voice over audio file types: a guide

file types
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Don’t know your aiff from your elbow? And what the fudge is a µ-law? Here’s a handy guide on what audio file type to request next time you’re booking a voice over.

wav

For broadcast commercials in the traditional sense—TV and radio ads. And cinema ads. This is generally uncompressed, CD quality, big ass files.

Specs: ⁣

  • sampling rates: 48kHz or 44.1kHz⁣
  • bit depth: 16 bit⁣
  • channels: mono.

shit wav

For telephone system voice overs—IVR and on hold messages. It sounds like you’re in a bucket. I die a little inside whenever I playback these files. The lower quality is cause phone systems used to be analog. It’s also a bit of a trade off between quality and bandwidth.

The specs are way low: ⁣

  • sampling rate: 8kHz⁣
  • bit depth: 8 bit⁣
  • channels: mono.

ulaw

Another one for telephone systems. Pretty much specific to telephone systems in fact. They so fancy. Actually pronounced ‘my-oo law’. Go figure. Generally specs are the same as the shit wav. You can go up to 16kHz for your sampling. Sounds marginally better than the wav. But still shit.⁣

mp3

Explainer videos, social media ads, eLearning, audiobooks, podcasts, apps, long ass recordings. Generally stuff that’s pumped out over the internet. Or requires someone to download it and / or save to their device. Doesn’t sound as good as a wav cause lossy compression yo, but quality is on par with what you hear on the radio. And hello small file sizes. In fact, I have radio producers who request mp3s cause it’s easy to send over email and will be compressed to the max in the end anyways.

Specs are usually:⁣

  • bit rate: 128kbps (192kbps for audiobooks)⁣
  • channels: mono

 

This guide is based on common formats I’m asked to supply. It’s always worth checking broadcast, channel or platform specs first.

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