Understanding the Difference Between MP3 and MP4 Format

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Difference between MP3 and MP4 Format

If you have always been wondering what the different between MP3 and MP4 is, then this article is exactly what you need to read.

MP3 was designed by MPEG’s (Moving Pictures Experts Group) audio subgroup. This format is used for compressing audio files in order to store or transfer them over the Internet. On the other hand, the MP4 format was developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). This format is usually used to store multimedia files and allow their streaming on the Internet.

Both these formats are used to compress data, so that they occupy less storage space. Contrary to the popular belief, the media players which are marketed as MP4 players, are incompatible with the MPEG-4 Part-14 (.mp4) format. Only a few players like iPad and iPhone actually support this format.

♫ MP3 Vs MP4 ♫
The basic difference between the two formats is that, the MP3 format handles only audio and the MP4 format handles audio, video, text, and images. Here are few more differences between these two formats:

Encoding format using lossy’ compression technique Multimedia container used for storage
Introduced in 1999 Introduced in 2003
Extension of MP2 Extension of Apple’s Quicktime Technology
Developed by CCETT, Fraunhofer Society, Philips & IRT Developed by International Organization for Standardization (ISO)
File extension .mp3 File extension .mp4
Also known as MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3 Format Also known as MPEG-4 Part 14 Format
Only audio files can be compressed and stored Audio, video, text and picture files can be stored
ISO Standards are ISO/IEC 11172-3, ISO/IEC 13818-3 ISO Standard is ISO/IEC 14496-14
Compatible with most music players Compatible with few players including iPad and iPhone
Uses lossy compression algorithm Uses AAC (Advanced Audio Coding) and AVC (Advanced Video Coding) technology

What is MP3?
MP3 is an acronym for MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3 format. Audio files are stored in a computer or a CD in a digital form. The MP3 format reduces the file size to 1/10th of the actual size. It is a digital audio codec, which means that, it compresses and decompresses digital sound, and is based on the method of perpetual coding.

It uses the perpetual noise shaping algorithm that uses the hearing characteristics of the human ear. These characteristics include the ability of the human ear to hear the louder sounds when two sounds are played simultaneously. Also, the human ear cannot hear some sounds. Using this basic information, on the basis of the psychoacoustics model, the algorithm for MP3 format has been designed. Unwanted sounds are eliminated from the music for compressing files to this format. Altogether, it utilizes the lossy compression technique for music.

This format gives you an option for the amount of data that is eliminated for compressing the audio file. The number of bits encoded by the codec gives the bit rate of that particular file. The greater the bit rate, the better is the sound quality. As the bit rate of the file increases, the space required to store the file also increases. This is because the amount of data that is encoded also reduces.

What is MP4?
MP4 is an acronym for MPEG-4 Part-14 (Moving Picture Experts Group). It is a container used to store digital audio and digital video, alongside subtitles and images. MP4 is a file format used to compress files, losslessly. MP4 uses AVC technology, i.e. advanced video coding. Video files consume a lot of space. By converting them to an MP4 format, unnecessary data which is not recognizable to the viewer, is deleted. Thus, the size of the file reduces. MP4 uses the compression techniques that are more complex than those of the MP3 format.

The MP4 format enables us to watch DVD quality videos on the Internet even at a speed less than 1 Mbps. These files are streamed on the Internet and can be downloaded as well as saved on a hard drive. The standard file extension is .mp4, but the audio file extension is .mp4a, and that for a video file is .mp4v.

With both of these file formats available on the Internet free of cost, there are increasing cases of piracy. Also, due to the removal of unwanted data from audio and video files, their quality may degrade. All in all, these formats have changed the rules of the game, as far as digital audio and video files are concerned.

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