MP3 File Size Versus WMA?

I was under the impression that WMA files were smaller than MP3. I ripped some songs in both MP3 and WMA format in WMP @ 128Kbps and the file sizes were similar…am I missing something??


I find that mp3s are slightly smaller.  It really just a difference of KBs, though. 

There are advantages for having mp3s.  Most conversion and tagging programs don’t work with wma, for instance.  So if you have crap tags that don’t have the album or genre or whatever you’ve gotta fight with WMP! 

I heard somewhere on here that wmas actually use more power at the same bitrate as an equivalent mp3.  There’s another advantage.

Ok, something to be mindful of and not much point in converting for a similar file size. I’m sure I saw on a Sandisk site somewhere that one could get twice as many WMAs on a given MB.

Do you know anything about the Sansa Media Convertor ? I see it mentioned here, I guess it does conversions of some sort, I wondered if it had other useful functions…


I’m pretty sure that the Sandisk converter just encodes the music into 64 Kb/s wma.  That’s why you can hold twice as much, as advertised.   The decrease in quality isn’t worth it.

One thing that is worth it though is  DBPowerAmp.  It’s the best freeware (mostly anyways) mp3 converter.  I went from having 61 MB free on my 1GB to having 119 MB just by converting the files using that program!!!  Same bitrate and everything!  I calculated that DB files are about 93.5% the size of other encoders.

Much appreciated, I’ll check that program out.


Sound-wise, it is best to try to avoid re-encoding music in a lossy (compressed) format that already has been encoded in a lossy format.  The first encoding loses some of the music data, and the 2nd does that as well.  If you want to switch formats, best, if possble, to go back to the original non-compressed format such as the CD you ripped from.   

WMA offers better quality than mp3 at low bit rates - 128K and lower. The bit rate is the biggest factor in file size.

But I don’t find WMA worth using unless I am willing to run at 64K or so. That doubles the number of songs compared to 128K, which is as low as I’d go for stereo MP3. In either case, running lower bit rates (compared to, say, 192 CBR or 200+ vbr MP3, which is what I’d choose for most albums), is trading some often-noticeable quality for file size.

While losing important data in the conversion was a concern of mine, I think DB did a great job converting the files.  I don’t necessarily think it would be worth another CD search and rip when I’m using the stockbuds anyways…

Thanks guys,

Looks like MP3 will be the easiest way to go, especially as all my rips are in that format. I’ll try a few 64Kbps WMAs to see what they sound like, with my hearing it might not be noticable :smileyvery-happy: .


One thing to be concerned with is that wma’s are not cross-platform compatible and the wma format is proprietary and closed.  You would be much better using mp3s if only for the added freedoms of compatible devices.  The more open the format, the more sure you can be that in 10 years, when you buy that shiny new computer, your music collection will still play.

ogg > mp3 > wma

Yes, but then you would miss the joy of re-ripping 400 CDs …


Which is why I chose MP3 to start with–it’s just the most universal, if not the most advanced.

wma files at 64kbps should be the same quality as mp3 at 128kbps, cd quaility. mp3 in my opinion are more versitile as most all devices on the market support mp3 files.

“wma files at 64kbps should be the same quality as mp3 at 128kbps, cd quaility.”

No way dude!  I don’t care how bad a codec is!  There’s no way that a file with twice the memory can be outdone by another file in SQ, especially at low bitrates like those!  Also neither of those bitrates are anything near CD quality…

chris1207 wrote:
“wma files at 64kbps should be the same quality as mp3 at 128kbps, cd quality.”

No way dude!  I don’t care how bad a codec is!  There’s no way that a file with twice the memory can be outdone by another file in SQ, especially at low bitrates like those!  Also neither of those bitrates are anything near CD quality…

my mistake i should have said near cd quality and the bit rate should have been listed as 192kbps for mp3 and 128kbps for wma.

additionally from my expiriance most non critical users can not distinguish the differance between 128kbps mp3’s and cd.

WMA at 64kbps sux. That’s just plain and simple. You can tell the loss of quality instantly, especially in the high ends. I wouldn’t even waste my time on that crap. 

All Before, I hated to use WMAs. I dunno, there was just something about them that was boring to me. I always liked MP3s better because of the versatility and such, but now that I found out about the size/quality ratio, I am starting to think differently about WMAs.

Using WMAs at 96kbs, I HONESTLY can’t tell any big quality difference from 160kbs MP3 (Depends on if you use the LATEST WMA encoders, the older ones suck.) and you can still fit about twice as many on your player compared to MP3s (Depending on how long the songs are. In some genres, songs can be as long as 5 mins, but I’m basing my observations on reggae songs, which average between 3:15 - 3:45 mins). Using good heaphones and lifting up some bands on an EQ, I do however, notice a VERY slight loss in the quality of the cymbals, but just listening to it casually and without any EQ turned on, you couldn’t really tell it. I’m not really complaining with that, because it’s just going to be used for my own personal listening through the player and maybe through the car via a transmitter. It’s not like you have to use it for a professional studio system or anything.

I am pretty sure you WILL tell a big difference if the songs were converted from CD or Studio quality to 96kbps though. It doesn’t take a genius to figure that out. Alot of my songs aren’t originals anyway, because I dwlded them from others off the net and you know that they are going to frig up the quality, so I really didn’t have a choice from the start as far as the original CD quality goes.

Currently I have 403 songs on my 2gb Sansa Clip and I still have 665MB left. That is impressive!!! For a while there, I was under the thought that I was going to have to upgrade to another player to fit the rest of my albums on, but I don’t have to now (I will eventually though, but not til the prices go down). Even when I do upgrade to a 4GB Sansa Clip, I will probably use 128kbs WMAs so that I can fit all of my songs on it and more.

It really all depends on how many songs you wanna fit on your player and how much space they take up. If you can afford to get a player that can hold all of your chosen songs and more, there is really no since in sacrificing any quality, but for those who can only afford the 1 or 2GB players, sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do and not be too picky about it. As long as it sounds good and have decent quality, it’s all good. Doesn’t have to be perfect. All in all, 96kbps WMAs (That were encoding from at least tape quality originals) are good for those who can’t afford to upgrade to 4GB players (Ahem, including your’s truly) and just want to conserve some space.

Message Edited by RickD on 02-02-2008 02:29 PM

For anyone comfortable with the command-line, LAME does very good quality comression.

I’m using LAME v3.97 to re-compress (I know, I know) my MP3s so that I can get about twice as much on my 1GB Clip. With the standard earbuds it sounds good enough (maybe my ears aren’t so good).

The only trouble with using LAME this way is it still won’t preserve the ID3 tags (it’s been on the ToDo list for about four years, but no-one’s got around to implementing it).

As a workaround, I use id3.exe to restore the tags.

My workflow is something like this:


FOR /F “tokens=*” %%f IN (‘DIR/B *.mp3’) DO lame -V9 --vbr-new “%%f”



FOR /F “tokens=*” %%f IN (‘DIR/B *.mp3’) DO id3.exe -D %%f -1 -2 small%%f


mkdir small



I’m documenting this here because

  1. That id3.exe program is a bit hard to find
  2. I can never remember the syntax in %#&*ing CMD.EXE for this sort of thing