SoundCloud changed its audio format ?


SoundCloud recently swapped its audio format from 128 kbps MP3 to 64 kbps Opus and some users are not happy about it.

You can see the change in a photo shared by on Twitter by New Jersey producer Direct.

Soundcloud recently changed their streaming format from 128kbps MP3 to 64kbps Opus. This drastically reduces the audio quality and can introduce strange artifacts.

I made & released a Chrome Extension to restore the 128kbps MP3s. Give it a try. 

Though the numbers may seem like the streaming service has cut its audio quality right in half, it’s not that simple. Users have pointed out that Opus (the successor to .ogg) is a higher quality format than MP3 and a 64 kbps Opus file generally sounds better than a 128 kbps MP3. However, users are still reporting hearing a noticeable dip in audio, both on the browser and SoundCloud Go app.

Spek’s are not perfect examples showing a codec’s strengths/weaknesses.

Here is an audio example showing the weaknesses with Opus: 

Direct has since released an add-on for Firefox and Chrome that lets users on Soundcloud to switch back to MP3. FACT has reached out to SoundCloud for comment and will update this story as it develops.

Update, January 5: SoundCloud says reports of a decrease in audio quality are “inaccurate”, cite standard testing.

Since SoundCloud was close to sinking last year before a $169.5 million investment round helped steady the ship, the online community soon began speculating over what a change in audio format might mean for the company and the reasoning behind such a move.

SoundCloud would not disclose any specific codecs or versions its using at any given time on any given device, calling that is proprietary information, but restated that reports of any altered approach to audio quality are “inaccurate” and that the company is actively investing its money and resources on streaming.

In a press statement, a spokesperson for SoundCloud has said it has not altered its approach to sound quality and that different combinations of encoding and stream are regularly tested for quality assurance.

“We have been using the Opus codec (among others) since 2016,” they write. “We always appreciate feedback, but these reports are inaccurate.”

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