Will a Car Stereo Play M4A Formats?

will a car Stereo play m4a formats - featured image

Ever put in an audio file in your car stereo just to find out that the format isn’t unsupported by the device?

It’s annoying, right? 

Well, sadly, we’ve all been there.

A car stereo will play M4A format if it’s supported. In general, modern car stereo systems should be able to play several different formats, including MP3, MP4, M4A, WAV, FLAC, etc. However, older model vehicles may not have stereos that support playing an M4A file. 

In this article, we’ll talk about the M4A format and how to make your car speakers play it. 

Read on to find out more.

What Is the M4A Format?

If you’re looking for a high-quality audio format that’s also small in size, the M4A format is an excellent place to start. 

And thanks to the fact that many car stereos support this format, you can easily listen to M4A files in your car. 

But first things first, let’s find out what it is.

The M4A format is a compressed audio format often used for coding music files. It offers better sound quality than the MP3 format in a smaller-size package. This makes it a good choice for files that’ll be played on your car stereo and other devices such as smartphones and tablets.

Will a Car Stereo Play M4A Format?

However, not all formats can be played on car stereos. 

Modern stereos can handle different content formats thanks to the built-in audio converters and software applications. 

However, this doesn’t mean that yours can. 

Here’s a hard fact: M4A files can’t play on most android devices. Although, you can use a third-party music player to play your M4A tracks. 

Also, many programs are capable of playing M4A files, such as iTunes, Roxio Popcorn, and Windows Media Player.

A car stereo can play an M4A file only if the format is compatible with the stereo system. 

This means that if your car stereo doesn’t support M4A content, your M4A files must first be converted into a different format compatible with the car’s stereo system.

This video helps explain each of the audio file formats available, which you may come across:

With that in mind, let’s explore some of the ways to make M4A format accessible to your car stereo if it’s not supported.

How To Play the M4A Format on Your Car Stereo

It doesn’t mean the end of the world if your car stereo can’t play an M4A file format. There are two main ways to improvise, adapt, and overcome the issue, as shown below:

  • Convert your M4A file to MP3
  • Download the M4A file onto a flash drive and convert it into MP3


Convert Your M4A File to MP3

Today’s technology has made the conversion of one file format into another a breeze. Several M4A to MP3 converters are available for free on Google’s Playstore and Apple Store. 

Others can just be used online with a stable internet connection.

Before you download the first converter you see on the internet, find out if it can retain the sound quality even after converting the M4A track into MP3. 

Most converters do this, although others tend to lose critical data, leading to a bad performance.

Some of the most popular M4A to MP3 converters include:


Below is an image of Online Audio Converter. Just from the image, you can see how simple it is to use. 

online-audio-converter.com M4A to MP3
online-audio-converter.com M4A to MP3

MP3 is more compatible with a variety of devices. All you have to do is upload your M4A file to the converter, convert it into MP3, and play.


Download the M4A File Onto a Flash Drive and Convert It Into MP3

M4A content is widely available, and you can download it from popular platforms such as Apple iTunes Store

  1. Once you download your music files through the iTunes Store, you’ll have them in M4A format. The only thing left is to convert it into an MP3 format. Do this using an M4A to MP3 converter, and there you have it!
  2. With the copy stored on your portable flash disk, it’s now easy to listen to your audio file on any device you connect your flash disk to, including your car stereo.
  3. You can also burn the M4A file to a CD. Unlike some other file formats, M4A files are smaller. Burning to a CD is quite easy; all you need is the M4A file and a blank CD.
  4. But since many CD players don’t recognize MP3 and M4A files, you’ll have to use a software application such as Windows Media Player to convert it to a compatible audio file.


This is just a brief overview of how to get the music to play on your stereo. 

However, we have a full article dedicated to how to put music on a USB drive for car audio, and importantly how to organize music on a USB drive so that you can easily find it on your vehicle’s infotainment system, whether its a single or double DIN head unit. 

Final Thoughts

M4A file extensions definitely have their advantages over other file formats. 

If you’re not sure whether your car stereo will play M4A files, you can check the manufacturer’s website or contact customer support. 

They should be able to tell you whether your stereo supports this format and provide instructions on how to play M4A files.

Picture of Alex
I loved my car but was frustrated with my media system. So I upgraded my stereo, making silly wires and precarious phone mounts a thing of the past. The Apple Car Play stereo was so good I wanted to show more people how this could be done and truly upgrade their cars multimedia system! Founder StereoUpgrade.com
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