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Audacity - Export to Non-Lossy Audio Formats - Which ones to use

Posted on 2014-03-23
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Last Modified: 2014-03-30
I have to export a file in Audacity and don't know which format to use.  I want a non-lossy format.  
The Wikipedia entry on audio formats is difficult to understand.  Can someone give me an idea?

err
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Question by:brothertruffle880
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by:Dave Baldwin
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WAV is the most common uncompressed format.  What are you going to use it for after you export it?
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by:dbrunton
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FLAC is compressed non-lossy.  See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FLAC

Note Dave Baldwin's question above.  Note that some software and a majority of devices don't know how to handle FLAC.  For storage purposes and some players FLAC is fine (Winamp for example can handle FLAC with the right plugin).
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by:Merete
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Ogg Vorbis is a new audio compression format. It is roughly comparable to other formats used to store and play digital music, such as MP3, VQF, AAC, and other digital audio formats. It is different from these other formats because it is completely free, open, and unpatented.

Does Vorbis completely replace MP3, or is it just a complementary codec?
Ogg Vorbis has been designed to completely replace all proprietary, patented audio formats. That means that you can encode all your music or audio content in Vorbis and never look back.
http://www.vorbis.com/faq/#what
If in doubt just test it out.
cheers
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by:brothertruffle880
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Hi Dave Baldwin:
I'm not doing anything anything after I save the file.  I just want a non-lossy format to save the file in.
At some point I'll be creating MP3 files --which I know are lossy-- but at this point I just want to store them so that I can re-open them again to edit them.
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by:dbrunton
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Then use FLAC.  It will compress them but they can be uncompressed back to WAV.
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by:Dave Baldwin
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I'd still use WAV so I can listen to them.  If you have a player that will play FLAC then it's good idea.
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by:Paul Sauvé
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I'd have to agree with dbrunton and Dave Baldwin comments.

I generally use wav when exporting from Audacity, since the tracks can be read directly by most music apps:wav files
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by:Insignificant Volunteer
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>>> "at this point I just want to store them so that I can re-open them again to edit them" <<<

It sounds as though you are in the process of combining audio tracks, cutting bits out, etc, and you are stuck with the only option you can see, which is to export your mix out to an audio file.

If this is the case, what you should consider is saving the "project".  File Menu > "Save Project As".  This will create an *.AUP file (Audacity Project File).  This is in a "tagged" XML format, as shown in the screenshot of the file opened in an XML editing application.
Tagged Project FileThis project file cross-references numerous "block files" (see below).  The *.AUP file stores all the Audacity settings, such as:
- The Audacity window size, position, state, zoom level, etc

For each Track in Audacity it stores the settings for that track, such as:
Name, Channel, Muted state, Solo State, wave-form height, Rate,  Gain, and L/R pan.  This is stored as Track 0 and Track 1 where the wave form is in stereo.

Each of the Audacity *.AU Block files represents sampled chunks from each track that are referenced by their identifier number/file name, and the Start, End, and "volume/amplitude" settings are stored.

In addition to the *.AUP Project File, a new sub-folder is created with the same name as your project, but with the "_data" suffix appended to it.  Beneath this folder the following type of hierarchy of folders and files (abbreviated for these purposes) is created to represent the different tracks you are working with in your Audacity project:

Master Folder Where You Choose To Save Your Project
(usually you would save the project to where your source audio files are)
|
|   Song-Title.aup
|   
+---Song-Title-ID-Or-Mix-Name_data
|   |
|   \---e00
|       |
|       +---d01
|       |
|       |       e0001b0f.au
|       |       e00011fb.au
|       |       
|       +---d02
|       |       e00022f0.au
|       |       e0002acf.au
|       |       
|       +---d00
|       |       e00005f7.au
|       |       e0000a15.au
|       |       
|       \---d03
|               e00031c2.au
|               e0003242.au
|               
+---Song-Title-Another-ID-Or-Another-Mix_data
|   \---e00
|       +---d05
|       |       e00057f2.au
etc, etc, etc

Open in new window

The *.AU files (Audacity Block Files) contain binary data and are sampled chunks.

What this all ensures is that, as long as the original source audio files remain where they are and aren't moved to other folders, when you later double-click to open the *.AUP file, it will open everything right back to where you left off.

None of the original source files are compressed, altered, or modified.  When you eventually commit to exporting, you can choose the encoding and quality of the new file.  Even if you mess up and it doesn't sound great, you can re-open your saved *.AUP file and try some different export settings.

I hope I have explained this well enough for you to understand the benefits of saving a "Project".
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by:brothertruffle880
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Bill DL: I'd love to save a project but I'm running out of disk space!!!!!  That's why I have to resort to saving in non-lossy formats.
When I purchase a new PC, I'll have no hesitation in saving projects.  I love saving projects.
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by:Merete
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brothertruffle880 how big is your HDD. Do you need some tips to free up space?
Take a look at your system restore settings yu can reduce it and also delete all the old ones and keep just the new
r/click your My Computer or just computer then properties on teh left panel system protection configure restore settings>Disc space to use, as you reduce it it will delete all but the present. I have mine set at 8 gig default.But you can lower it to around 2 gig

TEMP folders located in C:\Windows
Use your disc cleanup run it and then scroll down the list till your windows thumbnails. That can grow pretty big. tick that and tick anything else big and not relevent.
defrag your drive.
uninstall unused programs from add remove programs. If you use photoshop or any good video editor it may have a huge temp folder
Empty your emails recycle bin.
Grab a USB external drive 1 terrabyte or cheaper a USB flash drive Ebay, shop around, very handy for that quick portable storage
copy out your important files photos / video/ music

Just offering a helping hand that is outside of your question
cheers
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by:Insignificant Volunteer
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It's a pity about that.  You must be very short of drive space, or else you are working with some long audio / large audio source files.  Here's a quick example I knocked together just to get an idea of how much space would be needed.

5 x source MP3 files (at 256 kbps rate) of 7.8MB each imported to Audacity as separate stereo tracks.  Combined source file size = 39MB
1 x Saved *.AUP Project file = 96KB
Folder of 420 *.AU block files in 2 sub-folders.  Combined file size = 433MB
Total file size of entire project including source MP3s = 472MB
No files were created in the "Temp" folder, as set in the Audacity user options, but there could be this overhead to consider if you start doing lots of editing.

That's not a lot of space by today's standards.  If you have a laptop, it would probably be worth saving your project to an external USB hard drive, and also set the Audacity Temp file as a folder on that drive.  If it is a desktop and has room, it might be worth adding a second hard drive.

So, you need to try and preserve as much of the original detail as possible by exporting your "project" to one audio file in the meantime,   If you aren't going to share the files or burn them to CD, FLAC (dbrunton) or OGG (Merete) at best quality, will probably be indistinguishable from each other and from the original wave forms in Audacity, but if you need to burn CDs or let somebody else hear the audio, then WAV (Dave Baldwin).
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dbrunton earned 188 total points
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Minor correction

Well, FLAC is compressed lossless WAV, it can be turned back into the original WAV format so it is indistinguishable from WAV.
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by:brothertruffle880
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GREAT ANSWERS ALL!
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by:Insignificant Volunteer
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Thank you brothertruffle
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by:Merete
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Indeed you are very generous thankyou..
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