Everything You Need to Know about YouTube Music Quality

Grace's user avatar
Grace
February 4, 2024

Among the various music streaming platforms, YouTube Music stands out by providing a wide range of unreleased songs, covers, and remixes that may not be available elsewhere. Its integration with YouTube adds value by allowing users to easily transfer between music video and audio. However, users have expressed different opinions on the audio quality of YouTube Music, with some finding it satisfactory while others feel that the music lacks details.

Audio quality can be a key factor in your listening experiences. In this article, let’s explore what audio quality YouTube Music can offer, how to adjust YouTube Music quality, and which one is superior in quality between YouTube Music and Spotify.

What Is YouTube Music Audio Quality?

YouTube Music provides three levels of audio quality: Low at 48 Kbps AAC, Normal at 128 Kbps, and High quality at 256 Kbps. They also offer an option called Always High, which maintains high quality even in poor network conditions. However, YouTube Music currently does not offer lossless audio.

  • Low: 48kbps AAC & OPUS
  • Normal (the default setting): up to 128kbps AAC & OPUS
  • High: up to 256kbps AAC & OPUS
  • Always High: maintains High quality(256kbps) even with a poor network connection

YouTube Music premium members can choose from all three audio quality options for both streaming and downloading experiences. In addition, they can also choose Always High when listening to YouTube Music online.

YouTube Music Free users can only choose between the Low and Normal settings on the desktop web player.

The table below outlines the YouTube Music audio quality options for users to choose from.

Audio QualityStreaming
(Premium)
Downloading
(Premium)
Streaming
(Free)
Low – 48kbpsYesYesYes
Normal – 128kbpsYesYesYes
High – 256kbpsYesYesN/A
Always High – 256kbpsYesN/AN/A

How to Change YouTube Music Streaming Quality?

YouTube Music Premium members can select the audio quality when streaming or downloading. If you haven’t manually chosen an audio quality, it will automatically be set to Normal.

Here is how you can select the audio quality for your streaming with YouTube Music:

  1. Open the YouTube Music app and tap your Profile Picture at the top right.
  2. Select Settings > Playback & Restrictions.
youtube music settings

  1. Now you can change both the Audio Quality on Wi-Fi and Mobile Network.
  2. Select the available audio quality options from Low, Normal, High, and Always High.
select-audio-quality-on-wifi-and-mobile

How to Select YouTube Music Download Quality?

YouTube Music allows Premium users to download music for offline playback. Before downloading, you can choose the audio quality for your offline music with the following steps.

  1. Tap your Profile Picture on the YouTube Music app and select Settings > Downloads & Storage.
  2. Tap Audio Quality.
  3. Now you can choose the download quality from Low, Normal, and High.

YouTube Music Quality vs. Spotify

As mentioned earlier, YouTube Music provides 4 audio quality options for its Premium users, with the highest quality at 256kbps: Low(48kbps), Normal(128kbps), High(256kbps), and Always High(256kbps). 

On the other hand, Spotify allows Premium members to choose from 5 options for sound optimizations: Low(24kbps), Normal (96kbps), High (160 kbps), Very High (320 kbps), and Automatic Mode (depending on internet connection). The highest audio quality provided by Spotify is 320 kbps.

For Free users, YouTube Music provides a maximum quality of 128kbps, and users can only change between Low and Normal from the web player. In contrast, Spotify allows users on free accounts to choose from Low, Normal, High, and Automatic, offering up to 160kbps for Free users.

Technically speaking, Spotify offers better audio quality for both Free and Premium users. However, the audio quality difference between the two platforms is minimal and in most cases is imperceptible during listening. Some users find Spotify has a warmer bass while YouTube music has a more natural sounding. YouTube may sound louder, as Spotify uses normalization on all of the tracks. For better and louder audio quality on Spotify, you can turn off the “Normalize Volume” under the Audio Quality settings.

Audio QualityYouTube MusicSpotify
PremiumLow: 48kbps
Normal: 128kbps
High: 256kbps
Always High: 256kbps
Low: 24kbps
Normal: 96kbps
High: 160kbps
Very High: 320kbps
Automatic: depending on internet connection
FreeLow: 48kbps
Normal: 128kbps
Low: 24kbps
Normal: 96kbps
High: 160kbps

Conclusion

YouTube Music offers audio quality of up to 256kbps for its Premium members and 128kbps for Free users. You can adjust the music quality when streaming and downloading YouTube Music with a Premium account. Technically speaking, YouTube Music may seem inferior in audio quality when compared to Spotify. However, the difference is often unnoticed by listeners.

Extra Tip: How to Download YouTube Music with a Free Account?

YouTube Music Premium subscribers can download songs for offline playback. However, these downloaded files are limited within the YouTube app and cannot be transferred to other devices or played by other applications. For free users of YouTube Music, the download feature is not available.

Fortunately, a reliable software tool, Pazu YouTube Music Converter, offers a solution to overcome these limitations. This tool allows you to download YouTube Music songs, albums, playlists, and podcasts in various formats like MP3, M4A, and WAV on your Mac/Windows, regardless of whether you have a free or premium YouTube Music account. In addition, the downloaded tracks can be transferred to other supported devices, offering more convenience and flexibility in accessing your favorite music or podcasts offline.

With Pazu YouTube Music Converter, you don’t need to copy and paste YouTube/YouTube Music links manually, as it features a built-in YouTube Music web player. You can search for your favorite songs within the YouTube Music catalog and download them in lossless quality with full ID3 tags. Let’s look at the detailed steps for downloading YouTube Music to MP3 using Pazu YouTube Music Converter.

1. Run Pazu YouTube Music Converter 

To get started, download, install and run Pazu YouTube Music Converter on your Mac or Windows, which features a built-in YouTube Music web player.

After installation, launch the YouTube Music to MP3 Converter. If you have already purchased a license, click the key icon to register the converter. Otherwise, continue using the trial version.

You don’t need to sign in to your YouTube Music account.

YouTube Music Converter

2. Customize the Output Settings

Click on Settings (the gear icon) in the upper right corner to customize the output format, quality, folder, file name, language, and more.

settings

3. Add songs

Browse or use the search function to find the songs, albums, or playlists you want to convert to MP3, then click the red Add to List icon to load the songs.

choose YouTube Music playlists

All songs in the playlist/album will be selected by default. You can uncheck the songs you don’t want to get.

choose YouTube Music songs

4. Download Music from YouTube Music

Click the Convert button and the program starts converting the YouTube Music songs.

convert YouTube Music to MP3

5. Locate the Converted Songs

After the conversion process is complete, click on the clock icon in the upper right corner to access the converted YouTube Music songs. To locate the the converted YouTube Music songs:

  • You can either click the folder icon to open the output folder where the songs are saved;
    or
  • Directly go to the output folder you customized in the previous step.
YouTube Music to MP3 converter