Compare-and-Contrast Essay on Media File Types

Published: 2021-07-21
617 words
3 pages
6 min to read
Carnegie Mellon University
Type of paper: 
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For the purpose of this comparison, the media formats MP3 and WMA shall be considered. The two file types support sound storage and are popular with music recording (Cohen, 2003). WMA is relatively new while MP3 technology has lasted a long period. MP3 is the most popular audio file format while WMA is gaining reputation through association with its mother brand (Microsoft). The file types contrast in terms of size, quality, and privacy.



MP3 files support limited bitrates recording. Such contrast limits optimal sound quality to 320 kbps. WMA supports bitrates recording beyond 320. More data can be recorded to capture better quality of sound.

Storage size is significantly large. In order to achieve quality sound recording, it is necessary to use more disk space since more sound data must be captured. Storage size is minimal. Storing files at lower bitrates does not compromise audio quality thus less space can be used to achieve sound quality similar to that of mp3 files (Miller, 2012).

MP3 files clarity is poor in comparison to WMA. The file type can be recorded at 32 kbps but audio files of low bitrates do not offer desirable quality. WMA audio quality is better than that of MP3 format. WMA files recorded at low bitrates are better than the mp3 alternatives (Miller, 2012).

MP3 file types have diverse compatibility. Just about any audio music reader application and appliance can comprehend the file type. WMA audio files are readable by fewer applications since the format is designed to work best within windows media only.

MP3 is an industry standard (Cohen, 2003). The file type is used universally without rights limitations. WMA is proprietary. Microsoft has the right to licence or deny licence to specific file format users.

MP3 uses Lame encoder (Miller, 2012). The encoding technology is open source thus easily accessible by audio recorders. WMA uses Microsoft encoder. A license is required to be able to encode WMA file type.

Miller (2012) reports that the quality of WMA files at 48kbps matches an mp3 file of 64kbps. Similarly, WMA file of 192kbps matches an mp3 file 320kbps (Miller, 2012). It takes at least an extra one third of bitrates to achieve similar quality with mp3 file type.

WMA is ideal for personal use with Microsoft systems while mp3 format works best when sharing files. WMA format is very selective; therefore, sharing files limits access from the recipients end. All file users must be using Microsoft licensed applications to read the format. WMA file type is also idea for recording artists since the audio format is not open source. Piracy is minimal for files stored as WMA as limited appliances and software can manipulate or replicate the content. The file type is also ideal for webcasts as it supports prolonged content broadcasts (Cohen, 2003).

On the other hand, an audio editor can prefer to compress sound quality to mp3 format to promote usability with diverse application options. MP3 is ideal for sharing platforms such as music download websites. The audio developer targets a diverse audience and lacks the capability to predict user applications and appliances. Using the standard format allows every user to play audio.

In conclusion, mp3 and WMA file types are audio storage formats. Mp3 is an industry standard while WMA is proprietary. Common bitrates level allows varying sound quality with WMA qualifying better. A diversity of audio players can read mp3 format while only Microsoft licensed applications comprehend WMA files. Mp3 is ideal for audio directed to a dynamic audience while WMA file type qualifies where intellectual rights are a priority.


Cohen, J. (2003). The unusually useful web book. Indianapolis: New Riders.

Miller, M. (2012). The Ultimate Digital Music Guide: The Best Way to Store, Organize and Play Digital Music. Indianapolis: Que Publishing.

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