multimedia'This week let’s address multimedia, particularly audio and video file formats.  In the old days, it was easy to make a movie or audio recording, all you needed was movie camera and a tape recorder.  With the advancement of technology, video and audio recordings have become more complicated.  Today, we have an array of media formats.  We use these formats on computers, the Internet, and on our TV’s. Each file format is different. It’s important to understand the different types of formats when using an electronic device for steaming or playing audio and video.

There is a term used with multimedia known as a codec.  Codec is short for coder-decoder.  Many audio and video formats use some method of compression so that files don’t up a lot of space.  A codec takes the media file and compresses it when saved and then decompresses it when played back.


Here are some commonly used media codecs:

  •  Audio Video Interleave (AVI) – Developed by Microsoft and released with the Windows 3.1 operating system. Although their popularity has been waning, lots of video AVI can be found on the Internet.
  • QuickTime – QuickTime was developed by Apple and supports a wide variety of codecs. It is a proprietary format that Apple controls.
  • Flash Video – Flash was originally created by a company called Macromedia which was acquired by Adobe in 2005. Flash has been around for a while and comes in multiple versions.
  • MP3 – MP3 is an open-source audio file type that compresses CD-quality sound to 1/10th of the original size.
  • MP4 – MP4 is an audio and video file. It is a container format, meaning that it can hold both audio and video tracks.
  • AAC – AAC achieves better quality sound than MP3 for the same compression level, smaller file sizes, and the same audio quality. It is supported and created primarily by/on Apple computers.
  • M4A/M4B – M4A and M4B are a MP4 file without the video. This file type is typically used for songs, podcasts, and audiobooks.
  • M4V – A M4V is a MP4 file that contains video data.
  • WAV – A WAV file is an audio format developed by Microsoft and IBM.
  • AIFF – An AIFF is an audio file format standard used for storing sound data on personal computers. This format was co-created by Apple and is most commonly used on their computer systems.
  • WMA – A WMA file is an audio file format created and played in Windows Media Player. When a WMA file is brought into the iTunes program, iTunes automatically converts it to a M4A file.
  • WMV – A WMV file is a video file created and played in Windows Media Player.
  • MOV – A MOV is a QuickTime video file format.
  • M4P – A M4P contains digital rights management encoding to protect copyright and commercial media. This format is mainly used by the iTunes store for music.



I hope that you found this information helpful.  Please feel free to forward it to others.  If you would like to learn more about this topic or would like to request a topic, please contact me. If you missed any past newsletters or would like a printed copy, please visit my website at.


Until next time…Happy Computing!!!

About Michael DeFlorio
I have worked is various positions as a system administrator, support technician, as a help desk support, and as an IT consultant in a corporate environment. I currently run a small business where I provide computer services such as hardware configuration, installation, for residential and for medium and small businesses. You can contact me by email or visit my website at

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