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What are the Differences Between M4A vs. FLAC

Melissa Lee updated on Mar 15, 2023 | Home > Video Converter Tips

As a developer who has to handle audio and video content, several audio file formats are at your service. In most cases, an audio file format with excellent sound quality carries the day. In addition to the audio quality, it is vital to consider a lossless format that occupies minimal space and is highly compatible with various platforms.

Both FLAC and M4A are excellent choices, but sometimes you need to make a choice between those two, and your selection will depend on what the audio is used for. Perhaps you are finding an audio container for storing audio in great quality or using it on the websites. For storing lossless audio files, FLAC is the format that will be suitable for you, while M4A can be an excellent format for using on websites because it can be highly compressed.

What is an M4A File

M4A (MPEG-4 Part 14) is an Apple-based file format encoded using the Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) mechanism. These files feature lossless compression without losing the audio quality. M4A was the initial audio format in iTunes Store but is used across other platforms besides Apple devices. This file format makes headway when it comes to sound quality and size. You can easily reset the M4A file format to M4R as a ringtone on your iPhone device. M4A is also DRM-free, enabling flexible editing and transfer of the files. 

m4a on itunes

What is a FLAC File

FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) is a lossless audio format compressed to occupy limited space. The size of a FLAC file can go up to half of its original size, with no lost sound quality during the compression process. The FLAC format is compatible with many devices, including portable music players and Hi-Fi components.

FLAC files are free to use, and the source code can be accessed as an open-source license. And even though they are not DRM-protected, you can still encrypt your FLAC file in a different container format. FLAC files are error resistant, and a mistake that occurs in one frame won't necessarily affect other formats streams. Those features make this file format the best option for editing applications.

flac on pc

The Comparison of M4A VS. FLAC

The characteristics of M4A and FLAC will be compared one by one in this part. Through the comparison, you will better know the differences between those two audio formats and then choose the best one that fits your needs.

M4A and flac

1. Sound Quality

The FLAC format is lossless, while M4A is lossy. Therefore, FLAC produces a paramount and clear sound quality compared with M4A. 

2. Lossless Compression

File compression makes them smaller than their original file size. FLAC format employs lossless audio compression, sounding precisely like the uncompressed source audio file. Meanwhile, M4A is lossy, giving much smaller file sizes at the expense of quality. 

3. Digital Rights Management Protection

FLAC vs. M4A in DRM protection, FLAC is DRM protected while M4A is DRM free. Therefore, you can easily edit and transfer M4A files, but it's a challenging task if you are using FLAC files. Nonetheless, you can go ahead to encrypt your FLAC files and patent them. 

4. Compatibility

When it comes to compatibility, you can play M4A on various audio players, and it also supports operating systems like macOS, Windows, Linux, iOS, and Android. However, FLAC being a free source format, beats the M4A format for the multitude of compatible devices, players, and operating systems. 

5. Free Source

FLAC is an open-source file container and can easily be modified. It is distributed with its source code, becoming available for any use. M4A isn't open source and is not distributed with its original rights. 

All in all, FLAC gives an upper hand regarding operability from different aspects. FLAC files are error resistant, will provide you with lossless sound compression, and support a tone of devices and players compared with M4A format. 

Bonus: Best Way to Convert M4A to FLAC/FLAC to M4A

Depending on your project, you may need to convert your audio files to other formats, such as converting M4A to FLAC and vice versa. The best method of converting audio files while keeping the audio quality is using the recommended software: EaseUS Video Converter

This tool works on Windows devices and supports more than 1000 video and audio formats like MOV, MPEG, AVI, MP4, AAC, FLAC, M4A, and so on. It supports batch conversion, making it a quick haven for converting any file type at high speed. Moreover, EaseUS Video Converter lets you customize your files' parameters, such as the resolution, bitrate, frame rate, to your taste. Several built-in tools are also available, such as the audio extractor that helps you rip a soundtrack from a video and the file merger that allows you to merge multiple video/audio files into one.

EaseUS Video Converter

  • Best free audio converter
  • Convert FLAC to M4A and vice versa with simple steps
  • Transcode your output file
  • Work 30 times faster because of the GPU acceleration
  Free Download
Windows 11/10/8/7
  Free Download
macOS 10.13 or later


The two formats, M4A vs. FLAC, are distinct from each other. Well, you can opt for lossy or lossless quality, compressed file size, and many other aspects. If you are not satisfied with the audio file you get, the best option is to convert your file type to a more suitable format. EaseUS Video Converter is at your service for a fast conversion process. Operate it with simple steps to optimize your video for playback on a specific device. As this software supports more than 1000 video and audio formats, you can get the best multimedia files you want.

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