M4a vs MP3: Which has Better Sound Quality in 2023?

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Since the advent of digital music, the industry has evolved dramatically. At a time when only the wealthy could afford high-quality music, it is now a luxury that everyone can enjoy. When it comes to digital music, almost no one is unfamiliar with the terms M4A and MP3. Especially if you are a regular music listener.

It has now become a far-fetched debate about which is the better audio format: M4a or MP3. Through this article today, we mean to put an end to those speculations and declare a winner.

It goes without saying that it is going to be a close battle. But we assure you, the result will leave you nothing but informed and satisfied. Here we go!

Comparison table: M4a vs MP3




File extension



Media type



Compression algorithm

Maybe lossy or lossless

Compressed lossy


Low compatibility

High compatibility

Audio quality



File size


Relatively large

What is M4A?

The advent of M4A as the successor of MP3 raised a lot of eyebrows. Coming from a reputed company like Apple, there were a lot of expectations.

Adding to its accolades, MP4 is the audio format for the exclusive and infamous iTunes Music Store. Talking about its quality, Apple left no stone unturned.

MP4 ensured users could listen to premium-quality music on portable devices. Audio formats like M4A have broken the myth that good-quality audio can only be found on music CDs.

What is MP3?

It would not be wrong at all to call MP3 a veteran audio format. It arrived like a digital revolution in an analog world. With its German origins, MP3 is deeply rooted in the music industry.

Since its inception, it has made a name for itself as the most convenient compressed audio format. MP3 scores full points when it comes to ease of use and accessibility. MP3 has been one of the most popular audio formats for collecting large amounts of music for more than three decades.

What are the differences between MP4 and MP3?

  • The major difference, and the one that matters most, is the audio quality. Because of its higher bit rate, M4A beats MP3 by a huge margin in terms of audio quality. This doesn’t necessarily mean MP3 has bad audio quality. However, when compared to M4A, it is the inferior format.
  • Next up, we have the aspect of compatibility. M4A is a limited audio format. Thus, not many devices and players support it. Moreover, it is a fairly new audio format. This has led to its limited user base as well. On the other hand, MP3 has been around for much longer. And its compatibility is much higher than that of M4A. It is supported on almost all systems.
  • Now let’s shift our focus to compression. Even though M4A is highly compressed as compared to MP3, it still maintains better quality. M4A uses both AAC and ALAC compressions.
  • M4A audio files have a smaller file size than MP3 audio files because they are highly compressed.


It’s time for our verdict on which is the better audio format: M4A or MP3. For us, the deserving winner is M4A, and we have enough evidence to support our claim.

We are talking about good-quality music here. M4A delivers that very thing that matters the most in any audio format. As listeners, we want the exact representation of how music actually sounds or is meant to sound.

Authentic audiophiles do not compromise on audio quality at any cost. For them, it is all about getting immersed in the music, and M4A provides a natural experience.

Additionally, it is convenient for large-scale storage due to its small file size. Yes, compatibility is an issue, but with technology upgrading at such rapid rates, M4A will be available on every device. When that happens, MP3 must give way to its new avatar, M4A.

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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