Whether you’re a brand-new Spotify subscriber who was just gifted the service from a friend or family member, or you’re a longtime user who is always shocked by how much you’ve listened to when you get your annual recap, there’s one little setting in the Spotify desktop and mobile apps that audiophiles can’t seem to agree on.
While the feature sounds great on paper—a “volume level” option that balances out everything you’re listening to so you aren’t surprised by a super-loud track—this feature, enabled by default in your app, allegedly affects a track’s dynamic range as well. Goodbye, wub wub wub of your bass-heavy songs (if you can tell the difference). Reddit user WATSON_349 recently described:
“I noticed a difference on songs with very low synth bass. Turning this on made the bass almost disappear like it a high pass filter. It was better on QUIET but still bugged me. Now I just leave it off completely because it can really change the feel of some songs when the low end is affected in this way. Just what I’ve noticed, YMMV. I should record the output and analyze the change to see what it’s really doing.”
If you want the technical details for what Spotify’s “volume level” feature does, the company has spelled it out in a fairly lengthy explanation. As for your listening preferences, the best option is to play with the setting’s three volume levels—loud, normal (default), and quiet—while playing a representative sample of what you usually rock out to on Spotify. Turn the feature on and off, too, to see if you perceive a difference in the quality of your audio. (It’s also worth testing to see if you get annoyed because your quiet tracks are too soft and your loud tracks are overwhelming.)
You’ll need to be a Spotify Premium user to adjust your volume levels, and you’ll have to set this individually on each device you use. On Android/iOS, pull up Spotify’s settings (Your Library > Gear Icon) and tap on “Playback.” Look for the “Enable Audio Normalization” setting.
On Windows/Mac, click the drop-down arrow next to your name and profile photo, and click on “Settings.” Scroll down until you see the “Music Quality”section, and look for the “Volume level” option. While I can’t tell you the best setting for you, it’s definitely something you’ll want to play around with to get the best listening experience.