spotify quality over sonos speakers

  • 8 September 2017
  • 37 replies
  • 13911 views

Badge
Hello, I am considering buying Sonos speakers (like Play 1 pair and sub) and one of the main uses will be to play Spotify. I am wondering about the sound quality over sonos speakers. I currently have a decades old home stereo that sounds decent enough with cds, but sounds not so very decent playing spotify, and even though spotify is set to the highest bitrate (I'm playing it directly wired to the "aux in" over a high quality cable from my iphone). I'm no audiophile, but am guessing that this may have less to do with something wrong with Spotify and more something to do with mixing new and old (and not so great) technology.

So what I'm wondering is the sound quality users are getting out of Spotify Premium over Sonos speakers. Also what app are you using (i.e.: Spotify Connect or Sonos)? I read somewhere on this board that Spotify Connect was limited to a low bitrate, but I'm assuming this problem has been fixed.

This topic has been closed for further comments. You can use the search bar to find a similar topic, or create a new one by clicking Create Topic at the top of the page.

37 replies

It's not a mix and match of technology, you are hearing the lower quality audio that Spotify provides.

Personally I find that Spotify grates with me after listening a while but not with my own CD rips or Deezer / Tidal. Many users are quite happy with Spotify but for me even compared with Apple music (which is also a lossy stream) its sounds inferior.

Spotify are looking into offering a higher quality stream (CD) but no idea when, so they are aware users are willing to pay for better.

I would suggest that you Trial Deezer or Tidal at their top tiers but these do cost more (£15 & £20) per month to give you a boost (CD audio quality). You may also want to look at Apple music for a similar price of Spotify rather than throw money at hardware unless you want a multiroom system.
Badge
I thought I’d give an update. I purchased two play 1s and a sub, ran all the trueplay setup etc, had Spotify streaming in extreme resolution, and some music sounded flat and thin. And no better than our my home stereo.

I fiddled with settings to boost the sub and bass, and it just started sounding muddy and weird on some songs. On a whim I then tried the same songs on a free trial of the high resolution version of tidal and it was like night and day. They sounded great, almost like cds. I dialed back the bass to normal, but left the sub a little bit boosted and it’s sounding great for most tracks.

The high res tidal subscription will cost double what the spotify one did but I’m glad to pay it. Instead of returning the speakers, I’m so much happier to be “returning” my Spotify subscription! :)

The weird thing was Spotify sounded totally fine on some tracks, especially layered rock tracks like U2. But on tracks with a lot going on like radiohead’s There There that should have soared fell flat, and even instrumental jazz piano sounded thin rather than warm and resonant.
Badge
Just thought I’d specifically add a big thank you to Belly M above for pointing me to Deezer and Tidal at their top tiers, this was the answer I needed.
Userlevel 1
Badge +2
Yes.

Of course differences are more less noticeable depending on quality of source material, but generally the effect is less compression in the mid-range - i.e. a less grating, tinny sound. More natural, easier to listen to, and more open with better dynamics. Summary = a more comfortable sound.

Differences even more apparent on Play:5 comapred to Play:1 pair (I find the Play:5 to sound a little more conpressed in the mid-range than the Play:1s anyway - with Apple Music and Spotify).

I’m in Poland, so the cost of the service is less than elsewhere, but in my case at least - I’d say the sound quality improvement certainly justifies the money.

PS. I will keep my Apple Music subscription, and Deezer of course, but I will scrap Spotify now.

Trial it to see what you think. You can easily resign from a subscription before they bill you for the first time if you want. Good luck 🙂
Userlevel 1
Badge +2
I suspect that this topic is more complex than any of us might fully understand, and not simply related to resolution, but also the peculiarities of data compression - mixed in with many other factors 😉 However, in my case, with my Sonos units, my room, and with the source material that I have been listening to, there is a definite difference - and it’s not just psychological (which these things sometimes can be). So you might have some fun listening comparisons to get your teeth into when the service comes to India 🙂 Hope you enjoy your research!!
More than any factor other than speaker quality, how music sounds depends on how it is mastered. There are many performances with CDs cut from different masters, where one sounds better than the other.

Every factor other than these two and the one of room acoustics resides in the realm of 5% of the sound quality that is heard.

Bottom line - if you are using Spotify, since you have no control over what masters are used, there is little control except over speaker quality and room acoustics.

I believe your other questions have been answered elsewhere.
Badge
Thanks Kumar, I will definitely read more posts. But what you said makes sense, and I have noticed this difference between masters myself on lps and cds. I was sifting through all the posts on Spotify and was having a difficult finding an answer to "does spotify suck or is it just me." Sounds like the latter is more likely, and something I can fix with some new audio equipment. 🙂
Many users are quite happy with Spotify but for me even compared with Apple music (which is also a lossy stream) its sounds inferior.

No experience of Spotify, but that surprises me; I use high quality ripped from CD music + 256 kbps iTunes purchases + Apple Music + Google play interchangeably and except for occasional sound level differences, all sound the same to me. Provided the stream is from the same master of course.
@Victoriabc: In any case, switching music services to any other available is easily done with no sunk costs attached to current provider.
Userlevel 7
Badge +20
I'm one of the people happy with Spotify at 'high quality' 320Kbps streaming. I can't really distinguish between my own lossless CD-quality rips and the same tracks played via Spotify, through good headphones as well as through Sonos equipment. Both sound excellent as long as the tracks themselves are well recorded.

Perhaps my ears are just rubbish. However, perceptual encoders like MP3, AAC and Vorbis (which is what Spotify uses) are very, very good these days, and hard to distinguish under experimental conditions from lossless source at higher bit rates.

As Kumar says, it's pretty easy to trial services and swap between them.
Its good to know that you agree that the audio quality of Spotify is inferior.
Badge
Ha, hear hear. Your reply is far more succinct than mine!

The high res tidal subscription will cost double what the spotify one did but I’m glad to pay it.

Try Apple Music if you can - free trial period there. I am quite happy with what I hear and it should be about the same price as Spotify which I have yet to hear.
Userlevel 7
Badge +15
I'm trialling Deezer Premium+ and the quality is as good as my own CD's converted to lossless FLAC.

Couldn't be happier with Deezer and my Playbar, Play1's and Sub. Will be buying a subscription when trial runs out.
Badge
Thanks for the tip. I’m trying out Deezer elite right now too and it has just as good (lossless) sound as Tidal and a lot more music!! Here in Canada some Tidal music is grayed out so it can’t be chosen, and a whole lot just doesn’t show up that is on Deezer, especially world music. I’ll very likely be subscribing to Deezer too. 🙂
Just thought I’d specifically add a big thank you to Belly M above for pointing me to Deezer and Tidal at their top tiers, this was the answer I needed.

No, thank you for trusting your ears... now I know you are in Canada you may want to audition Bluesound 😉
Userlevel 1
Badge +2
I just signed up to Deezer HiFi as a result of this thread. Very good! I prefer the user interface to Apple Music too. Thanks guys 🙂
Did you notice any sound quality differences?
Once it is made available in India I shall. I wonder though how much of the result is by better selection by the service of which master to carry for streaming. Apple Music has so many masters/versions of the same CD/songs, one doesn't know which to select to yield best results.
Userlevel 1
Badge +2
It’s not always the masters. I have chosen some pretty rare, specific recordings - for example a friend of mine is a recording artist, I have compared his albums on Apple Music and Deezer - and in the case of these albums, we know for sure that only one single master has been made available to all of the streaming services. Deezer sounds better with these particular albums. Interesting huh? 🙂
Yes; in that case, is there any way to know the streaming bits information for Deezer? For Apple it is 256kbps, that is known.
Userlevel 4
Badge +13
Not directly linked to the OP but I have been with Apple Music Premium for a long time and have been very happy with it BUT, waiting for the upcoming Alexa integration as I fear I will have to dump Apple and move to Spotify Premium to be able use it with Sonos/Alexa. Hoping with fingers crossed that Apple Music with be able to be accessed via Alexa, but don’t have much hope.
Not directly linked to the OP but I have been with Apple Music Premium for a long time and have been very happy with it BUT, waiting for the upcoming Alexa integration as I fear I will have to dump Apple and move to Spotify Premium to be able use it with Sonos/Alexa. Hoping with fingers crossed that Apple Music with be able to be accessed via Alexa, but don’t have much hope.

Yes this is an unknown quantity, give it a few days and hopefully this will be addressed.
Userlevel 1
Badge +2
https://support.deezer.com/hc/en-gb/articles/115004589249-Deezer-HiFi-FAQ

Quote from this page: ”High fidelity audio is music encoded in FLAC (16-bit, 1,411Kbps).”
Ok, got it; so it is CD quality.
But I must point out that I have a lot of ECM music, jazz mostly, in both lossless ripped from CDs and bought on iTunes in 256kbps formats. Both deliver sound of the usual high ECM standard and I can't hear any differences. I haven't done much comparing of ECM produced music streamed via Apple Music sound against these, but I doubt there will be a difference; there is certainly no technical reason for there to be.
I will give Deezer Elite a spin when it is available and see what I find.
Badge
After a day of listening to the same song over multiple streaming services I fully agree with J Daniel that it is more than subjective. My wife was going to send the speakers back until we found the high resolution formats of Tidal and Deezer. She said that, while still using Spotify, our new sonos system “sounded worse than our old 90’s stereo playing cds”. I fully agree with her. There must be something technical going on about the type of compression Spotify uses (even with quality set to “extreme”) than bit rate alone.

It’s too bad you can’t get lossless strraming in India yet Kumar, but maybe you can get a free trial of Spotify and compare it to Apple for everyone in the same position as you.

If money wasn’t an object, after a day of searching songs we’ve found thst—while it’s usually the other way around—Tidal has a few tracks not on Deezer, and we would purchase both. 🙂