WMA Quality Comparison Chart - Gladiator
Interested in learning how the various settings of WMA files affect the sound? Here is a test I did using clips from the Gladiator soundtrack. Listen for yourself!
Be sure to understand the Basics of WMA files to know the terms mentioned here. Also, the jukebox software you play (decode) these files with can make a big difference - try a few different jukeboxes to see.
The Battle Original WAV file - 1038kb
This is the original file for our test case. It is only 6 seconds long, and is a clip from The Battle song off the Gladiator soundtrack. Those 6 seconds take up over 1mb of disk space. A WAV file is about as high a quality recording as you can get, but they are huge. Use this to compare to the others. A great comparison is to play this one, then to play the smallest file and see just how much was lost.
The Battle 128 WMA - 105kb
WMA files tend to have 128 as the highest quality level since most people can't tell the difference between this and the original WAV file - even though the file size is only 1/10th the size. Give a listen and see!
The Battle 96 WMA - 80kb
A smaller file, but also the quality begins to drop. This is above FM quality, but not quite as good as CD quality.
The Battle 64 WMA - 55kb
Now we're at FM quality and you can definitely hear the loss in quality. It's still enjoyable, but not as full and rich as the original.
The Battle 48 WMA - 43kb
This is AM radio quality and the file size is tiny, but the quality is down quite a bit. Note that this is actually still better than the matching MP3 file at the 48 setting. In this low range, WMA files perform much better than MP3s. In the upper ranges the difference is far less noticeable. Note also that the file size for this WMA file is larger than the matching MP3.
Remember, too, that the quality of your speakers is going to have a huge effect on your music! If you have $5 cheap speakers, then even the WAV version is going to sound tinny and scratchy. With high quality speakers going for only $30, it's really worth it to invest in a pair. Your ears are keenest when you're young - don't waste the best years of your listening lifetime with bad quality speakers. You'll have bad quality ears soon enough!
MP3 Comparison using Gladiator
Music Format Types
Music / MP3 Tips and Information