Spotify Doesn’t Need to Sound Like Crap

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Spotify vs Apple Music is a debate we won’t hear soon. But recently, Apple Music users say their service is better than Spotify, Apple’s songs are crisper and crisper than the competing streaming service, especially when using headphones or high-quality speakers. While Apple Music users may have a point, there is a simple way for those on Spotify to improve their sound quality right now.

Spotify and Apple Music offer different sound quality options

It’s a bit difficult to compare the sound quality of Apple Music and Spotify in general. Spotify offers free users a maximum bit rate of 160kbps (kilobits per second), while Premium offers double the rate of 320kbps. On the other hand, Apple Music does not have a free tier, but it does offer a number of different audio features. The service’s standard playback is 256kbps, less than Spotify’s maximum. However, Apple Music also has lossless playback, which lets you choose from CD-quality 24-bit 48 kHz playback, or, if you have the right equipment, 24-bit 192 kHz playback. Spotify has plans to roll out its own lossless playback option, but at the moment, its quality on paper isn’t quite where Apple Music is.

However, 320kbps is still high enough quality for audio great, even when you bounce between the two platforms. So why are there more and more users complain about the quality of Spotify?

Audio customization is ruining your Spotify quality

The fault lies in a setting called “audio normalization,” and its purpose is only to make your music worse. Spotify uses audio customization to offer you a more consistent listening experience across songs. It tries to balance the loudness of all your music, so you don’t have to fiddle with the volume all the time. If one song tends to be quiet, you tend to increase the volume; if the next song happens to be loud, it will likely come through louder than you want.

Now, that’s all well and good (no one likes a really loud song surprising them), but there’s still that unintended consequence: Your songs aren’t that good, especially those that tend to be higher. Regardless of Spotify’s intentions, the app still limits the loudness of a song, which affects the dynamic range of the music. It is especially noticeable when listening with good headphones or speakers.

Audio customization is easy to turn off, however. On mobile, open the in-app settings and then select Replay. Find “Enable Audio Normalization” (iOS) or “Normalize volume” (Android), then disable the toggle. On the desktop app, open the in-app settings, then disable “Normalize volume” from the settings.

If you’re a Premium subscriber, or if you’re using the desktop app, you’ll see “Level” options under the audio customization setting: “Loud,” which adjusts sound levels for loud environments, “Normal,” which assumes you’re in average sound conditions, and “Quiet,” which adjusts the volume for quiet environments. Spotify claims that there is no effect on audio quality when the volume level is set to Normal or Quiet, only when Loud is turned on, but I’m not so sure. An extra filter will affect the overall sound, and I’m not interested in that when I’m looking for the highest quality experience.

Even as a free subscriber, I hear a difference when I disable this setting.

Other settings to check

If you are still not happy with your Spotify sound quality, check if the Equalizer is enabled under this one Replay support menu. The Equalizer can be helpful for increasing or decreasing some sound elements, but it often gets in the way of the intended sound. I would recommend turning it off unless you have a specific goal with it.

Under Sound Quality, make sure your sound quality is as high as possible, meaning “Very High” for Premium and “High” for Free. That goes for both “WiFi streaming,” “Cellular streaming,” and “Download,” to ensure your audio quality is as good as it can be regardless of the situation . Note that increasing cell streaming quality will use more cell data. Finally, disable “Auto change quality” on this settings page to stop Spotify from reducing sound quality when it detects poor internet speeds.

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