Everyone listens to podcasts, music and audiobooks, but not everyone is familiar with the format of these audio files. The two formats universally used for audio files are MP3 and M4A. To help make your digital life easier, you’ll find a detailed look at these two formats and their differences below. Since M4A is the successor of the MP3 format, it is natural to be wary of shifting your loyalties. There’s no need to worry because you can easily change M4A to MP3 on Mac, and on Windows, you can use Windows Media Player to convert M4A to MP3.
Before delving into the differences between these two audio file formats, let us first understand the two formats independently.
M4A is a compressed audio file in the MPEG-4 container format. It is viewed as the successor of MP3. The audio format enables Apple users to download unprotected music from iTunes, and the type of music in this file format is generally encoded using lossy AAC compression. The format may use the lossless ALAC compression in certain situations.
The advantages of the M4A format are:
- The M4A audio files are compressed with lossless quality, and the files get smaller without losing their original quality.
- The M4A audio files are unprotected, and therefore, users can easily distribute and stream them with no payments or license.
- Users can directly set the audio files as iPhone ringtones by simply renaming the extension from M4A to M4R.
The MP3 format is one of the foremost audio file formats introduced before the M4A. The format works by using a compression algorithm that helps decrease the file size. The format allows Apple users to freely save, download, and share music across their devices.
The benefits of using MP3 are:
- The format allows users to share audio files on various platforms
- The MP3 audio files are downloaded easily from the Internet
- The format allows for a higher compression of the file size and provides easier storage on devices.
M4A and MP3: the differences
- The quality of the audio files
When it comes to music, quality is the fundamental aspect that users watch out for, and that’s where M4A stands out from the MP3 file format.
The M4A files offer much better sound quality compared to MP3 files. It is influenced by the large bit rate of M4A, which translates to a larger file size and better sound quality. The original sound quality of the music is maintained when users are downloading an audio file in the M4A file format.
However, this doesn’t mean that the MP3 format offers poor sound quality. Since MP3 allows for high compression of the audio file size to make it easier on storage, the sound quality of the file is slightly deferred.
When MP3 and M4A are pitted against each other in terms of sound quality, M4A wins and by a wide range.
Compatibility is another major differentiating factor between M4A and MP3. Compatibility refers to the rate at which something easily blends with the other.
As already mentioned, M4A is a limited audio file format. That’s why the format isn’t supported on all the devices. The format also doesn’t support sharing across devices. MP3, on the other hand, is highly compatible, and that’s why the format continues to be so popular even after the introduction of M4A.
The devices compatible with M4A are iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Android devices also support the format. Some players supporting the format include Poweramp Music, iTunes, VLC, Quicktime, Google Play Music and Windows Media Player. On the other hand, MP3 is compatible with almost all devices and music players.
So, if you’re looking for an audio file format compatible with multiple devices and allows for seamless sharing between devices, MP3 is recommended.
Verdict: MP3 or M4A?
Both M4A and MP3 audio file formats are hugely popular and widely used. There’s no verdict or clear answer regarding which format is better. However, if you’re using Apple devices, your choice should be M4A because it is natively supported. Even Final Cut Pro, iMovie and other editors for macOS offer excellent support for this audio file format. If you’re not happy with the format and watch to switch, you can always convert M4A files to MP3.
For anything else, you must use MP3. The MP3 files are easier to download, share between devices, stream across platforms and store. But you will have to compromise on quality because M4A offers better quality than MP3.
Leave a Reply