Earlier this month, there was some controversy over whether or not SoundCloud had reduced its audio quality. It is easy to see why podcasters and musicians who post their work on SoundCloud would find that idea upsetting. What really happened? I guess it depends on who you choose to believe.
Stereogum reported on January 4, 2018, that the news was first reported on Pigeons & Planes. As far as I can tell, the Pigeons & Planes post is no longer available. Here’s what Stereogum reported:
SoundCloud recently changed its streaming audio format from 128kpbs MP3 to 64kbps Opus, Pigeons & Planes reports, effectively reducing the platform’s audio quality. Although Opus is a higher quality file format and should sound better even with a lower bitrate, users are still noticing a significant drop in quality on both browsers and the SoundCloud Go app.
Several websites that wrote about this included tweets from Direct @DirectOfficial, a New Jersey producer:
Soundcloud recently changed their streaming format from 128kbps MP3 to 64kbps Opus. This drastically reduces the audio quality and can introduce strange artifacts.
— Direct (@DirectOfficial) January 3, 2018
I want to avoid spreading misinformation as much as possible. Opus 1.2 at 64kbps should sound equal or better than mp3 at 128kbps, but on Soundcloud it does not. leading me to believe it is an older version of the codec. This could be addressed in the future. https://t.co/MpN2OoKbIG
— Direct (@DirectOfficial) January 4, 2018
On January 5, 2018, Pigeons & Planes posted a statement from SoundCloud:
“These reports are inaccurate,” the statement reads. “SoundCloud has not altered its approach to audio quality. We have been using the Opus codec (among others) since 2016, and we regularly test different combinations of encoding and streaming to offer listeners a quality experience on any device.”
In addition, a SoundCloud representative told Pigeons & Planes: “Furthermore, we store all content from creators at its originally uploaded quality level so we can continually adapt to advances in encoding and playback.”