Most experienced DJ’s will tell you that sound quality should be your biggest priority. It is great to be able to match a high end system in a club with a lossless, high quality music library that packs the right amount of punch. If you don’t focus on quality in your music library at the outset, you may find yourself with a library of some of the best synth or sample sessions you have recorded, only in 16 bit (CD quality). If you want to improve the quality to improved sound formats, the only thing you can do in such a situation is replace the library.
Types Of Music File Formats
So what are the different types of music file formats? There are effectively two types, lossless and lossy.
Lossy formats are files that have been compressed to reduce their size, by removing some data that the compressing algorithm believes will not change sound quality. Effectively, compression removes frequencies that aren’t audible to the human ear.
But many DJ’s refuse to play lossy formats because according to them, high end systems can reveal the difference between lossy and lossless. There are several types of lossy formats that you can come across.
· MP3 is the most commonly used lossy format.
· AAC (Advanced Audio Coding) comes with a file extension .m4a and is lossy but supposedly better (and newer) than MP3.
· Other old formats like OGG and WMA. Remember that these formats may not be compatible with your devices.
Lossless formats keep the recorded file as close to the original in quality as possible. They are also typically quite large in size and are not as widely available as lossy formats. This may be the reason why DJ’s don’t often use formats like FLAC, WAV, AIFF and Apple Lossless.
The Best Music File Formats - MP3, FLAC, AIFF Or WAV?
A common question that kid starting out learning how to DJ is, which file format is the best for their library? The answer is not straightforward. Technically, lossless formats are of the best quality and should be used by discerning DJ’s at all times. However, these take up a lot of storage space and can be be hard to find and expensive.
A good compromise that many DJ’s have made is with the MP3. Some DJ’s swear against MP3, claiming that the difference from lossless formats is too noticeable in quality. Others are not so picky and are happy with the convenient size of MP3, but in 320 kbps bit rates in which the sound quality is comparable to lossless quality.
At the same time, the newer iTunes-supported format of AAC performs better than MP3 at low bitrates. So if you decide to go with good quality lossy, AAC is definitely something to consider.
Most DJ’s use MP3 and this is evident in the file formats that DJ applications support. Nearly all of them support MP3, while some may offer additional support for AAC and FLAC or WAV and FLAC etc.
Which are the best music file formats? It’s a matter of availability of storage space, tracks and quality preference. A good balance of these is 320 kbps MP3, making it one of the most commonly used formats.