What’s MP4? Distinction Between MP3 and MP4


MP4 information are a brand new and improved model of MP3 information, aren’t they?

not good.

That single-digit distinction can provide the impression that they’re kind of the identical factor, however nothing could possibly be farther from the reality. They every have completely different makes use of, histories and benefits; MP3 and MP4 will not be two variations of the identical factor.

On this article, we are going to clarify a number of the main variations that everybody ought to pay attention to. By the point you are completed studying, you will know which file kind is true to your wants.


Understanding MPEG

However earlier than we dive into the variations, it is necessary to know the place the 2 file varieties originated.

is brief for mp3 MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3, It was considered one of two codecs thought of for the MPEG audio normal within the early Nineties. Electronics agency Philips, the French analysis institute CCETT, and Germany’s Institute for Broadcast Know-how supported the format, due to its simplicity, lack of errors, and computational effectivity.


The choice was made in 1991, and MP3 information entered the general public area in 1993.

What does MP4 imply? MPEG-4 Half 14, The expertise is predicated on Apple’s QuickTime MOV format however provides help for varied MPEG options. The file kind was first launched in 2001, however it’s the 2003 re-release that’s now generally used once you view MP4 information. There was no additional replace to the format since 2003.

Probably the most fundamental distinction between MP3 and MP4 is the kind of knowledge they retailer.

MP3 information can solely be used for audio, whereas MP4 information can retailer audio, video, nonetheless photographs, subtitles, and textual content. In technical phrases, MP3 is an “audio coding” format whereas MP4 is a “digital multimedia container” format.

MP3: The King of Audio

As a result of they’re so good at storing audio, MP3 information have develop into the de facto normal audio format for music software program, digital audio gamers, and music streaming websites. It doesn’t matter what working system or machine you personal, you may relaxation assured that MP3s will work simply wonderful with no hitch. Because of this MP3 gamers can nonetheless be value shopping for.


The principle cause they’re so standard is the way in which file varieties work. MP3s use lossy compression, which vastly reduces the scale of an audio file whereas barely affecting its high quality. The method works by isolating all knowledge past the typical individual’s listening to vary, then compressing the remainder as effectively as potential.

MP3 additionally permits customers to stability the trade-off between audio high quality and file measurement. If you’re an audiophile, you may decide for a bigger file measurement with increased bitrate and higher audio high quality. Then again, if you wish to squeeze as a lot music as potential in your transportable machine, you may scale back the file measurement and audio high quality accordingly.

Additionally, MP3s will all the time be smaller than related MP4 information. So, in case your audio participant or smartphone is getting full, it is best to convert any audio saved as MP4 to MP3 format. Be aware that you could be have an effect on the audio high quality within the course of!

MP4: Extra Use, Extra Flexibility

MP4 information are “containers” – as an alternative of storing the code for the file, they retailer the information. As such, MP4 information would not have a local method of dealing with the coding of the file. They depend on particular codecs to find out how coding and compression might be dealt with.

There are a whole lot of codecs on the market at present, however many will not work with mainstream MP4 gamers. For a participant to have the ability to learn and play an MP4 file, it will need to have the identical codec. Probably the most extensively supported codecs are:

  • Video—MPEG-4 Half 10 (H.264) and MPEG-4 Half 2.
  • Audio-AAC, ALS, SLS, TTSI, MP3 and ALAC.
  • sub headline—MPEG-4 Timed Classes.

These codecs give MP4 much more flexibility than MP3. For instance, M4A information (that are MP4 information that comprise solely audio) can deal with each Superior Audio Coding (AAC) and Apple Lossless Audio Coding (ALAC). The selection of high quality rests with the person. Both method, the file will seem as an MP4 file, however the knowledge inside the file will range vastly.


Along with audio, MP4 information may comprise video, photographs, and textual content. You’ll usually see varied file extensions that point out the kind of knowledge inside the container. Listed below are a number of the commonest:

  • MP4-The one official extension.
  • m4a-Unprotected audio.
  • m4p– Encrypted audio by Fairplay Digital Rights Administration.
  • m4b-Audiobooks and podcasts.
  • m4v—MPEG-4 Visible Bitstream.

Each MP3 and MP4 information help metadata. With out it, it will be unattainable to make use of music participant apps (akin to iTunes) or dwelling media servers (akin to Plex) successfully.

MP3 information use ID3 tags. They permit data akin to music title, artist, album, monitor quantity and even album art work to be saved within the file itself. Tags are saved on the code finish of the file—their content material is both extracted by the decoder or ignored as junk non-MP3 knowledge. You may edit these tags utilizing the favored Mp3tag.

Different related data, akin to ReplayGain knowledge or DRM restrictions, may be saved inside the metadata.

MP4 information can implement the identical metadata as MP3, however additionally they provide the Extensible Metadata Platform (XMP). XMP metadata is effectively suited to the container format of MP4 for its compatibility with numerous file varieties, together with PDF, JPEG, GIF, PNG, HTML, TIFF, Adobe Illustrator, PSD, WAV and PostScript.

MP3 and MP4 in a nutshell

We now have tried to provide you a balanced perception into the 2 file varieties with out being too technical, and we hope you could have a transparent understanding of each the codecs by now.

In brief, if you happen to’re saving audio to be used on a conveyable participant, you ought to be mp3s. If you wish to save movies, otherwise you wish to stream your content material over the Web, it’s essential to use MP4. Works for MP4 audio information, however it’s not probably the most optimum answer.

Picture credit score: Antonio Guillem through Shutterstock

Initially written by Mike Fagan on December 8, 2009



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