Difference Between MP3 and MP4

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: September 12, 2022


Difference Between MP3 and MP4 Difference Between MP3 and MP4

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You like recording, listening to podcasts, viewing movies and videos on YouTube, and engaging in a variety of other forms of multimedia. Do you ever find yourself wondering how exactly these files may be downloaded, opened, or played on your laptop, desktop computer, Android, or iPhone? Simply put, these folders cannot function without the assistance of code support or file extensions. It is essential to make more efficient use of computer resources and to have access to the data associated with multimedia. Data that is algorithmic in nature and is used in computer programming is called coding. It is an incontestable fact that the process involves processing that is both effective and takes up a minimum amount of time in the form of streaming. It is not merely an extension of the realm of multimedia in the digital world; instead, it is a whole large subject.

It doesn't matter whether it's a song that gets you through one extra rep at the gym or a podcast that helps you relax after a stressful day at work; the sound is one of the many things that keep us going throughout the day. Sound development has been paralleled by the development of several digital file formats. It is not unexpected, considering that the file format has been around for more than 20 years, that the phrase "MP3" has become associated with digital music, even if it is not the only file format. This is analogous to how the term "Google" has become synonymous with doing a web search. Since then, it has been overtaken by various file formats, the most notable being the MP4 format. However, even though the number of digits in the name has increased from three to four, an MP4 is not merely the next generation of the MP3 format. There is more to it than that.

MP3 vs. MP4

The primary distinction between MP3 and MP4 is the latter format's intended use. The MP3 file extension was created specifically for use with audio files. MP4, on the other hand, is used for multimedia files such as music and video. Both have various capabilities in terms of storage and compatibility, as well as adaptability. They can accommodate different directories as well as unique extension types.

The mp3 and mp4 file formats are tiny components of these and may be handled by the MPEG Firm (moving picture experts group). There are a lot of individuals that get MP3 and MP4 confused with one another.

The vast majority of audio professionals agree that an AAC-encoded MP4 audio file has a superior sound quality than an MP3 file of the same size. Given that AAC is a more recent compression method, this makes perfect sense. Having said that, it would be beneficial if you kept in mind where and how you want to play the audio files that you have downloaded. There are still some people out there who have not upgraded their portable music players even though they are still in perfect working order; nevertheless, these devices may not be compatible with the MP4 or AAC format. It is almost certain that a file saved as an MP3 will function on any device that is capable of playing digital music. It is also important to note that an MP3 encoded at 320 kbps should probably sound exactly the same as an MP4 or AAC encoded at the same bit rate.

An MP4 that uses ALAC is significantly preferable to an MP3 in terms of quality if you want to preserve your digital or analog music collection, as we said previously. ALAC is a lossless format, meaning it not only keeps every aspect of the original material it was converted from, but it also allows you to convert it to MP3 (or MP4/AAC) whenever you choose, in case you need a version that is smaller and more portable. On the other hand, the opposite is not valid: Converting an audio file from its original format to another format, such as MP4 or ALAC, would not bring back any of the original audio information that was lost when the file was converted to MP3. Doing this will end up with a bigger file but of the same quality as the MP3.

Difference Between MP3 and MP4 in Tabular Form

Table: MP3 vs. MP4
Parameter of Comparison
The Fraunhofer Society in Germany, together with a team of digital experts from the United States and Europe, is credited with developing the MP3 format. MP3 is a Binary Audio Coding Configuration.
ISO developed the MP4 format, which is a binary audio, video, and text coding configuration (International Organization of Standardization).
It is designed to provide a more enjoyable listening experience.
It is designed to provide a high-quality audio-visual experience for two users simultaneously.
This extension is only capable of playing audio files when used.
This extension enables the playback of audio-visual and other types of multimedia files.
Compatible with each and every music player and audio gadget out there.
iPhones and iPods may use it without any problems.
File Extension Names
It uses the.mp3 file extension for its storage format.
It has a variety of extensions, including.mp4,.m4a,.m4p,.m4b,.m4r, and.m4v files.

What is MP3?

MP3 is a digital audio coding set file creation. The success of the mp3 format may be attributed to a group of digital professionals from the United States and Europe. It was established by a group called the "Fraunhofer Society" (from Germany). After some time, the enlarged version was referred to as MPEG-2 audio layer III, and currently, it is referred to as MPEG-3 audio layer III. Improving the quality of the listening experience is the reason for its creation. Only audio files with the.mp3 suffix may be played. The folder may be used with any of the music players or audio devices that are available. It is compatible with the audio and video file formats Audio/MPEG, Audio/MPA, and Audio/mpa-robust.

Due to the fact that MP3 is just an audio extension, it is not compatible with video files.  Therefore, it is possible that it is not as adaptable as MP4, but it mainly deals with audio files. Even the storage space required for any of its files is reduced by this feature. MPEG-1 audio layer III was the last name that was given to this component.

Before we get into the specifics of how MP3 and MP4 vary from one another, let's quickly review what an MP3 file is and what it may be used for. The abbreviation for "MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3," or simply "MP3," is. " It was designed to provide us a means to store audio information in digital form, but with a smaller file size than the format used by CDs at the time. Specifically, it was developed to store audio information in MP3 format. MP3s do this by using a method that is based on human psychology. First, they begin with an original, uncompressed digital audio file (similar to a track on a CD). Then they delete portions of data, so it is unlikely that the human ear will hear the difference. A procedure like this is referred to as "lossy compression." It's the same approach that JPEG files utilize to reduce the size of photographs without compromising the essential elements that keep them looking just as excellent as the originals. The same is true for MP3 files: even though they only need roughly a tenth of the storage space that a CD audio track does, the vast majority of people find listening to MP3 files to be an enjoyable experience.

What is MP4?

MP4 is a digital file type that may encode text, audio, and video in a specified manner. It is compatible with any form of multimedia. The International Organization for Standardization is responsible for its establishment (ISO). This extension's goal is to provide users with a fantastic dual audio-video experience, which is why it has been developed. The folder may be used on both iPhones and iPods without any problems. It is able to play video files with extensions like mp4, m4a, m4p, m4b, m4r, and m4v. Additionally, it has the designation of MPEG-4 part 14 and may be saved in the video/mp4 format.  It plays music and video files of any kind without any problems.

The fact that it is compatible with both AAC and MP3 makes it a more flexible format. It requires a bigger storage space than an MP3 in order to be kept. The design is a code for the Quick Time file format. You may see it in a three-dimensional configuration. Additionally, conversion to MP3 format is possible for files of this sort (That is, only audio).

The acronym MP4 stands for the more extended version of the name MPEG-4 Part 14. An MP4 file, in contrast to an MP3, which is only used for storing music, is known as a container file and may be used to hold audio, video, and other data such as subtitles. Because of this, defining precisely what an MP4 is maybe a little bit challenging. If you locate a file with the name "Rocky.mp4", does that mean it's the movie Rocky or the theme music from the film? Or might it be something else entirely? Apple has chosen to begin using the.m4a file extension for MP4 files that just include audio, but the.m4v file end is occasionally used to signify that it's a video. This change is being made in an effort to help decrease misunderstanding. However, given that they are more like conventions than regulations, the only practical method to find out is to either attempt opening the file with a media player that is compatible with MP4 or examine its contents.

Main Differences Between MP3 and MP4 in Points

  • Audio files are the only kind that can be played on an MP3 player. On the other hand, music, video, and other multimedia files may be played on an MP4 player.
  • MP3 provides a superior listening experience, while MP4 offers a fantastic combination of music and video in a single package.
  • MP3 files that have been compressed and saved in the ".mp3" format. On the other hand, MP4 files come with a wider variety of extension choices, including '.mp4,' '.m4a,' '.m4p,' '.m4b,' '.m4r,' and '.m4v.'
  • There are also audio/MPEG and audio/MPA-robust media formats that can be converted to MP3 files. Additionally, video recordings may be saved as MP4 files.
  • Compared to MP3, which only accepts a single kind of media file, the MP4 format is far more flexible.
  • MP3 files can be played on any music player. However, MP4 files can only be played on Apple products like the iPhone and iPod.
  • MP3 does not allow video compression, unlike MP4 for video compression.
  • The amount of storage space used by audio files is much less than that required by video files.


Now that the dust has settled, it should come as no surprise that the MP3 and MP4 formats were designed with somewhat distinct objectives in mind. One exclusively supports audio files, which results in a superior listening experience overall. And other provides a dual expertise, supporting audio and video simultaneously.

The mp3 files consist of the music that you listen to when traveling, preparing food, or generally putting yourself in a good mood. Movies, videos on YouTube, and many other types of material that enable multimedia are all in mp4 format. As you can see, both of these things play a significant role in our lives. Therefore there is no need to choose one over the other. On the other hand, their applications change depending on the context and time of day.

Keep your MP3 audio files if they were generated at 256 kbps or more excellent if you already have an extensive collection of them and want to listen to them. If you are not utilizing very high-end audiophile equipment, there is a big chance that you won't be able to detect much of an increase in sound quality even if you re-encode your CDs using an MP4 file. On the other hand, ripping new CDs from scratch or converting analog sources to digital is best accomplished using an MP4 file, precisely one that makes use of the lossless ALAC codec.

This is the format to use if you consider any of these options. You will end up with an almost flawless digital file, which can then be converted to any lossy format of your choosing later, including MP3, if you are worried about maintaining compatibility with older devices. Lossless MP4 files use much more space than their lossy counterparts, but they are well worth it if you have sufficient free space on your hard disc.


  • Mobile technologies, podcasting and language education (igi-global.com)
  • Mobile Learning: Education Book Chapter | IGI Global (igi-global.com)

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"Difference Between MP3 and MP4." Diffzy.com, 2022. Fri. 09 Dec. 2022. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-mp3-and-mp4-1004>.

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