MP3 vs MP4 Comparison - What Are the Differences?

by Sarah Cage

The entertainment world is as old as man. Since the beginning of human existence, people have always got involved in different entertainment activities. As technology continues to advance, the entertainment industry continues to progress.

Sooner than later, technology advancement took center stage, and the entertainment world became digitized. The digitalization of the entertainment industry has led to the exponential promotion of huge varieties of media content. The media files are developed and presented to the target audience in different formats. However, the most common format among entertainment geeks is the MP3 and MP4. These two formats have been in existence since the digitalization of files from the entertainment industry. Many a time, most entertainment geeks and the target audience use these two media file formats interchangeably. This is because they have little or no information on what they are all about.

Summary of MP3 vs MP4 Comparison - What Are the Differences?

The table below summarizes the differences between MP3 and MP4.

Parameters MP3 MP4
Acronym MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3MPEG-4 Part-14
Development MP3 was developed by a team of engineers from IRT, CCETT, Philips, MPEG, and Fraunhofer society.MP4 was developed by ISO (International Organization for Standardization).
DescriptionIt is an audio format that is used to compress audio files to share or store them.It is used to store digital audio and videos together with their images and subtitles to be streamed on the internet.
Year of release19942003
MP3/MP4 Player MP3 files can be played with MP3 players. Through the MP3 players, you can listen to the radio, recordings, and many more.MP4 players allow their users to play videos, audios, recordings, pictures, instant messaging, and web browsing.
CapabilityMP3 can store files in audio format only.MP4 can store media files in videos, audios, texts, and images.
Compression TechnologyIt uses the lossy algorithmIt uses the Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) and Advanced Video Coding technology (AVC).
ApplicationIt is compatible with all music players.It is compatible with iPhones and iPods.

When you come across any files in these formats, you should easily identify the one for video and audio. For instance, MP4 is used for videos, while MP3 is used for audio files. That said, it is important to get yourself familiarized with the differences between the two file formats. Therefore, today, I will be telling you the differences you need to know about MP3 and MP4 formats.

Summary of MP3 vs MP4 Comparison - What Are the Differences?
Summary of MP3 vs MP4 Comparison - What Are the Differences?

What is MP3

MP3 is a short-form (acronym) for MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3. The term is used for file formats that store audio data in sizes smaller than other formats. MP3 was introduced to the entertainment world to store audio information in digital form. The aim of introducing MP3 is to make the file smaller than what is obtainable in CDs. MP3 reduces original uncompressed audio files by selectively removing unrecognizable data to human hearing - when they are played. With this method, files are stored in a highly compressed format without compromising the audio file's quality. The algorithm with which MP3 compresses and saves data is called Lossy Compression. The same compression method is adopted for JPEG. For over two decades now, MP3 has proven to be an excellent format for storing audio and has not compromised the integrity and quality of content in the compressed audio files. MP3 files are compatible with wide arrays of devices and operating systems. Hence, you have nothing to worry about when you purchase any audio streaming device.

Origin of MP3

MP3 is an audio file format that was invented by a team of engineers in Europe. Engineers' team belonged to reputable technology outfits, which are CCETT, Philips, Fraunhofer Society, and IRT. These groups of engineers work under the EUREKA 147 tech outfit. In 1991, EUREKA 147 certified them to become the recognized MPEG audio standard. It was selected because of the absence of errors, simplicity, and computational efficiency. On July 7, 1994, MP3 was first released for use in the entertainment world. The tech company also released an encoder called 13enc. The extension of the MP3 files was also named ".bit." Tech geeks introduced the file extension named ".mp3" on July 14, 1995. On September 9, 1995, Winplay3 was released. It is the first MP3 player.

What to Know About MP3

MP3 is an audio file format that contains digital audio content. The original audio track compressed with no data loss and preserved integrity is played with MP3 players. MP3 files have bitrate value that provides information about the size of the original audio content that has been compressed. It also gives information about the quality of audio sound you should expect. MP3 has a minimum bitrate of at least 128kbps after the audio file has been compressed. However, you can play MP3 files in 256 kbps and 320kbps. When the bitrate increases, the MP3 file size increases. MP3 files also contain information like the Id tags (album, description, artist, title, track number, cover image, and other important information about the audio track or album).

What is MP4

MP4 is a popular acronym used for MPEG-4 Part 14. While many people think the MP4 is the successor of MP3, the thought is not correct. MP4 is a different media file format designed on Apple's QuickTime MOV template. The file format was designed to store videos, audio, text, images, and other data forms. Since MP4 was introduced, many users enjoy using it to store huge data varieties in amazing quality. When files are stored in MP4 format, the integrity and quality of the file are maintained. While storing your data, you can select from the arrays of audio codecs. For instance, MP4 supports Apple Lossless Audio Codec (ALAC) and Advanced Audio Codec (AAC). Though MP4 is an excellent upgrade of MP3, it offers arrays of different services to MP3. However, the primary functions of MP3 are retained in MP4.

Origin of MP4

MP4 was developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in 2001. Then, version one was released. In 2003, version two of MP4 was released. The file format was released for entertainment and other users in 2002. When it was released, MP4 has widely embraced players in the entertainment world and entertainment lovers. Its advantages over the previously released MP3 made it the perfect choice for most entertainment lovers. MP4 was promoted by Sony's PSP and Apple's iPod. These tools contributed tremendously to the success of the MP4 file format. Nowadays, people still enjoy using MP4 to store data and enjoy their favorite videos.

MP3 and MP4: Which One Should You Use?

MP3 and MP4:Which One Should You Use?
MP3 and MP4: Which One Should You Use?

MP3 and MP4 are file formats that are vital to all individuals. The two file formats are developed for a particular purpose. Hence, no one can pick MP3 over MP4 vice versa. Each of them has its advantages and shortcomings. MP4 is a file format that offers superior compatibility, quality, and flexibility when compared to MP3. However, MP3 has a huge music library when compared with MP4. Therefore, you must understand why you need any of them before deciding which one you can use. For instance, if you desire to store songs, MP3 is the best option you should choose. If you are interested in storing videos, MP4 will perfectly perform the task for you. MP4 will also provide you with excellent streaming services.

Advantages and Disadvantages of MP3 and MP4

Advantages of MP3

1. The biggest advantage of MP3 files is their small data file size. With this, you can rip a large audio file size on a disc.

2. The compression ratio of MP3 is not fixed. Hence, you can compress files to your desired sizes. This does not affect the integrity and audio quality of the file.

3. With the introduction of MP3, the distribution of music files becomes cheaper, easier, and faster. You can easily share files physically or on the internet.

4. With MP3, new entrants, music companies, and individual artists can promote their old and newly released songs effortlessly.

5. Music files can be downloaded without any hassle. The download process takes just a few minutes, depending on internet services.

6. You can play the MP3 files using different devices.

Disadvantages of MP3

Disadvantagesof MP3
Disadvantages of MP3

1. MP3 offers its users low audio quality because it uses an algorithm that deletes lesser audible content.

2. It gives chances to music piracy.

3. Music files are susceptible to virus attacks and malware.

Advantages of MP4

1. It is suitable for streaming videos on the internet

2. It reduces the risk of losing the quality of data.

3. Aside from videos and audio, it can store other forms of data.

4. You can stream videos on different devices.

5. MP4 file format is compatible with DSL, broadband internet connection, and other low bandwidth media.

Disadvantages of MP4

1. It is not easy to update files in MP4 format.

2. It has a few piracy issues.


MP3 and MP4 are important in the entertainment industry. Today, I have discussed the differences between the two file formats. I strongly believe you will find the information provided educational. Please read through them to become informed about the two file formats.

About Sarah Cage

Sarah Cage is an accomplished education writer known for her insightful and engaging work in the field. With a passion for empowering students and teachers alike, she has made a significant impact through her thought-provoking articles and research papers.

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