Specific details about Apple Music are still rolling out after the iPhone maker announced its new subscription music service at WWDC yesterday. Music quality for streaming and offline playback is bound to be one concern for potential members and it appears Apple will be taking a conservative approach, according to Slashgear.
Apple Music will be at 256 kbps. In comparison, Beats Music uses a 320 kbps bitrate, as does Spotify, while Tidal offers a high-bitrate option.
By default, Beats Music only streamed at the higher 320kbps MP3 quality on the web and when the setting was changed within the mobile app. Download quality, however, did default to the higher quality version of tracks when available.
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Apple Music’s streaming quality is on par with iTunes Match, which plays tracks back at 256kbps AAC quality. Apple doesn’t publicly document what bitrate iTunes Radio audio uses.
And while it’s possible to find higher quality music on Apple’s iTunes Store, the 256kbps bitrate is also the standard for most of the music Apple actually sells so Apple Music won’t be a change from this.
Apple Music’s 256k AAC playback is a higher quality than the 320k MP3 format that services like Spotify use. Apple’s solution is also a smaller file size than its competitors.
Spotify also defaults to lower streaming quality on mobile:
Normal quality on mobile.
Desktop and web player standard quality.
High quality on mobile.
~320 kbps (only available to Premium subscribers)
Desktop high quality.
Extreme quality on mobile.