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  • New Report Claims Apple Music Will be Streaming at 256kbps, Below Most Competitors


    As the major announcement closing out WWDC 2015 on Monday was Apple’s new Apple Music streaming, many are looking forward to the company’s new service. New reports are claiming though that the Cupertino-based company will be putting a 256kbps limit on the new music streaming service. This news is disappointing however, because competitor Spotify and the company’s own Beats Music has higher bitrate than the upcoming service.

    Apple Music’s 256kbps bitrate limit is in line to the company’s current iTunes Match product according to Slashgear. The company’s current Beats Music service streams MP3s at 320kbps, which is the highest bitrate available. Mobile users are able to stream standard quality of 64kbps if they wish using the HE-AAC codec. As for major competitor Spotify, three bitrate options are used using the Ogg Vorbis format. 96kbps is normal mobile quality, high quality mobile and desktops are given 160kbps, and 320kbps is for Premium subscribers.

    Although 256kbps bitrate is not the worst option, it would have been nice for the company to at least offer 320kbps bitrate to premium customers. Some may argue however, that most will not even be able to tell the difference between the two. What are your thoughts on this matter? Share with us in the comments below.

    Source: Slashgear
    This article was originally published in forum thread: New Report Claims Apple Music Will be Streaming at 256kbps, Below Most Competitors started by Akshay Masand View original post
    Comments 19 Comments
    1. AKCHRIS's Avatar
      AKCHRIS -
      Let's be Honest unless your an Audiophile your not even going to Notice it..most will blame it on the Connection for the bad Sound..LMAO!!!
    1. politicalslug's Avatar
      politicalslug -
      To be fair, 256kbps AAC is pretty darn close to 320kbps MP3 in quality. AAC is a newer, and more efficient, codec than MP3, so I don't see anyone being bothered by this. As for Spotify, Ogg is a great open standard, but again, not as a efficient as AAC.
    1. NewD's Avatar
      NewD -
      People have been listening to 128 and 256 for so long it just won't be an issue.. I'm a pro recording/mixing engineer now over 30 years experience and even my pro musicians in the studio can't hear the difference between 256 and 320. Now between 128 and 256? Yes!! Even my grandmother can hear that difference. But above 256.k - sounds great (for compressed that is).. My entire iTunes library is full band bandwidth (1280'ish) right from my CD's or studio masters because "I" hear the difference in any compressed product.

      You "kids" have no idea what you're missing growing up with all compressed formats via streaming. Boy if you could hear full bandwidth!!!!
    1. peacedog's Avatar
      peacedog -
      A lot of my old MP3 rips are 128kbps. No audio snob here.
    1. SpiderManAPV's Avatar
      SpiderManAPV -
      Google Play mp3s are 128. Ticks me off, too. I want at least 256. 320 isn’t a big deal, but I don’t really like 128.
    1. bbrks's Avatar
      bbrks -
      256 is very reasonable solution for Apple, minimum difference in "quality" (huh, I feel sick saying this ) and tons of saved space. 99,99 % of users wont hear the difference anyway.
    1. NewD's Avatar
      NewD -
      Quote Originally Posted by bbrks View Post
      256 is very reasonable solution for Apple, minimum difference in "quality" (huh, I feel sick saying this ) and tons of saved space. 99,99 % of users wont hear the difference anyway.
      I agree they can't hear the difference between 256 and 320. But everybody will be able to hear the difference between 128 and 256. In blInd A/B tests I've done with just family and friend/consumers every single one of them could pick out the 256 over the 128. The metallic sound in the 128 is very very noticeable. Like I said earlier even my grandmother with her hearing aids turned up could hear that difference.

      I agree with the space savings concept… We don't need 320 over 256. But those companies still trying to make people pay for 128 are totally ripping off the clientele.
    1. bbrks's Avatar
      bbrks -
      Yeah, I forgot to say 256 in comparison 320, so yes, we agree on that one.
    1. csglinux's Avatar
      csglinux -
      Quote Originally Posted by NewD View Post
      I agree they can't hear the difference between 256 and 320. But everybody will be able to hear the difference between 128 and 256. In blInd A/B tests I've done with just family and friend/consumers every single one of them could pick out the 256 over the 128. The metallic sound in the 128 is very very noticeable. Like I said earlier even my grandmother with her hearing aids turned up could hear that difference.
      Props to your grandma, NewD. Many people (even with young ears and an intact upper-frequency range) will still struggle to hear the differences between 128 and 320 (though they'll claim otherwise!). Just for fun folks, try this test with your best sound card/DAC/headphone combo, and then look to see how many people actually guessed correctly:

      Do 320kbps mp3 files really sound better? Take the test!

      Here's another one, just for fun:

      Few listeners can distinguish between “average” and “best” MP3 samples – Cognitive Daily
    1. bbrks's Avatar
      bbrks -
      I'll pass .....for me, MP3 of any bit rate is forbidden. But, as usual, it's just me
    1. NewD's Avatar
      NewD -
      Quote Originally Posted by csglinux View Post
      Props to your grandma, NewD. Many people (even with young ears and an intact upper-frequency range) will still struggle to hear the differences between 128 and 320 (though they'll claim otherwise!). Just for fun folks, try this test with your best sound card/DAC/headphone combo, and then look to see how many people actually guessed correctly:

      Do 320kbps mp3 files really sound better? Take the test!

      Here's another one, just for fun:

      Few listeners can distinguish between “average” and “best” MP3 samples – Cognitive Daily
      Without knowing what codecs they used and seeing them actually export it.. I don't trust the test.. Trust me.. I've been doing this for many years.. The average 128 codec used has a very notable metallic sound on all the highs.. Voices and cymbals.. Noticeable.. Orchestral music you might notice it less.. as an amateur.
    1. csglinux's Avatar
      csglinux -
      Quote Originally Posted by NewD View Post
      Without knowing what codecs they used and seeing them actually export it.. I don't trust the test.. Trust me.. I've been doing this for many years.. The average 128 codec used has a very notable metallic sound on all the highs.. Voices and cymbals.. Noticeable.. Orchestral music you might notice it less.. as an amateur.
      You know what to listen for. The average person doesn't (or doesn't care?).

      More than 50% of people got this test wrong. If anybody thinks the test is sketchy, just rip something into iTunes at multiple different data rates and then listen for yourselves. You might be surprised at how good some of the lossy compression algorithms have become, even at sub-256 kbps data rates.
    1. qumahlin's Avatar
      qumahlin -
      Spotify, three bitrate options are used using the Ogg Vorbis format. 96kbps is normal mobile quality, high quality mobile and desktops are given 160kbps, and 320kbps is for Premium subscribers.
      Lets not get into what spotify claims versus the reality of what you get. Here's a fun test you can try at home if you're a premium spotify user. Make sure you have a 4.1/5.1 speaker system and that any sort of "stereo duplication / virtual surround" is turned off. Open the spotify web player and find a song you like, preferably one with a good range of highs/lows. Listen to the song for 30 seconds. Now open the Spotify Desktop app and make sure you have the setting for high quality streaming turned on. Play the same song you just listened to through the web player. You'll quickly realize you're not just getting very different bitrates. You're getting a very different sound and the shocking part is the good sound isn't coming from the desktop app...

      TLDR: Don't use the Spotify desktop app if you care about sound quality unless you feel like googling the command line parameter for turning off their remuxing
    1. StuG III's Avatar
      StuG III -
      Quote Originally Posted by NewD View Post
      Without knowing what codecs they used and seeing them actually export it.. I don't trust the test.. Trust me.. I've been doing this for many years.. The average 128 codec used has a very notable metallic sound on all the highs.. Voices and cymbals.. Noticeable.. Orchestral music you might notice it less.. as an amateur.
      I am definitely not an audiophile but I have to agree with this. Even I notice it.
    1. NewD's Avatar
      NewD -
      Quote Originally Posted by csglinux View Post
      You might be surprised at how good some of the lossy compression algorithms have become, even at sub-256 kbps data rates.
      I'm not sure you understand what you're talking about CS.. The 'lossless' (lossy) codecs are actually more data than 128k. All of the them. When you set a codec to a 'lossless' setting.. it will be often as high as 460 or more.. There's really no such thing as a 128K 'lossy'.. Now - there are new codecs coming out everyday.. So I could be just a smidgen behind here.. But I know Spotify's 128 is not any 'lossless' codec like Apple's AAC - which DOES INDEED sound fantastic.. But it still only shrinks the original 44.1/16bit file down by half or so.. in terms of drive space it will take..
    1. Simon's Avatar
      Simon -
      Quote Originally Posted by NewD View Post
      I'm not sure you understand what you're talking about CS.. The 'lossless' (lossy) codecs are actually more data than 128k. All of the them. When you set a codec to a 'lossless' setting.. it will be often as high as 460 or more.. There's really no such thing as a 128K 'lossy'.. Now - there are new codecs coming out everyday.. So I could be just a smidgen behind here.. But I know Spotify's 128 is not any 'lossless' codec like Apple's AAC - which DOES INDEED sound fantastic.. But it still only shrinks the original 44.1/16bit file down by half or so.. in terms of drive space it will take..
      Are you saying lossy and lossless are the same thing?
    1. Bo Troxell's Avatar
      Bo Troxell -
      If one understands File Compression, one would know they are not the same.
    1. NSXrebel's Avatar
      NSXrebel -
      eh,most people can't tell the difference
    1. NewD's Avatar
      NewD -
      Yes.. I thought "lossy" was just a shortening of the name "lossless".. I'd never heard "lossy" in the audio world. As I read up on it in Wiki it seems "lossy" is more employed in the graphics world.. That's why I hadn't heard it in the audio world.

      The majority of my pro work is in the full bandwidth cutting and mixing. Conversion to streaming is handled by the "audio post" guys and gals a world I don't travel in as much. And as I admitted a couple posts ago.. codecs for compression are changing almost weekly.. "Lossless" is an audio term I know a lot about.. If post guys/gals are also applying a "lossy" data size algorithm to high quality audio without over compressing - then I could indeed understand people saying that they'd heard high quality stuff at lower streaming speeds. I'll do some more reading on Spotify's stuff.. See if they're actually applying this "lossy" data reduction technique which really isn't 'data compression' as we've understood it in the past.