M4A vs. WAV: Which is the Best Format for Audio

Both M4A and WAV are popular audio formats, but there are some differences. Which characteristics distinguish those formats from each other? How to choose the most proper one to contain your audio file? This post will give you the answers.

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Melissa Lee

Updated on Nov 03, 2023

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Sometimes you may need to save your audio files in different formats and make them suitable for different purposes. For instance, it's a good choice to choose FLAC as the audio format when you want to keep the lossless audio quality, but it's may not be suitable to choose FLAC as the container when you need to use the audio file on a website since the file size of FLAC is too large. 

The same thing can also happen when choosing from other formats, such as M4A vs. WAV. Both formats are popular for containing audio files, but some characteristics distinguish them from each other. What are the differences between them? How to make a choice between those containers? Keep reading, and those answers will be offered in the following parts.

What is the M4A Format?

M4A is also known as MPEG 4 Audio. Apple Inc. designed this audio format for its hardware and software, such as iTunes, iPad, and iPhone. If you download audio from the Apple iTunes Store, the file you get is very likely with the .m4a extension. The audio content in an M4A file is usually encoded with AAC compression, which helps in reducing the file size and saves your device's storage space. Although this format is beneficial, the compatibility issue is what you can't ignore when choosing the audio format.

m4a format

What is the WAV Format?

WAV is also known as Waveform Audio File Format, and it's an audio container created by Microsoft and IBM. This audio format is one of the standard PC audio formats for storing lossless audio content. As the audio content in this container is uncompressed, WAV files will take up larger storage space than files in other formats, such as M4A. Generally speaking, the size of WAV audio can be about 10 MB per minute.

wav format

Differences Between WAV and M4A

Both those two formats are excellent choices for storing your audio files, but some features differentiate them from each other. This part will take some of those features as examples and show you the distinctions clearly.



As Apple Inc. designs M4A, sometimes it may not be compatible with some Windows devices or apps, such as Windows Media Player. On the other hand, although the WAV format is created by Microsoft and IBM, you can also open it with the QuickTime Media Player on your Mac.

File Size

As mentioned above, the audio content of the M4A file is often decoded by AAC compression. In other words, the file size of an M4A file is relatively smaller than in many other formats. But audio stored in WAV format is an uncompressed lossless file so that the size of a WAV file is larger.

Audio Quality

As mentioned above, the WAV file is not compressed while the M4A file is usually compressed, which leads to the distinction in audio quality. If you want to enjoy the lossless audio, WAV is the container you need to choose, but if you care more about the file size than the audio quality, M4A is suitable for you.

Bonus: How to Convert Between M4A and WAV

After selecting from those two audio formats, you may need to convert your audio file to the desired format. In such a situation, an audio converter is necessary. EaseUS Video Converter can help you a lot in changing the audio format without compromising the audio quality. Although this software is named a video converter, this all-in-one converter can also process files in more than 500 audio formats. 

Another excellent feature of this software is its lightning-speed converting process. With its advanced GPU acceleration technology, EaseUS Video Converter works 30 times faster than many other converting apps you can use on a Windows PC. This software offers you an audio extractor that lets you rip the music from a video, and it's convenient to get any audio file you like without hassle. Other built-in tools, like a file merger and a media player, are also available.

EaseUS Video Converter

  • Best free audio converter for beginners
  • Customize the bitrate and frame rate of the audio freely
  • Support batch conversion for processing multiple audio files
  • Extract soundtrack from a video and save it in audio format you like

There is a tutorial on converting audio to WAV format using EaseUS Video Converter, and you can follow the steps to convert any other files with simple clicks. Whether you want to convert M4A to WAV or convert WAV to M4A, the software can help.

Step 1. Launch this software and click "Audio Converter" on the main interface. Next, hit "Choose Files" to import audio files.

Import files

Step 2. Hit the gear icon once the audio is imported. In "More Options" window, hit "Audio" > "WAV". 

Choose format

Step 3. Finally, choose "Convert All" at the bottom to start it. Once done, find your converted files in the "Finished" tab.

Start conversion

Bottom Line

This post introduced the differences between two audio formats: M4A vs. WAV. Each of them is suitable for specific situations, so you need to choose from them elaborately.

For those who want to change the format of the audio files they have already gotten, the audio converting software is indispensable. For Windows users, EaseUS Video Converter is one of the best choices. This converter supports more than 500 audio formats, including M4A and WAV, enabling you to get any audio format you like.

EaseUS VideoKit

All-in-one Video and Auido Tool

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