Mostly all devices that you are encounter in your daily life will support both these formats, be it an Android smartphone, Apple iPhone, Windows computers, Hifi devices, Mac or Linux OS based computers. Let us go into detail and see what is the difference between MP3 and MP4.


Part 1: MP3 vs MP4

MP4 sounds just like an upgraded version of MP3, right? Actually no. Just because there is an incremental difference between the name of these two, it does not make them similar. Before we dive into and explain the difference between the two, let us go back and look into their history.

MP3 is short for MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3. In the early 1990’s MP3 was one of the two proposals that were shortlisted for use as an MPEG audio standard. It was chosen for its simplicity, error robustness and high computational efficiency.

It is a compressed format in which the details which are not required are removed from the file. These details are basically all that data which our human ears can’t hear - the high and low audio range which lies outside human range of hearing. This is the reason why MP3 formats are called lossy compression formats. The size of a compressed MP3 file is 1/11th in size compared to an uncompressed WAV file at 128 kbit/s.

MP4 is short for MPEG-4 Part 14. This has been derived from Apple’s QuickTime MOV format but has added functionalities to support MPEG. MP4 is a container format that is used to store video, audio, subtitles and some more data related to the media. It is a highly compressed container format. It is widely used for streaming over the internet which is a proof of its wide acceptance and success. Since it is just a container and not a coding format, the video and audio inside are dictated by the codec that is being used to code them.  AAC (Advanced Audio Coding) is used for transmission of audio over the internet.

So now that we know what these two file formats are exactly, let us see the difference between MP3 and MP4.


MP3 vs MP4: Audio vs Audio & Video

While MP3 is an audio compression format used to store audio, MP4 is a container that can store images, text, video, audio as well as subtitles. While many different codecs can be put in an MP4 file, the widely supported ones are:

  1. Video — MPEG-4 Part 10 (H.264) and MPEG-4 Part 2.
  2. Audio — AAC, ALS, SLS, TTSI, MP3, and ALAC.
  3. Subtitles — MPEG-4 Timed Text.


MP3 vs MP4: File metadata

MP3 files contain metadata called ID3 tags that store media information like song title, author, album, genre and album artwork. This information is stored at the end of the file data which is extracted by the media players or can be entirely ignored.

MP4 being a container can store the metadata information in the same format as MP3 but since it stores not just audio but can contain images, text, PDF, video, subtitles, etc too, it implements Extensible Metadata Platform (XMP) format which can store metadata in a varied format.


MP3 vs MP4: Usage

In very simple terms, MP3 is used when you just want the audio. A song that you want to just listen and not watch the video should be available in MP3 format. MP4 is to be used when you want to watch a movie where you want both video and audio with optional details like subtitles.


Part 2: How to convert MP4 to MP3

There are times when are watching an MP4 movie and we like a background track or a dialogue which we would like to make as our ringtone or listen to on a loop or share with friends. To do so, you can make use of DVDFab Video Converter’s MP3 extraction capabilities. DVDFab Video Converter is a complete multimedia utility that not only converts video from one format to another (video/audio format) but also has tools for video editing and advanced options to modify video-audio properties.

* Read video from media recording devices like camcorders, internet, SD cards and convert them to mainstream video formats like MP4 or device specific media formats directly.

* Use its inbuilt video editor to trim or crop video, add subtitles, adjust brightness, contrast or saturation and add watermark.

* Use its Advanced features to change video parameters like Resolution, Encoding Method, Frame Rate, etc and audio parameters like Bit Rate, Sample Rate, Audio Channel and Codec.

Now let’s see how to use the above-mentioned features to convert or extract MP3 from MP4 using DVDFab Video Converter.

Step 1 - Installation
Download and install DVDFab 10.

Step 2 - Add the file for conversion
Go to the Converter module and add your MP4 video to it which you want to convert to MP3.

Note: If you want to convert the whole MP4 to MP3, directly skip to Step 5

Step 3 - Select MP4 format
Go to Profile Switcher on the top left of the window below the DVDFab logo. Click on Format > Video > MP4.

Step 4 - Choose the portion to Trim
Open the Video Editor and go to the Trim section. Drag the slider from the start and end location to bring it to the section of MP4 from where you can to extract the MP3. Click on Ok and come back to the home screen.

Step 5 - Select MP3 format
Click on the Profile Switcher, go to Format > Audio and click on MP3.

Step 6 - Do customizations for the audio
This is an optional step if you want to customize your video. In the main screen, you can change the name of the video or choose an audio track if there are multiple tracks present. You can also use the Advanced Settings section to customize the audio properties like Sample Rate, Channel or Bit Rate.

Step 7 - Select the output directory and Convert
Change the default directory for saving the output file if you want at the “Save to” box present at the bottom. Once this all is done, click on the green Start button to start the process of extracting MP3 from MP4.

Once the process starts you can even choose to Pause the task and resume it later. Otherwise, if you are doing a batch process, you can start the conversion and set DVDFab to take certain action once the conversion is complete like Do Nothing, Closing the application or Shutting down the computer.

That is all you need to do to convert MP4 to MP3. Just with a few added steps, you can extract MP3 from MP4 too if you don’t want to convert the whole MP4.

DVDFab 10 is a 30-day free trial tool. You can go ahead and try the features of the software and see how feature packed yet easy to use a tool it is.