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Readers Respond: What's Better: AAC vs. MP3

Responses: 55


The question of whether to use MP3 or AAC as an encoding format for music stirs strong passions on both sides of the debate. It's time to weigh in. Let us know which codec you prefer for your music and why. But remember, be polite!

For more on AAC and MP3 check out:


I use both MP3 and AAC. I only convert my .wav files, or my non-MP3 files to AAC via iTunes, because it's pretty f****** simple. Then I delete my .wav files, and replace them with the AAC versions and re-add them to my library. Yeah, life's good with both. Neither should be obsolete, as music and anything else. F*** all of you obsoletism D********, both are gods, and have brought us far!
—Guest both


AAC is technically superior in nearly every way to MP3. However, I'd say the best format is the one the works for your system. If your system doesn't support AAC then MP3 is the way to go. MP3 is more compatible with a range of older hardware so that limits your choices. I'd go with AAC if you want the best and can play it, otherwise MP3 for compatibility.
—Guest Bill

Can you tell?

You can tell the difference between lossy and lossless. But there comes a point where it's indistinguishable to the human ear and it becomes one of those (thicker speaker wire makes the difference! arguments)... it's a fallacy. In reality, unless you hear them side by side you may not know you're listening to a lossy recording. That makes MP3 good enough for most people.
—Guest Matt

Which is better for iTunes?

I have 8,090 songs, but only 7,999 shows up in iTunes. Which is better: MP3, AAC, AIFF, or WAV?
—Guest Tony

Prove it to yourself with ABX

Think you can tell the difference between high bitrate lossy and lossless? You should try to test that ability with an ABX test. You might be very, very surprised at how hard it is to tell them apart once you don't already *know* which one is which.
—Guest Darren


You people are dumb! MP3 is old! Use Lossless FLAC instead!
—Guest Amrita Kaur Chahal


PC vs Apple, PC wins due to open(ish) standard. AAC vs MP3, MP3 wins because of open(ish) standard. The argument is never as cut and dried as which is best. More like which is "good enough" and easiest to work with. MP3 wins, manufacturers support unencumbered standards that cost less or nothing. So it's never which is best, it's which will win. Depending on what side of the fence you are on, you will win with MP3 or queue up with the betamax lovers with nothing to play your music with...
—Guest rob

AAC Beats MP3's Ass

I've been a fan of the AAC format since I first heard of it. I record in AAC 128kbs. Better music quality, less disk usage, and overall better than MP3.


I record at 1500 kbps AAC. This is 2012 guys! How can you be so backward?
—Guest Eish

MP3. No question about it.

Although AAC is a newer codec, MP3 is far more compatible. At higher bitrates (MP3 max quality - 320kbps OR V-0), there's no difference between the MP3 file and the original CD. So, MP3 is the right choice.
—Guest Arcus Odissey

Hello. We are in 2012

Judge for yourself. 1. MP3 (LAME) is uses a slightly higher bitrate to encode for the same quality as AAC. 2. AAC was originally built upon the correction of problems brought about by MP3. 3. AAC has a unified tagging system without many versions like MP3 whose metadata easily messes up. 4. LAME only starts competing with iTunes AAC if it is in Joint Stereo. The AAC file will be in True Stereo. This implies that the MP3's stereo image is damaged. 5. MP3 has the widest support but software-wise this point is obsolete. Hardware support is now comparable. If AAC is not supported then WMA is. 6. MP3's maximum spec is 48 kHz, 2 Channel Audio whereas AAC's maximum spec is 96 kHz, 96 Channel Audio. This means lossy near-Studio Quality distribution is possible with AAC but impossible with MP3 and AAC has support for Surround Sound. 7.The only reason why AAC is often sidelined is the same reason why AVC is often sidelined. People cannot accept change. It is human nature.
—Guest Ronald

AAC vs. MP3 file sizes?

What's with the ~1MB file size difference? At the same bit rate, AAC and MP3 should be within a few bytes of each other (bitrate x # of seconds = file size). Looks like you had VBR enabled when you converted for the MP3 and not the AAC.
—Guest Chris CA

AAC is good, but still not worth it yet.

So many things still don't support AAC. I think if AAC was more universal, I probably would switch to it (actually, I like OGG even better, but that's very unlikely). I have always listened to (don't judge yet) MP3 at 96kbps 44.1k CBR (90% of the time it's LAME) and NEVER noticed any quality loss. I am not going deaf; I listen to my music on high-end speakers and I have a musically trained ear that has been active since I was 5. I am very picky about audio, yet I still say that 96kbps MP3 is the most compatible by far and really not a measurable amount lesser than AAC.
—Guest Erik


AAC is a newer, more sophisticated codec than MP3. Was developed by a joint venture between Nokia and Sony in the second half of the 90s... Codecs are made of "algorithms", well...all the informatics is made of them...They are the "core" of everything we do with a computer...AAC algorithms are much better than MP3's. No matter the bitrate. And the codec pushed up to its ultimate limits reached the (crazy for a lossy) 450 Kbps!! Being AAC as pointed out ALWAYS an ABR/VBR codec that means if you encode at 320Kbps the resulting file will have transients at 450 Kbps...This is provable with Foobar2000 for Windows, the player that gives you real time the information about bitrate...In Foobar I never saw an AAC staying at 320Kbps... There is always a Peak "above"... In very complex music it reached its limit very easily...I repeat: 450 Kbps!! So...we have a much better implemented codec that can reach 128Kbps MORE than ANY MP3 codec...Guess who is the winner?
—Guest Azure


I am currently (for the last 3 hours) converting my WAV and MPEGs to AAC format simply to import to my Ext HD and import onto my new HP. I hope the wait is worth it. So far so good.
—Guest JTribal

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