MP3 vs AAC: Differences between formats

AAC vs. MPEG-1 Audio Layer3 (MP3): what are their main variations? MP3 has been the usual format for music playback on different digital audio players. The Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) format, then again, looks to develop into the successor of the MP3 format. Both these audio-specific formats are flossy formats that means that they use compression to create smaller audio files. The 128 kbps setting, for example, will reduce the original file’s measurement by 1/11. Within the creation process, builders lose part of the unique audio data. These flossy formats have allowed developers to package countless songs into scaled-down music players.

What is MP3?

The release of MP3 for public consumption took place in 1994, three years earlier than the AAC format came to the market. Moving Footage Specialists Group (MPEG) adopted the MP3 format to be part of their MPEG-1 commonplace before later extending it to MPEG-2 standard.

MP3 has since turn into the preferred audio format, especially for storage and streaming purposes. Most audio players also use this format as the default playback and storage standard. MP3 files have the .mp3 file extension.

What’s AAC?

Builders of the AAC format intended to improve the compression scheme used for creating the MP3 file format. The concept was to create a format with higher quality. Nokia, Dolby Laboratories, AT&T-Bell Laboratories, and Sony Company all had a hand in the development of this file format.

MPEG adopted this format as part of both its MPEG-2 and MPEG-four standards. New audio units and media players help the AAC format which doubles as the default audio format for iPhone, iTunes, iPad, PlayStation three, YouTube as well as iPod. The AAC format files have a host of file extensions including, .m4a, .aac, .m4p, .m4r, .3gp, .m4b, .m4p, and .mp4.

Audio quality

Let’s look at MP3 vs. AAC quality. While AAC versus MP3 sound capabilities don’t range considerably, AAC has the upper hand at decrease bit rates. If you happen to’re working with bit rates decrease than 128 kbps, you will notice the difference. MP3 files will sound a little muddy and slurry while the AAC files preserve their brighter and clearer sound.

The AAC format leverages its optimal transform window sizes and pure MDCT to beat MP3 at these bit rates. While MP3 has sample frequencies ranging from sixteen kHz to forty eight kHz, AAC’s sample frequencies range between eight kHz to 96 kHz. With more pattern frequencies, AAC developers can accurately reproduce the original files as they decrypt audio files.

With higher bit rates (192 kbps and above), the main focus shifts from the audio format to the encoder. MP3 competes favorably and is surprisingly strong in case you work with an efficient encoder. At high enough bitrates, you will hardly discover the difference between these formats and the original files.


Builders have higher flexibility within the AAC format than MP3 when designing codecs. With this flexibility, you can simultaneously use multiple encoding strategies and compress your files more efficiently.

MP3 files can only store channels of synchronous audio compared to AAC’s 48 channels. This specification permits you to compress multichannel audio on AAC with less hassle. You’ll also have an easier time working with surround sound mixes.

With a pure MDCT, AAC boasts of higher encoding efficiency. The MP3 format, on the other hand, uses a hybrid coding system that comprises the general encoding process. MP3’s block size of 576 samples further reduces the coding efficiency. AAC makes use of 940 or 1024 samples, further enhancing the encoding.

When it involves the accuracy of transient signals, AAC has the higher hand with the 128 samples block size compared to MP3’s 192 sample size.

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