Spotify Doesn’t Need to Sound Like Crap

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Spotify vs Apple Music is a debate we won’t hear ending anytime soon. However, recently, Apple Music users claim their service sounds better than Spotify’s, Apple’s songs are punchier and clearer than competing streaming services, especially when using high-quality headphones or speakers. While Apple Music users may have a point, those on Spotify now have an easy way to improve their sound quality.

Spotify and Apple Music offer different sound quality options

In general, comparing the sound quality of Apple Music and Spotify is a bit tricky. Spotify offers free users up to 160kbps (kilobits per second) bitrates, while Premium offers double the 320kbps bitrate. Apple Music, on the other hand, doesn’t have a free tier, but offers a variety of different audio qualities. The service’s standard playback speed of 256kbps is lower than Spotify’s maximum. However, Apple Music also has lossless playback that lets you choose CD-quality 24-bit 48 kHz playback, or, if you have the right equipment, 24-bit 192 kHz playback. Spotify plans to introduce its own lossless playback option, but for now, it’s not as good on paper as Apple Music.

Still, 320kbps is high enough quality great, even when bouncing between two platforms.So why are more and more users Complain about the quality of Spotify?

Audio normalization is ruining your Spotify quality

The glitch lies in a setting called “audio normalization,” which isn’t designed to make your music sound worse. Spotify uses audio normalization to give you a more consistent song listening experience. It tries to balance the loudness of all music so you don’t have to fiddle with the volume all the time. If one song tends to be quiet, you tend to crank up the volume; if the next song happens to be loud, it may be louder than you want.

Now, that’s all good (no one likes particularly loud songs that surprise them), but there’s still an unintended consequence: your songs don’t sound great, especially those that tend to be louder. Whatever Spotify’s intentions, the app is still limiting the loudness of a song, which affects the dynamic range of the music. This is especially important when listening with good quality headphones or speakers.

Audio normalization is easy to disable, though.On mobile devices, open in-app settings and select playback. Find “Enable Audio Normalization” (iOS) or “Normalize Volume” (Android) and disable the toggle. On the desktop app, open the in-app settings and disable “Normalize Volume” from the options.

If you’re a premium subscriber, or you’re using the desktop app, you’ll see a “Volume” option below the audio normalization settings: “Loud” to adjust the volume for noisy environments, “Normal”, which assumes you’re on average sound conditions, while Quiet adjusts the volume for quiet environments. Spotify claims there is no effect on audio quality when the volume is set to normal or quiet, only when loud is turned on, but I’m not so sure. Any extra filters will affect the overall sound, which I’m not interested in when I’m looking for the highest quality experience possible.

Even as a free subscriber, I hear different sounds when this setting is disabled.

Other settings to check

If you are still not satisfied with the sound quality of Spotify, please check if the equalizer is enabled under this setting playback menu. An equalizer helps to enhance or reduce certain elements of sound, but it often gets in the way of the intended sound. If you don’t have a specific goal, I recommend turning it off.

under audio quality, make sure your sound quality is as high as possible, which means “very high” for Premium and “high” for free. This works for “WiFi Streaming”, “Cellular Streaming” and “Download” to ensure your sound quality is the best in every situation. Note that increasing cellular streaming quality will use more cellular data. Finally, disable “Automatically adjust quality” on this settings page to stop Spotify from reducing sound quality when it detects poor internet speed.


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