Kir Mokum Weighs In
Shah DJ’s Kir Mokum hooked us up with his take on the .MP3 vs .WAV debate. Check it out, get educated, and check his newest mix Subcutaneous- cutting edge deep experimental drum and bass.
There have been heated discussions on the differences and importance using .WAV or .MP3s since the advent of digital vinyl systems (DVS). It can be a rather technical, complicated, and tangled discussion but here is my take on it.
There are differences, yes. Those differences are also imperceptible in most listening environments, yes. But in the DJing world there are a few curve balls that should be considered. In the DJ world you are being represented by your sound. The music you play is manipulated a little or a lot and whenever you’re manipulating any kind of data you want as much bandwidth as is reasonable. You never want just enough. You want a couple more speakers than you need. You want more amp power than you need. You want more headroom than you need. You want more bandwidth than you need and in my opinion that goes exactly to the core of the argument. An MP3 is at best “just enough”. As a DJ you’re going to need more than that.
If you’re a DJ who uses DVS, the music you’re playing is getting processed a lot more than it would in a normal music player on you computer. You’re altering pitch and tempo, often separately (which is not an insignificant feat), in really time, possibly adding effects, scratching, and compressing/limiting/maximizing (depending on software) all in real time with an emphasis on low latency. Beyond that there’s the issue of recording sets and effectively recompressing your already compressed files. With that much manipulation and possibility for errors or compression flaws to be compounded, you’re going to want access to more data than you would need when listening at home or on your phone. And why not invest in that bandwidth? Hard drives are cheap. WAVs are cheap.
I know those 2 things can seem expensive because you have 8TB of tunes and to pay the extra 75¢/file when downloading but that’s a small price to pay (I’m used to $10 to $20+ for a track or 2). Plus i’m willing to bet that if you do have a huge digital collection, there is a significant portion you don’t want, don’t need, and/or have been meaning to get rid of for a while now. Making the investment is worth it.
Now that that has been covered, the usual discussion often will shift into the context of “which is professional?” and the answer is both. Whenever I get promos, more often then not they’re MP3s. A lot of pros will use MP3s for convenience sake. It’s not an “unprofessional” format (although lower than 320 kbps MP3s are). So smoke ’em if you got ’em, as they say, but while re-buying your digital collection because of the differences in file format is generally unreasonable in my opinion, the investment should be well considered for future purchases or for tunes that get rinsed on the regular.
Not sure this will clear things up for anyone but hopefully it will give you enough information to at least be able to better ask questions and understand the context of the discussion, which is notoriously murky.