MP4 Codecs

The MP4 file format is used to contain audio and video files. It can also store additional information such as subtitles and pictures. This file format requires a codec to compress and decompress data files for public consumption.

What Is a Codec?

Codec stands for Coder/Decoder. It is a program or device used to compress and decompress digital data signals or streams. Its main function is to convert normally large files into smaller units. This conversion makes it easier to transfer across the Web, through wireless devices, Local Area Networks (LAN), or any other file transfer method.

There are two types – video codec and audio codec. They are both useful with MP4 because MP4 contains both the audio and video file format.

  • A video codec is capable of compressing and/or decompressing digital video. It is found in VCDs (MPEG-1), DVD (MPEG-2), satellite systems, terrestrial broadcast systems, and almost everywhere on the Internet.
  • An audio codec is an application that can compress or decompress digital audio. It can be used to play or process a number of digital file formats used to store audio.

Advantages of an MP4 Codec

  • MP4 helps by compressing data. It eliminates the long wait time needed to download a video.
  • It encodes raw data stream into compressed data, enabling the transfer of data into a video player when the video runs.
  • It compresses and encodes large audio or video files into small yet high quality file formats;
  • The right codec installed in a computer helps in viewing a compressed video.
  • It gives the video a quality similar to DVD while maintaining its size to a minimum level.
  • It can fit a number of movies into a small MP4 player.

Commonly Used MP4 Codecs

There are 3 commonly used MP4 codecs.

  1. Advanced Audio Coding (AAC). It is a standard compression and encoding format that uses encoding schemes and lossy compression for digital audio. It reduces the amount of unnecessary information and increases the quality of data. The resulting audio has a sound quality that is better than MP3.
  2. MPEG-4 Part 2. It is an MPEG standard that can be utilized for broadcast, Internet, and storage media. It consists of object-oriented coding features that help improve video coding compression capabilities. It provides improved quality compared to the first version of H.263 and MPEG-2. It also embraces some capabilities developed in H.263 and added new features, like quarter-pel motion compensation. In addition, it supports both interlaced video and progressive scans.
  3. Advanced Video Coding (AVC), also known as ITU-T’s H.264 or MPEG-4 Part 10. It is a standard for video compression. It is one of the most recent block-oriented motion-estimation-based codecs. It contains several significant compression capabilities. It was adopted recently by many tech products, including the iPod, XBOX 360, iPhone, PlayStation Portable, and the HD DVD/Blu-ray Disc.