YouTube Music Quality vs. Apple Music Quality

Choosing the right music streaming service is trickier than you may think. YouTube Music and Apple Music are among the best choices out there, but deciding which is better depends on various factors, the top being music quality.

YouTube Music Quality vs. Apple Music Quality

This article will review the audio and quality options offered by Apple and YouTube so you can better decide which one you’d like to use.

Audio Quality

Music files are created differently. If an audio file has a higher bitrate, the music will sound cleaner, more crisp. So you want to ensure that you get good-quality audio for whatever music subscription you choose. Let’s check out Apple first and see what they offer.

Apple Music

Apple Music allows you to stream songs at 256kbps. If you’re on your cell phone and want to conserve some of your mobile data, you can lower the bitrate if you want. 

Lossless and Hi-Res Options

Apple Music also offers “Lossless” and “Hi-Res Lossless audio.” It produces a vivid, refined sound that maintains clarity at various volume ranges. This is unlike CD or MP3 formats that will begin to distort the sound as you increase the volume. 

One drawback worth mentioning is that if you choose this option, you can burn through a lot of data. A three-minute song played in lossless quality consumes more than 140MB of data. That translates into close to 3GB after an hour of listening. That might not be an option if you’re on a restricted mobile plan.

Dolby Atmos

Apple also allows you to listen to music in surround sound with Dolby Atmos. Surround sound lets you hear audio effects by projecting sound from various angles: above, below, behind, in front, and even from the left and right. What you get is an unparalleled immersive audio experience. 

It is important to note here, though, that you can only listen to the songs in surround sound if they were uploaded with Dolby Atmos mix. 

You’ll know if the song is a Dolby Atmos track by the badge that appears in the app’s ‘Now Playing’ section.

Apple has also curated some playlists to showcase Dolby Atmos tracks. You can check them out if you’re interested.

To enable Dolby Atmos on your phone, go through the following steps:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Select Music. 
  3. Scroll to “Dolby Atmos” and then choose “Always On.”

If the format is available, then you can listen to surround sound. 

Dolby Atmos typically requires specific headsets or speaker systems to function on your device, especially if you have an older smartphone. These include BeatsX, AirPods, but on-device speakers for the iPhone XR or later support the feature. 

Spatial Audio

Spatial Audio is a Dolby subsystem exclusive to Apple Music. It allows you to listen to surround sound in different formats (Dolby Atmos 5.1 and 7.1 mixes) but also has a cool feature called dynamic head tracking. This creates the impression that audio is being streamed from your screen, but, in reality, the sound is coming from your headphones as you move around. 

YouTube Music

Here’s how YouTube Music compares.

Audio Quality

YouTube Music is streamed in 128kbps, half of Apple’s Music bitrate. 

However, you can change the audio quality settings if you want. To do that, follow these steps:

  1. First, you’ll need to go to your profile. Tap on the profile picture.
  2. Go to ‘Settings.’
  3. Then go to ‘Downloads and Storage.’
  4. Tap on the option that says ‘Audio Quality.’
  5. Choose the download quality of your choice. 

Note that you have the option of choosing between low (48kbps), normal (128 kbps), and high (256kbps). 

Whatever songs you downloaded previously will retain the audio quality unless you download them again. 

So keep in mind that changing the audio quality only impacts the audio quality of future downloads, not what you have already downloaded.

You can also use those steps to change the streaming audio quality if connected to Wi-Fi. In that case, all you would need to do is follow these steps:

  1. Go to your YouTube Music app
  2. Find your profile picture and tap on it.
  3. Go to ‘Settings.’
  4. Tap or click on ‘Data saving.’
  5. Then the ‘Audio Quality on Wi-Fi’ setting will appear. 

From there, you’ll be able to choose from the three audio quality settings: low (48Kbps), normal (128kbps), high (256kbps), and always high (256kbps) (meaning you will permanently stream high-quality audio even in the connection is not optimal).

Equipment Matters

Also, suppose you’re tweaking the audio quality on YouTube. You might not notice a big difference from normal to high if you re-download a song. 

There are two main reasons for this: audio equipment and the sound compression YouTube uses.

Audio quality is highly dependent on the audio equipment you’re using and your listening environment. And if you’re listening to YouTube, you’re likely only using the speakers from your laptop or the speakers connected to your PC. That doesn’t do justice to the sound.

Sound Compression

Audio on YouTube is compressed at 126 kbps AAC. This isn’t necessarily a problem, but it becomes so when video files are the source files. The audio is compressed a second time. So the sound isn’t as good.

While YouTube offers a massive library of songs to choose from, ultimately, the compressed audio doesn’t allow music equipment to produce the highs and the general frequency ranges it’s supposed to. 

Music Quality of Apple and YouTube: It’s Your Decision

When it comes down to it, if audio quality is a significant factor for you, then Apple is the clear winner. Apple Music allows users to access high-quality music while enabling immersive audio experiences. 

YouTube Music, on the other hand, has fewer options to tinker with audio quality. It does, however, have one of the largest music libraries out there, and you also can upload your own music if that’s what you want to do.

Ultimately, Apple Music may be more expensive but it offers better audio quality. This factor might draw you to it If that is what is important to you.

Was the article helpful in deciding which service you’d like to use? What criteria do you use to choose a service? Let us know in the comments section below.

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