AAC vs MP3: Which Music Format Is Better?

MP3, the file format that completely revolutionized the way we listen to music over the past couple of decades is now considered as irrelevant and outdated by none other than the creators themselves. The founders of the format have in fact went ahead and terminated their patent licensing program. The situation pretty much looks like a goodbye to the mostly widely used audio format in the world after lasting for almost 24 years. Now, it’s time for some other format to take over and it boils down to only two, AAC (Advanced Audio Coding) and FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec).

Similar to MP3, the AAC format which utilizes lossy digital audio compression, seems to be in a convenient position to replace MP3 rather than FLAC, which is a completely different format for lossless compression of digital audio. With MP3’s demise, there couldn’t be a better time to know more about the potential replacement that can take over the entire audio industry. So, without further ado, let’s pit AAC vs MP3 and find out if it’s ready to replace MP3:


When it comes to popularity, it doesn’t take a genius to realize that MP3 is clearly the winner. In fact, it’s one of the widely used file formats in the world and some of us even go ahead and consider music files as MP3. So, that’s the kind of popularity this format has achieved over the past two decades, since the original launch back in 1993.

AAC vs MP3: Which Music Format Is Better?

AAC file format, is not even close to being as popular as MP3 as of now, but it’s rapidly progressing to say the least. A slew of streaming and broadcasting services presently use the AAC file format, as it’s a more efficient audio codec when compared to MP3. The developers realized that the much-loved file format was outdated and outpaced by the competition, which is one of the reasons that led to the termination of the license. That being said, AAC is not a new file format. It’s been around here for about a decade, being just 4 years younger to the MP3 format. However, it has been overshadowed by the latter in terms of popularity and only until recently has it started to popularize like crazy, thanks to Apple making use of this format across all their popular services.

File Size

AAC outshines the MP3 file format in this department, as AAC files are slightly smaller than the MP3 files of the same song. Let’s say, you have an MP3 file of a song weighing in at 10 MB. The same song in the AAC file format will weigh just around 8 MB. This might not sound like a big deal when you just take a single file into consideration but we all have plenty of music files on our devices that take up our precious storage space. If you’ve stored music in the AAC file format, you’ll certainly save a good chunk of storage space.

Sound Quality

In spite of the fact that an AAC file is smaller than an equivalent MP3 file, it still manages to outperform the MP3 format in terms of overall sound quality, which is the main reason why AAC is considered as the future of lossy digital audio. AAC has much more sample frequencies when you pit it against MP3. It also handles audio frequencies above 16Hz much better. Likewise, higher coding efficiency and accuracy for stationary and transient signals respectively makes AAC a better option than MP3 as the go-to file format for music files.


I hope you probably know the answer already. If not, MP3 file format is the king of compatibility without a doubt, being supported by almost every single music player and device that’s capable of music playback.

When it comes to AAC, that’s not really the case, as it doesn’t work on certain music players and devices, but it’s getting there. AAC has been widely used by Apple across all their popular devices like iPhones, iPods etc. and iTunes software as well. Now that MP3 is considered obsolete, we’re certain that manufacturers and developers will jump on the AAC bandwagon and provide complete support for this audio format across all the devices and software.

AAC vs MP3: Which Music Format Is Better?

AAC vs MP3: Comparison

SpecificationsAAC FormatMP3 Format
Extensions.m4a, .m4b, .m4p, .m4v, .m4r, .3gp, .mp4, .aac.mp3
CodecAudio onlyAudio only
Sound QualityBetter than MP3Sub-par when compared to AAC
File SizeSlightly smaller than MP3Higher and requires more space
PopularityPopular, especially among Apple usersHugely Popular
CompatibilityiPhone, iPod, iPad, iTunes, Groove Music, DivX, PlayStationSupported by almost every single music player and device
Initial Launch19971993

SEE ALSO: RAW vs JPEG: What Image Format You Should Use?

AAC vs MP3: AAC Is The Future

Admit it or not, after the demise of the much-loved MP3 format, AAC can easily be considered as a worthy successor, as it outperforms the MP3 format in almost every aspect apart from Popularity and Compatibility, but tables can turn in the following years. Just give AAC some time, and it will soon be right at the top, where MP3 used to be. So, are you ready to make the switch to AAC format for music files or are you just going to stick with the MP3 for bit more? Do let us know your thoughts in the comments section down below.

comment Comments 10
  • bill george says:

    Let’s see now. I have mp3. On my rec room system, an mp3 player by the pool. And mo2 in my car. As well as other places. The new amps now have mp3 jack on front that plays mp3. Patent is over so all players I see now. Getto blaster. Rechargeable players. ALL play my files. What machine(s) will I have to buy to play acc. Or whatever new format is called. ..mp3. Rocks

  • Ryan says:

    Yeah, they terminated the licensing program just as the patents expired, which means MP3 is in the public domain now, and AAC isn’t.

  • Jeff says:

    Lol. This article makes no sense. Sounds like mp3 just got cheaper for distributors, developers and manufactors…

  • Jeff says:

    I just want to be sure I understand this… mp3 is hugely popular and it just became much cheaper for device manufactors, music player developers and music distributors to use the format, but it’s dead?.. It sounds to me like it just got its second wind. It’s too bad big distributors like Google and Amazon don’t use the format, their costs would have just dropped and their profit margins would have just increased… oh, wait a min…

  • leo says:

    “It also handles audio frequencies above 16Hz much better.” Huh?

  • Melon says:

    For this days with 4+ Tb HDD – FLAC is preferred to use.

    • seb says:

      hmm…my exemple:
      Approximately 30 000 files, 100mb per flac file = 3 000 000 mb = 3 Tb.
      So one 4tb hard drive is not enough, at the end of the year, it will be full.
      I’ll stay with my mp3 320kpbs. Fore 2 reasons:
      How can i get all these files in Flac format? I can’t spend my months reaping all my CD’s or find them over the internet.
      Even if I love music (and I also produce music, using a pair of active monitoring speakers), lossless is overestimated for the large majority of users.
      We are listening to music in car, train, in the streets, etc… where there is noise around you. It’s useless to want a perfect file with a perfect sound.
      And no matter the “quality”, if the melody is good, you will enjoy it.

  • Ash says:

    Dude it’s outdated thats why????????

  • Raghavan says:

    Why MP3 is being removed???

    • fasdfdsa says:

      it’s not, its patents just expired, which means just the opposite of what the article suggests, i.e. it’s going to be used even more freely.

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