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What is the AAC Audio Format? How Do You Play It?

AAC Audio Format

What is an AAC file?

AAC stands for Advanced Audio Coding.

It is an audio format endorsed by ISO and IEC as MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 standards for video streams.

The MPEG-2 technology behind AAC allows audio files to be compressed to smaller file sizes without compromising on audio quality.

What makes AAC stand out is its efficiency which is supposed to be better than MP3 although both offer only lossy compression.

In other words, at the same audio bit rate, AAC delivers better sound quality than MP3.

It isn’t surprising then that AAC is used as the preferred compression method over iTunes and iTunes Store. It is popularly called Apple’s MP3.

Apple Music streaming uses AAC at 256kbps. AAC is also used for YouTube streaming.

Other platforms, apart from Apple and Windows. that support AAC include Android, PlayStation, and Nintendo.

How to Identify an AAC File

AAC files come with the .aac extension. This is not always so. More often than not, they are included in the M4A container.

When this happens they come with the .m4a extension.

AAC vs MP3

AAC’s sampling frequency capacity extends from 8Hz to 96kHz. It is capable of supporting 48 full-bandwidth channels.

MP3’s sampling frequency range is between 16 kHz and 48 kHz.

MP3 can manage only 2 channels in MPEG-1 mode and in MPEG-2 mode, up to 5.1 channels.

AAC handles the compression of audio files that comes with sophisticated pulses and square waves exceptionally well. Much better than MP3.

At higher bitrates, you can differentiate the quality difference between AAC and MP3 though.

How to Play an AAC File?

There are a number of media players to play your AAC files.

The preferred one is the VLC Media Player. You should have this media player installed on your computer.

It can play almost any video or audio file format out there. Even little-known ones like an M4R ringtone file.

How to Convert AAC to MP3

If you can’t play an AAC file, you can always convert it to MP3. If you don’t already have a converter program installed on your computer, you can use an online converter.

Using an online audio converter is convenient if you’re converting the occasional AAC to MP3.

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