Decoding The Highest Quality Audio Format: Why Does Clear Audio Matter?

Conferencing is about effortless conversation. There should be little distinction between in-person and virtual dialogue, and high-quality audio plays a huge role in achieving that effect. 

In this practical guide, we've shared the concrete benefits of clear audio when hosting a conference call. You'll learn why audio is much more important than video, how sound affects us on a physical level, and which audio file formats have the highest resolution today. 

Why Does Clear Audio Matter?

Today's video conferencing systems boast the latest and greatest HD cameras, but the best quality video doesn't matter if you have poor audio. As Julian Treasure explains in our Academy of Communication series: "If the video fails and you have good audio, the meeting can carry on almost unaffected. Sound is critical. Video is nice to have."

With video, you can see the other party's facial expressions and body language, which is certainly helpful to understanding their point of view. However, the most important information comes through over audio. If we're struggling to hear what the other person is saying, it takes up a lot of mental energy and it can quickly wear down our patience. On the other hand, if the conferencing audio is clear and easy to understand, we can stay in the moment and have a much richer conversation. 

How Does Sound Affect Us?

Sound doesn't just vibrate our eardrums — it also affects our physical behavior on a deep level. There are four main ways that sound affects our bodies: 

Psychologically: Anyone who has watched a great movie or TV show knows that sound can affect our feelings. A poignant soundtrack can make us feel sad, while explosion sound FX can make us feel anxious. Likewise, a conference call with poor audio can cause us to feel angry and frustrated. 

Physiologically: Sound can affect the physical response to emotions as well. For example, those explosion sound FX might increase our heart rate and produce stress hormones. Clear conferencing audio allows us to experience the full spectrum of physiological responses in real time.   

Cognitively: Clear audio isn't just about quality; it's also about the level of background noise and conflicting channels. When we have to parse multiple layers of information — like when two or more people are talking over each other — it affects our cognitive abilities and limits our understanding. Fortunately, the latest conferencing systems like the Executive Elite have DSP (digital signal processing) capabilities that limit interference, neutralize background noise, and more.

Behaviorally: When we have a negative reaction to sound, we instinctively move away from it. We might check out mentally, or decide to cut the meeting short and leave the room. Bad sound can actually affect our decisions.


What is the Highest Quality Audio Format? 

Finally, if you're archiving a conference as an audio file, you have two primary options for file format: lossless and lossy. Lossless audio is uncompressed, which means the original audio quality is preserved. The most popular lossless formats are FLAC, WAV, and AIFF. 

FLAC actually relies on some compression, so the files tend to be smaller, but the audio quality is the same as the original recording. If you're looking for the highest quality audio format that takes up the least space, we recommend FLAC. However, if your company's storage space is at a premium, you might want to stick with a lossy (i.e. compressed) format like MP3. 

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