M4A vs MP3: The Differences, Pros and Cons, and How to Convert from M4A to MP4

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MP3 is the long-time alpha of the audio format pack but do we see a change coming? I don’t think so, but it’s good to have all bases covered and know the characteristics of other audio file formats such as the surging M4A.

In the M4A vs MP3 comparison, we will learn about the differences between the two, which should you use in a particular situation, and their pros and cons. But first, let us try to understand what M4A is and what is MP3 separately.

M4A vs MP3: What are they?

What is M4A?

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M4A is simply an MP4 file that only contains audio. The common file extension used by an MP4 file is .MP4 but if it only contains audio, it typically uses the .M4A file extension. (On the other hand, copyrighted audio has an M4P extension.)

Technically, the M4A is a container and not a file format, which means it may use either lossless (such as ALAC) or lossy (AAC) compression codec. M4A files that employ the lossless compression may be as high as half of the file size of the original, but M4A lossy compression files can be as small as 10% of the original file.

Apple was the one that made M4A widely popular when they use the container to hold their iTunes songs. It is basically their counter to the MP3. M4A is also the favoured format of Mac and iOs apps, as well as Nintendo and PlayStation merchandise.

What is MP3?

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MP3, or MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3, was the creation borne out of the need to share audio files on the Internet. However, with Internet speeds in the early 90s not what it is today, users have found out the hard way that sharing lossless compression audio files takes ages and sometimes, even impossible, using dial-up connections. A group of Germans led by Karlheinz Brandenburg messed around and came with the MP3. Necessity, indeed, is the mother of invention.

Typically, MP3 file sizes are only a tenth of the file sizes of the same song in other formats. That’s the reason why it has become the primary file format in the Internet era and remains so today, 27 years after its release. Whether or not it will relinquish the throne remains to be seen.

M4A vs. MP3: Comparison Chart

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M4A vs MP3: FAQ

What are the main differences between M4A and MP3?

First and foremost, M4A is a container, while MP3 is a format. It also has distinct differences in compatibility and quality.

Which has better quality, M4A or MP3?

Let’s say they are on equal grounds. MP3 is using a lossy compression algorithm and let’s just say M4A does the same, only with AAC. Comparing the two, AAC has a better sound quality at the same file size. Naturally, M4A would even have much better audio quality than MP3 if it does contain audio that uses lossless compression like ALAC.

Should I convert youtube from M4A to MP3?

If quality is not an issue, but compatibility is, then there is a need to convert audio files from M4A to MP3. Some platforms and devices do not support M4A playback, so in that case, an M4A to MP3 conversion is necessary.

M4A vs MP3: Pros and Cons

M4A Pros and Cons

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MP3 Pros and Cons

M4A vs MP3: The Bottom Line — Which is Better?

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There is an instance where we had to pick a clear winner, and this time, in the M4A vs MP3 conversation, M4A runs away with this one. It’s boxing’s equivalent of a 116–112 (8 rounds to 4) unanimous decision victory. Why do we say so?

Because in the quality aspect, M4A just blows MP3 out of the water. If we’re talking lossy coding, M4A, which typically uses AAC, results in better overall quality than MP3 at the same bitrate and smaller file size. We are not going to be talking about lossless compression because that would be a massacre now. That’s how unfair it is, in favour of M4A.

The only thing going for MP3 is its universal compatibility, but not everything in it is a bed of roses. While it may be shared online and physically, MP3s make piracy rampant, while M4A allows encryption methods such as DRM (although an encrypted M4A now uses the M4P file extension). That means you can control what audio files can be accessed or shared publicly and audio files that are intended for private use. That’s fantastic news for artists who are making money out of their music at iTunes and some other platforms. For those reasons, M4A deserves our vote of confidence.

However, it’s not all cut and dry in the M4A vs MP3 conversation. The universal support MP3 enjoys comes in handy in certain situations, which is why you may need to convert M4A to MP3 at times.

How To Convert M4A to MP3 Using Ontiva.com?

In cases where you cannot share your M4A files to other devices, you don’t need to fret. This is because Evano is here to solve that problem by converting M4A files to MP3 in an instant. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Open our platform and select the M4A file to be converted.
  2. Choose “MP3” as an output file and select a destination folder to store the converted file.
  3. Click “Convert”, and after the conversion process, you can now download the converted M4A to MP3 file.

Written by

https://ontiva.com/en is YouTube converter, a free online media conversion platform that enables you to download and convert YouTube to MP3, MP4, WAV, FLAC.

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