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2GB limit and wav/aiff files


WAV/AIFF are 32 bit formats.  the max amount if information that the file formats can store is 2^ 32 bits, or 4 gigs. This means that technically, wav files have a hard limit of 4 gigs.  However, most software programs use signed numbers, so they use 1 bit for the sign.  This drops the amount of bits available to 2^31, or 2 gigs.  So the file format has a 4 gig limit, but most software programs make it a 2 gig limit by using signed numbers. 

file systems and operating systems are not the reason for the 2 gig limit.  it's a combination of the wav/aiff format and how software handles the files. 

To answer the question of "how come a JB3 can split on 3 hours instead of a size issue?"  Well, do you know how large a 3 gig 16/44.1 file is?  Remember 90 meter dat tapes?  They recorded a little over 3 hours, right?  What size did it say on there?  2GB. 

So it's not a hardware limitation.  It's not something hardware manufacturers or software designers decided to make up on their own.  It's a limtation in the file format itself.  To address larger files, the format needs to be larger than 32 bits.  Wav64, for example, although it's not a "standard" (as far as i know), can handle HUGE files, because it's a 64 bit format.  2^64 is a HUGE number of bits

Sure would be nice if file systems could just make two mono tracks the way Protools does in "Split Stereo" mode. Then they could be twice as long! (Sound Designer II files are named with ".l" and ".r" for the left and right channels.)


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