The highest quality MP3 bitrate is 320 kbps at 16 bit. You can encode MP3s as low as 96 kbps. MP3s use a compression codec that removes frequencies while trying to preserve as much of the original recording as possible. This does result in a reduction in sound quality but also a big reduction in file size.
Does FLAC sound better than WAV? No, FLAC and WAV files sound almost identical, as WAV files are uncompressed as FLAC files are lossless. So there’s no real difference between them in terms of pure audio quality.
As a result, WAV files objectively have better quality and provide more true and accurate audio clips. Better WAV vs MP3 quality comes with a tradeoff. You might get amazing sound effects, but uncompressed WAV files are substantially larger than their MP3 counterparts.
Overall, WAV retains more of the sound than AAC and MP3. However, each file has a purpose and can be a good choice for listening to music. If possible, use WAV files to get the fullest listening experience.
From the previous paragraph, we understand that FLAC has a better quality than MP3. In fact, these two formats cannot be really compared quality-wise, because FLAC’s quality is as in an original recording, whereas MP3 cannot say so. FLAC vs. MP3, in terms of quality, always wins.
The more efficient the codec at lower bitrates, the smaller the files. At higher bitrates (>= 256kbps) the difference between AAC/MP3 is negligible. There are multiple objective reviews showing that cutoff and levels are, on the whole, nearly identical at higher bandwidth.
While AAC versus MP3 sound capabilities don’t vary considerably, AAC has the upper hand at lower bit rates. If you’re working with bit rates lower than 128 kbps, you’ll notice the difference. MP3 files will sound a little muddy and slurry while the AAC files maintain their brighter and clearer sound.
FLAC files are generally ripped from CDs. They are “lossless,” which means no data is lost from the digital files on the CD. In other words, the quality should be about identical. A 128 bit rate is far from CD quality, but some untrained ears might not be able to tell the difference.