Outrage ensued after one SoundCloud user thought he discovered the platform had cut its audio file bitrate in half. In reality, SoundCloud has transitioned from streaming MP3s to Opus files, an audio file format that is supposedly superior. Claire Lobenfeld breaks Opus down and gets into how it can benefit you, the listener.
After making headlines throughout 2017 for layoffs and cashflow problems, SoundCloud is kicking off this year with more controversy. An uproar ignited after New Jersey producer Direct’s tweets about an alleged downgrade in SoundCloud’s audio quality went viral. Here’s the reality: SoundCloud has ditched 128kbps MP3 files for 64kbps Opus files and the company itself is claiming no change 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,” a spokesperson told Billboard in response to backlash. “Furthermore, we store all content from creators at its originally uploaded quality level so we can continually adapt to advances in encoding and playback.” So why, then, is the bitrate chopped in half?