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Old 21st October 2004, 02:31 PM   #1
amo is offline amo  United States
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Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Texas - USA
Default How does a PC play WAV files?

Ok- basic question seems like, but here what I need to know: If I have a regular WAV file, 2 chanel stero, 16 bit, 44.1khz, the same one you get when you "rip" a track from a CD, and I play this file through, for example windows media player, and then output the track through a high-end pro sound card, at what point exactly is it "decoded". Is this a function of the hardware on the sound card? Or is the software I use somehow involved in the process? Will there be a sound difference when using winamp vs music match, or do these tools just que up the track for the soundcard to decode? What is the case for MP3s vs WAV? I immagine there is some type of a software codec involved here.... But not sure. Please advise.
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Old 22nd October 2004, 08:22 AM   #2
diyAudio Member
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Australia
As far as I'm aware, WAV is the 'primary' format for all sound on a computer.
Things like MP3, WMA are decoded into WAV and them sent to the hardware.
The WAV format itself is just a bit stream with a header that specifies it bit length and sampling rate.
Some cound cards apply resampling, DSP etc. at a hardware level like Audigy's.
Hope this helps
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Old 22nd October 2004, 12:44 PM   #3
amo is offline amo  United States
diyAudio Member
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Texas - USA
Thank you, that does answer my question!
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