I started with .wma format and WMP, based on the infomational link WMP has in it to ‘compare’ formats. Of course the information is skewed to show that .wma is supeior to .mp3 because it’s a MicroSoft program, codec & site. I didn’t realize this or all the pros & cons when I started.
Later I switched to .mp3 format & 256 kbps bit-rate. Now I had an issue where some songs were .mp3 and some were .wma. No biggy, right? The Sansa players will handle both equally. Well, I found myself constantly having to adjust the volume between tracks. Some would be so quiet, I’d have to turn it up. Others were so loud and had so much distortion, I’d have to turn it down.
I then found MP3Gain. With this free program, you can set the db level to the same range, eliminating the need to ‘crank it up & down’ all the time. I found out 3 important things:
- Most CD’s are recorded at too high a level, introducing ‘clipping’ & distortion.
- WMA’s rip from CD’s at a higher db level than MP3’s.
- MP3Gain does not work on WMA’s.
At least with .mp3 files you can adjust this. The program inserts an APEv2 tag onto the ID3 tag that is already present in the file itself containing the settings you’ve adjusted, so all treated files are very close to the same volume during playback.
With .wma files, not only does the format increase and therefore ampify the existing clipping and distortion problem, you cannot correct or adjust for it, resulting in an even larger difference between the 2 codecs.
I have since undertaken the task of re-ripping all my .wma’s in favor of .mp3’s. I’m about 95% complete now. Some the the .wma files were ones that I had downloaded in that format, so I didn’t have the CD’s to re-rip. I have found most of them through my local library system. I’ve still got a few more to go. As a bonus though, in my quest to find CD’s containing the tracks I was looking for to re-rip, I discovered many other CD’s to rip and add to my collection.
So I would encourage .mp3 over .wma format. And it’s a whole lot simpler to start out that way, or convert before you get too involved.
Oh yeah . . . one more downside I’ve noticed with .wma files is that they don’t always incorporate properly into a playlist.