Spotify logo on a smartphone next to truly wireless earbuds
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The free version of Spotify puts caps on the audio quality. You need Spotify Premium to listen at the highest quality.
Spotify is a very popular streaming music service, thanks in large part to being free. Ads are an annoying part of using Spotify for free, but there’s something else you may not realize—sound quality is worse too.

The free version of Spotify streams tracks at 96kbps on the mobile apps and 160kbps on your computer. That’s a small, but noticeable drop in quality compared to a CD. With Spotify Premium, you have the option to listen to tracks at up to 320kbps, which is essentially the same as CD quality audio.

Spotify sound quality options.

If you’re worried about burning through data at that higher level, you can choose different streaming qualities for Wi-Fi and cellular. Plus, you have the ability to download music for offline listening with Spotify Premium.

Of course, that doesn’t mean much unless you have a good pair of headphones to appreciate the higher quality. Check out our Best Headphones guide to find a pair for your needs. Better sound quality is just one of the benefits of paying for Spotify Premium. If you’re interested in giving it a whirl, you may be able to save a little money on a subscription.

The Best Headphones of 2022

Best Headphones Overall
Sony WH-1000XM5
Best Budget Headphones
Philips SHP9600
Best Noise-Canceling Headphones
Sony WH-1000XM4
Best Wireless Headphones
Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless
Best Wired Headphones
Sennheiser HD 650
Best Workout Headphones
Adidas RPT-01
Best Studio Headphones
Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO Headphones
Profile Photo for Joe Fedewa Joe Fedewa
Joe Fedewa is a Staff Writer at How-To Geek. He has been covering consumer technology for over a decade and previously worked as Managing Editor at XDA-Developers. Joe loves all things technology and is also an avid DIYer at heart. He has written thousands of articles, hundreds of tutorials, and dozens of reviews.
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