About Apple Music’s audio quality

“Apple Music doesn’t debut until June 30, but already there are loads of perceptions about the service, and certainly music quality is an important issue. What we do know is that it’ll be very much based on Beats Music intermixed with Apple’s own unique bag of tricks,” Gene Steinberg writes for The Tech Night Owl. “How it fares against such market leaders as Spotify won’t be known for a while, but it’s a sure thing Apple is working with a huge advantage, some 800 million credit cards registered with iTunes, and a three-month free trial.”

“Typical of Apple’s critics, they can come up with some pretty outlandish stuff to argue about, so there was a report from a CNN blogger the other day claiming that Apple would be delivering music with poorer quality audio with Apple Music. How so? Well, it seems that Beats Music streams 320K MP3 tracks, whereas Apple offers 256K AAC,” Steinberg writes. “Without actually thinking any further, the CNN blogger subtracts 256 from 320, sees a gap and pronounces the audio quality inferior. Now it so happens that AAC (short for Advanced Audio Coding) is a higher efficiency codec. So the smaller audio files from Apple should deliver identical sound quality.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Yes, as we wrote earlier this month:

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

That’s good for your ears as well as your data plan.


CNN blows it, erroneously claims Apple Music will ‘sound worse’ than competition – June 11, 2015
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. I still don’t understand why I need Apple music.

    * Spotify is FREE
    * Pandora is FREE
    * Hundreds of similar services and radios stations are FREE

    Or I can pay Apple for a substandard version of a similar service that is FREE.

    Where do I sign up?

    1. *Spotify & Pandora have a FREE service with limited capabilities and ADS
      -You pay extra for FULL Service

      *Apple Music is 3 MONTHS FREE of the FULL Service, but still has what we call iTunes Radio as a FREE service AKA more limited than apple music (Offline playing is not FREE in any of the services,

      Please read a little each service details before shouting nonsense

      1. @chuygayboy

        Here’s the problem, I don’t mind ads because I only listen to Pandora a fraction of the time, I hookup to my iphone 90% of the time.

        Apple Music, like every other new Apple product lately, is another overpriced, unnecessary, “me too”, subpar option.

        1. “I hook up my iphone (sic) 90% of the time.”

          Did you not realize that Samsung doesn’t make iPhones? Did you know that Apple products autocorrect the spelling of iPhone to use a capital P ?

          1. I understand your point if you like one curator over another, and if you like ADS, (i myself have 2K CDs uploaded in my devices and don’t understand easily people that put up with any radio), Well I understand a little and actually music is different things for different people, but FREE iTunes Radio still exists on Apple, and FREE is not overpriced,, again Spotify and pandora charge for extra treatment, and it is the same cost as apple. so you might say you don’t like the interfase, the music selection, or even the ads (some are good). But you can’t say it is overpriced if you compare free meal on some place with paid meal on elsewhere (if there are free meals on both)

    2. NOTHING’s FREE! You get what you pay for, or what you SETTLE for. The FREE music is of inferior quality, but if you can’t hear the difference, then, you’re right! Go for it… however, some of us CAN hear the difference and the few xtra bucks spent is partially offset by the smaller file sizes, the convenience of the native eco-system, Apples renown personal security, and a much larger Database of music…. dunno, you decide.

    3. Apple Music has a free tier that includes the Beats 1 radio station and all the other services that have existed until now. Like free Spotify and free Pandora, free Apple Music will have ads. And like all the free services you cannot download content for offline listening.

    4. I think you’re oversimplifying. I think Apple Music will be more than just a music streaming service. It will be integrated into people’s lifestyle deeper than Spotify and Pandora have been able to achieve. That has always been Apple’s magic…. to make the device or service relatively transparent to the user.

      You don’t need Apple Music, but you also don’t need pizza or coffee or ice cream, but do you enjoy those? Many companies make those… why not just one or two? Competition is good for us all.

  2. This is what I would like to know

    320kbps rate translates to ____ MB per minute or ___ MB per hour. ___ GB per 8 hours……….total GB____ if listening 1 hour a day for the month

    256kbps AAC rate translates to ____ MB per minute or ___MB per hour. or ___ GB per 8 hours……….total GB____ if listening 1 hour a day for the month

    I also saw this statement: true or not?

    320kps MP3 is about the same as 256kbps AAC

    1. 320kbs is 25% more bandwidth per second than 256kbs

      both are variable rate so actual size might change, but
      320/8*60 = 2.4 MB per minute, and
      256/8*60 = 1.9 MB per minute.
      Apple is 8.9 hours in 1GB
      Mp3 is 7.1 hours in 1GB

        1. I trust a competent musician (NOT many on the radio, but I digress) to know how many 16ths are in a whole better than the average carpenter! In an age where the average high school student can’t make change at McDonald’s, I’m happy when a musician gets behind the register. I get your intended joke, but in fact a good musician is actually very good at math. Not a good singer, a good drummer (HA! – percussionist maybe!), or even a good piano player, but a good musician.

          1. Reminds me of a funny college story; playing a ⅜ song in compound rather than simple meter (much to the disgust of my Korean instructor) he INSISTED I use ‘tetrachord position’ but I was all thumbs….HAH!!!

  3. Spotify Radio sucks and I’m paying for the service. Same 100 songs. You give the ones you don’t like the thumbs down and it still keeps playing them.

    Spotify is great for user playlists, listening to artists, albums etc, but it’s not very intelligent. If Apple gets the algorithms right, the will have a winner.

    1. Yeah, I’m with you on this. I have rather eclectic music tastes that run the gamut of genres, so it would be very hard for any single station, or playlist based on what I listen to at any given moment to randomize acceptable tracks for me.

  4. I saw this coming years ago when I was sitting in the Quicktime Conference in Beverly Hills just before AAC was released. One of the biggest marketing FAILURES is that AAC didn’t require the audio files to use .MP4. If they had, even a CNN blogger would realize that MP4 is better/newer than MP3 and this article would have never been written.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.