CNN blows it, erroneously claims Apple Music will ‘sound worse’ than competition

“Apple Music will be streaming its tracks at a lower quality than its competition,” Nicholas Yeap reports for CNN under the headline “Apple Music will sound worse but save on your data plan.”

“Apple said its tracks will stream at 256 kilobits per second. That’s a bitrate similar to music files available on iTunes, but the Apple Music files are 20% smaller than competing streaming music services, including main rival Spotify,” Yeap reports. “Spotify’s audio files come in three sizes: 96 kbps, 160kbps and . Files with the highest quality are only available to paid subscribers.”

“Besides eating up your data, higher quality music files require larger storage memory on your devices when downloaded for offline play. High quality audio is crucial to DJs and people who plays music at a high volume,” Yeap reports. “But if you are just playing music on your iPhone on the way to work, you’re not going to notice a huge difference.”

Full article – via donotlink – here.

MacDailyNews Take: No wonder nobody watches CNN.

Apple Music will be streaming its tracks at a lower bitrate, not a lower quality.

Apple Music will be using AAC, not MP3 like the rest of the music streaming soon-to-be-also-rans. (Spotify uses Ogg Vorbis format, which is open source, hence free, and also inferior to AAC).

AAC delivers better sound quality at lower bit rates than MP3. 256 kbps AAC beats 320 kbps MP3 in sound quality.

Stop using MP3. It’s like so not a thing. It’s like banging out a term paper on a typewriter.

Sheesh, we covered all this over a decade ago!

Update, 4:38pm EDT: Clarified Spotify’s streaming format as Ogg Vorbis above as per MacDailyNews reader “ecrabb.”

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Jubei” for the heads up.]


AAC: Apple’s preferred audio codec – July 18, 2014
Apple discusses AAC vs. MP3 codecs; 128 kbps AAC as good or better than 160 kbps MP3 – April 29, 2003


  1. Even if it were MP3…anybody who says they can hear the difference between 256 kbps MP3 and 320 kbps MP3 is lying. Most people’s MP3 libraries are in 128 or 190 kbps and they sound fine.

    1. I rip all my native 320kbps MP3 files down to 128 AAC before I put them on my iPhone and WATCH for space saved listening. They all sound great.💥😃🚀⌚️😱 Cannot hear the difference at all. Listen to everything with the Radsone LTS DCT audio enhancement engine app.😜

    2. I think the average person does not have the equipment to hear the difference in sound quality between a low bit rate audio file and a higher bit rate audio file. So I would agree with you in principal.

      At home I have a fairly nice stereo that is above average. I use 320kbps mp3 or Apple’s 256kbps AAC (and a smattering of lossless). When I listen to a song away from home it often sounds dramatically different.

      So I agree most people can’t hear the difference but they don’t know (and probably don’t care) what they are missing.

    1. None of the so-called news networks are worth a plugged nickel when it comes to getting timely, accurate, well-sourced, non-hyped news.

      Turn ’em all off !

      1. Well, since you asked…

        Obama is too left-wing for me.

        Obama is too anti-White for me.

        Obama is too anti-Christian for me.

        Obama is too anti-American for me.

        Obama is too anti-Western Civilization for me.

        Obama is too much of a liar for me.

        Obama is too economically retarded for me.

        Obama is too sociopathic, self absorbed, smug, self-entitled and overall detritus for me.

        Does that answer your question, hotshot?

          1. Fallacious argumentation on your part.

            I don’t watch TV news of any sort. It’s all politically correct in various degrees, NeoCon-ish in varying degrees, and void of substance in varying degrees.

            The liberal obsession with Fox News is infantile, but liberals are insecure and require an echo chamber, so anything not quite Mao Tse Tung enough for them is more than they can emotionally bear.

            Now then, which one of my actual points would you care to refute? And when I say “refute,” I don’t mean yet another fallacious liberal trope you picked up from the internet, but ACTUAL refutation.

            Good luck!

  2. You should have done two minutes of research on this one, MDN. You blew it, and so did all the commenters on the CNN article.

    Spotify does NOT use MP3! They use Ogg Vorbis at 96, 160, and 320kbps.

    That being said, there’s no way in hell anybody is going to be able to tell the difference between Ogg Vorbis at 320kbps and AAC at 256kbps – all things being equal.

    Regardless, CNN TOTALLY blew it with a demonstrably false headline. The could have at least posed the question and stated that listening tests would be necessary, then a simple sentence or two along the lines that not all services use the same codec and therefore data rates are not directly comparable would have sufficed. That would have been too easy, though.

    1. You sure they use Ogg Vorbis on the mobile app? I believe they would use it in the desktop app, but it doesn’t really make sense to use Ogg Vorbis on mobile. Mobile ARM architecture is very efficient at decoding ACC and MP3 audio codecs, because it’s optimized for that. I think it would waste much more power trying to decode Ogg Vorbis audio codecs, by comparison.

  3. CNN gets a ranking of about 58% truthful, MSNBC about 45%, and Fox News about 20%. All are pitiful. Plus the reporting is always slanted to an agenda, whatever the viewpoint is.

    1. Which network news told the truth about Benghazi? A: Fox.
      Which network parrotted the White House lies about Benghazi? A: All the rest including CNN.

      CNN viewers still think the Benghazi embassy attack and murders of Americans were caused by an Internet movie because that’s what the liars at the White House told them to say.

      1. You got that right! God bless you!
        Who cares about the endless committees telling endless lies.
        We know EXACTLY what happened!
        The truth shall prevail!

  4. From MDN Take: “Spotify uses Ogg Vorbis format, which is open source, hence free, and also inferior to AAC.”

    Lots of open source technology is used throughout OS X, iOS and many Apple apps. They also tend to be some of the most efficient and trouble free portions of the stack.

    When Apple decided to build a browser they went to the K Desktop Environment and built Safari upon it. Does that mean WebKit is therefore inferior?

    Both OV and AAC are lossy formats and discard information to reduce the file size. Many believe that OV does a better job than AAC and go to the trouble of supporting the project because of that fact.

    I signed up for a 3 month trial of Spotify Premium the other day and listened to the files from iTunes and those from Spotify on both my Focal Monitors and my Bowers & Wilkins headphones. The sound quality on many of the files were noticeably better on the Spotify OV streaming files than the iTunes Match AAC files. The Apple Lossless files were the best.

    Your mileage may vary depending upon what you are listening to, the quality of the DA conversion, the Amp the speakers/headphones, etc.

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