Is converting a wav file to an m4a file going to reduce sound quality?


Is converting a wav file to an m4a file going to reduce sound quality? I tried to change the termination from wav to m4a as the software I’m importing into doesn’t support 32 bit wavs. It works, but I feel like it doesn’t sound as qualitative, although the size of the file remains the same. Any help?

Vlad Tudor

Posted 2018-08-05T11:04:26.230

Reputation: 3

1I keep reading this question but come to the same conclusion... you haven't given us the full story. Firstly, what do you mean by 'change the termination'? Secondly, if you're starting with a 32-bit wav which your [who knows which] software doesn't support, then why not use 24-bit wav, why mess with potentially lossy formats? – Tetsujin – 2018-08-05T13:55:00.100

By 'termination' do you mean the file extension? – Simon Bosley – 2018-08-06T10:48:08.993

Well, basically I use drum kits from the internet to make hip-hop beats, and most of them are apparently 32 bit wavs and “cannot be imported”. I tried editing the file extension, if that’s what it’s called, and that allows me to use that certain file. I don’t think there was need for more information really, all I asked for was if a wav file will lose quality if turned into an m4a :) – Vlad Tudor – 2018-08-16T22:47:48.693



M4A / AAC is a "lossy" codec. A "lossy" codec will always change the audio data by "removing" information. When you pass this encoded information through a reverse codec then you will end up with a different file.

Non-Lossy codecs will allow you to encode and decode audio data and end up right back where you started.

The design of a "Lossy" codec is intended to only remove information that the ear cannot discern, leaving you - in theory - with high quality audio and a much lower data rate.

It must be said though that you will lose quality through this process. The amount of quality will depend on two things - a) the bitrate of the encoding process and b) the type/style of music that you are attempting to encode.

For instance, strings music is very susceptible to artifacts in mp3 or aac encoding, however EDM is less susceptible.

Getting back to your question - yes, encoding to m4a will reduce sound quality.

If you are attempting to encode for the purpose of editing, try conversion to 24-bit WAV instead.


Posted 2018-08-05T11:04:26.230

Reputation: 7 535