Understand the difference between an MP3 and an MP4 file

Well, it is a common notion that Mp4 files are the better and newer version of the Mp3 Files. In reality, this is not the case. Saying it a better and newer version implies that the two are more or less the same things.

However, this is not the case as there is a wide difference between the two. This article will throw light on key aspects of Mp3 V/s Mp4.


Each of the Mp3, as well as Mp4 formats, have their separate uses, different advantages, and different histories. Hence, it must be stressed here that the two are not different editions of the similar thing.

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Here, we will discuss the key details between the Mp3 and Mp4 formats. This article will help you to decide which format is more suitable for your needs. You will be able to make the decision of mp3 or mp4, which is better? We will first discuss the two forms one by one.

What is MP3 file format?

MP3 stands for the MPEG 1 Audio Layer 3. This is the format, which is known for its computational efficiency, simplicity, and absence of errors. In the year 1991, the decision was made and the Mp3 files format was issued in public domain, in the year 1993.

What is MP4?

The full form of Mp4 is MPEG 4 Part 14. This particular technology is made on Apple’s Quick Time MOV. This format extends support to the many MPEG features. In the year 2001, these types of files were released and were re-released in the year 2003. The present version on these files is MP4.

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MP3s are only having an audio file and there format not able to handle imaging or videos. Whereas the Mp4 files are used to store Video, Audio, Images, Texts, and Sub-Titles. In the technical terminology, the Mp3 format is used for audio coding whereas the Mp4 format is utilized for digital multimedia functionalities.

Key Features of the MP3 Files

Mp3 is the best format for storing music and audio. They are so good that they have emerged as the default format to save audio and music. The Mp3 format is extensively being used to apply with the music videos, audio files, streaming audio and digital audio files.


Irrespective of the operating system your computer is using, one can be assured that the Mp3 files will work well in all the cases. The Mp3 format is the most robust and quality format to save audios and music.

The prime reason for the success of this format is that it utilizes the compression technique which makes it very effective. A specific compression technique is utilized by this format which reduces the size of the files substantially, without affecting the quality of the sound of audio. The process of compression involves the removal of all kinds of data, which cannot be heard by the human ears and then compressing the resultant file. This process makes it possible to compress the files as efficiently as possible.

The trade-off between the file size and audio quality can be balanced very well by the Mp3 formats. It is evident that if the file size of the music audio is large, the music is of high quality. On the other hand, if the file size is squeezed, the quality of the music sound deteriorates. The Mp3 file offers the solution to this problem as the format in which the file size is low as well as the quality of the music is high.

When we will compare the file size of Mp3 with Mp4, we will find that the file size of Mp3 is low as compared to the Mp4 files. If you are falling short of memory on your smart-phone or your computer, you can convert the audio files in the Mp4 format to the Mp3 format. This will save the memory space as well as maintain the quality of the audio files.

Key Features of the MP4 Files

The Mp4 format is known for better utilization and better flexibility while usage. The Mp4 files are actually the containers and they are used to store the date. It should be emphasized here that they are used to store the data and not the code. The Mp4 files do not have a way to handle the coding associated with a file.

There are specific codecs, on which the Mp4 relies to handle the coding as well as the compression part. A large number of codecs are available but only a few specific ones work best with the Mp4 formats. For a player to play the Mp4 file, it must have a supported codec.

The Mp4 files can handle video, audio, texts as well as images. The key feature of the Mp4 files is the flexibility it offers during usage. Some of the common extensions related to the MP4 format are as follows:

  • MP4: Official extension
  • M4P: Audio Encrypted by Fair-Play
  • M4A: Non-Protected Audio
  • M4B: Podcasts and Audio-books
  • M4V: MPEG 4 Visual bit-streams

File Meta-Data

The Mp3 and Mp4 files, both support the metadata. These meta-data makes it possible to effectively use the home media servers as well as music player apps. The Metadata helps to store important details of the files like audio title, singer, etc. This Metadata helps to extract the information easily from the files, without scanning the complete files.


Thus, we have seen the key features of both the Mp3 and Mp4 files. While the Mp3 file supports only the audio format, the audio, as well as video formats, are supported by the Mp4 format. The Mp3 format is the best format for the audio files. For Videos, the Mp4 format is best and it is a very flexible format. While there are other audio and video formats besides the Mp3 and Mp4 but these two formats are widely used and are most renowned. You can also start using these formats and understand the key differences between the two.

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