About the Audio Quality of your Uploads

  • 5 January 2018
  • 36 replies

Userlevel 7
Badge +3
Hi there everyone,

There's recently been discussions in the community regarding the quality with which your uploads are streamed on SoundCloud.

We always appreciate feedback, but these reports are inaccurate. SoundCloud has not altered its approach to audio quality. We have been using the Opus codec (among others) since 2016, and we regularly test different combinations of encoding and streaming to offer listeners a quality experience on any device.

Furthermore, we store all content from creators at its originally uploaded quality level so we can continually adapt to advances in encoding and playback.

As always, if you believe you're experiencing any issues with a particular track of yours, please send them our way and we can help troubleshoot.

Thank you & all the best

36 replies

Userlevel 2
I am stating a fact here, when I am logged on as myself and listen to my or others tracks there is distinct digital distortion, it sounds like the bit rate has been reduced, it’s most notable on higher frequencies and on strings, it sounds really terrible, as if the file has been converted to a lower quality file. If I log out and go back to my page everything sounds fine. So to illiterate, logged in everything sounds bad, logged out, all is well. I have no idea why this should be. Over to you soundcloud tech boys.
This statement is false and really sad to see. In another thread it has already been stated by a Moderator that SoundCloud is rolling out a new format that is only activated when you are logged in.

@Mathis You guys need to be more transparent with these issues instead of giving everyone the runaround.
Userlevel 1

I also am not happy about this. @Mathis it is clear when consulting the OPUS website that 64k audio is worse than MP3 at 128k. I agree that the difference is not linear (MP3 is not 2x better even though it requires 2x the bandwidth), but I also love music and am sad to see ANY reduction in sound quality. I also agree this also probably reduces your streaming cost by a factor of 2. That being said, I would like to see you try to save money elsewhere rather than damage the quality your main product (music streaming). Please give us 128k streaming with OPUS as that increases the audio quality without increasing your cost. Also, it is a shame I had to learn about this from a 3rd party instead of soundcloud being upfront and informing us that they are reducing the quality of the streamed music. Please make soundcloud THE platform for high quality streaming of independent undiscovered talent. That would make me very happy :)

Link to comparison chart:
Userlevel 2

Does the audio quality reduction affect the "pro" users ? What is the real codec and bitrate used for free et pro users ?
Userlevel 2
if that is true, that's the final straw and I'm finally going to cancel my pro account.
sorry guys. a site that is alll about audio, reducing audio quality?!
unbelievable. who is responsible for such decisions?!!
Userlevel 2
=who is responsible for such decisions?!!

Money and profit.

But I expect an precise et technical answer from Soundcloud... before eventually canceling my account.
Userlevel 1
1) soundcloud must be transparent about this kind of decision
2) if they will confirm and continue the opus 64k format i will also cancel both of my pro account...yes you save money on bandwidth but how many customers are you going to lose? i call this suicide management
Userlevel 2
+ 1
I’ve just been on and it does sound tinny, cold and compressed.
There’s lots of disgruntled customers on Facebook Soundcloud who are all cancelling their subscriptions if this problem is not resolved.
Quality should always be improving, not decreasing! Lift your game SC or I’m joining the growing “Sexit” movement.
Userlevel 5
I'm DONE. You guys have exploited us creators. Already canceled my auto renew subscription for next month. Typical corporate sellout situation. This is the last straw.. You were lucky enough to have been bailed out recently from total collapse, and then you do this in such an underhanded greasy way. I'm encouraging all of my network to jump ship also.. But that's already happening anyway.. Regardless of this new codec, I work too hard on my craft to accept such a substandard platform to showcase my work. UNBELIEVABLE 64 kbs =doomsday
Userlevel 2
If we don't get any credible expanations from Soundcloud (quality for pro users should be at least MP3 320)I will not only cancel my account, but also post about this unacceptable behaviour on social networks and music forums.

Soundcloud pro worse than Youtube (free). What a shame!
Userlevel 7
Badge +3
Hi everyone,

Thank you for your continued feedback around the streaming quality of uploads.

As mentioned initially, we've not altered our approach to audio quality. We are working with a number of different combinations of encoding and streaming technologies, including using the Opus codec, among others. To learn more about codecs, FACT mag has written an interesting article that may be helpful in educating ourselves about today's streaming and encoding technologies.

If you believe you're experiencing any issues with a specific track, please report these cases and we'll help troubleshoot. You can also refer to our support resources, which include our Help Center, the Help Community, as well as our developer blog.

Userlevel 1
Whats wrong with you soundcloud. I have exactly the same problem with my upload, It sounds terrible, especially in the high frequencies and only on this streaming platform. On youtube everything is alright
Userlevel 2
you know what would be some actual info?
"we used 128kbit mp3 before, now we use 96kbit opus, it looks like a decrease in quality, but studies(link) have shown that the perceived quality is actually better."

so simple.

Mathis, you write a lot and manage to say nothing. I don't blame you, must be hard for a support guy to defend stupid management decisions.

I'm done.
disabled auto-renew of my pro+ account after 3 years.
Userlevel 5
Is anyone else having every fooking time they play anything or their own sounds theres like a stutter, almost like two mp3 soundforms have been joined but not in sync, its absolutely disgusting that this place has ended up like this, its supposed to be about music yet youre sound qualities fooked tbh, it wrecks anything ive produced listening to it on here & thats on my pc, its going to put everyone off cos its fooking ridiculas in this day & age and where people like me have been paying for a pro account for years!

mathias why is there this stutter asin two joined mp3s but not in sync, it sounds absolutely terrible???????
Userlevel 2
Soundcloud is the worlds largest music sharing social platform.

Yet its audio quality is shit.

I'm going back to YouTube.

130p video has better audio tracks than whatever Opus settings are being used here.

We all know how Opus works, and we all have ears.

If we are telling you that your settings are not optimal for our experience and enjoyment, maybe you should listen to us.

Bump up your Opus settings from 64kbps to 96kbps at the least...

Wait, what the fuck? Anything under 256kbps sounds like shit.

What a ridiclious website.

You better not delete my post either because then you'd be admitting you know what you are doing and purposefully offering shit quality audio as high quality experience.

Just make my explicitives astricks if you must, however, my choice of words most accurately reflect my feelings and expression.
soundcloud audio quality is not bad, I have a standard speakers and I dont hear the difference.
Userlevel 2
soundcloud audio quality is not bad, I have a standard speakers and I dont hear the difference.

I don't mean to be rude so please don't take my reply that way.

That just means you're in a small group of humans that don't have a musical ear.

It's not a bad thing, its just because your brain and ears function at a different level than mine and other musicians.

SoundCloud was meant for the musicians to get their music out. They should cater to us. Not reduce our sound quality to save money in order to push passing audio quality to our listeners.

If you wear headphones and compare a track from SoundCloud and lets say a track from Spotify or iTunes Music, what you want to listen for is a computer glitch of sorts in the background.

It'll sound similar to the visual comparison of watching a YouTube video at 1080p and then changing to 240p.

You want the music at almost full blast, dont focus on the "front" sound, try to dive into the headphone speakers and listen to the background "noise".

It's there. That's a sign of compassion and low bit rate which means the high quality mixture of all the sounds in the music track have been essentially clipped or compressed down to where its not apart of the music any more and bow you're missing out on an aspect of the music.

It's like adding or removing a subwoofer to your sound setup.

SoundCloud 100% makes enough money to upgrade their codec to OGG Vorbis or even AAC and raise the quality at LEAST 256 kbps at 48000 KHz sampling rate.

You still get super tiny file sizes and a globally compatible sound format that also works well with streaming.
Userlevel 2
On my side, I often find the high part of the spectrum seriously altered : artefacts, "flanger" effect on the hi-hat, hornpipes of flutes getting bad harmonics.
If I listen via the webpage it sounds terrible, like it's a low bit-rate mp3, and it keeps stuttering as if it's struggling to stream (I'm on 4g, so it's not an issue at my end). To be fair, it sounds ok via the app and with no stuttering.

I'd rather use the webpage as the app is clunky for comments and sharing. The cynic in me thinks this might be a change to force people onto that platform.
If I listen via the webpage it sounds terrible, like it's a low bit-rate mp3, and it keeps stuttering as if it's struggling to stream (I'm on 4g, so it's not an issue at my end). To be fair, it sounds ok via the app and with no stuttering.

I'd rather use the webpage as the app is clunky for comments and sharing. The cynic in me thinks this might be a change to force people onto that platform.

I am hearing quite a distortion on my uploaded files. I see there has been quite a lot of conversation about this over the past months and I see the moderator saying they can help troubleshoot if they have a specific track to look at. Here is the one I uploaded yesterday... I sounds very nice as the original file, but extremely weak and distorted in the streaming version. Can you help?
I've been on SC for about 8 years. For the longest time I was one of the biggest fans and evangelist because as a electronic music connoisseur there was no better place to find amazing music and new artists I would have never found previously. I only started producing a couple years back, and have been put off by the entire experience from this side of the fence...This is the first I'm hearing about the audio quality (I'm not very technical, so I just thought I was doing something wrong with my mixing and file conversions) but this does not surprise me one bit...its absolutely inline with SC's entire approach to the creators a marketer and entrepreneur I find it shocking that they try and make money off of power users that are providing them the content which allows them to exist.... But I went pro anyway because I wanted to simply replace some files without losing the history on the track. fast forward a bit and now I've produced too much for the regular pro account and I have to upgrade again?? Really? Wow! No thanks, I will just setup a bunch of free accounts and use you as you should be used...I just cant believe that in this day and age you have not figured out how to monetize your audience... Instead of developing services for creators to get what they want out of this (things like feedback from others, testing new genres, building micro communities of like minded artists, etc, etc) you do the laziest and dumbest thing ever...the opposite, you take advantage of the creators. Shame on you! BTW - I'm also on to your game of how you selectively bump up certain artists and throttle back visibility for others...this may be your jacked up AI doing it, but I wouldn't be surprised to hear that there are actual people behind the scenes playing SC God back there doing things like this. To leave this one a positive note, I do congratulate you for not deleting this thread and suppressing this communities outrage.

Does the audio quality reduction affect the "pro" users ? What is the real codec and bitrate used for free et pro users ?

I notice a difference as a pro user but not sure about your second question.
Yes, after reading comments from this I've decided to cancel my subscription. I definitely notice reduced quality in sound.