What Format Ought to DJs Purchase Music In? A DJ’s Information To MP3, FLAC, WAV

Do your eyes cross whenever you see all of the audio format choices to select from within the Bandcamp obtain menu? The excellent news is you could DJ with all of them, however every file sort gives totally different audio decision, file measurement, and software program compatibility. Right here’s a simple breakdown of audio file sorts particularly for DJs, together with how rather more you possibly can anticipate to pay if you wish to step up from MP3s.

Discussions on audio file sorts can get very educational, very subjective, and truthfully fairly tiresome when what we actually care about is slaying a decent combine and rocking a lit celebration. So this audio file format breakdown will give attention to some bottom-line issues:

  • Which codecs sound higher than others?
  • How a lot drive house do they require?
  • How a lot do they price?
  • Will they work along with your DJ software program?

What (Frequent) Codecs Can DJs Purchase Music In?

Introducing the gamers on this sport, probably the most generally purchased, offered, and spun audio codecs.

Compressed, lossy codecs:

  • MP3 – coded at 192kbps, 320kbps, and variable bit fee (VBR).
  • AAC –  aka .m4a recordsdata. These lossy recordsdata share the .m4a extension with lossless ALAC recordsdata, however AAC refers back to the lossy recordsdata which might be offered for instance at iTunes.
  • Ogg Vorbis – free and open-source audio coding format

Compressed, lossless codecs:

  • FLAC – Free Lossless Audio Codec
  • ALAC – Apple Lossless Audio Codec

Uncompressed codecs:

Audio High quality Matchups

On DJTT and web boards around the globe, there are enormous debates about noticeable high quality variations when evaluating file codecs and bit charges. Right here’s our tackle the commonest questions:

192k vs. 320k MP3: Is There a Distinction?

Sure. A/B testing exhibits a noticeable distinction in audio high quality between these two bit charges. In the event you’re going to DJ with MP3s, it’s value going with the very best bit fee.

Juno Obtain helps you to select between 192k MP3s at a mean value of $1.49 per monitor, or 320k MP3s at a mean value of $1.89 per monitor. The 192k MP3 may also prevent about 1MB of disk house per minute of audio. All of those selections are subjective, however I vote to put money into the higher-quality audio.

VBR MP3 vs. CBR 320k MP3: Is There a Distinction?

Bandcamp helps you to select between fixed bit fee (CBR) 320k MP3s and “V0” MP3s, that are variable bit fee (VBR) MP3s that will attain 320k for elements of a monitor, however be lowered for different elements. The primary level for V0 MP3s is to avoid wasting disk house by decreasing the bit fee for much less complicated parts of a monitor.

Aspect by aspect, there’s little or no, if any, distinction between the audio of those 320k and V0 MP3s. Nonetheless, there’s all the time a risk that you just’ll lose some audio constancy in a V0 MP3, so it’s matter of assured constancy vs. saving some disk house. With strong state drives, thumb drives, exterior drives, and many others. being what they’re at present, my guess is you could afford the marginally bigger file measurement of CBR 320k MP3s, nevertheless it’s not an enormous deal.

MP3 vs. lossy AAC / lossy Ogg Vorbis: Is There a Distinction?

AAC and Ogg Vorbis recordsdata do sound barely however noticeably higher than MP3s

In my very own private listening checks, corroborated by many others’ opinion, when music is encoded on the similar bit fee to MP3, AAC, and Ogg Vorbis codecs, the AAC and Ogg Vorbis recordsdata do sound barely however noticeably higher than the MP3s. There’s a distinction within the fullness of the sound and the bass within the AAC and Ogg Vorbis recordsdata.

It’s a refined distinction, however as soon as you understand it’s there, it’s just a little annoying that MP3 grew to become the ever present format, quite than one of many others. AAC and Ogg Vorbis recordsdata weigh in simply barely bigger than MP3s, albeit a negligible quantity. Most software program helps Ogg (see chart), however every little thing helps AAC, so chances are you’ll wish to take into account it over MP3 whenever you convert music down from lossless codecs.

ALAC vs. FLAC lossless recordsdata: Is There a Distinction?

Lossless recordsdata owe rather a lot to the specs of the conversion course of, in addition to the conversion software program and different components. In the event you look lengthy sufficient, you’re certain to seek out some FLACs that blow away an ALAC, and vice versa. For all sensible functions, when the extenuating circumstances cancel out, FLAC and ALAC run neck and neck, each in audio high quality and file measurement.

sadly iTunes nonetheless doesn’t assist FLAC, and will by no means accomplish that

Extra digital outlets promote FLAC, however in case you use iTunes to handle your library, you’re out of luck; sadly iTunes nonetheless doesn’t assist FLAC, and will by no means accomplish that. Most software program, naturally together with iTunes, helps ALAC, particularly since Apple made ALAC open supply and royalty free (like FLAC has all the time been) in 2011.

Uncompressed codecs vs. lossless codecs: Is There a Distinction?

The comparability between WAV and AIFF uncompressed audio and FLAC and ALAC lossless compressed audio feels much like the comparability of CBR 320k MP3s with VBR and 192k MP3s. Some will inform you they hear a distinction, whereas many others say they don’t. Nonetheless, simply because a file is “lossless,” don’t neglect the bit fee. In the event you convert a 24-bit/96kHz WAV to a 16-bit/44.1kHz FLAC, you’ll positively hear the distinction. In the event you completely must have the very best high quality audio, which you’ll all the time down convert later, go along with uncompressed WAV or AIFF.

Compatibility additionally comes into play considerably. Whereas most DJ software program exhibits love for lossless codecs, AIFF and WAV recordsdata are practically universally accepted in business purposes {and professional} music software program.

Then again, not like the totally different MP3 and different lossy codecs, compressed lossless codecs really do prevent numerous disc house in comparison with uncompressed codecs (see chart beneath). Since they sound practically indistinguishable from WAV and AIFF, lossless audio presents a powerful argument for ending up in your digital crates.

WAV vs. AIFF: Is There a Distinction?

The 2 giants of uncompressed audio harken again to the Mac vs. PC debate. Microsoft and IBM developed the Waveform Audio File Format (WAV), and Apple developed the Audio Interchange File Format (AIFF) approach, approach again within the day. This used to current compatibility issues between Mac and PC software program, however these considerations are typically lengthy gone. WAV most likely nonetheless has an edge in common acceptance, however that received’t have an effect on you as a DJ.

What might have an effect on you, nonetheless, is that WAV doesn’t assist embedded album art work and metadata, whereas AIFF does. Apart from that, I’ve by no means heard a distinction between a WAV and an AIFF file, nor have I heard from anybody who did. File measurement can also be an identical.

Audio Format File Sizes

To check audio format file sizes, I first recorded one minute of music to a stereo 24-bit/96kHz WAV utilizing Magix Sound Forge Professional 3 software program. I then used Magix Convrt to batch convert the file to all the opposite codecs. The WAV and AIFF recordsdata turned out to be the very same measurement.

File Format Decision Dimension per 1 minute of audio
AAC (m4a) 320kbps /44.1kHz 2.6 MB
AIFF 16-bit/44.1kHz



10.6 MB

15.9 MB

34.7 MB

ALAC (m4a) 16-bit/44.1kHz 5.8 MB
FLAC 16-bit/44.1kHz


5.6 MB

10 MB

MP3 192kbps /44.1kHz

320kbps /44.1kHz

1.4 MB

2.4 MB

Ogg Vorbis 192kbps /44.1kHz 1.5 MB
WAV 16-bit/44.1kHz



10.6 MB

15.9 MB

34.7 MB*

*This was the unique 1-minute stereo music file used to transform to all the opposite codecs.

Audio Format Pricing on DJ Shops

file costs on Juno Obtain

When deciding which audio file format is best for you, take into account that (more often than not), shopping for music in greater high quality than MP3 will price you additional. Generally this may be upwards of 75 cents additional per monitor.

9 widespread digital obtain websites for DJ music, three of them—Amazon, iTunes, and Google Play—solely offered one sort of lossy audio. Bandcamp nonetheless, sells all seven codecs right here, usually in a couple of decision per format. You don’t must pay additional to obtain any higher-resolution audio file, as a result of Bandcamp’s enterprise mannequin lets every artist set their very own costs. They add a mastered monitor on the highest decision attainable, and Bandcamp converts that to all the opposite codecs for purchasers to decide on for themselves.

The remaining retailers—7Digital, Beatport, Juno Obtain, Tidal, and Traxsource all supply totally different audio codecs and all cost extra for higher-resolution codecs. Traxsource and Beatport share the same pricing construction. 320k MP3s price a base value (sometimes $1.49-2.49 on Beatport and $1.99-2.99 on Traxsource). 16-bit/44.1kHz WAV or AIFF recordsdata price one other $0.75 on high of the bottom value.

Juno Obtain provides lossless codecs to the combination and has a much less inflexible pricing construction. Every label or distributor importing to Juno determines the codecs out there and costs, however the typical Juno Obtain pricing breaks down as such:

  • 192k MP3: $1.49 per monitor
  • 320k MP3: $1.89 per monitor
  • WAV, AIFF, FLAC, ALAC: $2.75 per monitor

Tidal is probably the least DJ-friendly, as a result of its retailer sells albums solely, quite than single songs. It does, nonetheless, supply albums as 320k MP3 or 16-bit/44.1kHz FLAC. A lot of the present widespread albums price $10.99 for MP3 and $19.79 for FLAC.

The darkish horse choice, 7Digital, doesn’t specialise in DJ music per se, nevertheless it does have a really giant number of albums and singles of all genres, together with digital, dance, and techno. It sells most of its music with a FLAC choice as much as 24-bit/96kHz high quality, and its costs for lossless audio evaluate properly to the others. Its albums price lower than Tidal, and you should buy single tracks for these typical costs:

  • 320k MP3: $1.09 per monitor
  • 16/44 FLAC: $1.29 per monitor
  • 24/44 FLAC: $1.39 per monitor
  • 24/96 FLAC: $1.49 per monitor

Who gives what? 

7Digital 320k 16/44, 24/44, 24/96 320k
Amazon CBR 256-320k, VBR 256-320k
Apple iTunes VBR 256k
Bandcamp Varied As much as 24/96 Varied Varied CBR 320k, VBR Varied As much as 24/96
Beatport 16/44 CBR 320k 16/44
Google Play 320k
Juno Obtain Varied* 16/44* 16/44* 16/44* 192k, 320k 16/44*
Tidal 16/44 320k
Traxsource 16/44 320k 16/44

*The out there codecs and audio resolutions are decided by the report label or digital distributor. Not all tracks on Juno Obtain can be found in all these codecs.

Software program Compatibility

Fortunately, audio file compatibility with DJ software program has grow to be much less of a priority lately, though there are nonetheless some issues to be careful for. Of the 11 software program titles I regarded over—9 deck-style DJ applications plus Ableton Stay and iTunes—7 of them supported all the primary audio codecs.

Those that handle their music library with iTunes nonetheless can’t use Ogg Vorbis or FLAC in that software program; ditto for Algoriddim Djay. Pioneer Rekordbox didn’t checklist assist for Ogg both.

AAC (m4a) AIFF ALAC (m4a) FLAC MP3 Ogg Vorbis WAV
Ableton Stay X* X X* X X X X
Algoriddim Djay X X X X
Denon Engine X X X X X X X
Djuced X X X X X X
iTunes X X X X X
Mixvibes Cross DJ X X X X X X X
Mixxx X X X X X X X
Traktor Professional 2 X** X X** X X X X
Rekordbox X X X X X X
Serato DJ X X X X X X X
Digital DJ X X X X X X X

* With Home windows programs, these codecs require Apple Quicktime to work with Stay, which is just out there as a 32-bit software. On Mac programs, these codecs work with Stay as in the event that they had been natively supported.

**Assist is for non-DRM recordsdata solely. Newest variations of Traktor Professional on Home windows require Home windows 10 to play ALAC.

Pioneer DJ continues to maintain customers guessing with their newer {hardware} releases and FLAC/ALAC assist. The CDJ-2000NXS2 and XDJ-1000MK2 each assist FLAC, however the just-released XDJ-RX2 doesn’t. Double test before you purchase.

We’re All Ears

File codecs could be a controversial topic! Share with us beneath any sturdy emotions about particular audio codecs for DJing or audio constancy for DJing normally. Do you insist on lossless audio ? Do you reside dangerously and DJ with 192k or decrease MP3s?

Personally, I really like the standard and manageable measurement of FLACs. I’m glad to see extra retailers promoting them, with Bandcamp and 7Digital pushing their costs just a little decrease. I’d wish to see Apple develop up and assist FLAC in iTunes, however I’ve all however given up hope on iTunes ever getting higher. A minimum of Amazon might begin promoting FLACs. In any case, they’ve all of the server house on the earth.

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