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Is m4a a good format for my music?

  1. djaiss
    Hi all
    I don't like where the Mac platform is going with each new release of OS X, and that is why I'm starting to prepare the alternative. I'd like to leave any proprietary softwares and be able to switch platforms, if needed.
    I've purchased most of my albums through the iTunes store, which lets me download music in the m4a format. To be honest, I don't know if this is the best audio format at the moment.
    I have many questions:
    - do you know if I should keep using the m4a format? Is it portable and is this format available in other OS? I don't want however to have non-compressed files - my storage is a bit limited, especially if everything is a laptop.
    - if I wanted to stop buying m4a files (and therefore stop using iTunes store), which other stores would you recommend?
    - do you know if ID3 tags are stored in m4a files? I have hard time finding an answer to that question.
    Thanks so much in advance!
  2. Parall3l
    Physical CDs have always been there. Lossless too. .ogg and .flac are completely free formats as far as I know. Flac can always be compressed into 320kbps mp3 and ALAC for other uses.
  3. JohnSantana
    Hi All,

    Does M4A (variable Bit Rate) is considered as Apple iTunes lossless format ?
    So how does it compares with MP3 320 kbps or even FLAC files ?
  4. DrSheep
    Apple uses AAC in 16/44 320 VBR which is good but not lossless, but they are compatible with Android or whatever else that reads AAC.  ALAC is the lossless format of choice with Apple, but it only plays with iOS.  It is pretty hard to tell 320 VBR AAC vs. MP3, but technically AAC is a better SQ and more advanced than MP3.  Of course the best will be FLAC as it support 16/44 (CD quality) and above.  Amazon is a decent alternative to iTunes as 1, most of their stuff are cheaper; 2, 320 VBR MP3 is pretty close to AAC; 3, anything you buy will automatically goes into your cloud drive for download and streaming (no need for local storage); 4, some CDs may "auto rip" to your cloud drive so you can rip it in FLAC, download as MP3, and stream from cloud all at once.
    What interesting about tags with iTune M4A is that they are NOT store as ID3 tags, so effectively you can have two totally different set of info for the same song, one for iTunes and another for ID3.  You can try this yourself by editing song info in iTunes and see nothing will get changed in the ID3 tag.  However, once you set the ID3 tags, they do follow the songs.
    JohnSantana likes this.
  5. pwwaring
    Also, just to make sure it's clear, M4A is a container format, not the compression type.  An M4A file can contain either a lossy AAC compressed file or a lossless ALAC compressed file.  You have to look at the contents of the file, not just the file extension, to know which it is.
  6. JohnSantana
    Cool, thanks for the reply man !

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