MP3, WAV or IFF - Can you really hear the difference in a club? - Discuss.
Page 1 of 5 12345 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 41
  1. #1
    Tech Student
    Join Date
    May 2015

    Default MP3, WAV or IFF - Can you really hear the difference in a club? - Discuss.

    I got into a discussion the other night with a friend who insisted that buying .wav or .iff files from Beatport was worth the extra money you pay compared to the sound quality of DJ'ing with .MP3 files.

    Really? Do people really stand there thinking to themselves "We'll if this tight fisted DJ has bothered to put this hand in his pocked and pay the extra for a .wav file rather than a .mp3 then this party would REALLY be rocking"...

    If you buy .wav (or .iff) files, why? What difference do you think it makes?


  2. #2
    DJTT Moderator Dude Jester's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    New Zealand


    Hi will,

    Of course .wav & .aiff files are better quality, but "most" people could not tell the difference between a nice crisp 320 .mp3 and a .wav, and once these files go through a sound system, it all evens out anyway
    Acer E5 i7 2TB 16GB ~ 512GB SSD ~ WIN 10 ~ TSP 2.11 ~ AUDIO 6 ~ X1 ~ DN-X1600 ~ X1 ~ SPECTRA ~ TWISTER ~ ATH-PRO500 MK2 ~ AT2020 MIC

    "This aggression will not stand, man."

  3. #3
    Tech Guru
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Texas, USA


    Quote Originally Posted by will stamper View Post
    If you buy .wav (or .iff) files, why? What difference do you think it makes?
    I do tend to prefer wav (or flac) when it is an option.

    The ability to "hear" a difference has been beaten to death. For people who claim then can hear a difference, the results vary from "mildly annoying" to "fingernails on chalkboard." There are people who claim they can hear a difference between a Pioneer or A&H and a Behringer. Perhaps they can, and perhaps they "only" can when the mixer is pegged in the red. How often is your mixer pegged into the red?

    There are MANY different elements that contribute to overall sound quality, and there is pride of ownership in having the elements under your control as high a quality as possible.

    In cases where music will be edited (e.g. Ableton), processed heavily with effects, "large" tempo or key changes, or otherwise undergone "a lot" of changes....there are good reasons to prefer "lossless" over "lossfull." Those are also the same situations when preferring higher sampling rates.
    Denon X1600, NI X1 Mk1 & Mk2, MF Twister
    Kontrol S2, Maschine Mk1, APC 40
    Retired: VCI-100 Arcade (Signed #198/300))
    BFM 10x DR200 & 10x Titan 39

  4. #4
    Tech Guru Kwal's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2013


    Personally I can't hear the difference since I haven't gone to any extremes to try it out for myself, but if I could I would use .wav songs since they're the best quality on paper. Although the setback for me is that they are much larger files so you would end up using more space on your disk for less music.

    So 320 .mp3 it is for me.

  5. #5
    Tech Convert sinewave3's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Left Coast


    If you have a crappy 128k MP3 they can be apparent on a club system. Quiet, harsh, muted bass, etc. They always seem to sneak in at the worst time!

    256-320k is fine though in my experience. Maybe sometimes can tell the difference from .WAV in a club, but it depends on their gear, too.

  6. #6


    At least 320kbps VBR MP3's. Nothing lower. Used to buy lossless and it's pointless in 90% of clubs. I witnessed a sound check at BETA Nightclub in Denver which has a Funktion One sound system and even there as a curious mind I asked to hear the same song in both formats and couldn't discern much difference.
    Pioneer XDJ-RX//Rekordbox & Ableton Push 1//Ableton 9 Suite
    15" MacBook Pro 2017//Quad Core i7 @ 3.1GHz//16GB RAM//1TB SSD//AMD 560 4GB GPU

  7. #7
    Tech Wizard
    Join Date
    Feb 2012


    Absolutely! Here is how I know. I was playing in a club and was having trouble figuring out why some tracks didn't sound as good as they had at home when playing them together. Particularly going from one track to another, something sounded very "off" and there was a serious crispness difference on some tracks. When it clicked, I look and realized that I mixed from a WAV from an MP3. I noticed it several other times that night and started doing some testing after that. I downloaded, from reputable sites copies of MP3 and the same song in WAV/AIFF and then played them together, back to back etc. on studio monitors. Also tested in a club. What I found was there was clearly a difference. Especially on tracks with serious bass depth and layers (trance for example). With Traktor where it becomes VERY evident between MP3's and lossless(now all I use are AIFF's) is when you are using key lock. With keylock on, running at about +3-4% tempo, an AIFF sounds like a CDJ. With a 320 MP3, it just sounds, for lack of a better description, mushy.

    Bottom line is, won't even buy MP3's anymore, and I'm always bummed when a producer puts out a free track and don't do the wav. It isn't doing their work justice.

    I also have done a lot of reading up and listening to people in the know on the subject of good audio since then, and that has brought me to where I am today. I really wish more people would pay attention to this issue because it makes a huge difference in the feel.

    Another note here that I think is VERy important. I see dj's running traktor in the red all the time when I play with other people. FYI, there is NO headroom in digital to run in the red. As soon as its red, the signal is overloaded and distorted.

    It is funny how many times I have heard and felt something is wrong when I am playing with someone and sure enough, I go over and they are running in the red. A little adjustment and bang, sounds much better. It happened two weeks ago, playing with a friend. He was totally skeptical until he adjusted it, and we were able to crank the sound louder and it sounded much more crisp. Needless to say, he adopted the "running traktor's master at a -7 to 10" after that and commented on how it sounded much better to him. Thankfully, another convert to better sounding audio!

    Finally, I'd suggest everyone read this and do a little more digging, rather than just spouting what countless others have when they say it doesn't matter:

    There is also an excellent interview with Tony regarding the subject here:
    Last edited by djadrenal; 05-04-2015 at 12:08 PM.
    Running: MB Pro quad 2.8, 4gigs ram, Traktor Pro with latest update, S4, F1(may return in favor of coming m3dpro!

  8. #8
    Tech Mentor Nick V's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Washington DC


    I've failed at the blind taste test trying to distinguish between a .wav and the same file converted to 320kbps mp3 with professional studio monitors and a somewhat treated room - basically a much more accurate listening environment than any club will have. I think there is a lot of confirmation bias around this topic. I also think there is a correlation between producers who spend the extra effort to really polish their productions and producers who release tracks in .wav format that leads people to believe that .wavs sound better when it's actually just some producers working harder and getting better results.

    I will say this though - if you plan on making edits of a track or doing anything with it in a DAW, you should do it with a non lossy format. When you import a .mp3 into any DAW that I've used, it will convert it to 24bit and you will then have to reconvert it to mp3. Each time you do this you will definitely lose quality. I think that key lock also falls apart faster with mp3s.

  9. #9


    Yes and no... Shitty source over compressed will be same issue... Normally going from MP3 to lossless shouldn't be an issue if they are processed and mastered correctly. Sadly this is not always the case and that's how come test can be somewhat irrelevant... Example downloaded an aiff from beatport off a single put into iTunes let match run its course and the 256k mp4 sounds different then the one I purchased through iTunes off a compilation release... This basically told me that what release the track is purchased on effects the mastering and processing of the file... That's why a 320k MP3 and lossless download of same track from same release from same source will sound the same on most all sound systems... Yes if I throw in Adobe audition and watch the audio mapping there will be a difference but audible difference unlikely...

    That being said I've lately been buying aiff tracks and letting iTunes Match them and keeping the MP4 version and saving aiff version on my server

  10. #10
    Tech Guru
    Join Date
    Aug 2014


    Quote Originally Posted by djadrenal View Post
    Absolutely! Here is how I know. I was playing in a club and was having trouble figuring out why some tracks didn't sound as good as they had at home when playing them together. Particularly going from one track to another, something sounded very "off" and there was a serious crispness difference on some tracks.
    The problem is that your conclusions look exactly the same as conclusions reached by placebo and confirmation bias.

    There is an enormous amount of evidence that suggests that any audio testing that is not totally double blind, is completely worthless for drawing conclusions.

    For instance, tests have shown that out of two sources, subjects will pick the louder one, and claim that the sound quality is better.

    As far as your point about clipping goes, I wouldnt even call someone a DJ who doesnt understand gain staging.

Page 1 of 5 12345 LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts