Over the past week, a number of SoundCloud users have noticed audio quality on the platform has dropped dramatically. As @DirectOfficial on Twitter points out, their streaming format has changed from 128kbps to 64kbps—which means the bitrate has been halved. There's a noticeable change in quality from how it sounded before, even if 128kbps wasn't crystal clear to begin with.
SoundCloud has gone through a lot of changes over the past few years, with the introduction of advertisements and a second premium service with SoundCloud Go (as opposed to the creator-oriented SoundCloud Pro). Some users are noting that the streaming quality remains a disappointing 64kbps, regardless of whether you use Go or Pro on the site. Over on YouTube, audio tends to get encoded at 128kbps, for instance, although some video formats uploaded to the site support up to 160kbps.
Multiple times throughout 2017, SoundCloud faced the very real threat of closure. However, as Billboard recently reported, SoundCloud received a $170 million investment from merchant bank The Raine Group—who made the investment in partnership with Singapore's Temasek. The deal saw SoundCloud keep their independence, but they gained with former Vimeo CEO Kerry Trainor alongside new COO Michael Weissman.
It's unclear, then, why they've made the decision to cut back the bitrate on the site. As a platform used for the streaming and sharing of audio, it seems like an odd decision to make, especially as they've received the funding necessary to stay afloat. For those eager to remedy this, there are already plugins for different browsers to restore the bitrate back to its original 128kbps.
We reached out to SoundCloud for comment, but have yet to receive a response.