Difference Wiki

MP3 vs. MP4: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Published on December 4, 2023
MP3 is an audio coding format for digital audio, while MP4 is a digital multimedia container format that can store video, audio, and other data.

Key Differences

MP3, which stands for MPEG-1 Audio Layer III, is a popular format for compressing audio files without significant quality loss. MP4, short for MPEG-4 Part 14, is a versatile multimedia container format that can store video, audio, text, and images.
MP3 files are known for their audio compression technology, allowing efficient storage and streaming of music. MP4 files, on the other hand, are used for storing and streaming both video and audio content, making them suitable for films, TV shows, and multimedia presentations.
The MP3 format is widely used in digital music players and online music streaming services due to its audio focus and compatibility. MP4 supports a variety of multimedia content including video and is commonly used on video streaming platforms, digital downloads, and for storing movie files.
MP3 files exclusively store audio data and are recognized for maintaining sound quality at smaller file sizes. MP4 files, capable of storing high-quality video along with audio, are larger in size but provide a comprehensive multimedia experience.
The MP3 format's simplicity and audio-centric nature make it ideal for music and podcast files. MP4's flexibility in handling multiple data types, including subtitles and 3D graphics, makes it a preferred choice for complex multimedia needs.

Comparison Chart

Primary Use

Audio compression
Multimedia container

File Content

Audio only
Video, audio, text, and images

Common Usage

Music, podcasts
Movies, video clips, multimedia presentations

File Size

Smaller, audio-focused
Larger, multimedia-focused


Wide compatibility with audio players
Compatible with video players and platforms

MP3 and MP4 Definitions


It uses lossy compression to reduce file size.
MP3 files are smaller, making them easy to stream online.


Compatible with various media players.
My tablet plays MP4 videos flawlessly.


MP3 is a digital audio encoding format.
I downloaded my favorite album in MP3 format.


Widely used for video streaming and downloading.
Most videos I stream online are in MP4 format.


MP3 prioritizes efficient audio storage.
I store thousands of songs in MP3 to save space.


MP4 supports high-quality video content.
I prefer MP4 for HD movie downloads.


MP3 is widely used for music and podcasts.
All podcasts on my phone are in MP3 format.


MP4 is a digital multimedia container format.
I downloaded the movie in MP4 format.


It's compatible with most digital audio players.
My old MP3 player still plays all my music files.


It stores video, audio, and other data.
The MP4 file contained the film with its subtitle track.


An MPEG standard used especially for digitally transmitting music.


A file containing a song or other audio data that is encoded using this standard
The band's MP3s can be downloaded from their website.


Are MP4 files larger than MP3 files?

Generally, yes, MP4 files are larger because they contain video and audio.

Can MP3 files store video?

No, MP3 files can only store audio.

Is MP3 compatible with most audio players?

Yes, MP3 files are widely compatible with various audio players.

Are MP3 files good for music streaming?

Yes, MP3 files are commonly used for streaming music due to their small size.

Do MP3 files have good sound quality?

Yes, MP3 files maintain good sound quality despite compression.

Can MP4 be used for professional video editing?

Yes, MP4 is suitable for professional video editing and distribution.

What does MP4 stand for?

MP4 stands for MPEG-4 Part 14, a multimedia container format.

Can MP4 files contain subtitles?

Yes, MP4 files can include subtitles, along with audio and video.

Do MP3 files support surround sound?

MP3 supports stereo sound, but not true surround sound formats.

How does MP3 compression work?

MP3 uses lossy compression, reducing file size by removing less audible sound data.

What is MP3 primarily used for?

MP3 is primarily used for compressing and playing digital audio files.

What types of data can MP4 files store?

MP4 files can store video, audio, text (like subtitles), and images.

Can MP4 handle 3D graphics?

Yes, MP4 can support 3D graphics and interactive content.

Can MP3 files be converted to MP4?

Yes, MP3 audio files can be converted to MP4 with additional video or images.

What bitrate is common for MP3 files?

MP3 bitrates range from 128 kbps to 320 kbps, with higher bitrates offering better quality.

Are MP4 files suitable for high-definition video?

Yes, MP4 supports high-definition video content.

Is MP3 still popular?

Yes, MP3 remains popular for audio due to its compatibility and efficiency.

Can MP4 be used for online video streaming?

Yes, MP4 is widely used for online video streaming due to its compatibility and quality.

Do MP4 files require specific software to play?

MP4 files can be played on standard media players, but some may require codecs.

What devices play MP4 files?

Most modern digital devices, including smartphones, tablets, and computers, can play MP4 files.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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