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Difference Between MP3 and WMA

mp3_logoMP3 vs WMA
The move from CD players to solid state music players was fueled in part by the appearance of the MP3 format that compresses a file to less than 10% of the original CD quality file without suffering any distinguishable loss of quality. MP3 is a file format for sound files that uses a lossy compression mechanism where data that the software deems to be of little use is discarded. WMA or Windows Media Audio is a file format that is developed by Microsoft that uses the very same principle as MP3 to reduce the file size. They are practically the same in almost all aspects, except with what encoders they use to achieve the lossy compression to reduce the bitrate.

The bitrate is the amount of data that is used for every second of sound data. More bits per second result to a better sound. The bitrate isn’t the single factor in the sound quality though, the encoder should also be considered. The encoder is the software responsible for compressing the data and a better encoder could produce a higher quality sound. MP3 formats uses the Lame encoder while Microsoft has developed their own encoder for the WMA format. Many people have already observed that the WMA format can achieve better compression while keeping the same level of sound quality especially with lower bitrates. Although there are still a lot of MP3 purists who refuse to recognize the difference.

The downfall of the WMA is the fact that it is proprietary. This limits the possibilities of where and how you can use your files. Almost all multimedia devices support the MP3 format while the same cannot be said for WMA. The problems are not only limited to the hardware but the software as well. Since Microsoft owns this format, they can dictate who can or cannot use this format.

Summary:
1. Both are lossy formats that eliminate a portion of data in order to reduce the final file size.
2. MP3 is an industry standard while WMA is a technology developed and implemented by Microsoft for their products.
3. WMA produces better sound at low bitrates compared to MP3 which leads to smaller file sizes.
4. MP3 uses the Lame encoder while WMA uses its own.
5. Since the WMA format is proprietary, it is quite understandable why there are more devices that use the MP3 format compared to WMA.


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