How Much Speed Do I Need to Stream Music?

Know the internet speed you need for the online music services you love most.

You don’t need a lot of speed to stream music from the internet. You’ll sip just half of a megabit per second from most music streaming services like iHeartRadio and Spotify. Any internet plan with speeds of 10 Mbps or more can stream average quality music.

Some music streaming services like Apple Music and Tidal offer high-definition “lossless” audio, however. These streams can reach just over 9 megabits per second (Mbps). You’ll need an internet plan that’s at least 20 Mbps to handle these streams.

Before you dive in, take our internet speed test to see where your connection currently stands so you can compare it to the music streaming requirements.

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How much speed do you need to stream music?

The amount of internet speed you need per music stream depends on the quality. The lowest streaming rate is around 32 kilobits per second (Kbps)—a low-quality stream like talk radio—while the highest is around 9,216 Kbps (9.126 Mbps). 

A good rule of thumb is to double those numbers, so your stream has plenty of breathing room. For example, if your audio stream is 9,216 Kbps, a speed of 18,432 Kbps (18.43 Mbps) should be more than sufficient.

Click on a link in the table below to see the speed requirements and our recommendations for your favorite music streaming services.

Music streaming speed requirements at a glance

Here’s a general list of internet speed requirements for Amazon Music, Deezer, Pandora, Spotify, and more. You can click on the service to discover additional information about the speed requirements for their different quality tiers.

ServiceRecommended speed (in Mbps)
Amazon Music0.50–7.46 Mbps
Apple Music0.50–7.46 Mbps
Deezer0.13–2.28 Mbps
Idagio0.38–2.82 Mbps
iHeartRadio0.26 Mbps
LiveXLive0.26–0.64 Mbps
Pandora0.13–0.38 Mbps
Primephonic0.64–18.43 Mbps
SiriusXM0.06–0.13 Mbps
SoundCloud Go0.26–0.51 Mbps
Spotify0.32–0.64 Mbps
Tidal0.64–18.43 Mbps
TuneIn Radio0.64 Mbps
YouTube Music0.09–0.51 Mbps

Pro tip:

Do you have the best internet connection possible to stream your favorite music services? Enter your zip code below to find out what’s available in your area.

Music streaming data requirements

Here we will break down the bitrates and recommended speed requirements based on quality or tier for each music streaming service. We’ll also provide more detail in regards to sample rates and bit depth for curious audiophiles.

How much data does Amazon Music use?

Quality/TierBitrateRecommended (in Kbps)Recommended (in Mbps)More info
SD256 Kbps512 Kbps0.51 MbpsGet Amazon Music Unlimited
HD850 Kbps1,700 Kbps1.70 MbpsGet Amazon Music Unlimited
Ultra HD3,730 Kbps7,460 Kbps7.46 MbpsGet Amazon Music Unlimited

Amazon’s HD quality tier streams 16-bit songs with a 44.1 kHz sample rate at 850 Kbps. The Ultra HD tier streams 24-bit songs with sample rates ranging between 44.1 kHz to 192 kHz at 3,730 Kbps average. Both “HD” tiers use lossless compression to preserve the fidelity of the original analog recording.

How much data does Apple Music use?

Quality/TierBitrateRecommended (in Kbps)Recommended (in Mbps)More info
SD256 Kbps512 Kbps0.51 MbpsGet Apple Music
Lossless850 Kbps1,700 Kbps1.70 MbpsGet Apple Music
Hi-Resolution Lossless3,730 Kbps7,460 Kbps7.46 MbpsGet Apple Music

Like Amazon, Apple provides two high-quality tiers that use lossless compression. Apple relies on its proprietary ALAC codec to stream 16-bit (44.1 kHz) and 24-bit (48 kHz) audio. The High-Resolution Lossless tier streams 24-bit music with sample rates up to 192 kHz.

How much data does Deezer use?

Quality/TierBitrateRecommended (in Kbps)Recommended (in Mbps)More info
Basic64 Kbps128 Kbps0.13 MbpsGet Deezer
Standard128 Kbps256 Kbps0.26 MbpsGet Deezer
High Quality320 Kbps640 Kbps0.64 MbpsGet Deezer
HiFi1,141 Kbps2,282 Kbps2.28 MbpsGet Deezer

Deezer’s first three tiers rely on the MP3 format, while the HiFi tier uses FLAC (lossless). The Deezer Free account provides Basic and Standard audio quality while the Student, Premium, Family, and HiFi plans add the High Quality audio tier. Deezer HiFi and Deezer Family HiFi are the only plans with lossless audio.

How much data does Idagio use?

Quality/TierBitrateRecommended (in Kbps)Recommended (in Mbps)More info
Normal160–192 Kbps384 Kbps0.38 MbpsGet Idagio
High320 Kbps640 Kbps0.64 MbpsGet Idagio
Lossless1,411 Kbps2,822 Kbps2.88 MbpsGet Idagio

Idagio’s free plan streams music at Normal quality, but the bitrate and format depend on the platform. The Premium plan supports both Normal and High quality tiers, while the Premium+ plan supports all three quality levels.

How much data does iHeartRadio use?

Quality/TierBitrateRecommended (in Kbps)Recommended (in Mbps)More info
Standard128 Kbps256 Kbps0.26 MbpsGet iHeartRadio

iHeartRadio’s maximum bitrate is 128 Kbps. That equals 58 MB per hour, which isn’t bad if you’re streaming using your mobile carrier’s data plan.

How much data does LiveXLive use?

Quality/TierBitrateRecommended (in Kbps)Recommended (in Mbps)More info
Free64–128 Kbps256 Kbps0.26 MbpsGet LiveXLive
Plus320 Kbps640 Kbps0.64 MbpsGet LiveXLive
Premium320 Kbps640 Kbps0.64 MbpsGet LiveXLive

The bitrate of songs played through LiveXLive depends on the platform and subscription. If you’re listening through a browser, you can set the quality to 128 Kbps or 320 Kbps. On mobile devices, you have an extra quality setting of 64 Kbps, presumably offered for those who listen using a cellular connection. LiveXLive acquired Slacker Radio in 2017.

How much data does Pandora use?

Quality/TierBitrateRecommended (in Kbps)Recommended (in Mbps)More info
Free24–64 Kbps128 Kbps0.13 MbpsGet Pandora
Plus24–192 Kbps384 Kbps0.38 MbpsGet Pandora
Premium128–192 Kbps384 Kbps0.38 MbpsGet Pandora

The audio quality ranges from 64 Kbps AAC+ to 192 Kbps when listening through a web browser. The Free and Plus plans range from 24 Kbps to 64 Kbps on mobile (Android, iOS, iPadOS) while the Premium subscription jumps up to 192 Kbps on the same devices. If you have a Sonos or similar device, the stream will always be 128 Kbps no matter what plan you have.

How much data does Primephonic use?

Quality/TierBitrateRecommended (in Kbps)Recommended (in Mbps)More info
Premium320 Kbps640 Kbps0.64 MbpsGet Primephonic
Platinum2,116–9,216 Kbps4,232–18,432 Kbps4.23–18.43 MbpsGet Primephonic

The Premium plan streams music in the MP3 format at 320 Kbps. The Platinum plan streams lossless FLAC music up to 24-bit songs with sample rates ranging from 44.1 kHz to 192 kHz. Primephonic does not offer a free option.

How much data does SiriusXM use?

Quality/TierBitrateRecommended (in Kbps)Recommended (in Mbps)More info
Music64 Kbps128 Kbps0.13–0.26 MbpsGet SiriusXM
Talk32 Kbps64 Kbps0.06 MbpsGet SiriusXM

If you listen to SiriusXM satellite radio on the internet, the bitrate is much lower than what you get when listening from a compatible car radio. Streams use the AAC codec, which means music sounds like MP3 audio encoded for 128 Kbps even though the stream is 64 Kbps. In addition, SiriusXM uses “variable bitrates” that change based on your connection.

How much data does SoundCloud Go use?

Quality/TierBitrateRecommended (in Kbps)Recommended (in Mbps)More info
Standard64 Kbps128 Kbps0.26 MbpsGet SoundCloud Go
High Quality256 Kbps512 Kbps0.51 MbpsGet SoundCloud Go

The SoundCloud Go+ High Quality tier streams at 256 Kbps but sounds like MP3 audio encoded for 320 Kbps due to the ACC format. Meanwhile, the standard 64 Kbps stream uses the Opus format, so the music sounds like MP3 audio encoded for 128 Kbps.

How much data does Spotify use?

Quality/TierBitrateRecommended (in Kbps)Recommended (in Mbps)More info
Free24–160 Kbps320 Kbps0.32 MbpsGet Spotify
Premium24–320 Kbps640 Kbps0.64 MbpsGet Spotify

If you stream Spotify from a browser, the Free account is locked to 128 Kbps AAC audio and the Premium account remains at 256 Kbps AAC.

However, if you’re using Spotify’s desktop software, a tablet, or a smartphone, you’ll see Low (24 Kbps), Normal (98 Kbps), and High (160 Kbps) quality options with the Free and Premium accounts. The Premium plan adds a Very High setting (320 Kbps). Both plans have an Automatic setting that adjusts the bitrate according to your connection.

How much data does Tidal use?

Quality/TierBitrateRecommended (in Kbps)Recommended (in Mbps)More info
Standard320 Kbps640 Kbps0.64 MbpsGet Tidal
HiFi1,411 Kbps2,822 Kbps2.82 MbpsGet Tidal
Master2,304–9,216 Kbps4,608–18,432 Kbps4.61–18.43 MbpsGet Tidal

The Standard tier uses the AAC format to stream at 320 Kbps, while the HiFi tier uses the FLAC format to stream lossless 16-bit audio (44.1 kHz) at 1,411 Kbps. Tidal’s Master tier uses MQA technology and typically streams 24-bit audio with a 96 kHz sample rate but can reach up to 24-bit/192 kHz streams.

How much data does TuneIn Radio use?

Quality/TierBitrateRecommended (in Kbps)Recommended (in Mbps)More info
Standard32–320 Kbps640 Kbps0.64 MbpsGet TuneIn Radio

The bitrate depends on the broadcast. For instance, a local radio station may transmit in 64 Kbps AAC or 64 Kbps MP3 audio only—you can manually switch between the two streams. Another radio station may stream in 128 Kbps MP3 only while another station is locked to 32 Kbps AAC.

How much data does YouTube Music use?

Quality/TierBitrateRecommended (in Kbps)Recommended (in Mbps)More info
Low48 Kbps56 Kbps0.06 MbpsGet YouTube Music
Normal128 Kbps256 Kbps0.26 MbpsGet YouTube Music
High/Always High256 Kbps512 Kbps0.51 MbpsGet YouTube Music

YouTube Music uses the AAC format to stream music, but the maximum bitrate is lower than other services. The “always high” setting maintains the 256 Kbps bitrate even when the connection is poor. YouTube Music does not offer lossless audio.

Pro tip:

Looking for Google Play Music? It was shut down in 2020, and your music is now available on YouTube Music.1

FAQ about streaming music

What is bitrate?

A bitrate is how many bits are transferred in a set amount of time. In this case, the rate depends on how many bits you download each second. A higher bitrate translates to more received bits each second, leading to clearer, richer sound.

  • 1 Kbps = 1 thousand bits per second
  • 1 Mbps = 1 million bits per second
  • 1 Gbps = 1 billion bits per second

What is an audio codec?

An audio codec is software that compresses a raw digital recording for downloading or for streaming. The algorithm removes data that it determines as unnecessary to reduce the file size while maintaining the song’s quality. Codecs typically compress songs based on a target bitrate, like 128 Kbps.

What is a sample rate?

A sample rate is the number of samples taken from analog audio when creating a digital audio file. Higher samples produce better audio quality but larger files. This number is usually measured in kiloHertz (kHz).

For example, an audio track on a CD typically has a sample rate of 44.1kHz. That means the digital recorder sampled the analog audio 44,100 times per second—one kiloHertz equals 1,000 samples per second. Higher samples produce better audio quality but larger files.

What is lossless?

Lossless means there is no loss of audio quality. This form of audio compression preserves the quality of the original raw digital recording.

Traditional “lossy” compression focuses on file size and how that size is transmitted over the internet. The problem with this method is that you can lose some data, lowering the song’s overall quality.

For instance, an MP3 file compressed for a 128 Kbps bitrate isn’t exactly CD quality. The algorithm discards data it deems as unnecessary, lowering the overall quality. Plus, the compressed song cannot be restored to its original form.

Lossless compression is different. It rewrites the digital audio file so that it’s more efficient structurally and smaller in size. It keeps the “unnecessary” data typically discarded by lossy compression to keep the audio quality intact. This compression method leads to larger bitrates than standard streams.

Apple provides its own lossless codec—Apple Lossless Audio Codec(ALAC)—while other services use Free Lossless Audio Codec (FLAC).

How is audio resolution measured?

Audio resolution (or depth) is measured in bits. Higher bit counts provide more sound.

For instance, an audio track on a CD has a sample rate of 44.1kHz at 16 bits per sample. A song with a higher 24-bit depth stored on a DVD or a Blu-ray disc produces more sound without distortion. Some services like Amazon Music can stream music at a 24-bit/192 kHz rate for extremely rich, “ultra HD” sound.

Streaming vs. downloading music: What’s the difference?

The short answer is that downloaded songs are saved locally on your device while streamed songs are not.

A longer explanation is that digital audio in its raw form is huge. Songs are compressed using an audio codec—like MP3 and AAC—to conserve space on your device and make them easy to transfer across the internet. How it’s encoded depends on if you are streaming or downloading.

For streaming, the song is encoded in a way so that it’s transmitted across the internet without using large amounts of bandwidth. The app on your device decodes the file, temporarily stores the unpacked bits of music in memory as they’re received, and then deletes these bits when they’re converted into the analog audio waves that you hear.

Many music streaming services support offline listening, like Amazon Music Unlimited and Spotify. That means when you download songs, they’re placed onto your device’s storage as cache and cannot be exported for listening in other apps. You must have a subscription to hear these songs in offline mode.

If you purchase music from services like Tidal or Walmart, you can download the songs directly to any device for playback using any compatible app. These songs are not stored as cache and are encoded in a way so the downloads aren’t massive.

What are some of the popular audio formats?

Apple Lossless Audio Code (ALAC)

Apple developed its own format for lossless audio compression in 2004. It became open-source and free to use in 2011. Apple devices natively support ALAC files, while support for FLAC audio didn’t appear until iOS 11.

Advanced Audio Coding (AAC)

This lossy format appeared in 1997 and is the successor to the popular MP3 format. It provides better audio quality while retaining the same file size. File extensions include m4a, m4b, m4p, m4v, m4r, 3gp, mp4, and aac.

Free Lossless Audio Codec (FLAC)

This format emerged in 2001 to compress raw digital audio by around 60% without losing any data. It’s a widely used format because it’s open source and free to use.

MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3 (MP3)

This lossy format emerged in 1994 and became the most popular method of compressing raw digital audio for easy downloads. The format skyrocketed with the launch of Apple’s first iPod.

Waveform Audio File (WAV)

This file type contains uncompressed audio in the Pulse-Code Modulation (PCM) format, the digital version of pure analog audio signals. As a result, WAV files are almost always larger than MP3 and AAC files.

Sources

1. Google, “YouTube Music Will Replace Google Play Music by End of 2020,” August 4, 2020. Accessed June 14, 2021.

Author -

Kevin Parrish has more than a decade of experience working as a writer, editor, and product tester. He began writing about computer hardware and soon branched out to other devices and services such as networking equipment, phones and tablets, game consoles, and other internet-connected devices. His work has appeared in Tom’s Hardware, Tom's Guide, Maximum PC, Digital Trends, Android Authority, How-To Geek, Lifewire, and others. At HighSpeedInternet.com, he focuses on internet security.

Editor - Cara Haynes

Cara Haynes has been editing and writing in the digital space for seven years, and she's edited all things internet for HighSpeedInternet.com for five years. She graduated with a BA in English and a minor in editing from Brigham Young University. When she's not editing, she makes tech accessible through her freelance writing for brands like Pluralsight. She believes no one should feel lost in internet land and that a good internet connection significantly extends your life span.

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