M4A VS MP3 Format: What are the Differences?

Posted by Dave Henry on Nov 25,2019 2:20 PM.

apple to mp3

Are you unable to tell the difference between M4A and MP3? Well, you are not the only one! There are a lot of users who find it challenging to establish the differences between M4A and MP3. Since we aim to make your digital life easier, we took it upon ourselves to familiarize you with the differences between these two formats. What is even more useful is that this piece further shows you how you can convert the M4A to MP3. Before all this, let us first take the time to independently understand what an M4A format is and what an MP3 format is.

What is an M4A format?

An M4A format is a file that supports audio-only. The reason is that it is not an official MPEG-4 file thus cannot support the video. This format works by allowing Apple users to download unprotected music from the iTunes Music Store. The type of music in this format is usually encoded using a lossy AAC compression but can use the lossless ALAC in some situations. Below are its top pros and cons;

What is an MP3 format?

MP3 ranks among the common audio file formats in the market today. But what is it? Similar to the M4A, MP3 is a file format that supports the download and play of audio music only. It was introduced in the industry before the M4A; thus, people term is the less developed version of the M4A. It works through the use of a compression algorithm, which reduced the size of the files. The file allows Apple users to freely download, save, and share their audio across other devices.

Differences between the M4A Format and MP3 Format

From the above information, it is apparent that the M4A and the MP3 share a lot in common. For instance, they are both designed for download audio and not any other type of digital content. They also use the compressing mechanism to impact the size of the music they are downloading. Irrespective of the common attributes that these two have, they also have several differences that make them distinct from one another. So what are the differences between MP3 and M4A? Well, let us take a look below.

There are about two distinctive features that differentiate MP3 from M4A. They include:

1. Quality

Quality is a fundamental aspect when it comes to music. Audio that has poor sounds ranks best as audio of poor quality. Well, the M4A file has better sound quality compared to the MP3. Influencing this is the large bit rate of the M4A, which translates to a relatively larger file size, thus better sound quality. Ideally, the original sound of the music is maintained when one is downloading an audio sing the format M4A format. However, this does not mean that the MP3 file has poor sound quality. It has a good sound quality when in matter M4A vs. MP3, the sound quality of the M4A is better by a wide range.

2. Compatibility

The next differentiating factor is compatibility. Compatibility is the rate at which something blends with the other. As mentioned initially, the M4A is a limited audio format file. As a result, it is not supported in some of the devices, and also, it does not support sharing on other devices. On the other hand, the MP3 is highly compatible, which explains its popularity in the industry in spite of the introduction of the M4A. Therefore, if you are looking for something that is compatible with numerous devices, it is recommended that you settle for MP3 or consider confirming if the M4A is compatible with your device.

How to Convert M4A to MP3

In as much as you cannot share or listen to your M4A audios on other devices, all hope is not lost. The reason is that you can use TunesKit Audio Converter and make life easy for yourself. Highly ranked in the market, this software has the ability to convert your M4A audio to MP3 without interfering with its sound quality and originality. Moreover, anyone, including a newbie, can use this program because it's software is easy to navigate. All you have to do to ensure that everything turns out successful is to adhere to the following easy guidelines:

select format

Step 1 Download and launch the TunesKit from the official site.

Step 2 Open the software and import the M4A audio to Tuneskit by tapping on the add files option located at the top of the menu bar and adding the videos.

Step 3 Click on the format option to customize the output format to MP3 and edit your audio using the Edit option.

Step 4 Once you are sure everything is fine click on the option convert to initiate the conversion of your Video from M4A to MP3.

For more details, this guide will help: Top 4 Ways to Convert M4A to MP3


Different persons have different tastes and preferences. That is why at the end of this MP3 vs. M4A article, it becomes impossible to tell which among these two formats is the best. The least we can say is that if you are concerned about sound quality, consider settling for the M4A. However, if your main concern is with compatibility, settle for the MP3. In short, you have to know your priorities and select the audio format in line with these priorities or preferences. With this, you can trust that you will make the best pick and enjoy your audio music.

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is a long-time TunesKiter who loves all technological things. In his free time, he likes reading about science and technology, writing for his blog, watching sci-fi films, and meditating.

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