M4A is a file format for audio files based on the MPEG-14 Part 14 standard. It is similar to the MP4 file format but it only contains encoded audio and it is sometimes called audio-only MPEG-14. Most digital media players including portable music players and smartphones support this file format. This article looks at its pros and cons.
The Pros: Advantages of M4A
The biggest selling point of this file format is that it can be used to store music or audio track with high quality. It is also popular among music enthusiasts due because it is compatible with most devices and operating systems and software-based media players.
Furthermore, because of the aforesaid selling point, it has become a popular file format for distributing digital audio content online. Examples include music recordings, audiobooks, and on-demand content such as podcast streams.
Below are the specific advantages of this audio file format:
• Compressed File Size: It is similar to the MP3 audio file format in the sense that a single audio file has a small file size compared to uncompressed and raw audio file formats.
• Superior Audio Quality: However, in terms of quality, one of the advantages of M4A is that it uses a higher quality of audio compression. Audio files based on this format have better audio quality than MP3 audio files.
• Lossless Compression: Audio files can be encoded in a lossless format. Original audio data can be preserved. This allows multiple edits without losing quality.
• Universality and Compatibility: Remember that this audio file format is universal. It is supported by a wide range of consumer electronic devices, desktop and mobile operating systems, and software-based media players.
• Suitable for Streaming: The small file size, high quality, and lossless compression make it ideal for streaming such as podcasting and for audiobooks.
• Rights Management Feature: Another advantage of M4A is that audio files can be encoded in this file format with the inclusion of Digital Rights Management. This tech limits unauthorized or illegal file sharing.
• Ideal for Editing and Production: It is also one of the ideal audio formats for music production such as recording and mixing, as well as for audio-video editing projects.
iThe Cons: Disadvantages of M4A
Note that MP3 remains the most popular and widely supported audio file format. There are also other formats that have been used in specific applications such as digital voice recording and audio streaming services. Some of these formats are native to specific devices.
Individuals who want to encode their raw audio files using this file format or those who want to purchase audio content encoded in this format should consider its drawbacks or limitations and the potential problems that they might encounter.
Below are the specific disadvantages of this audio file format:
• Some Compatibility Issues: Older media players such as outdated audio car systems might not support this audio file format.
• Relatively Large Size: Another notable disadvantage of M4A is that the encoded audio has a larger file size compared to audio encoded using other file formats such as MP3 and OGG. This is an issue for those with limited storage spaces.
• Processing Requirement: Decoding or reading and playing audio files that are encoded using this file format requires more processing power.
• Availability of Alternatives: There are alternatives to this audio file format. MP3 remains more popular. There are also high-quality and lossless formats such as WAV, FLAC, and AIFF that are considered ideal for music and media production.