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Audio and Video Formats Explained

For someone who does not spend much time downloading or converting files, understanding the differences between file formats may be a challenge. After all some DVD and video to iPod software titles may not convert what you have.

Below is a list of common audio and video file formats:


Advanced Audio Coding (similar to MP3) is a digital audio format designed for high compression as well as high audio quality.

Audio Video Interleaved is a Windows movie file with high video quality, but a large file size. Approximately 25 GB is required for 60 minutes of video.

MPEG 1 Audio Layer 3 is a digital audio format that is designed for high compression of audio files while maintaining high audio quality.

MP3 using Variable Bit Rates that provides better quality and smaller files.

Audible 2, 3 and 4
Audio file format (.aa file extension) used for audio books or other voice recordings. Entire books can be stored in a single file.

Apple Lossless
Uses the .m4a file extension, the same as AAC. Creates a larger file than AAC, but retains more information and quality.

Audio Interchange File Format similar to WAV. AIFF provides original sound quality and large file size.

Wave provides the same file sound quality and large file size as the original CD.


This is a digital video codec noted for high data compression while maintaining high quality.

A combination of audio and video compression for storage of movies.

QuickTime Movie Format

A MPEG-4 Video file.

MPEG-4 is a versatile file format that can include audio, video, images and animations.

Digital Data Storage. Data file format that can be used for text, graphics or binary data.

Video Object is a MPEG-2 DVD video movie file.

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Quicktime Pro. Retrieved March 26, 2007, from Apple Store Web site:

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