What is a WAV File?
WAVE (or most commonly WAV) is a file extension that represents Waveform Audio File Format. This file format was introduced by IBM and Microsoft for storing an audio bitstream. As such, it’s sometimes referred to as Audio for Windows, or Microsoft Audio File, though neither of these monikers are official. WAV files are also compatible with Apple and Linux operating systems, as the format takes into account the differences in the CPUs of each.
Usually uncompressed, WAV files tend to be larger than their MP3 counterparts. Files formatted as .WAV can never be any larger than 4 GB, which still equates to roughly 7 hours of audio. The audio quality for WAV files is unsurpassed as it produces CD-like quality, though CDs do not use the format due to the extensive file size.
Why would you use a WAV file if it’s going to take up so much space on your hard drive? People use WAV files today to store audio of all kinds because of the quality of the sound that it produces. It’s also incredibly malleable and easy to manipulate using inexpensive, easy-to-use software. You can compress it easily enough with Windows Audio Compression Manager which utilizes Sound Recorder that can be found in many versions of Windows.
Though playing back audio is the primary function of WAV files, it’s not the only one. It’s uncommon, but not entirely unheard of, for people to store bits of text information inside of the file. If you have a chunk of audio that refuses to play with any given media player, you may have one that holds text information that can be viewed using Notepad on your computer. As always, please be careful with opening any executable file in which you’re unsure of the source.