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MKV and MP4 Comparison

MKV and MP4 are two of the most common digital video container formats in the multimedia world. Below are key differences between MP4 and MKV.

  • MP4 can be played by almost all media players. MKV support is also very broad but it is lower than that of MP4, especially on mobile devices.
  • Files in the MKV format file are generally larger than the MP4 format.
  • MKV format is typically chosen for Blu-ray discs backup because of better compatibility and scaling with file size.
  • MKV and MP4 use different subtitle storage mechanisms

MKV and MP4 Overview

MKV encapsulates multiple media formats together, just like the famous Russian Matryoshka dolls do. The MKV video format has the powerful ability to store an almost infinite amount of video, audio, image, subtitle media content in a single file, including files in FLAC audio format and SRT subtitle format.

Like the MKV video format, MP4 is also a container format. However, MKV and MP4 have different encapsulation capabilities. For example, MP4 cannot encapsulate closed caption format as easy as MKV does.

Both MP4 and MKV are container formats, but not media formats. Two files could have the suffix MP4 or MKV, however, the audio and video formats encapsulated inside them may not be the same, which means that some players do not play some MKV or MP4 files while others do.

Platform Compatibility

MP4 has better compatibility than MKV, both for video editing software and playback devices. To upload videos to Youtube, MP4 is the best choice.

For videos optimized for mobile devices, the MP4 is also more frequent choice, for reasons of space and versatility. However, you can easily play MKV on a mobile devices with a third-party media players.

Supported videos/audios

Inside MP4 it is typical to find H.264 (x264) / Xvid / MPEG4 videos mixed with AAC / MP3 Audio.

In the case of MKV, it supports lossless FLAC audio while MP4 does not. MKV supports selectable SSA subtitles and selectable audio tracks, while MP4 does not have that capability.

Quality

While MKV generally has a larger file size than MP4 videos due to compatibility with additional functions, multiple audio tracks and subtitle tracks, this does not mean that the quality of the MP4 file is lower than that of MKV. This is because MKV and MP4 are container formats and can encapsulate the same video and audio.