Apple Music streams at 256kbps, lower than its competitors

Scorpus

TechSpot Staff
Staff member

Apple finally announced their Apple Music streaming service at WWDC earlier this week, and it comes with a number of impressive features, including global radio stations and human-curated playlists. But one feature that may not impress audiophiles is the streaming quality of the service: Apple Music streams songs at 256 kbps, the company has confirmed.

256 kbps is the same bitrate Apple uses for standard iTunes tracks, so it's not hugely surprising that the company will use 256 kbps for streaming as well. What hasn't been confirmed, however, is whether Apple will use AAC or MP3 streaming technology, which will have a negligible effect on music quality.

With Apple Music streaming at 256 kbps, its competitors will have a one-up on streaming quality. Spotify, Google Play Music, Rdio, Rhapsody, and even the Apple-owned Beats Music stream at up to 320 kbps. Xbox Music matches Apple Music at up to 256 kbps, while Tidal allows you to stream lossless FLAC audio.

Although 320 kbps is generally regarded as the industry standard bitrate for high-quality audio files, Apple Music's use of 256 kbps instead will allow users to conserve bandwidth while streaming. There will be a slight difference in quality between the two bitrates, but 256 kbps streams will use 20% less data, which could be handy for those on low data caps.

Apple Music launches on June 30 for $9.99 per month (or for $14.99 per month as a family account) after a three-month free trial.

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Burty117

TechSpot Chancellor
I honestly struggle to hear (much) of a difference between 256kbps AAC and 320kbps mp3 anyway, really not too bothered by this.

Besides, When I stick Spotify up to "high" quality in the settings I swear it sounds worse than my downloaded songs from the iTunes store anyway.
 
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Kibaruk

TechSpot Paladin
Besides, When I stick Spotify up to "high" quality in the settings I swear it sounds worse than my downloaded songs from the iTunes store anyway.
That is something I don't like from Spotify... the lack of an equalizer, my 128 kbps mp3 sound better
 
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Business Direct

TS Booster
I'm guessing they are going to use 256 kbps AAC audio which is about the same quality as 320 kbps mp3. If it is 256 kbps mp3 then other than being an outrageously stupid move for a company positioning itself as the high cost/high quality luxury alternative.
 

Rippleman

TS Evangelist
I'm guessing they are going to use 256 kbps AAC audio which is about the same quality as 320 kbps mp3. If it is 256 kbps mp3 then other than being an outrageously stupid move for a company positioning itself as the high cost/high quality luxury alternative.
high cost? family 6 pack for $9.99? odd you think it's the luxury alternative.
 

yRaz

Nigerian Prince
I'm guessing they are going to use 256 kbps AAC audio which is about the same quality as 320 kbps mp3. If it is 256 kbps mp3 then other than being an outrageously stupid move for a company positioning itself as the high cost/high quality luxury alternative.
high cost? family 6 pack for $9.99? odd you think it's the luxury alternative.
I think he referring to the general apple tax, such as paying $2,000 for an $800 PC.
 
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oranuro

TS Enthusiast
If you invest into the right gear, whether it be your mobile device or your home theater,with good ears you will notice the difference in quality in most acoustic music genres.Hip-hop,Pop,EDM it becomes more difficult to tell the difference 128bitrate-->Flac/Wave even with same equipment.
 

Business Direct

TS Booster
I'm guessing they are going to use 256 kbps AAC audio which is about the same quality as 320 kbps mp3. If it is 256 kbps mp3 then other than being an outrageously stupid move for a company positioning itself as the high cost/high quality luxury alternative.
high cost? family 6 pack for $9.99? odd you think it's the luxury alternative.
I was speaking of Apple products in general.
 

yukka

TechSpot Paladin
Putting a positive spin on the 20% bandwidth saving Apple has opted for aren't you? Other vendors give users the choice.