Why is my Spotify quality so bad?

Spotify is one of the most popular music streaming services, offering access to over 70 million tracks. However, some users report issues with audio quality on Spotify, complaining of music that sounds distorted, muffled, or tinny.

This poor audio quality can have various causes, ranging from problems with the user’s internet connection to device compatibility issues. Troubleshooting and adjusting settings may help enhance the listening experience.

This article provides an overview of why Spotify’s audio quality can suffer and offers tips to help users improve sound quality.

How Spotify Audio Works

Spotify uses a streaming technology called “lossy compression” to deliver music to listeners. This allows the audio files to be compressed significantly so they take up less bandwidth and storage space, making streaming more efficient. However, some audio quality is lost in the compression process.

When you play a song on Spotify, you are not listening to the original high-quality audio file. Instead, Spotify converts the original audio into a compressed file format called Ogg Vorbis. This compressed file is typically between 96 – 160 kbps, which is significantly smaller than lossless formats like CD quality or high-res audio. The compression removes certain audio components and data that are less audible to the human ear. This allows the file size to shrink dramatically while still retaining good audio quality for most listeners.

However, the downside is that lossy compression results in some loss of audio fidelity. Certain nuances in the music can get lost, such as very high and low frequencies, wide dynamic range, and subtle details. So Spotify audio will never sound quite as good as listening to uncompressed, CD-quality audio. Audiophiles who want the highest fidelity tend to prefer lossless formats over lossy streaming. But for most casual listeners, Spotify audio provides a very good listening experience and convenience of streaming.

Reasons for Poor Quality

There are a few main reasons why you may experience poor audio quality when streaming music on Spotify:

Slow Internet Connection

Streaming audio requires a consistent, relatively fast internet connection. If your internet is slow or unstable, Spotify may struggle to maintain high quality audio streaming. This can cause the music to cut out, skip, stutter or sound distorted. Try testing your internet speed to see if an upgrade is needed. According to Spotify, a minimum download speed of 0.5 Mbps is required for normal quality audio [1].

Outdated App Version

Using an outdated version of the Spotify app can also impact audio quality. Make sure your Spotify app is updated to the latest version, as older versions may have bugs or lack quality optimization. The developers regularly release updates to fix issues and improve streaming performance. Keep your apps updated in general to enjoy the best experience.

Low Bitrate Setting

Spotify allows you to select the streaming bitrate quality under Settings > Audio Quality. Lower bitrates like 24 kbps will sound much worse than higher 320 kbps options. Make sure your bitrate is set to at least 160 kbps for decent quality audio streaming. Just keep in mind higher bitrates use more mobile data [2].

Internet Connection Issues

Spotify requires a relatively high-speed and stable internet connection to deliver smooth, high-quality audio streaming. According to How much Speed do Audio Streaming Services need?, Spotify recommends a minimum connection speed of 320 Kbps for streaming high quality audio. At lower speeds, you may experience intermittent buffering, lag, and reduced audio quality as Spotify struggles to deliver a steady stream of data.

Problems like choppy playback, songs stopping suddenly, or a blurry/muddy sound generally point to an insufficient internet connection. This could be due to using a slow DSL or mobile data network. Even on a fast broadband network, factors like congestion, interference, distance from the router, and others can hamper your connection strength.

To stream Spotify smoothly, use an ethernet cable or connect to a strong 5GHz WiFi signal in close proximity to your router. You can also try closing other internet-using apps on your device. Reducing network traffic from other devices on the same connection can help maximize throughput for Spotify. Ultimately upgrading to a faster overall internet plan may be required to achieve consistently high audio quality.

Outdated App Version

Using an outdated version of the Spotify app can sometimes lead to lower audio quality. Over time, Spotify rolls out updates to its apps that include fixes for bugs and improvements to streaming quality. If your app is very outdated, it may be missing some of these key enhancements that optimize music playback. According to recent article “Spotify app update quality iphone” Spotify indicated that ensuring apps are updated to the latest version can help users take full advantage of audio advancements.

To check for app updates on iOS, go to the App Store, tap your profile icon, and scroll down to see if any updates are available for Spotify. On Android, open the Play Store, tap the hamburger menu, go to My Apps & Games > Updates available to see if Spotify needs updating. Keeping your Spotify app up-to-date will ensure you have all the latest improvements for audio quality.

Bitrate Setting

The bitrate setting you select in Spotify directly affects audio quality. Bitrate refers to the amount of data used per second to encode an audio file. The higher the bitrate, the more detailed and high-quality the audio will be. As reported on The Next Web, “The highest bitrate supported by the streaming platform is 320 kbps, which should be largely indistinguishable from lossless, but in most cases, Spotify defaults to 96 kbps or 160 kbps” (Source).

If your Spotify app is set to a lower bitrate like 96 kbps or 160 kbps, which are the default settings on mobile, you will notice significant quality reduction. The audio will sound compressed and lack detail. To improve quality, go into your Spotify settings and select the “Very High” quality streaming option, which uses 320 kbps. This will provide near CD-quality audio.

Device Compatibility

One of the main reasons you may be experiencing poor audio quality on Spotify is an older or low-end device. Spotify’s music streaming can require high processing power and sufficient RAM, especially for premium quality settings. If your phone or computer is older with less RAM it may struggle to effectively play high bitrate quality audio according to many users.

For example, on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, Spotify Premium streams up to 320kbps quality on supported devices, but some older phones may only be able to actually process audio at 192kbps or lower. This can result in degraded audio and artifacts even when set to high quality. Similarly, low-end laptops and computers from over 5 years ago may have compatibility issues or lack the RAM required for smooth high bitrate playback.

If you are experiencing quality issues, try testing Spotify on different newer devices to isolate the problem. Make sure any device you use meets Spotify’s minimum specs for optimal performance. You may need to upgrade your phone or computer’s hardware to take full advantage of Spotify’s streaming quality.

Corrupted Local Files

One potential cause of poor audio quality on Spotify is corrupted local files. Spotify stores cached audio files locally on your device. Over time, these cached files can become corrupted or damaged, leading to playback issues like skipping, distorted audio, or missing tracks [1].

Corrupted local files often occur after an improper program shutdown or crash. They can also happen if your storage is faulty or has bad sectors. In some cases, bugs or compatibility issues with Spotify can damage the local files.

The simplest solution is to clear the Spotify cache and reinstall the app. This deletes any corrupted files and redownloads a fresh copy. On desktop, delete the %AppData%/Spotify folder before reinstalling. On mobile, uninstall and reinstall the app. You can also try deleting and re-adding any affected playlists or tracks.

Overall, corrupted local caches are an easy fix – just flush the old files and reload. With fresh local copies, your Spotify audio should sound pristine again [2]


How to Improve Quality

There are several ways you can improve the audio quality on Spotify:

Upgrade Your Internet Connection

Streaming high quality audio requires a fast and stable internet connection. Upgrading to a faster broadband or fiber internet plan can help increase streaming bitrates and reduce buffering issues. Using a wired ethernet connection instead of WiFi can also improve stability.

Update to the Latest App Version

Make sure you are running the latest version of the Spotify app. Older versions may have compatibility issues or bugs that affect streaming quality. Regularly check for and install app updates to ensure you have the best experience.

Increase Your Streaming Bitrate

In your Spotify settings, you can adjust the preferred streaming bitrate under Audio Quality. Higher bitrates like 320kbps or lossless provide better quality audio but use more data. Upgrade to premium and select the Very High quality setting for the best experience.

Use a Compatible Device

The device you use to stream Spotify can impact audio quality. For best results, stream from a newer smartphone, tablet, or computer. Avoid streaming to very old devices or platforms with compatibility issues. Consider upgrading your speakers, headphones or audio gear to take full advantage of high quality streams.


In summary, there are several potential reasons why you may be experiencing poor audio quality on Spotify, along with steps you can take to improve it. The main culprits are usually problems with your internet connection, using an outdated version of the Spotify app, having your bitrate setting too low, device incompatibility issues, or corrupted local files.

To get better sound quality, the solutions involve upgrading your internet plan if needed, updating the Spotify app, adjusting the quality settings higher, trying different devices, and re-downloading any corrupted music files. With some troubleshooting and adjustments, you should be able to significantly improve the listening experience on Spotify. The steps outlined above should help you pinpoint the causes and find the right fixes to get your music streaming smoothly.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *