NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Apple Music will be streaming its tracks at a lower quality than its competition, but those smaller files will save you on your data plan.
Apple said its tracks will stream at 256 kilobits per second. That’s a bitrate similar to music files available on iTunes, but the Apple Music files are 20% smaller than competing streaming music services, including main rival Spotify.
Spotify’s audio files come in three sizes: 96 kbps, 160kbps and 320 kbps. Files with the highest quality are only available to paid subscribers. Apple Music doesn’t have a free version like Spotify does — all of its customers will have to pay $9.99 a month.
Jay Z’s Tidal offers its top range subscribers “lossless” music, streaming files as big as 1,411 kbps. The music mogul has been actively promoting Tidal’s $19.99-a-month “HiFi” music since acquiring the company early this year.
Music files with smaller bitrates, however, require less bandwidth to stream.
Rhapsody, which offers three different types of audio quality files in its archives, tells its users that quality on 64 kbps files is equivalent to a 128 kbps MP3 yet only requiring half the bandwidth. That lets you save on your data plan, especially if you’re listening to streaming music while traveling and without a Wi-Fi connection.
Besides eating up your data, higher quality music files require larger storage memory on your devices when downloaded for offline play. High quality audio is crucial to DJs and people who plays music at a high volume. But if you are just playing music on your iPhone on the way to work, you’re not going to notice a huge difference.
By Nicholas Yeap