AIFF

No, not the All India Football Federation


Like spandex, AIFF, RIFF, and IFF haven’t exactly kept with the times

AIFF stands for Audio Interchange File Format, and is one of the more popular ways of storing data on personal computers. The codec itself was a joint development effort by both Apple computers and Electronic Arts. Because Apple was such a key part of the AIFF format's creation, you'll find this codec on many of the Macintosh computers offered in today's home computer marketplace.

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Like its attractive cousin Microsoft, Apple uses pulse-code manipulation, or PCM technology. Although this means AIFF can offer better quality sound through lossless compression, it also makes for some seriously big files. You won't be able to quickly download an AIFF like you can the lossy-lovin' MP3 or WMA.



The structure of AIFF is based on the use of "chunks" to store data. It isn't the only technology known for using this formula, as it follows a similar formula employed by its siblings RIFF and IFF.

RIFF

The Resource Interchange File Format was, like AIFF, developed by Microsoft and IBM in 1991. Back when neon spandex was all the rage, Electronic Arts was crafting some of the more popular storage formats for the Amiga and Apple's Macintosh computers.

IFF

IFF is the heart and soul of both AIFF and RIFF – if it isn't already apparent in the names. IFF stands for Interchange File Format. Electronic Arts came up with the idea for an easy way to transfer files between computers of different manufacturers in 1985, a helluva long time ago in the tech world (heck, five days ago is might as well be the stone age in this biz).

If there is one important part of AIFF, RIFF, or IFF storage the average user should remember, it is that the entire system depends on the use of storage "chunks". These chunks essentially allow a computer's parser to skip over the pieces of data it doesn't care to process, making for a more efficient way to store and restore data.

Beyond this, the method of storing through IFF is both extremely complex and dated. Most users interested in the technology behind audio formats should be familiar with AIFF for the sole reason that, like WAV, it features lossless compression, making it both ideal for manipulation and naturally unpractical because of the massive files that it creates.