M3U Vs M3U Plus: Comparative Guide!

Different types of playlists are curated for easy playback. It helps manage and organize collections of videos, audio, and other media files. The features of playlists vary depending on the playlist type.

Now let’s talk about M3U vs M3U Plus, and clear the difference between these two file formats.

In simple words, M3U refers to a plain text file format, whereas M3U Plus is an XML file format. The latter is far more advanced than the former.

M3U is much lighter than M3U Plus. This is because M3U has lower memory stability. M3U allows you to access data for series, movies, and channels. M3U Plus, on the other hand, provides organizational details as well as movies, series, and channels.

However, this is not the only difference between the two file formats. There are more factors to consider. For better understanding, we will suggest you give this article a read.

Quick Comparison Of M3U vs M3U Plus

Before we start, let’s familiarise you with the full form of M3U. It is the short form of “MP3 URL.” It is also known as the “moving picture experts group audio layer 3 uniform resource locator.”

Both M3U Plus and M3U play an important role in saving IPTV channels. Although these two are different file formats, they do have some similarities. That being said, let’s walk you through the comparison chart below. 

Quick Comparison Of M3U vs M3U Plus

Factors M3U M3U Plus
File Format Simple plain text Advance XML 
Memory 70% lower than M3U Plus High
Access Data for movies, series, and channels. Doesn’t provide organisational information. Provides organisational information along with data for movies, channels, and series.
Ease Of Use Easy to edit and credit Not easy to edit or credit
Channel Info Only URL Name, logo, description, EPG data
Versatility No Yes

M3U vs M3U Plus: A Detailed Comparison

Now that you have gone through the comparison chart, you have a basic idea about the differences between the two file formats. However, there is more to consider and we will cover all that in this section.

This detailed comparison is drawn based on important factors. This will help you understand which playlist is better.

M3U vs M3U Plus: A Detailed Comparison

  • File Format

As already mentioned above, M3U has a simple text format. It doesn’t consist of any complex characters. It’s the simplicity of this file format that makes it easier to list file paths or media URLs. Also, it is the latest file format for playlists. If you are still stuck with xtreme code files, it’s time to convert them to M3U.

On the contrary, M3U Plus uses an advanced XML format with a more complex structure. The good thing about this file format is that it supports metadata such as logos, descriptions, EPG data, and titles. This enables it to improve the overall presentation of the content.

The thing about an XML file is that it can be easily expanded and adopted. Also, these files are much larger than plain text files.

  • Memory

When it comes to memory capacity, M3U has much lower memory stability than M3U Plus. This makes the former a more efficient choice in terms of memory usage.

M3U Plus has more features and therefore, it has a higher memory demand. In exchange, it offers improved functionality. However, M3U Plus can prove to be a disadvantage as it is likely to cause TV buffering. You may experience some amount of buffering or lagging when playing from an M3U playlist.

  • Access

Talking about access, M3U provides data for movies, channels, and series. Unfortunately, it doesn’t provide any additional information such as organizational data. It uses a simple structure to list media content and focuses only on the important stuff.

However, M3U Plus is different as it offers a more advanced storage system for data. It provides organizational data as well as information about series, channels, and movies. With M3U Plus, you can expect a more detailed framework.

  • Channel Information

When it comes to channel information, M3U only provides URL details, which helps users to access the media content.

If we talk about M3U Plus, it provides URL details along with other relevant information. For example: EPG tags, group names, and more. It also identifies channel groups and catchup makers.

In terms of channel information, M3U Plus is a better option than M3U. For a more engaging experience, you should go for M3U Plus.

  • Ease Of Use

M3U Plus and M3U are both on different levels in terms of user-friendliness. While M3U playlists offer an easy creation and editing process, M3U Plus is more on the complex side.

M3U playlists are simple and allow for swift editing and credit. On the other hand, M3U Plus involves a more complex process. Plus, it includes many advanced features.

To use M3U Plus, you need to have some amount of knowledge about playlist structure. Or else, you will find yourself lost.

  • Versatility

In terms of versatility, M3U Plus is the winner. M3U has limited flexibility regarding features and capabilities. This is where M3U Plus steals the limelight.

With M3U Plus, you gain access to a wider range of options and functionalities. This is why it is more adaptable to various requirements and use cases. On top of that, M3U Plus is backward compatible.

M3U Vs M3U Plus: Which One Is Better?

M3U Vs M3U Plus: Which One Is Better?

M3U Plus or XML file format serves as a better choice when dealing with complex and structured data. However, in scenarios where lightweight and simple data is concerned, it is better to opt for M3U. You can choose one based on your requirement.

When it comes to storing data, M3U Plus provides a more enhanced solution. This makes it an ideal choice for those seeking a playlist format with series, channels, and movie data.

M3U’s lower memory footprint makes it an efficient choice in terms of memory usage. In case, you have a higher memory need, opting for M3U Plus would be a better decision.

Comparing M3U Plus and M3U, the former offers more detailed information. So unless you are satisfied with just the URL, you would want to choose M3U Plus. It offers a more informative experience to users.

Ultimately, the final decision lies with the user. You can select any of the two file formats based on your specific requirements and preferences.

Steps To Open M3U Playlists

If you know the right approach, you will find it easy to open a M3U playlist. These types of files can be opened with various media players. One of the preferred choices is VLC Player. The good thing about this media player is its extensive support. It can open M3U files as well as other file formats such as CONF, PLS IFO, ASX, CUE, and others. Other media players you can use are iTunes, Windows Media Player, Text Editor, or Audacious.

With the help of a media player, you can create playlists consisting of your favorite songs, movies, and shows. After preparing your playlist, you can include it in a single M3U file. You can then open the file using a text editor of your choice.

For building an M3U file, it is important to use the correct syntax. Remember, channel descriptions consist of 2 lines. The first line displays the channel name, and the second line contains the channel address, password, and username.

List Of Multimedia Players That Support M3U Files

As you already know you need a media player to open the M3U file. Luckily, there are plenty of options to choose from. To help you out, we have listed some of the top choices below.

  • Clementine
  • Banshee
  • Audacious
  • Amarok
  • Kodi
  • MPV
  • Gnome Videos
  • Foobar 2000
  • JuK
  • N7 Player
  • VLC Media Player
  • iTunes
  • Winamp
  • Windows Media Player
  • XMPlay
  • MPlayer
  • Media Monkey
  • Astro Player

Steps To Convert M3U Files

We have already explained that M3U files are plain text. Therefore, they can be converted into various media formats including MP3, MP4, AVI, and M4A. However, the conversion process will vary depending on the file format.

If you are using VLC Media Player, go to Media, select Save Playlist to File, and specify the file format you want.

Let’s say, you want to convert the M3U file to .txt. In this case, you can simply change the extension name to .txt. Or, you can take the help of M3UExportTools to complete the process.

Those who prefer the command line can download the M3U container using curl. All you need to do is copy the URL link with cat: cat sample.m3u. Once that is done, you can use the curl –O [url] command syntax and mention the protocol and URL.

For example curl-o


Now curl will download the file, and save it in the designated folder. It is advisable to use a command or browser to proceed with the download.

Final Words

To sum it up, both M3U Plus and M3U are different file formats with some similarities. While M3U consumes less memory, M3U Plus offers a more engaging experience. Now that you are aware of the differences, it should be easier for you to select one.

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