To learn more about the technical details of audio formats, read Chris Bagwell's Audio Format FAQ at http://www.cnpbagwell.com/audio.html.
Ubuntu also offers utilities for converting sound files from one format to another. Conversion utilities come in handy when you want to use a sound in a format not accepted by your current application of choice. A repository of conversion utilities resides at
http://ibiblio.org/pub/linux/apps/sound/convert/INDEX.html and includes MP3 and music CDoriented utilities not found in Ubuntu. You will have to know how to compile and install from source, however. If you see something useful, have a look at http://www.rpmfind.net/ to locate a binary RPM if you don't feel up to the task.
Ubuntu does provide sox, a self-described sound translator that will convert music between the AIFF, AU, VAR, DAT, OGG, and WAV formats, among others. It also can be used to change many other parameters of the sound files.
Timidity is a MIDI to WAV converter and player. If you are interested in MIDI and musical instruments, Timidity is a handy application; it handles karaoke files as well, displaying the words to accompany your efforts at singing.
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