If you are connected to the audio exporting at the studio for work or at home for personal use, you must encounter the audio codec or format already. The most commonly used audio formats are MP3, AAC, AIFF, ALAC, Ogg Vorbis, FLAC, DSD, and WAV. All the audio formats are either will be lossy or lossless.
In lossy audio compression, the sound data discards some information, and in lossless audio compression, the sound data will remain as same as the original one. However, in this article, we will discuss the top 3 lossy audio codecs or formats and compare them to see which is better among opus vs m4a vs mp3.
Opus vs MP3: What is Opus Format?
Opus is a popular lossy audio format developed by the Xiph.Org Foundation. The Internet Engineering Task Force standardized the codec in a way it can now code general sound and speech efficiency by ensuring low latency. Opus is worldwide now because of its low complexity for low-end processor support and real-time interactive communication ability.
Opus replaces both Speex and Vorbis with the latest software. When several blind tests among various lossy audio formats happen, most people claim opus as the superior audio quality. As the audio codec supports variable bit rates from 6 kb/s to 510 kb/s, so it is commonly used for internet streaming.
Most applications with call facilities over the internet use the Opus format to transmit and receive voice, including WhatsApp, Skype, and lots more. The codec performs very well at both low and high bit rates.
It uses the MDCT-based CELT algorithm for lower latency and the LPC-based SILK algorithm for speech orientation which is very convenient for our daily usages like recording and playing voice audios as it ensures maximum efficiency.
The opus also allows 2.5 ms to 60 ms frame sizes and from 8 kHz to 48 kHz five sampling rates, making it more reliable to use on any communication-based applications or live audio performances over the internet.
Opus vs MP3: Why is Opus Codec So Good?
As we discussed earlier, opus codecs come with the lowest possible latency, and they consume less disk space compared to other lossy audio formats, so it is a good option to use in on-net communication and live audio performance.
On the other hand, it’s the variable bit rate, frame size, and sample rate allow the sound developers to create audio and use it in applications with high-quality audio and minimalistic file size.
As it can combine two different algorithms simultaneously, you can use it for low bandwidth voice communications and even music with full spectrum. So if you want a specific audio codec for various purposes, this can be a very good option.
How Do I play an Opus File?
All most of all, the latest multi-media player on multiplatform can able to play an Opus file, including VLC Media Player, Windows Media Player, Foobar2000, Winamp, AIMP, MPC-HC Player, Zoom Player, and MediaInfo Player. So it won’t be an issue to play the audio no matter what OS you use, including Windows, macOS, and Android.
On the other hand, if you can not want to install these applications to your device and your existing media player doesn’t support an Opus file, or if you have an audio player like an mp3 payer or mp4 player that doesn’t support Opus audio format, still you can play the audio by simply convert it to mp3 or other playable formats for your device or media player.
Does Youtube, Zoom Use Opus Audio?
As we mentioned, most on-net communication-based applications use the opus format for audio transmission and receiving. YouTube and zoom also do the same. YouTube stores Opus audio in the WebM container for the consumer to play and zoom using SILK and Opus voice codec with advanced algorithms in acoustic echo cancellation, noise suppression, and gain control to ensure the best audio delivery possible.
Likewise, most such applications use either the MDCT-based CELT algorithm to ensure low latanchy audio delivery or the LPC-based SILK algorithm for speech-orientetion. Some applications use both simultaneously.
On the other hand, as opus use variable bit rate, frame size, and sample rate, it is easier to save disk space by snipping unnecessary audio data, which is ultimately good for maintaining the disk space of this application’s server.
Opus vs M4A: What is m4a?
Another best lossy compression audio format is the m4a which stands for MPEG 4 Audio. The m4a digital audio stream is encoded with advanced audio coding (AAC) and Apple lossless audio codec (ALAC) to compress the audio data. The MPEG 4 container files, which contain audio only, use the M4A file extension; for video, the file extension is mp4.
In general, an m4a audio format has 44.100 kHz bit depth and128Kbps bitrate with 44.100 kHz sample rate though it can be changed according to the compression type, coding, and applications. As the m4a audio codec use AAC and ALAC coding compression, it allows the audio data to be saved and downsized.
At the same time, it ensures decent quality audio output; a one-minute audio file should be 1 MB or less. So, in terms of storing lots of audio files or long audio files, m4a can be a better choice as it won’t consume much disk space on your PC, mobile or other devices.
Professionals use m4a most commonly to save audio-book content, digital music, podcasting, and other sectors where lots of audio files need to be saved. Multiple devices support the audio container over almost all the major platforms like Windows, macOS, Android, ios, and Linux.
You can play or open an m4a audio file by using Microsoft Groove Music, Windows Media Player, Apple Music, Apple QuickTime Player, Apple iTunes, VideoLAN VLC media player, Adobe Audition 2022, Eltima Elmedia Player, Nullsoft Winamp, and lots of other third-party applications.
Opus vs MP3: What is MP3 and How Does it Work?
You should already have heard the name of the mp3 format as most of the time people use mp3 format to listen to music and store their own audio data. The complete form of this compressed digital audio file is ‘MPEG Audio Layer III’ in short mp3. It is the most common and popular lossy audio compression that is widely used.
The best part of the mp3 audio format is its variable bit rate, where you can use 16 kbps to 320 kbps bit rate according to your purposes.
In general, 16 kbps and 32 kbps mp3 format is used for generating and storing speeches, dialogue, or lectures, 96 Kbps are used for streaming speeches or low-quality musical audios like ringtones and other such sectors, 128, 160, and 192 kbps mp3 audios are regarded as a medium quality musical audio where you can listen various music track with decent details and 256 or 320 kbps is considered as a highest level audio stander in the mp3 format which is used for streaming 3D audio from movies, stereo music tracks and high quality surrounding sounds on your home theater system.
The mp3 audio codec uses either 22.05kHz or 44.1kHz (CD quality) for generating audio files. Along with the variable bit rate, the file size of the mp3 file is also variable. Using a 320 kbps bit rate and 22.05kHz sample rate for generating one-minute audio will consume around 2.40 MB. You can similarly open or play the mp3 format audio on multiple devices over multiple platforms with multiple media players.
Opus vs MP3: What is an MP3 Used For?
The MP3 audio codec is considered a standard audio format for compressing any kind of audio sequences into very small file sizes where it may only consume one-tenth/twelfth size of the main audio file, but still, it can maintain the same level of audio quality like the original one.
So mp3 is most commonly used for almost all purposes, like storing music, creating various tones, and recording dialogue, lectures, and speeches. Besides this, most streaming media websites use mp3 format for their audio content. Many video recording devices directly use mp3 audio codec for recording audio as most of the devices support the format with almost all media players.
In terms of burning a CD or storing many music tracks on a hard disk drive or SSD, the mp3 format is much preferable as it keeps the quantity almost the same as the original one with lower file size. So various music brands bring their music CDs with mp3 format audio tracks.
M4A vs MP3: Which Audio Format is Better MP3 or M4A
The comparison between these two is very hard as both are pretty good and similar in sound quality. Though both audio formats use lossy data compression algorithm quality-wise, both should sound similar, but they are not. M4a is an obvious winner in terms of sound quality as it is encoded with ACC and ALAC data coding algorithms.
But as the difference may not even notice while hearing them both side by side, many people argue that the superiority of the m4a audio format is not justified. However, as m4a can use the same bitrate as an mp3 audio format, it still consumes less disk space because of its tighter data compression, which is why it remains the better one compared to the mp3 format.
Opus vs MP3: Is Opus Better than MP3?
Opus audio codec comes with variable sample rates where you can use 8, 12, 24, and 48 ranges; you can pick anyone according to your purpose, but with the mp3 audio format, you can either choose 16 sample rate with MPEG-2 or 32 sample rate with MPEG-1.
So along with the variable sample rate options, the Opus audio codec can generate an audio file in less than half of the bit rate of an mp3 audio file which ensures lower size consumption with great low-latency performance, but at the same time, it will decrease the audio quality too.
So the comparison between Opus vs MP3 won’t be fair as their purposes are different. Opus format is mainly focused on communication-based uses where mp3 has various purposes. In terms of sound quality, the mp3 is far better, preferable, and more convenient.
Opus vs M4A: How Do You Change Opus to M4A?
Though opus is far better than m4a format in terms of low latency performance, in comparing opus vs m4a, quality-wise, m4a is much superior. On the other hand, as both audio formats generate audio with almost similar file sizes, M4A is a clear choice.
So if you already have an opus audio file, you can still change it to M4A by simply converting it with any audio converting applications. You can also do it online with various audio conversion websites. If you are doing it offline, open your converting application first, then click on import and select the opus file you want to convert.
Now select m4a on the “output format” section and select the output folder too. After all, is set, click on “convert” it will take several minutes to complete the task. After finishing the task, the converter will come up with a success or complete box pop up then your opus to m4a is done. Now check the selected output folder; the files should be shown with the .m4a extension at the end of the file name.
In this article, we tried to discuss all three popular lossy audio formats, mp3, opus, and m4a. Each of them is specifically best for different purposes. So you can not tell anyone worst or anyone superior. From the above discussion, I hope you already understand when and which you need to use according to your purposes.
Soundwise, m4a, and mp4 audio codecs are almost identical with minor differences and are superior to the opus. But if you consider the file size and latency, opus can beat m4a and mp3 without any competition. So in this comparison of mp3 vs m4a vs opus, we don’t say any one winner or better rather, it’s up to you which one will be best for your specific purposes.