MIDI vs WAV. What is the difference?

Last updated on June 19, 2017 by , Posted to midi


Midi is pronounced middy. It means 'Musical instrument Digital Interface'. It is a uniform format accepted by electronic music industry. It is used in instruments that control music and sound such as sound cards, synthesizers and sound generators. Midi characterizes qualities of music like pitch of the note, volume and length. As Midi is a universally accepted format music produced by one synthesizer using Midi, can be modified with another synthesizer. There are lots of software programs to compose and edit music. A computer with the help of such software can reproduce input music as written score and vice versa. Midi is omnipresent. You can find it in cell phones, computers, musical instruments and products of reputed companies like Yamaha, Sony, Apple and Microsoft. Music is created or written on computers using Digital Audio Workstations.

A Wave file is an audio file format, created by Microsoft. It is also a commonly accepted standard encoding format of digital audio. This format is considered to be the official format used for playback and transfer of music on digital audio workstations.

Size of file

As a WAV file contains digitized sound, its size is very large. Without the use of compression algorithms it can reach hundreds of megabytes. MIDI file contains only the instructions for the synthesizer, so the file size is hundreds of times smaller than WAV. At the same time, MIDI synthesizer uses huge files with samples for wave synthesis, so-called soundfonts.

Sound Quality

Here, the WAV format has the advantage - the quality of sound depends on the sampling rate and will not be different on different computers. For MIDI files, the sound quality depends totally on your sound card's synthesizer. The same Midi file may sound quite different on several sound systems.

Benefits and Drawbacks

MIDI format is perfect for creating new music, it makes it easy to swap instruments and rhythm. On the other hand, the MIDI format can only store musical instructions, and is incapable of containing speech or sound effects, the way WAV can. WAV file is much harder to edit, but it provides compatibility with CD and DVD. Would be appropriate to store the music track in MIDI and before a final processing convert it to WAV.

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