Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between WAV and WMA

computer1WAV vs WMA

Windows Media Audio or WMA is a recent file format that was created by Microsoft as the default for their media applications. WAV is simply a shortened version of WAVE. It uses the PCM encoding method that is also used by audio CDs. WMA stores compressed audio in order to minimize the file size without sacrificing too much sound quality. Although WAV is also capable of storing compressed audio, it is rarely used as such. WAV files often contain uncompressed audio that occupies a lot of drive space for every second of sound.

Due to the age difference between WAV and WMA, there is also a major difference between the number of devices that are able to play files that are encoded each format. WMA is only supported by more recent devices, including music players. WAV is very simple and almost all devices that are able to play sound are also able to play WAV files. Applications use WAV to ensure that it is able to play the sounds as WAV is often the greatest common denominator between operating systems when it comes to playing sound.

Use of WAV has fallen to the wayside over the years, due largely in part to people’s misconception that it is not able to hold compressed files. Most users prefer to use popular lossy formats like MP3, WMA, and AAC. Although WMA is not the leading file format for use in portable devices, the number of devices that have WMA files are on the rise. This is largely because of the backing by Microsoft and the popularity of the Windows operating system.

When it comes to editing, WAV is often the preferred format between the two. Since the audio in the file is uncompressed, the computer does not need to keep on compressing and uncompressing the data in order to implement the edits done on the audio stream.

Despite being very different from each other, WAV and WMA each have their own uses. WMA is largely used to store music and other audio files that are quite long because of its excellent quality to size ratio. WAV is often used by a lot of applications to store tiny bits of sounds like beeps and clicks.


1. WMA is used to store compressed audio while WAV is typically used to store uncompressed audio

2. WAV is supported by virtually all devices while WMA is only supported by more recent devices

3. WMA is very popular while WAV is seldom used

4. WAV is much easier to work with compared to WMA when editing sound files

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  1. Very clear, useful info. Thanks.

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