What is Matroska?

Monica Pavtube

Aug 04, 2014 12:58 am / Posted by Monica Pavtube

Matroska is an open-source and free multimedia container format capable of containing various audio, video and subtitle files. It is a universal format primarily used for HD movies and TV shows. Mastroka developers promise that people can use this multimedia container format and develop software based on it freely.

what is matroska or mkv file format

Different from formats like DivX and MP3, Matroska just provides a shell for multimedia codecs. Formats quite similar to Matroska are AVl, VOB, MPEG, and OGG, etc, however this formats are either old in structure or not open enough, which enhances the generation of the new multimedia container format “Matroska.”

Many people may misunderstand Matroska as MKV for a long time. Actually, MKV is just one of the four Matroska file extensions.

File extensions that Matroska uses:

MKV: used for video files and it may contain audio files or subtitles.

MKA: used for audio files. It can contain any supported audio compression format such as MP2, MP3, Vorbis, AAC, AC3, DTS, etc. It also can contain multiple audio tracks or audio tracks of different types.

MK3D: used for files with 3D video

MKS: used for subtitles

Among the four file extensions, MKV is the most common format, for it is able to contain multiple popular video and audio. Matroska adopts a flexible underlying framework called EBML to ensure that a future compression format will be supported.

How to play Matroska?

Basically any media player can play Mastroska and popular ones are: VLC media player, Media Player Classic, GOM player, DivX player, Zoom Player, etc.


Matroska aims at replacing old-fashioned multimedia container formats, and AVI is the major competitor. Though AVI has been introduced for quite a long time, it still thrives and keeps great vitality. However, there is no doubt that AVI is facing difficulty of supporting new audio/video codecs due to its old frame, and it is not quite convenient to use it on non-Microsoft platforms. With the adoption of open frame as well as advanced features, Matroska allows users to carry out cross-platform operations and it is necessary for those old multimedia container formats to play catch-up.