Difference between WAV and WMA Audio File Format

Key Difference: WAV is an audio format. It stands for Waveform Audio File Format, and was developed by Microsoft and IBM for PCs. WMA is an audio data compression. It stands for Windows Media Audio and it was developed by Microsoft.

WAV, abbreviation for Waveform Audio File Format, was developed by Microsoft and IBM for PCs. It originated from the Microsoft Resource Interchange File Format (RIFF). They are the exact copies of the original source audio, that is they are uncompressed formats.

The WAV format is much more universal. Since they are uncompressed, they take up a lot of needless space. If one needs to edit the file again, then he should not save the file in this format. WAV files can be more easily manipulated and edited; it is more preferable for professionals or businessmen for higher quality. It is not a popular file format for transferring over the internet, but then also due its simplicity and quality it is well-liked. The filename extension for WAV is .wav.

WAV is similar to AIFF file format that is Audio Interchange File Format. It is mostly compatible in Windows, but now is supported in Apple Macintosh operating systems too.

WMA abbreviation for Windows Media Audio was developed by Microsoft, which is an audio data compression. It is the same as MP3, in fact, is known as a competitor to the famous MP3 format. It is a lossless compressed audio format, which is easy and frequent in transferring songs to others in split seconds. They are often less than 5MB and usually is a file format with some quality loss.

  • It is the most popular codec together with MPEG-4. WMA mainly came into existence in 2004, after the MP3 in terms of individual players supporting it. It has an audio compression format that has some of the codecs, they are:
  • WMA Lossless
  • WMA Voice

Though they are very different from each other, WAV and WMA have their specific uses. WMA is largely used to store big size audio or music, whereas, WAV is often used by a lot applications to store tiny bits of sounds like beeps and clicks.

The key differences between both the terms are as follows:





A high-quality audio file type generally used for applications that require high quality, such as CDs.

WMA is a digital music format that was developed by Microsoft.

Abbreviation for

Waveform Audio File Format

Windows Media Audio

Filename extension



Format type

Uncompressed audio

Compressed audio

Supported by

All devices

More recent devices

Files are

Seldom used


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