AIFF vs MP3: Difference and Comparison

In the contemporary world, music plays a vital role in the source of entertainment. But music is a profession for a musician, and their music records need to find a good file format. This file format stores data of digital audio on a computer system.  

There are a variety of formats available such as .act, .aax, .gsm, .flac, .ivs and many more. Choosing the best among these formats is not an easy task due to the differences between them. In this article, the differences between AIFF and MP3 formats are highlighted. 

Key Takeaways

  1. AIFF (Audio Interchange File Format) is an uncompressed audio format, while MP3 is a compressed format.
  2. AIFF files offer higher audio quality but larger file sizes, whereas MP3 files provide smaller file sizes with some loss of audio quality.
  3. MP3 is more universally supported across devices and platforms compared to AIFF.

AIFF vs MP3 

The difference between AIFF and MP3 file formats is that AIFF is mainly uncompressed which means that its size is enormous. On the flip side, MP3 files are compressible due to their size of a tenth of an AIFF file. AIFF is preferred over MP3 when the music-playing location is large enough, such as a large club.  


The abbreviation for Audio Interchange File Format is AIFF. It registers the waveform of audio as accurate samples with the help of PCM to offer the highest possible sound replication and audio recording quality. Just like WAV, it also stores data with no quality.  

The abbreviation for MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3 is MP3. It is a format and standard technology for a sound sequence into small while preserving the sound quality’s original level when it is played. These files are available on several websites to download. 

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonAIFFMP3
Developed byApple IncMoving Picture Experts Group
Developed in19881991
File extension.aif or.aiff.mp3
Type of formatAudio file format and container formatDigital audio
MIME typeAudio/aiffAudio/mpeg

What is AIFF? 

AIFF is a standard audio file format that is used for electronic audio devices to store sound data. This format is based on the Interchange File Format of Electronic Arts, in which IFE is used on the Amiga system. It is most commonly used on computer systems of Apple Macintosh.  

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In most AIFF files, the audio data is uncompressed PCM or pulse code modulation. It weighs almost 80 MB and takes up much space as their files are four times heavier than MP3. This file type uses much more disk space than lossy formats like MP3. AIFF-C or AIFC are two of the compressed variants of AIFF with several defined compression codecs.  

For the usage by musical applications and hardware samplers, AIFF can include a sample musical note and Loop point data. For the compressed variants of AIFF, the file extension is .aifc, but .aif or .aiff are also accepted by the audio application that supports this format.  

AIFF files can store metadata in Annotation, Name, Comment, Author, and Copyright chunks. The file is divided into several chunks. With the chunk ID, a chunk is identified. Examples of chunks are marker, common, sound, data, application, audio recording, and many more. 

What is MP3? 

When it comes to digital audio, MP3 is a coding format developed by the Fraunhofer Society located in Germany. US digital scientists’ also contributed to it. Originally it was defined as the MPEG-1’s third audio format, it was retained and extended further as the audio format at the third and succeeding MPEG-2 standard.

This file commonly designates files including MPEG- 2 or MPEG-1 Audio encoded data’s elementary stream, but lacking other complexities of MP3 standard. When it comes to audio compression, it uses lossy data compression for data encoding.

As a result, there is a large reduction in file sizes compared to uncompressed audio. Acceptable fidelity and the small-size combination led to an explosion in music distribution across the Internet in the 1990s. When storage and bandwidth were still superior, it served as an enabling technology.

When the sounds of certain components are reduced, then the compression of MP3 works. The sounds are regarded as far away from most human hearing power. This procedure is called psychoacoustic modelling, in other words, perceptual coding. 


Main Differences Between AIFF and MP3 

  1. The AIFF file is mainly uncompressed, which means the size of the AIFF file is enormous. On the other hand, MP3 files are a tenth size of an AIFF file, which is why it is compressible.  
  2. The location of playing music plays an important role in choosing between the two of them. For instance, at a music festival or in a large club, people might prefer AIFF over MP3.  
  3. The AIFF file is also known as a loose-less format because when it comes to the quality of the file, there is no loss, whereas the MP3 file is a lossy format.  
  4. Programs associated with AIFF are VLC Media Player, Windows Media Player, Apple QuickTime, and Winamp. But iTunes, RealOne, Windows Media Player, and WinAmp are associated programs of MP3. 
  5. The AIFF files take up much space as they are four times heavier than MP3, or they weigh almost 80 MB. But MP3 files take less space and can weigh almost 20 MB. 
Difference Between AIFF and MP3
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Last Updated : 11 June, 2023

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8 thoughts on “AIFF vs MP3: Difference and Comparison”

  1. This article is an exemplar of educational content. It illustrates the crucial differences between AIFF and MP3 with precision and clarity.

  2. The article effectively covers the fundamental aspects of AIFF and MP3 formats with a meticulous approach. Impressive analysis!

  3. The attention to detail in the comparison of AIFF and MP3 showcased in this article is commendable. It manages to be technically rich and accessible to a broad audience.

  4. As a music enthusiast and amateur musician, I really appreciate the detailed comparison. This article will help me make an informed decision about the choice of format.

  5. The article is well-researched and contains valuable technical insights regarding AIFF and MP3. Kudos to the author for such an excellent piece.

  6. I appreciate the fact-based comparison of the AIFF and MP3 audio formats, illuminating the advantages and characteristics of each.


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