Update - June 2017
To test this, I reuploaded the WAV, and now the difference is not as apparent as it was when I originally wrote the article.
I still think SoundCloud’s quality is the worst of the comparison, but it’s not the end of the world now!
Ok, let’s get it out of the way: SoundCloud’s audio quality sucks!
SoundCloud is the most atrocious sounding major streaming site on the Internet. It’s unlistenable, and you are chasing away potential customers by posting your music there. To make matters worse, most listeners won’t know why they turned off your song, they’ll just know it irritates them. It’s your song that will get the blame.Yes, I know, we’ve all had that nagging feeling when we pressed play on our SoundCloud tracks. You might have thought, like I did: “well, how bad can it be?”
Friends don’t let friends post on Soundcloud.
Can we agree on that?
- Eric Sarafin (Mixerman)
As it turns out, it’s bad. Really bad.
Listen and compare
Here’s a song from our latest album, uploaded to various sites as a 16-bit 44.1 file WAV file (CD quality). The album was mixed by Michael “Stav” Stravrou, and it was mastered retaining the full dynamics of the recording.
SoundCloud is changing the loudness, so turn up the volume a bit for BandCamp. Listen especially to the sound of the acoustic guitar and the vocal.
That’s a pretty striking difference, isn’t it?
SoundCloud is hyping the high end, and not in a good way. The vocal doesn’t sound right at all. The acoustic guitar sounds cheap, specially when strumming. Both streams are a 128 kbps mp3, so it’s not just an encoding problem. SoundCloud is (intentionally?) messing up with the audio.
So, how about video sites?
I find it remarkable that they still sound better than SoundCloud, bearing in mind that the song already went through at least one extra conversion when it was encoded into the video.
I think I prefer YouTube here. I find that Vimeo is a bit brighter, but there’s not a night-and-day difference.
What do you think?
P.S: if you liked the song, you can download our double EP for free…