MP3 vs MP4 isn’t really a conversation we should be having. Because these two file formats should not even be compared unless you’re are studying something deeper than ‘Which is better?’ The face that their names are so similar makes most people think that one is a newer version of the other.
Actually when I was growing up, I grew up knowing MP# files were for audio and MP4 files were for videos files. While there’s some truth in that, there’s more to the story; much more. But I’ll try to keep it as simple as possible here.
What is MP3 ?
MP3 is an audio file format just like AAC, FLAC, WMA and other formats. You probably know about MP3 because it’s the most widely used file format for audio due to it’s compatibility with many electronic devices. It’s actually an improvement from MP1 and MP2
The full name for MP3 is actually MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3. It’s derived from the MPEG audio standard back in the early-1990s. It’s loved by most people because it’s able to be compressed into smaller file size without losing a significant amount of quality.
It’s uses a ‘Lossy’ compression format. It actually leaves out the spectrum of sound beyond what humans can hear when it compresses. But in the process some frequencies humans can hear will be sacrificed; although it’s very insignificant and can hardly be noticed unless you’re using a really good set of headphones.
Other audio file formats like WAV are significantly larger in size. And the quality of sound is higher than MP3 format. They use a ‘lossless’ compression format. But most people will prefer MP3 format for their music because of compatibility and the space they save.
What is MP4 ?
MP4 is short for MPEG-4 Part 14 This file format is derived from Apple’s annoying QuickTime MOV format. MP4 file formats are more versatile and they can store audio, video, still images, subtitles, and text. MP4 is more of a digital multimedia container or facilitator.
MP4, while it can facilitate different types of files, can also be an audio format. It also employs a Lossy compression format so there’s significant loss in audio quality as well. However MP$ is normally used as the more compatible and widely preferred video format.
MP3 vs MP4 Audio Quality?
So in the context of audio quality, MP3 vs MP4 should not even be a discussion. Both formats will offer significantly lower quality of sound although MP4 can do a tiny bit better with bit rates.
If you’re looking for a real audio quality conversation, you should be comparing MP3 formats with other dedicated audio formats like WMA and AAC. Both WMA and AAC have much higher quality and you can tell by how much space they occupy.
They use ‘Lossless’ compression technology which means the quality of sound is maintained during compression. Apple Music uses AAC file format and you can tell the quality of their music is next level.
MP3 to MP4 is not a conversation that will help you. Try MP3 vs AAC or MP3 vs WMA. You might get what you’re looking for there.