Difference between AAC and M4A (With Table)

During our leisure time we like listening to music hence need to look for more storage forms where we can have a lot of music either audio or video in one place.

AAC and M4A are both audio files stored using a coding system. The two are often confused and most people mistake it to be the same thing.

So, what is the main difference between AAC and M4A? AAC is an encoding system used to compress audio files while M4A refers to a file extension format.

For more information about the difference between AAC and M4A in tabular form, continue reading the article. You will also learn of the similarities between the two.

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Comparison Table (AAC vs M4A)

Basic TermsAACM4A
DefinitionIt is an audio coding system that was developed as an improvement of mp3 format.It is a file extension format used with the AAC.
Type of systemIt is an encoding system.It is a file container.
Kind of compressed audio supported.It is solely a lossy compression codec.It can either be used with lossy compression or lossless compression.
CodecIt is a codec that reduces the size of audio files without compressing their quality.It is not a codec; it is simply a file container.
SpecificationsIt is part of MPEG-2 and MPEG-4.It is only made of MPEG-4.

What is AAC?

AAC is an audio coding system that was developed as an improvement of mp3 format. It was launched in 1997.

The upgraded version has a high power of compressing audio files while using minimum space. It offers enhanced sound quality at the existing mp3 bit rate.

It operates as a lossy file format and delivers enriched audio by removing excess data from the file without necessarily interfering with the quality of the audio.

It is used by a number of platforms such as play station 3, I tunes and Nintendo. The forums are popular and used by many hence the need for quality versions.

It was developed as a result of a drive to improve on existing audio coding systems. Nokia, Sony, AT and T Bell laboratories, Dolby teamed up to create the AAc codec.

The flexibility offered by the coding system enables it to compress the files without necessarily interfering with the quality of the audio. The noise shaping feature enables it not to interfere with the quality of sound of the audio.

What is M4A?

M4A is a file extension format used with AAc and it represents the MPEG-4 audio. It uses the AAC lossy compression format technique to reduce the size of the audio file while retaining its sound quality.

It is used to save compressed files. It is popularly used on the same platforms as the AAC such as play stations 3, I tunes, and Nintendo.

They can be used to save both the lossy and lossless compression formats. Sometimes the files are renamed in order for them to access as certain platforms may not support the given file extension format.

It is only the audio files that use the extension system. Video files do not use extension files. The audio files can be successfully accessed on the windows media player, Roxio Popcorn and QuickTime.

Main Difference between AAC and M4A

  1. AAC is a codec system while M4A is a file extension.
  2. AAC is both MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 while M4A is only part of MPEG-4.
  3. AAC codes audio data in a lossy compression format while M4A can both use lossy or lossless compressed data.
  4. AAC was developed as an improvement on mp3 format while M4A is only a file container.

Similarities between AAC and M4A

  1. Both can be converted into mp3 format.
  2. Both are audio formats.
  3. Both are popularized by the same platforms such as Tunes.
  4. Both are commonly used together.

Conclusion

ACC and M4A are both coding systems that are used for audio formats. They are mostly used together hence confused by many people as one.

The main difference between AAC and M4A is that AAC is an audio coding system that was developed as an improvement of mp3 while M4A is a file extension used with AAC.

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