Tagging WAV files

When I first got into digital audio, I learned that WAV files cannot be tagged with metadata such as artist, album, etc. More recently I have seen claims that this can now be done. What’s the actual situation? Has the official WAV format been updated? Is it safe to tag WAV files if one’s software allows? (By ‘safe’ I mean being sure that the metadata will not be lost if one moves to a different player or OS–in other words, tags are stored in the file and not just in some programs’s database.)

WAV files can hold several types of metadata. It is embedded in the file itself. For example, the Broadcast Wave Format (“BWF”) was introduced roughly 20 years ago to allow an easy exchange between platforms and different broadcast environments. I record to BWF.

The problem is that many WAV readers/players do not know what to do with the metadata. Some try to play it, resulting in a brief bit of noise. Others ignore it.

I suggest tagging WAV files only if you have a designated platform that you know you will use forever. Otherwise, I recommend a common standard, such as FLAC.

Thank you for the clarification, Elk. I have always used FLAC files because of their good tagging capabilities. I’m not looking to change, but I did want to know what the situation actually is.

Like AIFF the WAV format has different chunks defined that can be used for different things. It always had an INFO chunk, but this is limited to quite basic metadata a bit like ID3v1. The BWF extension of WAV was introduced and this can contain the bext chunk , however this of more use to Radio Stations then the kind of metadata users need for their music. More recently the ID3 chunk has gained traction, and this allows the use of the same metadata format (ID3v2) as mp3s allowing the storage of a wide variety of metadata including artwork.

Support for the ID3 chunk within WAV is improving, a list of taggers, players and sound editors is available at http://wavmetadata.blogspot.co.uk/