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What is the Difference Between MP3 and MP4?

When it comes to music, we may all be familiar with MP3 files, which encode music. However, nowadays most music download sites offer MP4 files, so what the difference between MP3 and MP4. Before we talk about the difference between MP3 and MP4, let`s figure out what are MP3 and MP4 respectively.

What is MP3?

MP3, or MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3, is an audio-specific format that is designed by the Moving Picture Experts Group as part of its MPEG-1 standard. MP3 employs lossy compression algorithm to greatly reduce the amount of data required to represent the audio recording and still sound like a faithful reproduction of the original uncompressed audio for most listeners. An MP3 file that is created using the setting of 128 kbit/s will result in a file that is about 1/11th the size of the CD file created from the original audio source.

What is MP4?

MP4, short for MPEG-4 Part 14, is a multimedia container format standard specified as a part of MPEG-4. It is most commonly used to store digital video and digital audio streams, as well as other data such as subtitles and still images. Since MP4 is a container format, it does not have a standard method of coding the audio or video information. Instead, codecs dictate how the audio or video will be coded and possibly compressed.

MP3 vs. MP4

Let`s examine the difference between MP3 and MP4 from the following table.

  MP3 MP4
Filename extension .mp3 .mp4
Internet media type audio/mpeg, audio/MPA, audio/mpa-robust video/mp4, audio/mp4, application/mp4
Type code   Mpg4
Developed by Several teams of engineers at Fraunhofer IIS in Erlangen  
  Germany, AT&T-Bell Labs (now a division of Alcatel-Lucent) in Murray Hill, NJ, USA, Thomson-Brandt, and CCETT as well as others ISO
Extended from mp2 QuickTime .mov and MPEG-4 Part 12
Original Name MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3 MPEG-4 Part 14
Type of format Audio Media container
Container for   Audio, video, text
Standard(s) ISO/IEC 11172-3, ISO/IEC 13818-3 ISO/IEC 14496-14
Released for public use on 7th July, 1994 2002
Compatibility Virtually all music players support MP3 files iPod and iPhone support MP4 files
Algorithm Lossy compression  
Both formats have their uses and things that they are better at than the other. If you want to download and play MP4 files, make sure that your player supports it.

Popular MP3/MP4 music download sites:
ITunes: http://www.apple.com/itunes/overview/?cid=OAS-US-DOMAINS-itunes.com

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Thanks, I needed that info for a software project I am currently working on. Keep on truckin'.
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