Difference Between AIFF and AAC

AIFF and AAC are both digital audio formats for storing and transmitting audio data. While both formats serve the same function, there are some key variations between them.

AIFF files are uncompressed and high-quality, whereas AAC files are compressed and take up less storage space while still maintaining good audio quality.

Read this article to find out more about AIFF and AAC and how they are different from each other.

What is AIFF?

AIFF, which stands for Audio Interchange File Format, is a famous digital audio file format created by Apple in 1988. It is a lossless audio format, which means that the original music quality is preserved with no data loss.

  • The format is based on the IFF (Interchange File Format) standard and is comparable to Windows WAV (Waveform Audio File Format) files. AIFF files, like WAV files, contain audio data encoded in PCM (Pulse Code Modulation), the standard technique for digital audio.

  • AIFF files can store a variety of audio data, such as stereo or mono music, high sample rates, and deep bit depths. They also support metadata, which allows for the storage of information such as the artist's name, song title, and album artwork within the file.

  • The large file size of AIFF files is one drawback. Because AIFF is a lossless format, the audio data is not compressed, resulting in much bigger file sizes than compressed formats like MP3 or AAC. This can make AIFF files more difficult to store and transfer, particularly if you have limited storage capacity or a slow internet connection.

Overall, AIFF is an excellent audio format for recording uncompressed music. It is extensively supported by audio software and hardware, including iTunes and Logic Pro from Apple, and is widely used in professional audio recording and production.

What is AAC?

AAC (Advanced Audio Coding) is a digital audio file format created in the late 1990s by the MPEG (Moving Picture Experts Group). It is a lossy format, which means that it uses data compression to reduce file size while maintaining high audio quality.

  • AAC files are common for music streaming services and online music distribution platforms because they can reach high compression rates without compromising audio quality. In contrast to other lossy audio formats such as MP3, AAC can accomplish this high compression rate without introducing audible artifacts or distortions.

  • AAC uses a technique known as perceptual coding to recognize and remove audio data that is irrelevant to the listener. This allows AAC to compress audio files by 50% or more without compromising audio quality.

  • The audio is compressed by dividing it into short segments and then applying a mathematical algorithm to each section to decrease the amount of data needed to represent the audio. As a consequence, the audio file is smaller in size while retaining much of the original audio quality.

  • AAC files accomplish this compression through a variety of encoding methods, including perceptual audio coding, which takes advantage of the limitations of human hearing to carefully remove audio data that is unlikely to be heard. This allows for a significant file size reduction while maintaining high audio quality.

Difference between AIFF and AAC

The following table highlights the major differences between AIFF and AACn −




Stands for

Audio Interchange File Format

Advanced Audio Coding

File Extension

aiff or .aif

m4a, .mp4, or .aac


AIFF is an uncompressed

AAC is a compressed


AIFF is a lossless

AAC is a lossy format.


AIFF files are used in professional audio production.

AAC is used in digital music distribution and streaming services.

Platform Support

It is supported by macOS and Windows.

It is supported by macOS, Windows, and iOS devices.


AIFF is an open format.

AAC is a proprietary format.

Storage Size

AIFF takes up more storage space.

AAC takes less storage space compared to an AIFF.


It has compatibility with audio players and software.

It has compatibility with modern audio players and devices.


In conclusion, the major differences between AIFF and AAC are their compression methods and file sizes. AIFF is a lossless format that preserves the original audio quality, whereas AAC is a lossy format that provides for smaller file sizes without losing audio quality significantly.

Both formats have advantages and disadvantages, and the decision eventually depends on the intended use and the user's specific needs.

Updated on: 14-Apr-2023


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