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2021 | M4A vs MP3, Which is Best Choice

Vanessa Chiang updated on Oct 14, 2021 to Video Converter Tips

M4A and MP3 both are audio formats designed to deliver audio-only experience. While M4A is wholly built for audio, MP3 is a layer in a MPEG format. Interesting to know that M4A also stands for MPEG 4 while MP3 is usually MPEG 2. So if you are looking for a pure audio format, M4A makes an excellent choice compared to MP3, but it comes with lossy compression.

M4A vs.MP3, Which is the Best Choice

Here is the overview of M4A and MP3 formats along with Pros and Cons. It gives you a clear idea of why every file format has its place, usage, and importance. 

M4A overview

M4A is a successor of the MP3 format, which was built to improve the loss in the quality of MP3 files when a lower bitrate was selected. M4A resolved this using compression based on perception, which made sure that we cannot identify if there is a loss in audio quality. Then it used a smaller sample block and stationary signals. It is used by music services such as iTunes.

It is like MP4, which contains both audio and video, but when its only audio, its M4A.

Pros:

  • Better audio quality at a smaller size
  • Easy to distribute audio on the internet without worrying about protecting it

Cons:

  • Doesn't support DRM or Digital Rights Management
  • Not widely supported except for Apple devices, and players like VLC

MP3 overview

MP3 acronym for MPEG Audio Layer 3 (AC3) is a digital audio format that uses the third audio format of MPEG, which only contained audio. The primary reason why MP3 become popular in the early days of the internet was because of the small size compared to the WAV file. It is able to reduce the file size by removing components of sound that are beyond the hearing capabilities of most humans. It was achieved using Perceptual coding.

Pros:

  • You can increase quality by increase the bitrate, but it also increases the size.
  • The file size is significantly less compared to CD format makes it easy to stream.
  • Portable Media Player becomes a possibility because of this.

Cons:

  • Not all MP3 files are of high quality.
  • Because it can remove specific audio, it resulted in music piracy.
  • Not comparable to CDDA or other uncompressed formats

Differences Between M4A and MP3 Formats

The table includes the difference between M4A and MP3 formats. Each format has its own advantage, and there may not be a clear winner. The MP3 format has been here for a long time and is supported by multiple platforms and devices. However, M4A delivers better quality, but the adoption is rather slow.

Format

M4A MP3

Quality

Better

Less compared to M4A

 File Size

Depends on the bit rate

Depends on the bit rate

Compatibility

Difficult to Stream

Supports both HLS and MPEG-DASH

DRM Support

Low

High

DRM

Support by M4P which is DRM supported M4A

Not supported

Compression

Better

Less compared to M4A because of the technology used.

If you are using Apple devices, M4A should be your choice as it is natively supported. Even the editors for macOS, such as iMovie and Final Cut Pro, offer excellent support. However, it is not recommended for DRM protection, and instead, M4P is used.

Anything else should use MP3. Apart from what we have mentioned about it is also popularly used for the stream as it takes less data. However, you will have a compromise with quality.

Best Format Converting Software

Look at this part if you want to know more useful audio converters. They can help you get the MP3 file from M4A. 

Tool 1. EaseUS Video Converter

If you want to convert media files on Windows, choose EaseUS Video Converter. It can help convert MP3 to M4A or vice versa. Single and batch conversions are allowed in this tool. 

With a friendly and straightforward interface, you can even create a video file consisting of various files. It's beneficial to get high conversion quality and speed with this Windows converting software. 

  • Convert audio to video files without losing quality
  • Play the media file before/after conversion 
  • Batch conversion for media files
  • High speed and quality in the converting process
  • Enhance the converting process with GPU acceleration

It's your chance to try it!

How to make this conversion:

Step 1. Open EaseUS Video Converter on your Windows PC. Next, click "Choose Files" followed by "Audio Converter" to add your target audio files.

Import audio file

Step 2. Click "Settings" > "Audio" and then choose MP3 as your output format. Moreover, you are able to select the quality according to your needs. 

Output settings

Step 3. Then go back to the main interface, and click on the "Convert All" button to start the conversion.

Start conversion

Tool 2. EaseUS Video Editor

When you receive an M4A file and are not able to play on your system, then you should convert it. EaseUS Video Editor offers a built-in converter that can convert M4A format to MP3 but still keep the quality at its best. The editor can also edit audio files, configure the quality, speed, create subtitles. and so on. It can read both the audio formats and convert them.

Features:

  • Supports for large formats including MP3 and AAC format
  • Powerful editing feature to manually remove anything extra from the audio
  • Add music to video without watermark
  • Supports voice enhancement which is typically useful for a podcast like audio
  • Change speed, fade-in, fade-out, and volume of the audio file

Apart from these audio-specific features, EaseUS Video Editor offers video enhancement features as well. You can add effects such as text, filters, overlays, transitions, elements, and background music.

The biggest reason to use this app is to the app is because there is no file size limit. No matter how big the M4A file is, you can professionally edit the file and convert it into an MP3 format. It is entirely free to use, so you do not need to worry about

How to Convert M4A to MP3 Using EaseUS Video Editor

Step 1. Launch EaseUS video editing software, and you will be prompted to choose an aspect ratio for your project. Choose any one from the three options available on your screen.

Choose video aspect

Step 2. On the following screen, click on the "Import" option at the top and select your video file.

Import video

Step 3. Navigate to where your video is saved and select it. Right-click on your video and select "Add to Project". It will be added to your current project.

Add video to project

Step 4. Click on the Export option at the top to export your video as an MP3 file.

Export video as Mp3

Step 5. On the screen that follows, click on the Audio tab and then select MP3. Once done, click on Export to save the converted file to your computer.

Export video to Mp3

Conclusion

Now that you are through the M4A and MP3 differences and formats, both have their advantages and disadvantages. What matters is where you want to use It, and if you need better quality. M4A excels in better audio quality at the same size, but MP3 comes with the broader support of devices and platforms.

Lastly, if you are on a platform that doesn't support M4A, then it is best to convert it into Mp3 using EaseUS Video Converter.

FAQs About M4A and MP3 File Format

Here list some questions, you can keep on reading:

1. Are mp3 and m4a the same?

While they both are audio formats, they are not the same. MP3 is famous for its size, and support on more devices. However, M4A offers better quality because of the technology behind it, which keeps the quality high, but size low.

2. What is the best m4a to mp3 Converter?

While there are many converters available on the internet, it is essential to have an editor along with converters for the best results.  Here we recommend you to choice EaseUS Video Editor to convert your file formats. This software supports removing part of the audio file which has noise, or the volume is low, and more, and also offers to convert into a high-quality audio file. 

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