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Sound Codecs

Explore sound codecs, and how you can change them.


What is a Codec?
Sound and Video Codecs
Different Sound Codecs - Which One Should We Use?
How Do I Change a Codec?

What is a Codec?

We all know that audio and video files can be huge in terms of size. There has always been a need for some technology that could squeeze the size of such files without deteriorating the quality. This entails both coding and decoding, which we will understand better from this example:

We just recorded a two-minute sound using a microphone, and it's size leaves a lot to be desired. So, we used a coding algorithm to reduce its size. Later, when we want to play it back, we used a similar decoding algorithm. Now, what we are essentially doing is coding and decoding. In other words, we are using a 'codec', which is actually an abbreviation for coder/decoder.


Sound and Video Codecs

You can use codecs for sound (audio) and video (includes animated videos), but video codecs are more well known than their sound counterparts, since the compression attained in video is more dramatic than sound.

Nevertheless, sound codecs are significant too. In the Internet age, it is important to achieve reduction in every byte.


Different Sound Codecs: Which One Should We Use?

There are efficient and not-so-efficient codecs, and new codecs are created on a regular basis.

To decide which codec is best for you, look into some important factors before arriving at a decision. If you are using the resultant sound file for your own personal use, you could tryout any codec installed in your system. To view the codecs installed on your machine, go to the Multimedia option in Windows Control Panel and choose the Devices tab.

Multimedia Properties

If you are going to distribute the sound file, then you have to consider other implications. Not all codecs are installed on all systems - thankfully, there are a few standard codecs which come pre-installed with operating systems like Windows. These include:

  • CCCITT G.711 A-Law and u-Law
  • DSP Group TrueSpeech 
  • Microsoft ADPCM
  • Microsoft IMA ADPCM
  • Microsoft GSM 6.10

These are the basic codecs which have been included since Windows 95. Other common codecs are 'Indeo Audio' and 'Windows Media Audio'. If you install Windows Media Player (version 7 and above), then you get a great new arsenal of cutting edge codecs like MPEG-4, MP3, WMA, WMV and ASF.

Installed codecs


How Do I Change a Codec?

Changing a codec is a simple procedure. If you need to change the codecs in a large number of files, you may consider investing in a specialized option like Awave Studio.

Otherwise, even the basic Sound Recorder (sndrec32.exe) in your Windows folder can do the job perfectly.

You'll need to have Windows Media Player (version 7 and above) installed to use the codecs you install.


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