Why do we have different music file types?
There are as many reasons as there are different types. The best explanation is progress. Most music file types were created as an improvement. Either being better quality or smaller than earlier types, or a combination of the two. Other reasons are that some were created on different platforms like the Amiga and rather than going through the trouble of converting the files to a Windows format, it was easier to create support for those files in programs that were already on the Windows platform. There are many other reasons but those are probably the best reasons and the easiest to explain.
Right on. I'm starting to get this now. So wma is the file type associated with media player and wav must be win amp. So what is mp3? A generic type? I opened music match jukebox and saw the convert option. I opened that up and tried to convert some of my wma files. I highlighted the files and hit the drop down menu. I wasn't given any choices though
. I can convert wma files into wma files. I'm gonna play with that somemore. At least i'm making some progress.
.wav is uncompressed music... It was included with windows from 3.x series (if not allready in dos, that I can't remember)...
They take up much space, which is why we have other formats....
WMA is M$'s own standard, which gives a better compression than .wav without loosing too much quality..
.mp3 is another way of compressing music, developed by Frauenhofer afaik... they started charging for it, and mp3pro, which gave rise to
Ogg Vobis... A free format, though not widely adopted yet...
You also have .mid/.midi which is synthesized music... It was used widely in games in the early/mid 90'ties...
Then there are .xm and .it, which are other ways of creating synthesized music, much used by programs like fasttrack and the like in the early 90'ties...
All formats have either been improvments on older formats, or been created by companies to make money/control music business... (Like .wma)
wma was MS answer to mp3, the wma gave good compression without losing qualit but also added th option to protect the music.
.xm, .it, .s3m and many others which use mod tracker or the now abandoned DOS program Fasttracker were originally used by early multimedia buffs and many of those filetypes referred to as modules or mods, actually appeared sometime in the 80's on the Amiga platform. The mod music type is probably the most interesting of all of them because with the proper tracking software and a little practice you can easily create your own music by extracting instruments from other modules and using them. It is kinda like using an electronic keyboard with instrument presets but the learning curve isn't as steep.
Right on the first part. Winamp though is just a freeware audio player for windows (and now mac?), winamp like several other audio players for windows can play many many different audio formats, and even more if you get seperate plugins. Winamp people did not develop *.wav, its just a common audio type that Winamp can play.
As for converting wma to wma, didn't know you could do this, but I'd imagine that if you can you can just change the bitrate of it.
Bitrate is just the amount of bits per second (generally - although I suppose you could change the timeframe). So the higher the bitrate the higher the quality sound in that audio file (as long as you keep the file type the same).
A few points to note, in addition to those made above:
A very good place to go for comparison of audio formats is http://www.hydrogenaudio.org. The forums there include discussions by the developers of the various lossy/lossless formats and is an excellent resource, if a bit on the audiophile+technical side.
WMA is a vastly inferior format which should be avoided at all costs. See above for evidence.
Transcoding from one format to another (ie mp3 to wma, wma to mp3, mp3 to ogg, wma to wma, mp3 to mp3, ogg to wma etc etc) is a very] bad idea as it will lead to very noticeable losses in quality. Always re-encode from the source (CD, wav etc) for optimum quality.
Ogg Vorbis went gold recently. It is a patent free, open source replacement for mp3 and is highly recommended.