Historically, almost every type of machine used its own file format for audio data. Over time, certain formats prevailed on the
internet: We list a number of these prevailing audio file formats here. Note that any file format can be converted to most any
other format with minimal data loss.
Common Audio File Formats used among the Internet community:
Standard extension: .au
This is probably the most common format on the web, and it is what we suggest you use if you are putting sounds
on the web.
Creator of the "au" format: Sun
Standard extension: .wav
MIME type: audio/x-wav
This format of file is probably most commonly seen on MS Windows based machines, but because there are so
many of them out there, they are fairly common.
Creator of the "wav" format: Crimosoft
AIFF audio format
Standard extension: .aiff
MIME type: audio/x-aiff
This is the common format on the mac, but it isn't all that common on the web right now.
Creator of the "aiff" format: Apple
MPEG audio format:
Standard extension: .mp2
MIME type: audio/x-mpeg
This is an emerging format, that may gain popular support, but is still a bit rare.
Creator of the "mp2" format: Xing Technology corporation
Real Audio format:
Standard extension: .ra, .ram:
MIME type: audio/x-pn-realaudio
Like the MPEG, this is also an emerging format.
Creator of the realaudio format: Progressive Networks
Standard extension: .mid .midi
MIDI stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface and has been the rage among electronic
musicians throughout its six year existence. It is a powerful tool for composers and teachers alike. It
allows musicians to be more creative on stage and in the studio. It allows composers to write music
that no human could ever perform. But it is NOT a tangible object, a thing to be had. MIDI is a
communications protocol that allows electronic musical instruments to interact with each other.
More Info: MidiWeb
FAQ: Audio File Formats
Arnell, Billy. "McScope: System." Music, Computers, and Software, April 1988: 58-60.
Conger, Jim. C Programming for MIDI. Redwood City: M & T Books, 1988.
Cooper, Jim. "Mind Over MIDI: Information Sources and System-exclusive Data Formats."
Keyboard October, 1986: 110-111.
Enders, Bernd and Wolfgang Klemme. MIDI and Sound Book for the Atari ST. Redwood City: M
& T Books, 1989.
Matzkin, Jonathan. "A MIDI Musical Offering." PC Magazine 29 Nov. 1988: 229+.
Peters, Constantine. "Reading up on MIDI for the Novice and the Pro." PC Magazine 29 Nov.