WMA (Windows Media (Metafile))

The WMA Audio file format

After development, the WMA style of audio compression was released commercially in 1999 by the Signal Processing Group at Microsoft. Windows Media Player supports the playback of WMA files but the ability to create files with this extension was unavailable until Windows Media Player 7. This file type was designed to compete with the very popular MP3 and RealAudio file formats. Success came from to the popularity of WMA files for use with the playback of videos on DVD players as well as the video playback features on the mobile/portable devices for Playstation and Nokia. WMA files are usually lossy, but some forms allow lossless compression as well.

Technical details of WMA files

WMA refers to both the audio file format and the audio codecs. It consists of four codes. WMA: compete with MP3/RealAudio. WMA Pro: multichannel and high resolution audio. WMA Lossless: unlike the other codes, this one compresses audio without sacrificing quality. WMA Voice: compresses voice content using a low bit rate. Microsoft claims the 64 kbit/s size offers quality nearing that of CD’s, though this was discredited by audiophiles. WMA files are usually contained in the Advanced Systems Format which contains digital audio and video. WMA is capable of audio up to 48 kHz with a maximum of stereo audio channels. In WMA 9.1, Microsoft added low-delay audio, reducing the latency in coding.

More information about the WMA file format

File extension .wma
File category Audio
Example file Download example.wma file (1.2 MiB)
Associated programs MPlayer
VLC Media Player
Windows Media Player
Windows Movie Maker
Zune software
Open Source
Useful links More information on WMA
File conversion Convert a file to WMA
Developer Microsoft