What are the typical file formats for downloading electronic music?

What are the advantages of downloading music in high-quality formats like WAV and AIFF for electronic music enthusiasts?

Having a higher quality format improves the user experience while really only increasing how much space a game takes up. Since you while have already downloaded the files, there shouldn’t be any downsides to using better formats.

Basically there are two “classes” of audio format: lossy (mp3/ogg/opus) and lossless (wav(usually)/aiff/flac). Lossy formats have much smaller files and sound fine, so they should always be used for games. That said, there are some advantages to having lossless files available:

  • Audiophiles claim that the lossless files sound better. A tiny minority might even be able to tell the difference. The rest are just deluding themselves.
  • Every time you save in a lossy format, there is some loss of quality. So you want to do all editing in a lossless format and only convert to lossy once at the end.
  • Related to the above: lossy formats come and go, and the state of the art is always improving. Therefore it makes sense to occasionally convert your audio files to a new lossy format for higher compression at the same level of quality. And when you do, you want to start from a lossless file to prevent a cumulative loss of quality.

When I buy audio (music or sound effects), I look for lossless audio - especially if I want to include the audio in a game, in which case I often need to edit it. When I distribute games, I include only lossy audio, because no further editing is necessary.