WAV vs MP3: Which Audio Format is Best for Podcasting?

.

WAV and MP3 are the two main audio file types used for podcasts, but which one is better? You'd have to be a tech expert to know the answer off the top of your head. Various elements influence the answer, such as the audio quality, encoding method, device compatibility, etc.

Choosing between WAV and MP3 depends primarily on what you're using the audio for, and our guess is that you want to publish a podcast. Luckily, ZenCast is the ideal podcasting solution, offering all the features necessary to create, edit, and publish your perfect podcast. 

You must choose WAV or MP3 as the go-to audio file to ensure your podcast audio is crisp and glitch-free. To take your pick, keep reading for a full MP3 vs WAV comparison, including their playback, compression, encoding method, and more. 

What is WAV?

WAV is an audio file type known as a "container file," storing the sample, track number, and other important information. This information typically relates to the sample and bit rates. WAV is typically uncompressed but can support some compression when required. 

WAV is lossless, which allows it to store more details within the container file. However, this causes the files to be much bigger, getting as large as 4 GBs occasionally. The upside of WAV files is that they typically have far better quality. 

Since these files have a lossless nature, they retain much more of the original audio, causing it to sound much better. It's also worth noting that WAV files are the industry standard for recording, especially podcasts, allowing podcasters to ensure greater detail. 

WAV has certain issues with compatibility. Most software recognizes WAV, but you'll also find certain options that don't, such as YouTube. Another downside is that WAV has prohibitive file sizes, which makes sending big WAV files hard.

Pros

Here are the pros of using WAV files.

  • Better quality

  • Industry-standard for recording

  • Perfect for editing projects

Cons

Here are the cons of using WAV files.

  • Prohibitive file sizes

  • Compatibility issues

What is MP3?

MP3 is a lossy audio file with a compression algorithm, resulting in a much smaller overall file size. These are called "lossy" files because you cannot reverse their compression, resulting in data loss. 

Fortunately, this data loss doesn't always mean that too much audio quality is lost, but it somewhat limits the file types. In an MP3 vs. WAV test, the file types are compressed up to 80-90%. For example, you may compress a 25 MB WAV file to a 3-4 MB MP3 file.

MP3s are very popular because they retain audio quality even after compression. However, it does reduce the file size significantly, which was only useful when people used smaller hard drives on MP3 players and computers. 

Those that want to store more files on one device can benefit from the compression capabilities of MP3. Plus, they're compatible with nearly every device since it has been an industry standard for a long time. MP3 offers various options for different bitrates and quality in the files.

Since MP3s are lossy, some data may get lost along the way. It's also worth noting that MP3s may have compression artifacts, which causes unwanted noise, such as hissing, to stay in the file. 

Pros

Here are the pros of using MP3 files.

  • Easy compression for more storage

  • Exceptional compatibility

  • Various bitrates and quality

Cons

Here are the cons of using MP3 files.

  • Lossy files

  • Compression artifacts leave hissing sounds

Difference Between WAV and MP3

WAV and MP3 differ in multiple ways, such as the quality, encoding method, device compatibility, size, compression, playback, and special software required. Here's a complete comparison of the difference between WAV files and MP3. 

Quality

When you compare the quality of WAV with the quality of MP3, you'll find that WAV always delivers better quality. The quality of these audio file types, however, depends on various factors. For example, WAV files are lossy since you can almost always compress them.

In this case, the results show that MP3 files deliver better quality and more detail since they're not lossy. A detailed comparison of WAV and MP3 will also show that WAV files hold more data, resulting in much better quality. 

If you recorded an audio file on a microphone to an MP3 file, then recorded the same audio file on the same microphone to a WAV file, you'll find better quality and more data in the latter. 

Encoding Method

WAV files are most commonly found in uncompressed audio files and encoded in the linear pulse-code modulation (LPCM) format. Regarding data, it's worth noting that 24-bit options are more reliable and effective than 16-bit options.

On the other hand, MP3 has various encoding methods, with a maximum of 16-bit audio options and 320 kbps bitrate. 

Device Compatibility

MP3 and WAV are pretty compatible with different devices since they are both popular options in the industry. For example, WAV files are compatible with both Apple and Android devices, but some devices and software don't support WAV files. 

WAV is generally compatible with most modern media players. On the other hand, MP3 was the industry standard for nearly two decades, which is why it has high compatibility with virtually every device. 

It may be a struggle for you to find platforms that don't recognize or support MP3 files. MP3 files are also used for most websites due to their easy compression and various bitrates. 

Size/Compression

As we mentioned earlier, MP3 files are really easy to compress, but it does cause them to lose some of their quality and details. In addition, MP3 files are lossy, which means losing some of the audio is inevitable. 

You probably won't even notice the difference if you're not an audiophile or have a so-so sound system. There's no doubt that the convenience factor of MP3 files makes up for the lossy nature of the file. 

In comparison, WAV files are much bigger. That's because these files store far more data, which is why people consider WAV a professional audio format. In addition, these are lossless files, so your podcast won't have to suffer any loss of audio. 

Special Software Requirement

It's barely a requirement, but some audio file types require special software to make them work on your device. The problem may be the device, which doesn't support WAV or MP3 files. 

For example, some Android devices require a special media player to support WAV or MP3 files. Unfortunately, WAV files don't have the same compatibility levels as MP3 when it's time to upload audio files. 

You may not be able to upload WAV files directly to YouTube, so you'll need to utilize an audio format converter to switch to a compatible format, such as MP3. 

Playback

WAV and MP3 have fairly smooth playback, but it's important to consider the audio source when judging the playback. For example, WAV files have longer playback while streaming the audio, resulting in more buffering. If you're on limited bandwidth, it's best to opt for MP3 while streaming audio.

WAV vs MP3: Which One To Choose

While choosing the right audio type to use, you must consider the type of content you're making. If you're wondering, "Is a WAV file better than MP3 for podcasting?" the short answer is yes. The long answer is that WAV are lossless files, resulting in better quality audio with more details. 

If you're looking for a professional audio file for podcasting, look no further than WAV. If you don't want to go through extra effort converting the audio before uploading it on YouTube, go for MP3. In addition, MP3 also helps you reach your audiences faster since it offers compression options with ease. 

Once you choose your desired audio format, you can publish your podcast on ZenCast, which has no uploading limitations. If you want to podcast privately to an exclusive audience for testing or other purposes, ZenCast also facilitates specific distribution. 

The best part is that ZenCast ensures that no ads are inserted into your content while allowing you to retain 100% ownership of your podcast. You are also free to work with any advertiser, and ZenCast doesn't add watermarks to your content. 

ZenCast supports WAV and MP3 files, so you don't need to worry about converting your content before publishing. Then, the platform distributes your podcast to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, and other listening platforms. All you have to do is record your podcast and let ZenCast handle the rest. 

Publish Your Podcast With ZenCast

However, both audio file types have pros and cons, so you can decide based on various factors such as time and compatibility. Regardless of the audio file type you choose, podcasting should be an enjoyable breeze for both the viewer and the podcaster. 

ZenCast helps you achieve that by eliminating all the manual labor of podcasting and taking the responsibility of recording, hosting, distributing, and monitoring your podcast. All you have to do is record your audio and publish it! Sign up now to introduce your podcast to the world.


Free podcasting lessons

Podcasting tips and resources delivered directly to your inbox.