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BlackBerry PlayBook Audio File Standards

The BlackBerry PlayBook can make music from four common file formats. Three of the four use compression to make the files smaller; with that compression comes a bit of fidelity loss, although whether or not you can detect the difference may depend upon

  • The quality of your own hearing

  • Your personal degree of pickiness about tiny defects or reduction of audio range

Touch and drag the volume bar to adjust the volume.

Take a brief look at four file formats that the tablet can use.

  • MP3 is the most common standard for compressed music and other audio on digital audio players.

    The designers came up with a way to reduce the size of an audio file by applying less accuracy to portions of the music that are deemed to be beyond the auditory resolution of most people. Most people can’t easily distinguish — or don’t much care about — tiny differences in frequency in some parts of music.

    As a compressed file, it uses (in dweebish technical terms) a lossy algorithm. That means that on some level, to some ears, in certain situations, the quality of the playback is less than perfect and certainly not as good as the original version before compression.

    Does that mean that you won’t like the sound you hear from an MP3 file? You probably won’t notice, and if you do, you can console yourself with the fact that you can get about 11 times as many tracks on your PlayBook using MP3 as you could if you used full CD files.

  • AAC format includes .m4a, .m4b, .m4p, .m4v, .m4r, .3gp, .mp4, and .aac files. Advanced Audio Coding improves on the MP3 format and people generally think it delivers an improved sound.

    Like MP3, it uses a lossy compression algorithm. AAC has been adopted as the standard audio format for Apple’s iPhone and iPad as well as a number of game machines and mobile phones from Nokia and Sony Ericsson and Android-based phones and tablets.

  • WMA is Microsoft’s version of a lossy compression scheme; according to Microsoft the quality of tracks recorded in this method is better than that of an equivalent MP3.

  • WAV (Waveform Audio File Format) recordings aren’t compressed and are — to some ears — about as close as a digital recording can get to representing the actual sound of an analog sound. WAVs are, of course, much larger than MP3, AAC, or WMA files.

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