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Difference Between WMA and WMA Pro

WMA vs WMA Pro

Windows Media Audio, or more commonly known as WMA, is an audio format developed and popularized by Microsoft. It exists in four variants that include the standard WMA and WMA Pro. The main difference between WMA and WMA Pro is which one is better. If you are only concerned about sound quality, then WMA Pro is your best bet. Even though it is also a lossy codec like WMA, it improves on entropy coding as well as the different strategies it takes on quantizing the sound into a digital format. WMA Pro even does away with the bitrates at the low end of WMA’s spectrum because they lack the necessary capacity to encode high quality audio.

A feature missing in WMA but present in WMA pro is dynamic range compression. This feature reduces the difference between the loudest sound and quietest sound. This is achieved either by reducing the volume of the loud parts or increasing the volume on the quiet parts. With dynamic range compression, you get a more stable sound level that should let you hear the silent parts without disturbing the neighbors on the loud parts.

Lastly, there is the issue of compatibility. Nowadays, music is mostly played on portable devices like music players, phones, tablets, and other devices; in this area, WMA Pro losses quite dismayingly. WMA Pro is only compatible on a handful of music players. Most of the devices that play WMA Pro files are from Microsoft also; Zune, Xbox, and Windows 7 Phone to name a few. Due to the age and simplicity of WMA, it is playable in majority of music players that are available nowadays, so you don’t have to worry about your player not supporting your music files.

If you want better audio quality, using WMA Pro is better than just plain WMA. But you should make sure that your devices are able to support the newer format. If you have an older device, it is better to stick with WMA to minimize the possibility of incompatibilities that will cause your files not to play at all.

Summary:

  1. WMA Pro is a better codec than WMA
  2. WMA Pro is unable to encode at low bitrates while WMA can
  3. WMA Pro supports dynamic range compression while WMA does not
  4. WMA Pro is supported by far fewer devices than WMA

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