Flac vs M4a: Which is the Best? My Honest Opinion

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If you are someone who has to work with audio and video on a regular basis, it is wise to be well acquainted with different audio formats.

Gone are those days when users had to restrict themselves to just MP3 and WAV. New audio formats like Flac and M4a have been the talking point among audio professionals for many reasons.

In spite of being excellent choices, Flac and M4a are different from one another. Your selection of either of these two formats may depend on these differences.

This article will clear the air on that matter.

Either Flac or M4a is a better choice, but which one is it?

Let’s find out.

Comparison table: Flac and M4a




File extension




Lossless audio format

Lossy audio format


Clear and superior sound quality

Normal sound quality


Lossless audio compression

Lossy audio compression

DRM (Digital Rights Management) Protection

DRM protected

DRM Free

Ease of editing and transferring

Not easy to edit and transfer

Very easy to edit and transfer


Compatible with various operating systems, devices, and players

Compatible with Mac, Windows, Linux, iOS, Android, and various audio players


Open-source file container

Not open source

What is Flac?

FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) is a free, open-source audio format. It was developed by the Xiph.org Foundation back in 2001.

The fact that FLAC reduces the file size by about 60% and ensures the same audio quality makes it the most used lossless format today.

Fast seeking, cover art, and metadata tagging are some features supported by FLAC. FLAC offers better storage convenience and far higher quality.

What is M4a?

Apple developed M4a (MPEG-4 Part 14) in 2004 as a replacement for MP3. It remained the recommended audio format for all music files in the iOS App Store and on Mac devices in general.

Despite the fact that M4A has already established itself as a preferred audio format on numerous platforms other than Apple, it still falls short of MP3 in terms of popularity.

However, when compared to other compressed lossy audio formats, M4A is lighter and provides higher quality.

What are the differences between Flac and M4a?

  • The first major distinction is that Flac is a lossless audio format, whereas M4A is a lossy audio format.
  • Because Flac is lossless, its audio quality is clearer and way better than M4a.
  • Flac features lossless audio compression. It means that when you are trying to squeeze down the size of a Flac file, the quality remains the same. Whereas in M4A, there is a significant loss in audio quality during compression. So, a smaller M4A means bad quality.
  • M4a files are DRM-free, allowing users to easily edit and transfer them. On the contrary, Flac is DRM-protected, making its usage a bit of a challenging task. However, with Flac, you can easily encrypt and patent your files.
  • Flac has an open-source file format that comes with its source code, meaning it can be easily accessed for any use. M4A, on the other hand, lacks an open source. Its distribution does not come along with its original rights.
  • Last but not least, the Flac audio format is reputed to be more error-resistant in comparison to M4a files.


The decision between Flac and M4A is based on their intended use. If you want to store a huge amount of high-quality music, Flac is the recommended choice. The compression does not impact its quality. The listening experience with Flac files is phenomenal, as they have a lossless audio format.

M4a files are suitable for uploading to websites and for multimedia purposes. Since these files can be greatly compressed, it is easier for the servers to upload them. However, because it is a lossy audio format, the quality suffers greatly.

Jennifer Max


Hi, I’m Jennifer I’m a passionate singer and an audiophile from Detroit, MI. 

I’m on a mission to help music creators to create fine music that help them position uniquely in the saturated music space.

Follow my blog for regular content :-)

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