Music app

Your favorite music app sounds better than you think

Image: Alex Cranz / Gizmodo

Image: Alex Cranz / Gizmodo

Chances are you’ve signed up for at least a streaming service—But are you getting the most out of the best music quality on offer? Quickly auditing your apps can boost both streaming and download speeds, so you’re always assured of the highest fidelity sound flowing from your expensive headphones to your eardrums. Which means you hear more music and a little less noise that can accompany lower quality music files.

Almost all music streaming services now allow you to set the quality of the music through related apps, although there may be some restrictions if you are not a paying customer. Keep in mind that better music means more data, so check your plan if you’re streaming on the go, or cache your favorite playlists over Wi-Fi before you leave home.

Spotify

Regarding the options available in the mobile apps, Spotify said “Normal” is equivalent to approximately 96 kbit / s, “High” to 160 kbit / s, and “Extreme” to 320 kbit / s. You can also select the “Automatic” option and let Spotify decide for you based on the strength of your network connection.

Once you have decided how high the fidelity of your music should be, go to Spotify’s mobile apps, tap Your library, then the settings cog icon — on iOS, you must press Broadcast quality also, and on Android the option is on the first screen under Music quality. On desktop clients, tap the down arrow next to your account name (top right), then tap Settings, then toggle High quality broadcast at At.

Google Play Music

There’s no desktop client to worry about for Google Play Music and no quality settings in the web player either, but these options have just been added to the mobile apps. Press the menu button (top left), then Settings, so either Quality on the mobile network, Quality on the Wi-Fi network, Where Download quality.

There are three or four options available in each case, but Google hasn’t revealed what bitrate these settings correspond to, and is fairly cautious about revealing supported bitrates across its service (although it does. do seem to match 320kbps from Spotify).

Apple Music

If you’ve signed up for the Apple Music streaming service, there’s a toggle switch to enable high-quality streaming over cellular networks, but no such option for downloads, which are presumably still high-quality. In iOS settings, tap Music then Mobile data; from the Apple Music app on Android, press the menu button (top left), then Settings, then look under Proofreading.

You won’t find any quality tuning settings in iTunes for macOS or Windows, but Apple has confirmed that its tracks stream at 256kbps AAC (a lower bitrate than Spotify, but a codec with less loss).

Deezer

In Deezer’s mobile apps, to adjust the quality of streaming and downloading over cellular networks and Wi-Fi, tap My music, then Settings, Audio settings and Custom (or choose one of the predefined configurations). The same options are found in clients for Windows and macOS (go to Settings then Audio settings).

Deezer does not give exact details of what the “Basic”, “Normal” and “High Quality (HQ)” settings refer to, but it is likely that this HQ option corresponds to the top quality of 320 kbps. You can also go higher, but you have to shell out for a Sonos system and Deezer Elite.

Tide

The main feature of Tidal is the high-end 1411 kbps FLAC streaming quality it offers, but you don’t have to go all the way if you’re looking to save on some data charges or cut down on data. ‘Bandwidth Usage.

On desktop clients and mobile apps, you can adjust the sound quality for streaming music and tracks downloaded via the Settings menu option — look under the Diffusion title. On mobile, it is also possible to ask Tidal to adjust the quality of the music according to your connection speed.


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