Spotify is a popular online music service, active in Europe and the United States.

Users have access to almost any piece of music, which is streamed to their computer, tablet or smartphone.

As it turns out, the sound quality of music played on Spotify can be severly affected by a strange type of dynamic compression, which can easily be turned off.

The Spotify Sound Quality issue

Spotify has some issues, which alters how songs sound, and can make the sound quality of some music seem very poor. Spotify users can correct this by turning off the "Set the same volume level for all tracks" option in their Spotify settings.

An example of a song which is badly affected by this setting is: "Relaxation Music part 2: The Origin" by The Amnis Initiative. Check it out here. Bad passages start for example at 2:12, 6:00 or 7:36.


Why does the sound cringe on Spotify?

Spotify uses a dynamic compressor, which continuously regulates the output by decreasing the volume when a song reaches a loud part.

What to do?

Turn of the "Set the same volume level for all tracks" option in the preferences menu of your Spotify client.

But in your example, the sound drops out where the song isn't loud at all.

That's true. "The Origin" includes very low sounds only reproduced by subwoofers. If you don't use a sub woofer, you won't detect the volums peaks the compressor reacts to.

Does this happen for everyone?

No, use of the dynamic compressor is an option in your client. We are convinced that almost any user would prefer to turn this option off! For some reason however, the option is turned on by default.

Should I turn this option off?

Yes. Even for songs that aren't as clearly affected as "The Origin", dynamic compression changes the feeling of the song and severely reduces any climax in the music.

But won't the levels of songs across Spotify vary if I turn this option off?

Indeed they will, but they also vary with this option turned on. Compression of the loudest passages hardly solves the problem it claims to solve.

Now what?

Spotify should implement exactly what the name of their option already promises: A proper normalization option that changes the level of each song entirely, rather than adjusting it second by second, reducing peaks in the song. Such an option could include some simple logic to allow for certain climaxes to peak above an average normalization level.

Do feel free to write to Spotify with your feedback, by writing them here.