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What are the main differences between MP3 and MP4 format and which one is better?

UPDATED ✅ Do you have doubts about the best audio format mp4, mp5 or mp3 and want to know their differences? ⭐ ENTER HERE ⭐ And find out which one is best for you

There are many ways in which we can enjoy a good song or any sound file. These different ways in which they are offered to us are called formats, and they give the content different characteristics. Very prominent are the two formats that we will see today: mp3 and mp4.

Despite being known for being audio tracks, the truth is that the latter is not exactly in audio format. But, come on, that’s something we’re going to look at next when we see What do each of them consist of and what are their differences?.

As an addition we have also included, and at the end of the article, a double classification of types of audio formatsso that you can know exactly where they are and what their characteristics are based on these classifications.

What is the MP3 format and what features does it have?

MP3 format

MP3 is an audio format used to store compressed sound data, obtaining tracks that can be played on certain devices both portable and desktop (computers, DVD players, consoles, speakers and other home sound systems…). Its extension is .mp3.

Its development comes from the hand of Moving Picture Experts Group and born to be part of the MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 standards. Although, it is worth mentioning that what was initially sought was the transfer of musical data through the use of telephone lines. It was in 1992 when the ISO it is now considered an audio compression standard.

It is a format that is patented and that includes a lossy algorithm. Based on the format classifications that we will see later, we have that this is a lossy compressed proprietary audio format.

compression of this type of audio format can be performed with different bit rates per second (bit/s), obtaining results, of course, of different quality and size and requiring more or less time to do so.

Compression can be performed to the point of obtaining tracks reduced up to 15 times respect to the original. This makes, together with other of its characteristics, that it is a very popular format due to that versatility.

Its structure includes several plots, which have:

  • A header: Indicates to the player that a valid frame is started, starting the execution of the file.
  • the corresponding file datawhich are made up of mpeg bitswhich will be used by the player for said execution.

These aspects form a sequence call Stream Elemental. Each of these frames, with its corresponding header and data, is independent, and can be cut and played on any device.

His greatest milestone is to be the first of the formats that became popular with the use of the internetWell, it served, and continues to serve, for file sharingboth in P2P networks as well as on platforms for buying music tracks and clips.

So much so that it is considered a universal standard, being one of those with a greater variety of devices that can reproduce it, being able to reproduce it practically anywhereeither on a physical player or a digital one.

What is the MP4 format and what features does it have?

MP4 format

MP4, or MPEG-4 part 14, is a container that includes both an audio track and a video. encoded in different formats. The result is a single file based on MOVwhich is a video format. Its extension is .mp4.

It also works with a compression algorithm that allows a very good audio-video optimizationoffering a high final quality. Compression can be up to 16:1.

Main differences between mp3 vs mp4 audio formats

Let’s see what is clearly different between mp3 and mp4 as file playback formats:

  • Function. They are developed to listen to music and to watch videos and images respectively. This offers us the clear and main difference: they do not even have the same objective, although we can use the mp4 quietly to listen to songs, of course.
  • Form. The .mp3 format is a mere compression of audio files. In contrast, .mp4 is based on MOV, a video format, being a container that includes both an audio track and a video (or image) track that are produced, by encoding, offering a single final product.
  • compression and csound quality. The compression of the mp3 is much higher, so the loss of quality is also higher. For this reason, mp4 is sometimes used only to listen to music (even if it is played together with video), thus maintaining high quality.
  • players. The MP4 player is a complete container that includes a greater compression of the mp4 files (not of the data), so that they offer a high storage capacity. Under similar conditions, the mp3 player can hold less content.

How many types of audio formats are there?

Comparative table of audio formats

Audio formats can be classified based on whether the data stored in them are they compressed or not and, if so, whether or not they have a loss.

Uncompressed audio formats

  • The main is PCMwhich is filed as .wav (based on a RIFF) for Windows systems and as .aiff (based on IFF) for MACs. Both versions are flexible and allow storage of multiple combinations of bitrate or sample rate, making them ideal to make recordings.
  • CDA it is small and it is used to access the different parts of a Compact Disc.
  • BWF is a standard format that the European Union created to replace .wav. allows the metadata storage. It is used in professional editing programs.
  • BWF It is a format that has a time stamp and that is easily synchronized with images.

Compressed audio formats

  • Lossy compressed audio formats: When encoding the data, a part of it disappears, it is lost. This occurs because a process is carried out which, because it is shorter in time, reduces the quality of the result but you get other benefits like syou are faster when opening and take up less space.
    • We have already seen that the .mp3 falls into this category.
    • ACC offers files of greater lightness and same quality than the previous one. It became popular when the use of iTunes spread.
    • OGG is a free version of .mp3 or .ACC, so there is no patent restriction. Ideal for being open but worse supported for not being so well known.
  • Lossless Compressed Audio Formats: These are formats that require a longer processing time, making efficient use of the space they need and achieving a compression ratio 2:1. They use the same amount of bits to compress both sound and silence.
    • The best known and most used is FLACbeing A THE C the corresponding one for Apple. It’s lighter than an uncompressed file but, for obvious reasons, it’s still big, maintaining audio quality original.
    • MP3HD turns out to be a improved version of the MP3, with high quality, typical of a .wav. It offers compatibility with MP3 players.

Open or proprietary audio formats

To finish, we leave another interesting classification, which results from knowing if these audio formats are open or proprietary.

She is serious:

  • Proprietary or closed formats. They are protected by rights or patents with the main purpose of preventing their operation, their parts or their design from being known.
  • open formats. The data organized by open standards is stored without restrictions regarding its access.
  • Free open formats. There is freedom in how we use it.