A codec is a computer program that is used to compress or decompress digital media files such as audio, video, and images. The word “codec” is short for “coder-decoder,” and it refers to the process of encoding information into a compressed format that takes up less space and can be transmitted or stored more easily, and then decoding it back into its original form for playback.
Codecs use different compression algorithms to achieve this compression, and the choice of codec depends on a variety of factors such as the type of media being compressed, the intended use of the compressed file, and the desired quality of the output. There are many different codecs available, each with its own strengths and weaknesses.
Some common codecs include:
- H.264: a widely-used video codec that provides high quality compression and is supported by most devices.
- MP3: a popular audio codec that compresses music files to a smaller size while retaining a high degree of sound quality.
- JPEG: a commonly-used image codec that compresses digital images into a smaller file size while maintaining a good level of image quality.
- AAC: a newer audio codec that provides better quality than MP3 while using less storage space.
- HEVC: a newer video codec that offers improved compression over H.264, making it a good choice for high-resolution videos.
Codecs are essential for digital media, as they allow large files to be transmitted and stored more efficiently. However, they can also lead to compatibility issues, as different devices and software may not support the same codecs. To ensure compatibility, it is often necessary to convert files from one codec to another using a process known as transcoding.