Understanding the Difference Between MPEG-2 & MPEG-4 Encoders

In a world where technology is rapidly expanding the way that we send, receive, compress, and decompress data, it can be difficult to maintain a full understanding of formats and processes. One of the most common sources of confusion when it comes to video encoding arises when trying to understand the difference between MPEG-2 and MPEG-4. Thankfully, our team at Radiant Communications Corporation, one of the best places to buy MPEG-2 encoders online, is well-versed on the subject. As a way of bringing clarity to this difference, we will explain how MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 encoders handle compression, file size, quality, and application.


MPEG-2 encoders have been around since the late 1990s and are responsible for great strides in the capabilities of video encoding as compared to their predecessor, MPEG-1. MPEG-2 video coding uses an algorithm for compression that uses a block-based 8 x 8 discrete cosine transform (DCT) and allows for high-quality, but restricts the ability to shrink file size, which has become integral in the world of digital multimedia. Due to the larger file sizes associated with MPEG-2 encoders, they are typically used with local video such as DVDs and broadcast cable. While the quality of MPEG-2 is more than capable of handling high-definition local video, there is a significant degradation in quality when applying MPEG-2 to online and device-based streaming.


After passing over MPEG-3, the MPEG-4 video coding format was released to coincide with the massive expansion of the internet that occurred in the first few years of the 21st century. One of the most notable differences between the MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 formats involves the use of an algorithm which has a 16 x 16 DCT, allowing for much a much higher rate of compression. This higher compression rate means that files sizes can be cut in half, opening the door for decreased bandwidth without losing picture quality. MPEG-4 is a step in the natural progression of encoding methods, as the internet has created an environment where online and mobile streaming are the primary forms of video consumption.

The Basics

Ultimately, both MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 are capable of maintaining high-definition video quality. The difference, however, lies within the application. MPEG-2 is more than capable of handling video streams from local sources like DVDs and cable broadcasts, but due to the larger file size, it struggles with portable devices and internet streaming. MPEG-4, on the other hand, utilizes its high rate of compression and smaller file sizes to provide high-quality video and audio across mobile networks.

No matter which format you require for your business or MDU, Radiant Communications Corporation is one of the best resources to buy h.264 encoders online. If you have any remaining questions, call us at 1-888-412-0124 or visit to learn more!