MP3s are good files to use for downloading your audio discs. These compressed files are small compared to WAV files, making them ideal for downloading, however, please note that MP3s have half the sample rate of CD quality. Audio reproduced from an MP3 file is difficult for the middle ear to differentiate from the same audio played from a standard CD. The best reproduction is achieved by using WAV files. These files are typically 40-50MB in size each. Downloading 4 or 5 WAV files is quite feasible.
There is a difference in quality between the two audio formats. The .mp3 format was designed for faster file transfers over the Internet. This is lossy data compression; meaning that “insignificant” data is deleted, reducing the file size to approximately 1/7 the size of the original file.
For the common ear, the difference in audio quality is negligible. For a sound engineer, or someone who often listens to music intensely, there will certainly be a significant / noticeable loss of quality. There is normally degradation in:
1) the clarity of higher frequencies and
2) the “punchy-ness” of low frequencies.
In addition, depending on the quality of the conversion, the bit rate and the sampling frequency used, a noticeable “phaser” effect is sometimes introduced.
The downside of working with it. wav is the significant increase in file size. Downloading this type of file will result in a much longer transfer time when downloading.
The answer to the question “Is there a difference between the two formats?”, Is “yes”. Is the difference noticeable? It depends on the listener and the quality of their speakers and listening environment.
More tips on mastering CD duplication.