Why does soundcloud bitcrush the low end of all my tracks?

Every single track I upload has weird artifacting in the low end, and I can't find anyone else with this problem. I'm not sure why it's only my tracks. Only when played through the soundcloud platform do the tracks sound like this. Played through my computer? The tracks sound great. Youtube? Still good. Spotify? Really fucking good. Here is an example of what I'm talking about: . Listen to the second half where the kicks and bass come in, it literally sounds like I threw a bitcrusher on the master. Please let me know why this is and how I can fix it.


EDIT: I've noticed a lot of people talking about a distorted high end due to rounding errors in the codec. As far as I know, this is not the problem I'm having. This is strictly about the low end. I've also obviously tried uploading the highest quality formats supported by soundcloud, but it makes no difference. Furthermore, quiet bass sounds (that are definitely not clipping) experience the same bitcrushing effect. This issue has been plaguing me for years, and I've been able to hear it though car speakers, headphones, studio monitors, you name it.

6 replies

I got the same problem with some of my tracks. it doesn't seem like it should be clipping or anything like that, but my some of my 808s sound bitcrushed whenever I play them through certain speakers or headphones. if someone knows a solution it'd be great.
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Hi there,

There's a great article by iZotope on the subject. The article is a bit aged, however the same techniques can still be applied to achieve better mixes for online streaming.
Still doesn't help us. You link this article as a solution for almost every reply you make. The only thing I've seen on this article that I haven't already tried is dithering, and it seems like soundcloud cancels out the dither when it processes it (I have the dithering option turned on but when I upload, the bitcrushing is still there). Here is a link to my most recent track, which has the bitcrushing issue that japes and I are talking about:

Could it maybe be something with the limiter I'm putting on? Limiters seem like an essential, and even songs I've uploaded in the past that never had the bitcrushing issue, now suddenly do. Was soundcloud updated or something? If you could listen and point me in the right direction and not just link the same article that you've posted on several other forums, that'd be great.

Also, when I listen to the track through Souncloud mobile and use my apple headphones, the beat sounds dope. But when I play it through the web browser, the bitcrushing occurs. It's so annoying and it seems like this is an outdated way to master tracks, as Apple Music and Spotify have made the upgrade to AAC in their streaming. Maybe Soundcloud Go or Plus or whatever the fuck would be more successful if the audio quality was up to par with these other outlets or least didn't cost the same.
Userlevel 7
Badge +3
Hey again,

Hmm, I've listened to the track, however cannot quite get to the "bitcrushing" experience that you're describing. The bass on your track is quite heavy, so I can imagine how this can have an audible effect on some sound systems.

I'd try to set the limiter to peak at -1 dBFS to try and see how this affects the sound on SoundCloud, just to give it a bit more headroom. I would also lower the bass slightly in the mix to leave some room for the other elements, and add a low cut under ~20-35hz (35 might cause some of the "boom" gets lost already, so be mindful of that), just to make sure there is nothing that isn't audible to the human ear, cluttering up the mix on the low end.

In order to get back some of the lost volume, you could try and drive the Threshold on the limited a bit further.

Are you using a metering tool? This one is free. I'm aiming at a mere -12 LUFS in terms of loudness when it comes to the mixdown.

Those are merely some ideas in terms of mixing that have helped me in the past, given I make music myself every now and then, nothing that is very particular to SoundCloud. I will forward your feedback to the relevant product team.

Let us know how it went.

Thanks for the quick response and the tips. Definitely some good advice even if it doesn't work out on this track specifically.
wusspoppnjim wrote:

Also, when I listen to the track through Souncloud mobile and use my apple headphones, the beat sounds dope. But when I play it through the web browser, the bitcrushing occurs.

I found out that the browser I use (firefox) exacerbates this issue, and that the bitcrushing, as far as I've tested, is inaudible on something like chrome. I've checked out the audio parameters in firefox's 'about:config' to no avail, but perhaps I missed something. I wonder if there is some audio processing feature built into chromium that firefox simply lacks...

Furthermore, I do not experience this through the mobile app using HEADPHONES. I have heard the bitcrushing through car speakers connected to my phone via bluetooth, though.

It's interesting that you'd point out something like a limiter being an issue, I'll have to look into that further before I can surmise any reason as to why that would be causing this issue. I'm actually glad someone else is experiencing this - hopefully we can cross-examine our relative information to triangulate the source of this problem. What DAW are you using? I use FL Studio 12 & FL Studio 20, both of which have this issue. Are you on firefox as well, or something else? I encourage you to try a different browser and listen to some of your tracks that have this issue. I can hear the bitcrushing on your track with firefox, but it sounds just fine through chrome.

I'll look into using a metering tool the next time I render something out as well; however, it is important to note that the rendering process itself seems to have no effect on the bitcrushing. For example, I can let FL Studio render my song through whatever processes it uses, or I can simply record the master output with something like Edison (FL Studio VST). The result is essentially the exact same when it comes to the bitcrushing. I really hope we can collaboratively come to a resolution to this issue, thank you both for your input!