Cannot recognise certain WAV files

Firstly, kudos for an excellent program, which I’ve been using on occasions since 2007 (version 1.2.6).

I figured I’d upgrade to the latest version (2.0.6). However this latest version no longer recognises the type of WAV file I’m currently working with, which the older version had no problem with.

The newer version suggests importing the “unknown” file as raw data. This does allow Audacity to load the file, however playing the file just results in screeching noises. I have attached a typical WAV file that gives this problem.


It’s not a WAV file. It’s an MP3 file that has been misnamed with the wrong file extension.
Here is the file with the correct “mp3” file extension:

Are you sure it’s a renamed MP3? These are the first few dozen bytes of 3 different sound files:


RIFF·#··WAVEfmt ····U···D···@·············

A typical WAV file from a Windows folder

RIFF····WAVEfmt ····U···D··· N············

A typical MP3 file


I know there’s something weird about my file though (and all others that come from the same website, an online dictionary), as Audacity 1.2.6 is the only audio editor I know of that doesn’t choke on these files.

Is it possible it/they have been put through some sort of “WAV compressor”, much like some software’s EXE files are? I know that these files are quite small considering they have a WAV extension.

You’re correct, it is not only named incorrectly, the file header is also incorrect. Nevertheless, the format is 64 kbps MP3.
The file size is 9.2 kB = 9222 bytes, which at 64 kbps works out as a duration of about 1.15 seconds (give or take a bit for the header and padding).

The website these “WAV” files come from has probably tens of thousands of these files. Maybe as a basic form of IP protection the webmaster has run them all through a custom program that replaces the MP3 header with a WAV one, knowing that WMP etc will still play them but most audio editors will choke.

WAV is a container format so it is perfectly legitimate (if unusual) for it to contain MP3. Adding a RIFF WAV header is the only way that you could import MP3 into older versions of PowerPoint.

And yes this is a small Audacity bug. There are workarounds.

Install FFmpeg from Note that this will only allow import in 16-bit resolution.

Otherwise, Edit > Preferences…, choose “Extended Import” on the left, then use the “Add new rule” button to add a rule for “*.wav” (without the quotes). Or batch rename the files to MP3 extension (Windows Media Player should still play them). Those two methods will let Audacity import the files at 32-bit float resolution.


That works for me. I have FFmpeg installed and the file imported even with the WAV header and file extension.

Back in the early days of the Internet, Internet Explorer had very poor support for media files. A workaround for that was to “wavify” MP3 files - that is, to encapsulate MP3 files in WAV headers so that IE would play them. It was not a particularly “good practice” thing to do, but it worked at the time and it saved bandwidth for people on (slow) dial-up modems. My guess is that these files date back to that bygone era.

That would seem to be the case for the website that has these “WAV” files, which has been around since 1999. Having used Audacity to trim silence and export the files to mp3 format, I found Windows’ SndPlaySound() function refused to play them (which I assume is the function that older IE versions used with sound files). Googling found a program called CDex, which “wavified” them so SndPlaySound now plays them. :smiley: