Difference Between AIFF and MP3

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


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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 differences between them. In this article, the differences between AIFF and MP3 formats are highlighted. 

AIFF vs MP3 

The difference between AIFF and MP3 file format is that AIFF is mainly uncompressed and 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.  

In most AIFF files, the audio data is uncompressed PCM or pulse code modulation. It almost weighs up to 80 MB and takes up very much space as their files are four times heavier than MP3. This type of file uses much more disk space compared to 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 the musical note and Loop point data of a sample. 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 generally 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 is defined as the MPEG-1’s third audio format, it was retained and extended further as the audio format at 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, in file sizes, there is a large reduction compared to uncompressed audio. Acceptable fidelity and small size combination led to an explosion in music distribution across the Internet in the 1990s. When storage and bandwidth were still at a superior, it served as an enabling technology.

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

Main Differences Between AIFF and MP3 

  1. AIFF file is mainly uncompressed, which means that the AIFF file size is enormous. On the other hand, MP3 files are at the size of a tenth of an AIFF file, and that’s why it is compressible.  
  2. Location of playing music plays an important role to choose between 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 very much space as they are four times heavier, than MP3 or they almost weigh up to 80 MB. But MP3 files take less space and can weigh almost 20 MB. 
Difference Between AIFF and MP3


  1. https://bmcresnotes.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13104-019-4856-1
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0020025512006780
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