I've got this wonderful conundrum with a WAV file, whereas I cannot detect it's actual sample size (i.e. how many bits are in a sample) and the number of channels.

geek@liv-inspiron:~$ soxi file.wav

Input File     : 'file.wav'
Channels       : 2
Sample Rate    : 44100
Precision      : 16-bit
Duration       : 00:03:19.56 = 8800596 samples = 14967 CDDA sectors
File Size      : 35.2M
Bit Rate       : 1.41M
Sample Encoding: 16-bit Signed Integer PCM

MPlayer2 reports the following (but I can only hear noise):

geek@liv-inspiron:~$ mplayer file.wav 
MPlayer2 2.0-701-gd4c5b7f-2ubuntu2 (C) 2000-2012 MPlayer Team

Playing file.wav.
Detected file format: WAV / WAVE (Waveform Audio) (libavformat)
[wav @ 0x7f21516c9600]max_analyze_duration reached
[lavf] stream 0: audio (pcm_s16le), -aid 0
Load subtitles in .
Selected audio codec: Uncompressed PCM [pcm]
AUDIO: 44100 Hz, 2 ch, s16le, 1411.2 kbit/100.00% (ratio: 176400->176400)
AO: [alsa] 44100Hz 2ch s16le (2 bytes per sample)
Video: no video
Starting playback...

While MPlayer outputs actual sound, and seems to detect a DTS format:

geek@liv-inspiron:~$ mplayer file.wav 
MPlayer 1.1-4.8 (C) 2000-2012 MPlayer Team

Playing file.wav.
libavformat version 54.20.3 (external)
Audio only file format detected.
Load subtitles in ./
Opening audio decoder: [ffmpeg] FFmpeg/libavcodec audio decoders
libavcodec version 54.35.0 (external)
AUDIO: 44100 Hz, 2 ch, floatle, 1411.2 kbit/50.00% (ratio: 176400->352800)
Selected audio codec: [ffdca] afm: ffmpeg (FFmpeg DTS)
AO: [pulse] 44100Hz 2ch floatle (4 bytes per sample)
Video: no video
Starting playback...

And if I play it with VLC which also outputs actual sound, it reports:

Type: Audio
Codec: DTS Audio (dts )
Channels: 3F2R/LFE
Sample rate: 44100 Hz
Bitrate: 1411 kb/s

Some quick math yields 1411 ∕ 44.1 ≈ 31.995465, which implies a 32-bit sample size. So which one is it: 16-bit or 32-bit? Or is it 16-bit per channel?

And how many channels does it have? 2 as in Stereo or 5 as in DTS? The info is again conflicting...

In other words, is there a tool that can accurately report the technical data for a WAV file, without getting confused by erroneous headers?

  • There are two channels, hence it takes twice the bandwidth of a single channel.
    – psusi
    Dec 22, 2014 at 2:25
  • @psusi The proposed answer suggests that it might be DTS 5.1, and it does seem to be that way. Does your comment still hold in that case? Thanks.
    – landroni
    Dec 22, 2014 at 7:50
  • In that case neither my comment, nor the question make sense since there is no relationship between sample size + rate, and the bit rate of a lossy compressor.
    – psusi
    Dec 22, 2014 at 21:28
  • @psusi Not sure I follow. I'm dealing with a WAV file that seemingly contains a DTS stream... All the technical data in the question has been reported by various tools. I'm seeking a tool that can accurately report the technical data for the WAV file, without getting confused by erroneous headers.
    – landroni
    Dec 22, 2014 at 22:33

3 Answers 3


As pointed out in this question, an excellent utility for this task is MediaInfo.

MediaInfo is a convenient unified display of the most relevant technical and tag data for video and audio files.

geek@liv-inspiron:~$ mediainfo file.wav 
Complete name                            : file.wav
Format                                   : Wave
File size                                : 33.6 MiB
Duration                                 : 3mn 19s
Overall bit rate mode                    : Constant
Overall bit rate                         : 1 411 Kbps

Format                                   : DTS
Format/Info                              : Digital Theater Systems
Mode                                     : 14
Format settings, Endianness              : Little
Codec ID                                 : 1
Duration                                 : 3mn 19s
Bit rate mode                            : Constant
Bit rate                                 : 1 411.2 Kbps
Channel(s)                               : 6 channels
Channel positions                        : Front: L C R, Side: L R, LFE
Sampling rate                            : 44.1 KHz
Bit depth                                : 24 bits
Compression mode                         : Lossy
Stream size                              : 33.6 MiB (100%)

This would confirm that the specific file is DTS with 6 channels, but interestingly that the sample size is actually 24 bits and strangely that the compression mode is lossy.

One can also use this utility via a GUI: mediainfo-gui.


Looks like dts-wav. Many of these files have a header format ID which suggests PCM, but the actual byte stream is DTS. This explains the soxi output.

If you have a recent version (2007 or later) of ffmpeg/libavcodec installed, mplayer should be able to detect that and use the appropriate non-PCM codec.

The VLC output implies you have DTS with a 5.1 configuration (6 channels).

  • If mplayer didn't notice it was really dts though, you would just hear noise.
    – psusi
    Dec 22, 2014 at 2:38
  • psusi is right, in that case it could also be the other way round. If playback on both players is possible, the situation can maybe be explained by a fallback in VLC. Dec 22, 2014 at 3:15
  • @psusi Actually I am hearing just noise in MPlayer2... But it plays fine in VLC or in MPlayer. The latter also calls a DTS-related codec (see updated question), but even then for some reason MPlayer reports only 2 channels (instead of DTS 5 or 6)...
    – landroni
    Dec 22, 2014 at 8:05
  • @psusi I found a utility that outputs the precise technical data that I was looking for. See accepted answer.
    – landroni
    Dec 25, 2014 at 23:09

For a useful online, drag-and-drop "Free Online EXIF Viewer" that will give you all the data you want an more, try



The URL of the site has changed, but the functionality is the same.


If you want details of what you can get from that site, check out this answer on SuperUser.

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