Difference Between WAV and MP3

Both WAV and MP3 are the file formats used for defining and storing digital audio files, but they are different from each other. One major difference between WAV and MP3 is that MP3 files are compressed and small sized audio files in which some of the information from the original audio source is removed, whereas WAV files are uncompressed audio files having a file size very much higher than an MP3 file.

Read through this article to find out more about WAV and MP3 files and how they are different from each other.

What is WAV?

WAV stands for Waveform Audio File Format. WAV is a general file format for the digital audio files. WAV was developed by IBM and Microsoft for storing a digital audio file on PCs. WAV is a main audio file format used to store uncompressed audio file on a Microsoft windows based computer systems.

The WAV format uses the linear pulse-code modulation (LPCM) format for encoding the audio bit-stream. The audio files in WAV file format have the ".wav" extension.

What is MP3?

MP3 stands for MPEG Audio Layer-3. In MP3, MP stands for MPEG-1 standard and 3 stands for Layer-3. MP3 is also an audio file format developed by MPEG (Moving Picture Experts Group) in 1990s. MP3 is a type of compressed file format used to store digital audio files.

MP3 files consume comparatively less space because the algorithm involved in this format is of the lossy type, where some part of the information from the original audio source is discarded. Thus, size of the MP3 file is very less than that of the WAV file.

Difference between WAV and MP3

The key differences between WAV and MP3 are given in the following table −

Parameter WAV MP3
Full Form WAV can be expanded as Waveform Audio File Format. MP3 can be expanded as MPEG Audio Layer-3.
Change in original file WAV is used to implement minimal changes to the original file. MP3 helps remove the redundant portions of information from the file.
Compression level WAV has a low compression level. MP3 has a high compression level.
Size WAV is large in size MP3 is small in size
Quality WAV provides good quality. MP3 provides moderate quality.
Developed by WAV was developed by Microsoft and IBM MP3 was developed by MPEG.


Both WAV and MP3 are very common audio file formats that are compatible across various devices and systems. In the above table, we listed all the noticeable differences between the WAV and MP3 files, where the most significant difference is that, WAV files are uncompressed large-sized digital audio file format, while MP3 files are compressed small-sized audio file format. In MP3, some information from the original audio is discarded which reduces its size to a great extent.