Know about Mp3 and MP4 in different Media File Formats

The prevalent media file formats are MP3 and MP4, which have apparent similarities with lesser differences. At first, you have to know what is MP3 and MP4. Then only you can differentiate between them. MP4 files are just a better version of MP3 files, where you can listen to audio with videos and pictures.

The single number difference might be an impression of more-or-less the same formats, but the truth couldn’t be hidden. MP3 and MP4 each have their specific use, advantages, and histories. So allow us to describe the differences between the two editions, i.e., MP3 and MP4.

In today’s article, we, Techvaio, will explain about MP3 and MP4 and some of their fundamental differences, which should know to you. You will get to know about the better file type per your need by the time you’ll finish the reading.

Understanding MPEG

Before diving directly into the differences, we have to understand the origin of these two file formats. So, let’s start without taking more time.

MP3 is a short form of MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3. It was considered as the MPEG standard audio format in the early 1990s. Electronics firms like Philips, Germany’s Institute for Broadcast Technology, and French research institute CCETT assist the format in its simplicity, computational efficiency, and lack of errors. As the decision was approved in 1991, MP3 files take two more years, i.e., 1993, to enter the public domain.

MP4, which stands for MPEG-4 Part 14, is based on the QuickTime MOV format of Apple. But it supports other various MPEG features. Although the MP4 file was released in 2001, but re-released in 2003 again, and now it’s commonly used.

Audio-Only Vs. Digital Multimedia

The focal difference between MP3 and MP4 is the type of data stored by them. MP3 files are used only for the audio format, whereas MP4 files contain audio, video, still images, and subtitles. Technically, MP3 is called as “audio coding” format, and MP4 is known as “digital multimedia container” format.

What is MP3: The King of Audio Format

MP3 files, being a good audio storing format, have the “de facto standard” for digital audio players, music software, and streaming sites. MP3s will work right without a hitch on the operating system or device out of the box. That’s why it will be worth buying an MP3 player.



The main reason for its popularity is the way the MP3 file works. MP3s use less compression that reduces the size of an audio file vastly without affecting its quality. The process works by removing all the data stands beyond the hearing range of peoples; it compresses the rest audio file as efficiently as possible.

Users can balance the trade-off between file size and audio quality in MP3s. For an audiophile, MP3s can opt as larger file sizes and better audio quality, and higher bitrates. Besides this, you can also reduce the file size and quality by squeezing the music as much as possible onto the portable device.

Moreover, MP3s will always be smaller files compared to the identical MP4 files. If your smartphone’s storage is getting full, then you should convert MP4 files into the MP3 format to save that. During this, audio quality may be criticized by the user.

Know about MP4: More Flexible, Most Used

mp4 layout

MP4 files are “containers” that store the data for the file instead of storing the code. MP4 files don’t have a native way of code handling to the file. The determination of handling codes and compression relies on specific codecs. Hundreds of codecs are out there, among which many codecs are capable of mainstreaming MP4 players. A video player must have the same codec itself, like the MP4 file, to read and play it. The widely used supported codecs are:

  • Video – MPEG-4 Part 2 and MPEG-4 Part 10 (H.264).
  • Audio – AAC, ALS, ALAC, SLS, TTSI, and MP3.
  • Subtitles – MPEG-4 Timed Text.

These codecs provide more flexibility to the MP4s as compared to MP3. M4A files, which are also the MP4 files containing only audio, can handle Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) as well as Apple Lossless Audio Coding (ALAC). As the quality lies on the user, the file will differ vastly and appear like an MP4 file.

MP4 files also contain video, images, and text, including the audio. You can see various extension files that will indicate the data-type, including the container. Some most common types are as follows.

  • MP4 – The only official extension.
  • M4A – non-protected audio.
  • M4P – Audio encrypted by Fair Play Digital Rights Management.
  • M4B – Audiobooks and podcasts.
  • M4V – MPEG-4 Visual bitstreams.

Understanding File Metadata

Metadata helps to be used in media players (like Plex) and music player apps (like iTunes) to play MP3 and MP4 files. So MP3 and MP4 both file formats effectively support metadata.

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MP3 files, using ID3 tags, allows storing information like song title, artist, album, track number, and even album artwork within the file itself. The tags saved at the end of the encoded files are either ignored as non-MP3 junk data or extracted by decoders. You can edit these tags by using Mp3tag. Also, metadata can save other information like DRM restriction and Replay Gain data.

MP4 files introduce the Extensible Metadata Platform (XMP), which is implemented in the same way as MP3s. Implementing the XMP metadata, MP4s can contain a vast number of file types such as JPEG, PNG, PDF, HTML, GIF, Adobe Illustrator, PSD, TIFF, WAV, and PostScript.

MP3 and MP4 in A Nutshell

So, this is all for today. We, Techvaio, have tried to provide a balanced insight into the two file types, i.e., MP3 and MP4s, without being too technical. And hopefully, you’ve got a clearer understanding of the MP3 and MP4 – two formats by reading the content of Techvaio.

In summary, you should look to MP3 while saving audio for a portable player. Otherwise, you can save videos as MP4 format to stream over the internet. At last, if you like our content, please share it with your lovable persons. And you can also suggest some other information in the comments or ask your queries as we, Techvaio, are always looking forward to doing something new.