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AAC or MP3 – What’s the Best Lossy File type?

By July 14, 2023No Comments

When it comes to digital audio files, there are numerous formats available, but two of the most popular and widely used options are AAC and MP3. Both are lossy compression formats, designed to reduce file size while maintaining acceptable audio quality. In this article, we’ll delve into the differences between AAC and MP3, exploring their features, advantages, and which one might be the best choice for your audio needs.

Understanding AAC and MP3

AAC (Advanced Audio Coding) and MP3 (MPEG Audio Layer III) are both lossy audio compression formats, meaning they discard certain parts of the audio data to reduce the file size. These formats achieve compression by employing psychoacoustic techniques, which exploit the limitations of human hearing to remove less noticeable sounds.

Audio Quality Comparison

In terms of audio quality, AAC generally performs better than MP3 at lower bitrates. AAC is known to produce more accurate audio reproduction, particularly at bitrates below 128 kbps. On the other hand, MP3 tends to excel at higher bitrates, where the differences between the two formats become less discernible to the human ear. It’s important to note that both formats have evolved over time, with newer versions providing improved audio quality compared to their predecessors.

Compatibility and Device Support

When it comes to compatibility, MP3 has a clear advantage. The format has been around for decades and is supported by virtually all audio players, devices, and operating systems. AAC, while widely supported today, may still face compatibility issues with older devices or software that doesn’t explicitly include AAC support. However, with the increasing popularity of AAC and the widespread use of smartphones and newer audio players, compatibility concerns are becoming less significant.

File Size and Bitrate

One crucial aspect to consider when choosing between AAC and MP3 is file size. AAC files tend to be slightly smaller compared to MP3 files while delivering similar audio quality. This means you can store more songs or audio files in AAC format within the same storage space. However, it’s worth noting that the file size can vary depending on the bitrate selected. Higher bitrates generally result in larger file sizes but also better audio quality.

Additional Features and Applications

AAC offers some additional features and advancements over MP3. For example, AAC supports up to 48 channels of audio, making it ideal for high-definition surround sound. It also provides better support for capturing low-frequency audio and offers enhanced error resilience, making it more suitable for broadcasting and streaming applications. MP3, on the other hand, remains a popular choice for general audio playback and is widely used for portable music players.


In conclusion, both AAC and MP3 are widely used lossy audio compression formats, each with its own strengths and areas of application. AAC generally offers better audio quality at lower bitrates and provides advanced features suitable for surround sound and streaming applications. On the other hand, MP3 is highly compatible, supported by virtually all devices and software, and excels at higher bitrates. Ultimately, the choice between AAC and MP3 depends on your specific requirements, device compatibility, and desired audio quality.


Can I convert AAC files to MP3?

Yes, there are various software tools available that can convert AAC files to MP3 format. Keep in mind that the conversion may result in some loss of audio quality.

Which format is better for streaming music online?

AAC is often considered more suitable for online music streaming due to its advanced error resilience and efficient compression, ensuring better audio quality during playback.

Are AAC and MP3 the only lossy audio formats available?

No, there are other lossy audio formats such as OGG, WMA, and Opus. However, AAC and MP3 remain the most widely used and supported formats.

Can I play AAC and MP3 files on my smartphone?

Most modern smartphones support both AAC and MP3 formats. However, it’s always a good idea to check the specifications of your device or consult the manufacturer’s documentation.

Are there any lossless audio formats available?

Yes, there are lossless formats like FLAC and ALAC that offer uncompressed audio quality. However, they result in larger file sizes compared to lossy formats like AAC and MP3.