I was riding shotgun in my fellow tech writer’s car the other day and the topic of audio quality from streaming apps popped up, evidently, Apple Music sounded way better when connected to the vehicles’ carplay, while it’s not the best, Spotify does also offer better audio quality in their Spotify Premium to the lossless HiFi tiers.
A while back, I argued that the vast majority of people — including audio enthusiasts — mostly wouldn’t tell the difference between lossless audio and ‘lossy’ encoded at a high enough bitrate audio.
But that argument only makes sense if you are already listening to Spotify Premium with optimal settings.
The highest bitrate supported by the streaming platform is 320 kbps, which should be largely indistinguishable from lossless, but in most cases, the streaming app does not guarantee this playback quality.
On most devices, Spotify defaults to a variable ‘Automatic’ setting and offers four fixed playback tiers: 24 kbps (Low), 96 kbps (Normal), 160 kbps (High), and 320 kbps (Very High).
You might assume Spotify would ramp up to 320 kbps when using Automatic mode with a strong Wi-Fi connection (after all, 320 kbps is nothing compared to modern video streaming), but as best I can tell, the service will max out at 160kbps with this setting.
160 kbps( with the Ogg Vorbis codec Spotify uses on most devices) isn’t bad, but it’s certainly significantly easier to tell apart from lossless than 320 kbps. So if you want the best sound quality on Spotify, you need to manually activate the best settings.
Again, keep in mind the 320 kbps setting is exclusive to Premium subscribers. Otherwise, the following steps should help ensure the best quality on all the devices you can stream Spotify on.
To get the best possible quality on Spotify:
- Open Spotify
- Head over to settings.
- Select ‘Audio Quality’
- Spotify lets you choose separate quality settings for WiFi and cellular, as well as the music you download permanently onto your device.
- Set all three options to Very High
You have a few more options on mobile than you do on desktop, as Spotify lets you choose separate quality settings for WiFi and cellular, as well as the music you download permanently onto your device.