Wave editor software is a type of program that allows the visual manipulation of audio files that have been saved in the wave, or wav, file format. The editor provides a way to increase the quality of an audio sample by removing noise, eliminating silent space at the beginning and end of the sample and enhancing existing audio data. It also can be used to modify the properties of a wave file by changing the bit rate, removing channels, adding channels or adjusting the output balance. There are a number of wave editor software packages available, some of which are free. The different editors each have their own selection of features and editing tools.
The wave file format is commonly used in several areas, including professional music composition. The advantage of the format is that it usually employs no compression, meaning there is no chance for a loss of data when writing the file. The prevalence of the wave format means the number and quality of the software packages is higher than with nearly any other format.
One of the primary functions of wave editor software is to improve the quality of the wave file. This can be done through the use of algorithms that can isolate different audio anomalies such as the popping of a noise near a microphone or static distortion caused by unshielded wire connections. Certain editors allow for advanced filtering of the audio data, as well, including the ability to isolate and remove or enhance specific pieces of an audio composition.
There also are more advanced functions that some wave editor software can perform. These types of operations include modifying the metadata within the file to adjust the audio output and direct it toward specific speakers during playback, and modifying the bit rate of the playback to make the file compatible with various types of media players. Some software gives the user the ability to layer different files on top of one another, creating multi-channel tracks much like a professional editing board would do.
Although not always part of wave editor software, the ability to convert and compress the audio information can be a useful set of features. A wave file is usually very large because all of the audio data is uncompressed. Compressing a wave file can make it more portable and allow more files to be stored on a physical medium such as a compact disc (CD). File conversion is useful because a wave file can only be played on non-computer-based hardware if it is in one of only a handful of specific file formats.