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M4A file format

File extension
.m4a
File category
Description

Apple Inc. has designed an M4A open-source format based on QuickTime Fike. Now the format is being promoted in the iTunes store. It is a multimedia container intended for the placement of sound components and other data, such as images. MPEG-4 files may be stored with extensions M4A and MP4. In the latter case, they contain video as well.

Alongside these sound formats, MPEG-4 allows for lossy compaction through FFC Codec. However, it is possible to provide a lossless reduction thanks to the Apple Lossless format. The files may be played on Windows PCs via iTunes, Windows Media Player 12, KSP Sound Player, Winamp, and some other programs. With iTunes, the data can be converted into Windows-supported audio formats.

Technical details

In comparison with its predecessor MP3, M4A format provides better sound quality and smaller file size. Thanks to lossless compaction, the data may be easily converted in both directions with no quality deterioration. The sound data encoded with ACC compression, which reduces the file size considerably.

Due to protection technology DRM, MP4 files cannot be easily distributed, while it is much simpler to replicate files in M4A; that is why “Apple Lovers” prefer the latter format. With M4A, it is possible to buy music on iTunes and download it into smartphones or other devices.

Programs
Microsoft Windows Media Player
VLC media player
MPlayer
Amarok
Winamp
Apple QuickTime Player
Apple iTunes
Developer
Apple
MIME type
audio/mpeg