Spotify Bitrate: Spotify Streaming Quality Differences

Most of us like streaming music on Spotify. So we might be concerned more about the Spotify sound quality.  Then, you’ve probably heard the term “bitrate” before and know that bitrate can affect the sound quality. So what bitrate does Spotify use for streaming? Does Spotify have better sound quality than Apple Music. Let’s discuss one by one.

Part 1: What is Bitrate?
Part 2: What Bitrate does Spotify Use for Streaming?
Part 3: Spotify Vs. Apple Music: Is There a Difference in Sound Quality?


Part 1: What is Bitrate?

Bitrate refers to the number of bits—or the amount of data—that are processed over a certain amount of time. In audio, this usually means kilobits per second. For example, the music you buy on iTunes is 256 kilobits per second, meaning there are 256 kilobits of data stored in every second of a song.

How bitrate affects in an audio file, namely quality?

It is comparable to the resolution of an image. The higher the bit rate, the better the quality of your audio or video file. For example, the sound of an MP3 file with a bit rate of 192 kbps will be much better and clearer as of a file that only uses 32 kbps. The image quality of a video is also dependent of the bit rate.

The reason of this is that more data is transmitted during playback when a higher bit rate was chosen. With a slower bit rate, naturally, less data is transferred. Thus, sound and image quality are reduced.

It is commonly measured using bits per second (bps), kilobits per second (kbps) or megabits per second (mbps).


Part 2: What Bitrate does Spotify Use for Streaming?

Spotify uses 3 quality ratings for streaming, all in the Ogg Vorbis format.

~96 kbps

  • Normal quality on mobile.

~160 kbps

  • Desktop and web player standard quality.
  • High quality on mobile.

~320 kbps (only available to Premium subscribers)

  • Desktop high quality.
  • Extreme quality on mobile.

The “normal” default Spotify streaming quality on your computer is 160 kbps (kilobits per second), with each “bit” essentially being a “piece” of the song. It usually sounds fine, and lets you enjoy the song with decent sound.

When you turn on the “high quality streaming” option, the stream opens up to 320 kbps. That means you get more “pieces” of the song per second, which leads to a slightly better, richer overall sound with deeper bass. It’s a subtle improvement, and it’s only really noticeable while using a good pair of headphones or speakers, but it’s there, and there’s little reason to keep it off if you’re paying for Spotify Premium.

The sound quality improvement is more noticeable on your smartphone in Spotify’s mobile app where you get three options for stream and sync quality, including Normal (96 kbps), High (160 kbps), and Extreme (320 kbps). Spotify recommends you stream music at the default Normal 96 kbps quality so you reduce the chance of going over your phone plan’s data limit. The lower the kbps, the less data you stream.

Spotify Bitrate

Part 3: Spotify Vs. Apple Music: Is There a Difference in Sound Quality?

The two services use different encoding formats and a different bit rate. Apple Music is streamed at 256Kbps in AAC (Advanced Audio Coding) format, while Spotify offers the Ogg Vorbis format at 320Kbps.

Generally, the higher the bitrate, the better the sound quality, but in this case, it’s not that simple. According to most audio experts, music encoded in AAC format sounds better than both MP3 and Ogg at the same bit rate, and the files are often smaller, too. That means Apple Music could be less likely to stutter while streaming.

Suffice it to say, both formats have their own fans, and both are preferred by most enthusiasts over MP3. So, from a technical perspective, both Apple Music and Spotify are starting from a strong — albeit not identical — baseline.

Spotify VS Apple Music


To enjoy Spotify with high sound quality, we recommend you to download and record the Spotify music and keep its original quality. To do so, you can get help from Streaming Audio Recorder. It allows you to record any song you can play on your computer. While doing the recording, the software will get the identification of the song automatically, including artist, genre, cover, album name, and more.

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Roger W.

I'm a music lover and my friends know that. I'm not a great musician or a singer but I look for all ways to enjoy music. Apple Music and Spotify are my favorite.

  • davidtrevose

    Is the bitrate fixed or variable?