Final Cut Pro: What are AIFF Files?

AIFF files are audio file formats used for storing sound data on a computer. AIFF stands for audio interchange file format. It was developed by Apple computers in 1988 and is a very popular audio format amongst editing professionals. AIFF files are popular because they do not compress the sound's data, unlike mp3 files. Because they do not compress the audio data, they take up significantly more hard drive space. A stereo AIFF file takes up roughly 10mb for every minute of audio. This is a small amount of data when compared to the size of high quality video files. 

AIFF and Apple

Because the AIFF format was developed by apple, it is the audio choice of iTunes. Any song you purchase at the iTunes store is going to be in the high quality, uncompressed AIFF format instead of mp3. Apple is a company that prides itself on quality, and with AIFF, they have achieved that in audio data. Likewise, if you're adding your music to your computer from old CDs, iTunes converts those files into AIFF audio as well.

AIFF and Editing

What would you use AIFF files for when editing? Well, lets say that your project has a very complicated sound mix involving a lot of clips and volume adjustments. If one of these files were to accidentally disappear then your sound mix will be ruined. It's a good idea to export your audio as an AIFF file once your editing is complete. You can then add an audio track and place the AIFF file in your project. Not only will this back up your audio, but it will also cut down on hard drive space being used because you can transfer the original files to an external drive and forget about them for a little while.

You don't want to delete those clips from your project though. Just simply mute the tracks. If you need to make any audio changes, just mute the AIFF track, unmute your original audio, make the necessary changes and export it again. Then, replace the old AIFF file with the new one. 

Like WAV and SDII, AIFF is one of the leading audio formats used by professional audio engineers and professional software. WAV is uncompressed audio created by Microsoft. These are all rival formats that offer high quality digital audio. Which format is the best is really based on one's personal preferences as well as their ears.

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