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.

There used to be a serious sound quality issue in the purported volume normalization functionality. However, Spotify has since improved their software, and the problem no longer exists. We keep this article to explain what the problem was and to clarify it is now history.

The issue was that 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 had issues, altering how songs sounded, which could result in very poor sound quality for some tracks. Spotify users could 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 was badly affected by this setting was: "Relaxation Music part 2: The Origin" by The Amnis Initiative. It had huge drops in volume at unexpected moments. This is now solved. Check it out here. Bad passages start for example at 2:12, 6:00 or 7:36.


Why did the sound cringe on Spotify?

Spotify used to use a dynamic compressor, which continuously regulated the output by decreasing the volume when a song reaches a loud part.

How could that be fixed?

Turning 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 dropped out where the song isn't loud at all?

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

Did this happen for everyone?

No, use of the dynamic compressor was an option in your client. We are convinced that almost any user would prefer to turn this option off, when it worked the way it did. The option was turned on by default.

Should I turn this option off?

Back then, yes! Even for songs that aren't as clearly affected as "The Origin", dynamic compression changed the feeling of the song and severely reduces any climax in the music. However, the function controlled by the setting has been replaced by a much better feature, actual normalization, which reduces the volume of the entire track, or, when playing an album, the entire album.

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

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

Now what?

Nothing! Spotify has since implemented exactly what the name of their option always promised: A proper normalization option that changes the level of each song entirely, rather than adjusting it second by second, reducing peaks in the song. The volume of the song is calculated in such a way that peak reduction (loud mastering) does not grant the track extra volume. The new functionality is excellent, has helped to end (pretty much) the loudness war, and is probably best turned on by almost anyone who wants a good continous experience between tracks. Spotify did a great job correcting this wrong.

This page no longer has anything important and current to report to you, but I keep it up because so many other pages are still linking to this, and having reported the problem, we should also continue to report its fix...