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If you want lossless audio (or anything over 256kbps) YouTube Music has no plans to deliver

The YouTube Music team confirmed that it has no plans to deliver lossless audio, and 256kbps will be the max bitrate.

Published onSeptember 21, 2018

YouTube Music - Library
  • YouTube Music now has audio quality options, similar to what Google Play Music has.
  • However, there is no YouTube Music lossless audio option, with the max bitrate set to 256kbps.
  • According to the YouTube Music team, there are currently no plans to offer bitrates higher than 256kbps.

YouTube Music might seem like a great service, but serious music listeners have likely balked up until now due to the absence of one integral feature: audio quality controls.

Today, YouTube Music is finally rolling out audio quality control options which will allow listeners to get better quality than the default “Normal” bitrate setting of 128kbps AAC. However, there are some significant limitations.

After a week with YouTube Music, my heart is still with Spotify
YouTube Premium Music icon

The biggest limitation that will no doubt ruffle the feathers of audiophiles is that the peak bitrate one gets with the “High” quality setting is 256kbps AAC. While that’s definitely better than 128kbps, it’s a far cry from the 360kbps most audiophiles would prefer.

These are the bitrates for each of the three audio quality levels within YouTube Music:

  • Low
    • Uses the least amount of storage on your device.
    • Bitrate: 48kbps AAC
  • Normal
    • The default setting.
    • Bitrate: 128kbps AAC
  • High
    • Higher-quality audio will use more storage on your device.
    • Bitrate: 256kbps AAC

These new quality options are rolling out today to both Android and iOS versions of the YouTube Music app.

Audiophiles will likely also be disappointed to hear that not only is 256kbps the current max bitrate for YouTube Music, but we now know that the YouTube Music team has no plans to offer anything higher than that. That means no 360kbps bitrates and certainly no YouTube Music lossless audio.

This information came about from an online Q&A with the YouTube Music team. The relevant quote from team member Brandon Bilinski is reposted below:

Right now we don’t have any plans for audio quality higher than 256kbps. Our deals would require us to charge more to stream FLAC, so at this point we are focused on improving performance rather than supporting lossless streaming.

Lossless audio may not be one of your priorities, but if it is you can write off a YouTube Music lossless audio option for the foreseeable future.

What do you think? Is this a deal breaker for you, or is 256kbps high quality enough for your needs? Shout out in the comments!

NEXT: The best free music download sites on the Internet that are legal

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