AAC vs MP3 - Difference between AAC and MP3

In the battle of AAC vs MP3, is AAC better than MP3? To find the answer, this article will explain these two audio formats in detail by demontrating the differences between AAC and MP3. Also, the conversion between AAC and MP3 will be talked about at the end of this article. Read on to learn more!

Michelle | Updated on Apr 22, 2022

Overview of MP3 and AAC

AAC vs MP3: Is AAC Better Than MP3

MP3 or AAC: The Verdict

Additional Reading: Is it Necessary to Convert AAC to MP3 and Vice Versa?

If you want to rip your CD to computer or remux audio from a higher bitrates source, you might start to think which audio format is the best to choose for the encoding. If you want to download a piece of music from the Internet, you might also wonder which audio type is for a better sound experience. Among all the audio formats on the market, MP3 and AAC stand out as the most popular formats for audio encoding. Though these two formats are both lossy, each has its strengths and weaknesses over the other. If you are interested in these two formats, please read on to know more details about AAC vs MP3!

Also Read: AAC vs AC3 | WAV vs MP3 | AAC vs DTS | AAC vs FLAC l OGG Vorbis vs MP3

Overview of MP3 and AAC

MP3 and AAC are both lossy compression techniques for audio encoding. MP3 is a coding format developed to compress audio into a file of small size and acceptable fidelity. It was first released in 1993, four years before AAC, and has now become the universal standard for streaming and storing music. AAC (Advanced Audio Coding) was designed to be the successor to MP3. It rids the inherent flaws of MP3 and achieves a better sound quality than MP3 at similar bitrates, especially at lower bitrates. It is now also a default standard format for Apple devices, YouTube video streaming, and other platforms.

AAC vs MP3: Is AAC Better Than MP3

1. MP3 or AAC: Sound Quality

There is no doubt that AAC has a better audio quality than MP3 at the same bitrates, especially in lower bitrates (< 128kpbs). When encoded at a bitrate of 128kpbs, you’ll see the evident difference between MP3 and AAC as the audio encoded with AAC is more transparent than that of MP3. The reason for this is due to the several improvements that AAC has made over MP3. AAC takes more sample rates, for example, from 8 to 96 kHz compared to MP3’s 16 to 48 kHz. And that helps to capture more detail of the sound source (even the frequency that is imperceptible by the ear). It also handles audio frequencies above 16 kHz much better than MP3. For grabbing transient signals, AAC is more accurate than MP3 as well, for AAC uses a blocksize of 128 or 120 samples while MP3 uses only 192 sample blocks. However, as bitrate increases, from 190kpbs upwards, you really can’t tell the difference because they sound roughly equivalent to the human ear.

2. AAC or MP3: File Size

Both AAC and MP3 audio are in small file sizes. But at a similar quality, AAC has a relatively smaller size compared to MP3. That is because AAC adopts more flexible compression techniques. For the format itself, AAC uses a pure MDCT rather than MP3’s hybrid coding (part MDCT and part FFT), which gives AAC a higher coding efficiency and a simpler filter bank. It also uses arbitrary bitrates and variable frame length, allowing for a dynamical distribution of bitrate to simple and complex signals. In addition to the format itself, it has additional modules added to increase compression efficiency as well. This overall gives AAC a much higher compression efficiency than MP3, and hence contribute to smaller file size at the same quality.

3. AAC vs MP3: Compatibility

MP3 has the best compatibility with all devices. AAC also boasts well-supported bases like Apple devices and some other Android and Windows systems. But in all, AAC cannot compete with MP3 in the field of device-support.

4. A Generalized Chart of AAC vs MP3

MP3 or AAC: The Verdict

We have to admit that AAC is a superior format to MP3 as it offers better audio quality with an economical size. But human hearing is limited to a certain range of frequencies. General listeners are less likely to discern the quality difference between MP3 and AAC when the audio is encoded in high bitrate (> 192kpbs). And it’s really the encoding speed and device speakers that weigh more on the audio quality. The size is not a factor at all since they are both small. And that just leaves to the last measurement - compatibility. In a nutshell, if you want audio in low bitrate, go with AAC. But if you want to listen to music without any hassle, then go with MP3. It’s a subjective matter after all.

AAC to MP3 and Vice Versa

WonderFox Free HD Video Converter Factory can convert between AAC to MP3 and vice versa quite easily. Simply import the file > select the output format from the 500+ audio and video formats/devices like AAC, MP3, MP4, MKV, Sony, Apple... > hit start. Mission accomplished!

Is it Necessary to Convert AAC to MP3 and Vice Versa?

This is still a subjective question, and the answer depends on how you look at these formats. If you feel it is necessary to convert MP3 to AAC or convert AAC to MP3, please first make sure the source audio is of high bitrate so you can do a meaningful conversion. (Convert from low bitrate to high bitrate will do no quality improvements to the source audio but only enlargement in size). Here is the process of how to convert between different formats with WonderFox Free HD Video Converter Factory:

Before start, please free download free download the software and install it on your PC.

Step 1. Open Free HD Video Converter Factory and select Converter. Click the “+ Add Files” button to import the source audio into the converter.

Step 2. Hit the right side format icon to choose an output format from the appearing interface.

Step 3. Click Run to start the conversion.


Now you've known the difference between AAC and MP3. Which audio format do you prefer, MP3 or AAC? Or even the lossless FLAC and WAV and ALAC? If you still haven't made up your mind yet, you can download audio samples or songs from the internet to have a direct experience with these formats. Many free music downloaders can get that job done easily now. Pick one and have a try!

Tips: For pure music enjoying, you can also visit the sites that offer hi-res audio downloads.

Download Songs from Websites

Want to feel intuitive about what these different audio formats can bring to you? There is a way to it. By using WonderFox Free HD Video Converter Factory, you can access free music downloads from numerous sites like YouTube, Vimeo, TikTok, etc. handily. Download it for free!

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