Spotify Downloads vs. Streaming: Which is Better?

Affiliate Disclaimer is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to We are compensated for referring traffic and business to Amazon and other companies linked to on this site..

Downloading music from Spotify allows you to enjoy your favorite music offline. This means that you can save on data usage, and you don’t have to worry about your music cutting out due to a lack of signal.

Are Spotify downloads the same quality as streaming?

Spotify Premium users can stream music at 320 kbps, and you can also download music to listen to offline at this same quality. However, using the highest quality will mean the files are larger and as a consequence take longer to download.

Spotify allows you to choose which quality you would like to listen to music at, both when you are streaming it and when you are downloading it.

There are three different qualities that you can choose from, with the lowest being 96 kbps, the medium quality being 160 kbps, and the highest being 320 kbps for Spotify Premium users.

Are Spotify Downloads the Same Quality as Streaming?

Spotify features a huge selection of music and other audio content for its subscribers to enjoy. Most of the time, Spotify users choose to stream music on the platform, which requires an internet connection and can be taxing on their mobile data.

Thankfully, there’s a solution to this that allows Spotify users to save their data and enjoy music even when they have no Wi-Fi or coverage from a mobile network. They can simply download their favorite songs, albums, or even playlists to their offline Spotify collection.

This feature is a real game changer for many Spotify users. It essentially removes two of the most common issues that they are likely to encounter when the platform – running out of data mid-song, or their music cutting out due to a lack of internet connection.

One of the things that are likely to determine whether a Spotify user chooses to download their favorite tracks to an offline playlist is the audio quality. When streaming on Spotify Premium, the default audio quality is 160 kbps, which is pretty high.

Unless you’ve changed the setting in your Spotify account, any downloaded songs will also be at a bitrate of 160kbps, so the quality will be identical to your streamed audio.

With Spotify Premium, you can change the settings so that the audio quality is higher or lower than the default bitrate. Not many users are aware of this trick, but it can make a huge difference when streaming or downloading audio from Spotify.

How to Use Spotify’s Highest Audio Quality

The audio quality of Spotify’s audio is measured by the bitrate. This means that the higher the kilobites per second (kbps) the better quality the audio will be. As I mentioned earlier, Spotify offers three different audio qualities, which are:

  • 96 kbps
  • 160 kbps
  • 320 kbps

If you have a Spotify Premium account, you can change the audio quality settings to 320 kbps to enjoy the highest quality audio playback. This is easy to do, whether you’re on an iPhone, Android, Mac, or PC.

To change this setting on a smartphone or tablet, simply open the Spotify app, then go to the home page. Next, open the settings tab, and you should see “Audio Quality”. Underneath this, there will be a selection of different settings you can choose from.

Spotify automatically chooses the best-suited audio quality to prevent your music from buffering while you listen. This depends on the strength of your internet connection, and whether you are connected to Wi-Fi or you are using mobile data.

You can switch this off by tapping the slider next to“Auto adjust quality”. When you change the setting on the Spotify app, it will no longer automatically adjust depending on the strength of your internet connection. This may lead to the music stuttering, so you might want to turn it back on if your internet connection isn’t very strong. 

If you’re using a desktop and you want to enjoy the highest possible audio quality from Spotify, you need to click the “check” icon in the top right corner and then open the Settings menu.

You should see the tab for “Audio Quality” where you can choose 320 kbps from the list of options.

Check out this YouTube video that shows how to change the audio quality od Spotify downloads.

Does Spotify Audio Quality Matter?

When you download or stream music on Spotify or similar platforms, the differences in quality are more subtle than if you choose high or low-resolution videos on a platform like YouTube, for example.

This is because the audio files are compressed heavily so that they’re not too big, and therefore a lot of the details are taken out of the file. However, if you’re using a good set of headphones or speakers to listen to music, you’re more likely to notice the difference.

Audiophiles will notice the subtle differences that choosing a higher quality audio setting causes when listening to music, but the average listener may not be so attentive.

Even if you choose to listen to music at the lowest quality on Spotify, you’ll still be able to hear all of the instruments and vocal tracks. There is likely to be a slight compromise in the finer details of the song, and potentially a more limited dynamic range.

Many music lovers feel that the move to digital has caused a loss of audio quality, compared to analog methods like CDs and vinyl records. This is a matter of opinion though, and some people prefer the digital sound.

Which Streaming Platforms Have the Highest Quality?

Spotify isn’t the only streaming platform to emerge in recent years and enjoy worldwide success, but it is by far the most popular currently. There are many reasons for Spotify’s popularity, but one area that Spotify can’t claim to be the best in is audio quality.

When it comes to offering the best sound quality, there is one clear winner – Tidal. This platform got off to a slow start, but in the past few years, it has established itself as a real competitor to the more popular platforms like Spotify and Apple Music.

Tidal offers its listeners the option of enjoying lossless audio if they sign up for the “master package”, which is essentially the platform’s equivalent of Spotify Premium.

This allows Tidal subscribers to enjoy up to 9216kbps at 24 bits, which is exceptional audio quality for a digital streaming platform. The lossless audio is excellent for audiophiles who want the most detailed sound possible.

To achieve the highest fidelity sound that Tidal has to offer, it is recommended that the user utilizes a DAC (digital-to-analog converter). All audio interfaces have one of these built-in, or you can purchase a standalone DAC depending on your preferences.

It’s also important to note that you will only notice the improved audio quality that Tidal offers if you are using high-quality monitors or headphones. A set of earbuds or small speakers won’t make the improvements very noticeable.

The second best streaming platform for audio quality is Deezer. This platform uses the FLAC audio codec, which essentially means that you get studio-quality audio playing through your headphones or speakers.

Deezer is capable of streaming 1,411kbs lossless audio at 16 bits, which is identical to the quality of a CD. Therefore, this platform is a good choice for those who prefer the way a CD sounds to most digital audio formats.

Apple Music and Spotify are equally ranked when it comes to audio quality. Both platforms are capable of high-quality audio, but they don’t reach the same heights as Tidal and Deezer.

Despite this, Spotify and Apple Music continue to dominate the music streaming market, simply because most people seem to value functionality and a broad selection of content despite slight differences in audio quality.

Here’s a breakdown of the different audio qualities offered by popular streaming platforms.

Streaming PlatformHighest Audio Quality
Spotify320 kbps
Apple Music320 kbps
Tidal9216kbps at 24 bits.
Deezer1,411kbs at 16 bits
YouTube Music320 kbps
Amazon Music320 kbps
Table to show the highest quality kbps of audio streaming services

Related Questions

Is Spotify better quality than mp3?

Spotify’s standard audio quality is 160 kbps, which is less than that of an MP3 audio file. However, if you subscribe to Spotify Premium, you can access a higher quality of 320 kbps, which is equal to an MP3 file.

Will Spotify ever offer lossless audio?

In 2022, it was announced that Spotify would be introducing a new service called Spotify HiFi. Although there haven’t been many details revealed, the lossless audio is set to be of CD quality.

Does Spotify have EQ?

Spotify has an onboard equalizer that allows users to tailor the sound of music to suit their preferences. It is accessible on the iOS or Android app. Check out our article on the best EQ for Spotify here!

Previous Post

Optimizing Your AirPods EQ Settings: Here’s How

Next Post

Does Spotify Have Spatial Audio? We Investigate