320kbps vs 128kbps: What’s The Difference?

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Did you know that how many kilobytes per second (kbps) in your song affects highly in the sound quality?

The higher the number of bitrates is, the better sound quality is likely to be delivered. If you wonder why it is because a high number of kbps holds more information in a file and is not so much compressed.

Simply put, If the original source is as original as possible without being compressed means that, more information will transmit and this will result in better sound production and it provides lossy data compression.

However, I have to mention the quote “one size fits all”. The act of choosing between two or more possibilities relies on how you prefer to balance the sound quality with bandwidth expense.

First off let’s start with the question, what does this kbps symbolize in the music quality?

What is kbps?

In brief, kbps stands for kilobytes per second and it is a tool or a measurement system to convey the quality of compressed audio formats for instance MP3 or AAC. 

Which Format: 320kbps or 128kbps?

Defining 128kbps

128kbps requires 128 kilobits to transfer the data. It’s considered a mid-range file where some bits are lost, but it’s still all right to listen to a song in this format. 

Note: try to listen to the same song in higher resolution and the difference will appear more visible.


  • If you download a song with 128kbps, the process is going to last quicker.
  • By downloading at 128kbps, you will have enough storage to keep more files due to its small file size.
  • 128kbps is the default format in most file downloading websites, and it was mostly referred to as the CD quality. With that being said you know to expect cd sound quality from this file.
  • Typically Considered Radio Quality


  • Music producers or professional singers will be able to understand the quality difference.
  • The loss of compressed parts cannot be changed, reversed, or recovered.
  • The typical problem is the high frequencies like treble notes lose their effect. This is not nice if the background beat or music is the center of the song. 

Defining 320kbps

320kbps shows an HD audio file that is way clearer than 128kbps. The details in 320kbps are more detailed and emphasized giving you a much more pleasurable music listening experience. 

However, the current headset you own plays a significant role in overall sound quality.


  • Exceptional high-resolution sound and the best choice to maximize sound quality. 
  • the instruments’ details are noticeably high. 
  • Every bit of the balance is delivered. No more missing parts.


  • The euphoria sound effect while listening to music with 320kbps is to listen with a pair of headphones.
  • Downloading the 320kbps file format takes more storage space than the 128kbps file format.
  • 320kbps is a larger file, you need to be more patient while downloading and transferring the data.

The Audio Quality Factors?

Global Audio Streaming & Podcase Marketplace mentioned what affects the audio quality and they are stated like this.

  • Encoding format (AAC or MP3)
  • Bitrate in kbps (kilobits per second)
  • Sample rate in kHz (kilohertz)

Encoding MP3 and AAC File Format?

In case you are interested to know additional information about the AAC and MP3. Both of these two formats are pretty much the same. The only difference is that AAC has the upper position of power at lower bit rates. This is quite noticeable in 128kbps. MP3 format files tend to use slightly muddy and slurry whereas the AAC file format remains with clearer sound quality.

Downloading AAC at 320kbps encrypts all the musical tones, even those which are imperceptible and out of earshot. If you download a sound at 128kbps in AAC format, is still considered higher in quality. 

iTunes default set comes at 128kbps AAC format.

Bitrate in kbps (kilobits per second)

MP3 file format for music listening is ideal between 96 to 320kbps, and the music services like Spotify use 160kbps (Ogg Vorbis) . Audiophiles with higher bitrate aren’t the best all the time. The same rules apply to the podcast bitrate standards and smart devices like speakers and phones.

The ideal kbps is 128 for a good music listening experience. At this rate 128kbps in MP3 format extend over one megabyte of space in a minute of the song. In AAC format, 128kbps is considered way clearer.

For talking, 32kbps AAC and 64kbps MP3 format is a standard setting.

Sample rate in kHz (kilohertz)

The total of audio samples recorded per unit of time is referred to as the sample rate. The number of bits recorded per unit of time is referred to as bit rate.

The bit depth of a sample is an indicator of how accurately it is ciphered.

Triton Digital usually uses 44.1kHz stereo as a standardized sample rate and sometimes uses 48 kHz. 

Put Forward for Consideration: 320kbps vs 128kbps and Other File Formats

On the table down below, you can general standard quality where you can play around accordingly. This is the suggested quality (kbps) by the professionals for the different formats. Check it out.

Enhanced Music
(Classical genre, premium services)
Standard & Mixed genre (pop, country, jazz genre)Radio Talks
Adaptive Bitrate256/128/64 kbps128/64/32 kbps56/40/24 kbps
AAC Bitrate96 kbps64 kbps32 kbps
MP3 Bitrate128 kbps96 kbps64 kbps
Sample Rate44.1 or 48kHz stereo44.1 or 48kHz stereo22.05 kHz mono.

Final Thought

Music taste is a different kind of entertainment. Even though professionals say that this is the recommended number, at the end of the day, you do you. Everyone enjoys music in a different manner and multiformly.

Hopefully, the article was helpful and now you know the distinction between 128kbps and 320kbps. 128kbps is mid-range format but produces really nice sound quality that is why iTunes default settings come at 128kbps AAC format. Spotify uses 160kbps but not the usual format and it is called the Ogg Vorbis codec.

320kbps format has clearer resolution and details are highly noticeable. 

There are 3 main audio quality factors that really do affect the overall sound. Encoding format (AAC or MP3), Bitrate in kbps (kilobits per second), and Sample rate in kHz (kilohertz)

To make the quality more visible, try to listen to the same song in a different format. This way you can notice how every note and beat hit in each ,format. Still if you have average quality headphones, you will have a hard time differenting them.

Further Reading

Now that the topic is clear, find out more information about how long should you wear headphones a day, or can you damage speakers by playing them too loud. If you wonder about the lifespan of headphones or the difference between mono and stereo sound, check these articles out.

If you thinking of getting a soundbar, but have tons of questions, read the article are soundbars worth it or are speakers AC or DC for additional information.

Whether you’re looking for information on audio equipment, looking to learn more about how things work in the music field, or looking for reviews of products, we got you covered!



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