the number of samples that are played in each second of recording. Obviously, the greater the quantity, the more elements working in the same track instant and, therefore, the more details that are obtained (or maintained).
  • Bit Depth: Bit depth is, in turn, the information found within each sample. This is similar to what we find in the image sector, obtaining, therefore, that more bits represent more information in each sample.

Types of audio file extensions and formats and their associated programs for playing them

Of course, we will end by telling you what are the characteristics of the most used audio extensions, we will name the rest so that you do not lose sight of them and, obviously, we will tell you where you will be able to reproduce each one of them.

Extension Characteristics Program


  • Maintains high (CD) quality relative to excellent compression of 1/10 or more.
  • Minimum weight, with 1 Megabyte per minute of music.
  • Easy to get from a .wav.
  • Main format on webs.
  • MP3 players
  • All browsers
  • The vast majority of audio playback software (Windows Media Player, iTunes, VLC, MAX Tray Player, 5K Player, Winamp, Real Player, Rhythmbox …)


  • Developed by Microsoft.
  • PCM encoded to maintain Sample Rate and Bit Depth, without loss of quality.
  • Extension par excellence to save original audios.
  • It offers different sample size.
  • Perfect quality.
  • Huge weight (between 20 and 30 Mb per song).
  • Samples at 8 or 16 bits.
  • Storable with different compression.
  • Frequent use for short mono fragments.
  • Professional use.
  • Compatible with the vast majority of codecs
  • CD players
  • Microsoft Zune
  • Any known playback software (iTunes, QuickTime Player, Microsoft Windows Media Player, VLC, Real Player, JetAudio, ALLPlayer …)
  • Multimedia suites (Nero, Helium Music Manager, Movavi Audio Suite Personal …)
  • Audio converters (MID converter, Wondershare Video Converter …)
  • On all operating systems


  • Apple’s .wav version.
  • Encoding with PCM.
  • Dual channel stereo audio.
  • High quality.
  • Great weight.
  • No compression.
  • Players (iTunes, Apple QuickTime Player, Nullsoft Winamp Media Player, Winamp, Media Player Classic …)
  • Audio editors (Adobe Audition CS6, AIFF MP3 Converter, AIFF Player Plus, AIFF Converter Plus, FLV Crhunch for Mac …)


  • Microsoft’s alternative to mp3 (identical bit rate)
  • A compressed .wav.
  • Compressible to different variables up to 768 kbit / s.
  • Windows Media Suite
  • Browsers
  • Converters (Xiisoft Video Converter, Power WMA Recorder, Bluefox WMA MP3 converter, 4Musics WMA Bitrate Changer, HiFi WMA Cutter …)
  • Players (VLC Media Player, Media Player Classic, Winamp, ArcSoft TotalMedia Theater, Mullsoft Winamp Media Player …)


  • Alternative to .mp3, open source.
  • Great compression with a loss of quality, but not too much.
  • Common on Spotify for this balance.
  • It usually requires external codecs.
  • It can also contain video.
  • The sample rate is highly variable, offering many quality and compression alternatives.
  • Spotify
  • Player software (AIMP, VLC Media Player, Xion Audio Player, Audials One, Aiseesoft Blu-ray Player, 5K Player, Media Player Lite, Elmedia Player …)
  • Player software installing codecs (Windows Media Player)
  • GPS and browsers using extensions like Web Media Extensions


  • Lossless or lossless audio format.
  • Open, free license.
  • Compression up to 60% with negligible loss of quality.
  • Streaming sample rates up to 1411 kbps.
  • Very flexible
  • Metadata tagging.
  • It does not store floating point data.
  • Much use in recordings
  • Tidal platform
  • Players with codecs (VLC Player, Foobar 2000, AIMP, Clementime
  • Players, with plugins (Windows Media Player with DirectShow filter, Fluke, dBpoweramp …)
  • Mobile applications (Pi Player, Powerap, Pulsar, TuneShell if they are stored in the SoundCloud …)
  • Portable players (AK100 II, Cowon D, Fiio XI …)
  • Convertores (Switch Audio Converter, Free Mp3 Wma Converter, MediaCoder, GX: Transcoder …)


  • It’s Apple’s version of the .FLAC
  • You can convert a .FLAC into .ALAC
  • Audio editors (Sony SpectraLayers Pro, Apple Logic Pro, xrecore …)
  • Music players (iTunes, QuickTime Player, Windows media Player -with codec pack -…)


  • Highest quality format of the moment, from Sony and Philips
  • 1bit / 28224 MHz.
  • External DAC Headphone Amplifier


  • Digital interface for instruments.
  • Sequence store for MIDI devices.
  • Edition with specific programs.
  • Short weight and duration.
  • They save the score, not the sound.
  • Common use in HTML pages.
  • Musical instrumentation.
  • No rich sonic nuances.
  • Main players (QuickTime, Windows Media Player, ALLPlayer, Amarok, Winamp, QuickTime Player, Audacity, Media Player Classic …)
  • Converters (MOD Converter, MID 2 WAV, Advanced MID Converter …)


  • RealAudio, created by RealNetworks.
  • Majority use in live broadcasts on the internet.
  • Retransmission via packets, no download.
  • The file is stored on external servers.
  • It adapts, automatically, to the reception capacities of the users.
  • Players (RealPlayer, JetAudio, VLC Media Player, KMPlayer …)
  • Converters (Xilisoft Video Converter, Ultimate Video Covenverter, Xine, Switch Sound File Converter for Mac …)
  • Browsers, with RealPlayer plugin



  • It is based on a compression algorithm that includes loss.
  • The quality is higher than mp3.
  • Complete data is lost, especially redundancies and frequencies that our ears do not hear.
  • Maximum bitrate of 1536 kbps.
  • The bit rate is variable.
  • Designed as an extension of MPEG-2
  • Great use on the internet and in digital broadcast radio.
  • It allows to include copyright protection.
  • It requires very few resources.
  • Converters (Xilisoft Video Converter Ultimate, AAC Converter, Free Apple AAC, AAC to MP3 Converter, Any Audio Converter, Freemake Audio Converter …)
  • Players (RealPlayer, VLC Media Player, Media Player Classic, KMPlayer, Winamp, Free AAC MP3 Lite, Audacity, ALLPlayer, MPlayer, Winamp …)


  • It makes a perceptual compression to eliminate everything that our ears do not perceive.
  • There is a frequency limit of 120 Hz.
  • Supports both mono and stereo
  • Players (Apple QuickTime Player, Microsoft Windows Media Player, MPlayer, CyberLink PowerDVD 12, Nullsoft Winamp Media Player, Media Player CLassic, VLC Media Player …)
  • Converters (Free AC2 iPaod shuffle Converter Pro, Nero Burning ROM, AC3 Splitter, AC3 to OOG Free Converter …)

* If you are viewing the web from your smartphone, slide the table to the right to see all the data

Do you know other extensions to open and edit audio and sound files? Leave them in the comments and we will add them to the list, it will surely be of great value to other readers!

If you have any questions, leave them in the comments, we will answer you as soon as possible, and it will also be of great help to more members of the community. Thank you! 😉

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