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Updated 08/11/2012Home » Video Glossary » AIFF

AIFF

Audio Interchange File Format (AIFF) is an audio file format co-developed by Apple Computer in 1988 based on Electronic Arts' Interchange File Format (IFF, widely used on Amiga systems) and is most commonly used on Apple Macintosh computer systems.

The audio data in a standard AIFF file is uncompressed pulse-code modulation (PCM). There is also a compressed variant of AIFF known as AIFF-C or AIFC, with various defined compression codecs.

Standard AIFF is a leading format (along with SDII and WAV) used by professional-level audio and video applications, and unlike the better-known lossy MP3 format, it is non-compressed (which aids rapid streaming of multiple audio files from disk to the application), and lossless. Like any non-compressed, lossless format, it uses much more disk space than MP3about 10MB for one minute of stereo audio at a sample rate of 44.1 kHz and a sample size of 16 bits. In addition to audio data, AIFF can include loop point data and the musical note of a sample, for use by hardware samplers and musical applications.

The file extension for the standard AIFF format is .aiff or .aif. For the compressed variants it is supposed to be .aifc, but .aiff or .aif are accepted as well by audio applications supporting the format.

Data Format

An AIFF file is divided into a number of chunks. Each chunk is identified by a chunk ID more broadly referred to as FourCC.

  • Common Chunk (required)
  • Sound Data Chunk (required)
  • Marker Chunk
  • Instrument Chunk
  • Comment Chunk
  • Name Chunk
  • Author Chunk
  • Copyright Chunk
  • Annotation Chunk
  • Audio Recording Chunk
  • MIDI Data Chunk
  • Application Chunk
  • ID3 Chunk