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AAC VS MP3: Which is The Better Audio Format?

Jane Zhou updated on Mar 15, 2023 | Home > Video Converter Tips

When you organize your digital music, do you notice the number of different audio formats in your library? You may hear and use MP3 audio format, but what about AAC format? When thinking about audio quality, will you choose MP3 or AAC to download music format?

To choose the better one, you need to know their difference and decide which one is the best. This post introduces AAC vs MP3 in terms of audio quality, file size, and compatibility and helps you choose the better one.

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Overview of MP3 and AAC Files

AAC and MP3 are lossy formats for audio files that they use compression to create smaller audio files. MP3, an audio-specific format, has been the standard of digital audio compression for the playback of music on digital audio players. Although AAC is better than MP3 in audio quality and file size, AAC is not as popular as MP3.

#1. What is an MP3 File?

MP3 (MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3 ) is a coding format for digital audio. Since its original launch in 1993, it has become one of the widely used audio file formats over the past three decades in the world.    

MP3 reduces the file size by discarding the parts of PCM audio data that are not important to the human hearing to achieve the purpose of compressing into smaller files. The compressed file is nearly 10 times smaller than the original file. The combination of small size and acceptable fidelity also lead to the widespread popularity of MP3.

#2. What is an AAC File?

AAC (Advanced Audio Coding) is an audio coding standard for lossy digital audio compression. Designed to be the successor of the MP3 format, AAC generally achieves higher sound quality than MP3 at the same bit rate.

Although AAC has higher audio quality, this file format is not even close to being as popular as MP3. However, it has rapidly progressed, at least. At present, a slew of streaming and broadcasting services presently use the AAC file format, such as iPhone, iPod, iPad, Nintendo DSi, Nintendo 3DS, iTunes, DivX Plus Web Player, PlayStation 3, and so on. Compared to MP3, AAC is a more efficient audio codec.

AAC vs MP3: Which is Better?

Format AAC MP3
Compression  Lossy Lossy

.m4a, .m4b, .m4p, .m4v, .m4r, .3gp, .mp4, .aac

Codec  Audio only Audio only
Quality AAC offers better quality than MP3 at the same bit rate. MP3 offers lower quality than AAC at the same bit rate.
File Size Slightly smaller than MP3 Higher and requires more space
Compatibility Popular, especially among Apple users almost all 
Suitable crowd
  • have a high-quality requirement
  • enough storage space
  • have a high requirement for audio quality
  • limited storage space

AAC vs. MP3: Audio Quality

While their sound capabilities don't vary considerably, AAC is better than MP3 at lower bit rates. The AAC format leverages its optimal transform window sizes and pure MDCT to make sound brighter and more transparent. But If you're working with bit rates lower than 128 kbps, you'll notice that MP3 files will sound a little slurry.

MP3 vs. AAC: File Size

AAC files are slightly smaller than MP3 files. When you create MP3 and AAC compressing files, the AAC tends to be smaller than the MP3 format, but the audio quality of AAC files remains intact in the process. If your storage space is limited, using AAC to store music will save significant storage space.

AAC or MP3: Compatibility

MP3 file format owns higher compatibility because almost every music player and device to support to play MP3 format music. However, the AAC format may not necessarily play on every device, especially the Android and Windows devices. At present, AAC has been widely used by Apple across all their popular devices like iPhones, iPods, etc.

How to Convert AAC to or from MP3

The best selection is EaseUS Video Converter. It is the Windows media converting software that helps make conversions between audio and video files. Converting AAC to MP3 is easy when you choose this tool. If you have many AAC files, so you can apply the batch conversion feature. Meanwhile, the quality of the conversion will not be influenced. 

  • The best free audio converter for batch conversions
  • Support MP4, AVI, WMV, MKV, MOV, and other video formats
  • Combine media files into a single one
  • Allow converting the downloaded video to desired formats

  Free Download
Windows 11/10/8/7
  Free Download
macOS 10.13 or later

How to Convert AAC to or from MP3 easily:

Step 1. Download and launch this program. Next, select the "Audio Converter" option from the left sidebar for audio conversion, and click "Choose Files" to import the audio file.

Add media files

Step 2. Click the gear icon to select your output audio format at the bottom. Besides, you can change the saving path, enable the high-speed conversion, GPU acceleration, or merging functions if needed here.

Choose format

Step 3. You can click the "Edit" button to change the file name, bitrate, sample rate, and other settings for your output file.

Adjust settings

Step 4. Once done, you can click the "Convert" or "Convert All" button to begin your audio conversion.

Start conversion

Frequently Asked Questions About AAC VS MP3

Regarding which audio formats are best for you, here have some frequently asked questions, and we would like to answer those for you.

1. Is AAC better than 320 MP3?

Naturally, the higher the bit rate is, the less compression is in the audio file. And with AAC being slightly superior to MP3, 320kbps AAC would be the best of the choices given here. If you hold a bit rate constant, AAC will generally be better than MP3.

2. Is 256 kbps AAC good quality?

Bit rates are the best way to judge the quality of an audio file—related to its original. The higher the bit rate is, the better quality is of an audio file.  So a 256 kbps MP3 or AAC file is better than a 128 kbps file.

3. Which Kbps bit rate MP3 format is the best quality?

Bit rates range from 96 to 320 kilobits per second (Kbps). Using a bit rate of 128 Kbps usually results in a sound quality equivalent to what you'd heard on the radio. If you want to set the sound quality of MP3 as the same as a CD, we recommend you to use a bit rate of 160 Kbps or higher.

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