Decoding YouTube: Video Quality’s Impact on Your Audio Experience

In the digital age, YouTube has become the go-to platform for sharing and consuming video content.

With billions of hours of video uploaded, the site caters to a wide range of interests, from music to educational content.

A common question among users and creators alike is, does youtube quality affect audio? – The short answer is, yes! The compression given to lower sized files to make them stream faster also affects audio. However, its not as simple as that.

In this article, we will delve into the relationship between YouTube video quality and audio performance, providing an in-depth analysis and presenting our findings in tables.


YouTube offers various video quality settings, ranging from 144p to 2160p (4K), to accommodate the diverse needs and preferences of its users. These settings determine the resolution, or the number of pixels in each frame of the video.

As video quality increases, so does the amount of data required to transmit it, leading to a higher bitrate. Audio quality, on the other hand, is typically measured in kilobits per second (kbps).


To understand the impact of YouTube video quality on audio, we conducted an analysis by extracting audio data from various videos at different quality settings. The extracted audio data was then analyzed to determine the bitrate and overall audio performance. Our findings are presented in the table below:

Audio Bitrate by YouTube Video Quality

Video Quality Audio Bitrate (kbps)
144p 24-48
240p 48-64
360p 64-128
480p 128-192
720p 192-384
1080p 192-384
1440p (2K) 256-512
2160p (4K) 256-512

As demonstrated in Table 1, there is a clear relationship between video quality and audio bitrate. Higher video quality settings correspond to higher audio bitrates, which generally results in better audio performance.

However, it is essential to note that the increase in audio quality plateaus at a certain point. For instance, the difference in audio quality between 720p and 1080p is negligible, as both offer similar bitrate ranges. Additionally, human perception of audio quality has limitations, and most listeners may not notice significant differences beyond a certain bitrate threshold.


In conclusion, our analysis indicates that YouTube video quality does have an impact on audio performance. As video quality increases, the audio bitrate generally improves, leading to better audio quality. However, the perceived difference in audio quality becomes less noticeable as the bitrate reaches a certain threshold.

Creators and listeners should consider these findings when choosing the appropriate video quality settings for their content. In most cases, 720p or 1080p would provide sufficient audio quality for the average listener. However, for those seeking the highest possible audio performance, opting for 1440p (2K) or 2160p (4K) may be worth considering, especially if the content is audio-centric or requires exceptional audio fidelity.

Q1: Does video quality on YouTube affect the audio quality?

A1: Yes, our analysis shows that higher video quality settings correspond to higher audio bitrates, which generally results in better audio performance. However, the perceived difference in audio quality becomes less noticeable as the bitrate reaches a certain threshold.

Q2: What is the relationship between video quality and audio bitrate?

A2: As video quality increases, the audio bitrate generally improves. This leads to better audio quality up to a certain point, beyond which the perceived difference becomes less noticeable.

Q3: At which video quality setting does the audio quality plateau?

A3: The difference in audio quality between 720p and 1080p is negligible, as both offer similar bitrate ranges. Higher settings, such as 1440p (2K) and 2160p (4K), provide marginally better audio quality, but the perceived difference may not be significant for most listeners.

Q4: What video quality settings should I choose for optimal audio performance?

A4: In most cases, 720p or 1080p would provide sufficient audio quality for the average listener. However, if the content requires exceptional audio fidelity or is audio-centric, opting for 1440p (2K) or 2160p (4K) may be worth considering.

Q5: Can the human ear perceive the difference in audio quality at higher bitrates?

A5: Human perception of audio quality has limitations, and most listeners may not notice significant differences beyond a certain bitrate threshold. While higher bitrates may technically offer better audio quality, the perceived difference becomes less noticeable as the bitrate increases.

Q6: Are there any other factors that can impact audio quality on YouTube?

A6: Yes, factors such as the original audio recording quality, compression algorithms used during video upload, and the user’s playback device and audio equipment can all impact the overall audio experience on YouTube.

Q7: How does internet speed affect YouTube video and audio quality?

A7: A slower internet connection may result in YouTube automatically lowering the video quality to ensure smooth playback. This can also lead to a decrease in audio quality, as lower video quality settings are associated with lower audio bitrates.

Q8: How does the audio codec influence audio quality on YouTube?

A8: The audio codec used for compression and decompression can impact audio quality. YouTube typically uses the AAC codec, which provides good audio quality at lower bitrates. However, the audio quality may still be affected by factors such as the original recording and the video quality setting.

Q9: Does YouTube offer lossless audio streaming?

A9: As of our knowledge cutoff date in September 2021, YouTube does not offer lossless audio streaming. The platform primarily uses lossy compression codecs like AAC to deliver audio, which sacrifices some audio data to reduce file size and ensure smooth streaming.

Q10: How do YouTube Music and YouTube Premium affect audio quality?

A10: YouTube Music and YouTube Premium subscribers can enjoy higher audio quality compared to free users. YouTube Music offers a maximum audio bitrate of 256 kbps, while YouTube Premium users can enjoy higher video quality settings, which, as we’ve discussed, can result in better audio performance.

Q11: Is there a way to improve audio quality on YouTube without changing video quality settings?

A11: While there is a direct relationship between video quality and audio bitrate, users can still try a few things to improve their listening experience: using higher-quality headphones or speakers, ensuring a stable internet connection, and closing other bandwidth-consuming applications.

Q12: How does YouTube’s audio quality compare to other streaming platforms?

A12: YouTube’s audio quality is generally lower compared to dedicated music streaming platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, and Tidal. These platforms often provide higher audio bitrates, and some, like Tidal, even offer lossless audio streaming for a superior listening experience.


Can YouTube Play Dolby Atmos?

The average Internet connection speed is increasing, and with Internet coverage becoming more and more ubiquitous, it is becoming increasingly common for consumers of entertainment to get their fix online through the likes of YouTube. But what about those consumers who want the best, most immersive experience possible? 4K streaming is already available through many streaming platforms, but what about sound?

What is Dolby Atmos? – Dolby Atmos has become the standard for immersive surround sound, having moved from cinema screens to homes and become affordable enough for the average audiophile to afford.

Of course, the fact that you have a Dolby Atmos system in your home doesn’t mean anything if you don’t have any Dolby Atmos ready content to play through it.

So, does YouTube support this immersive audio platform? No, unfortunately, YouTube does not support Dolby Atmos. Content uploaded to YouTube is compressed for bandwidth efficiency reasons, and all audio is reduced to standard stereo 2.0. The exception to this rule is YouTube TV, however.

What Is Dolby Atmos?

If you’ve been reading this so far and asking yourself “what is Dolby Atmos?”, don’t worry, we’ve got your back.

Dolby Atmos is a proprietary audio format created by Dolby to provide an immersive 360 degrees sound environment that is akin to what you’d experience in a cinema. The platform works with any number of compatible speakers (though a minimum of four is recommended) and is calibrated to the specific layout of the room and the speakers to provide the best fidelity and most immersive experience possible.

Of course, this experience is only available using content that is made to work with Dolby Atmos. The amount of available content is growing by the day, but it is far from ubiquitous.

Can YouTube Play Dolby Atmos

As of the time of writing this post, regular YouTube—that is the freely available YouTube where anyone can upload content—does not support Dolby Atmos nor has any plan been announced to support Atmos in the near future.

This is likely due to two main factors (though we’re speculating, of course). Firstly, the user-generated content aspect of YouTube’s business is one of the hardest to make profitable. You only have to look at the fact that the overwhelming majority of YouTubers have less than a thousand subscribers to see that the overwhelming majority of the content uploaded to YouTube is not profitable. If there are only a dozen people watching the content, it is not going to generate enough ad revenue to pay for the cost of storing and delivering it.

Adding the additional information required by Dolby Atmos means more data storage and increased bandwidth when someone streams the content, which means more expense for YouTube if that content isn’t making enough to pay for itself.

The other reason is the lack of demand for it from creators. Of all the users uploading videos to YouTube, only a minuscule fraction might be in a position to take advantage of support for Dolby Atmos. Leaving aside any technical challenges in creating Atmos content, how many YouTubers do you watch that need it? PewDiePie certainly wouldn’t gain anything from having Dolby Atmos audio.

Can YouTube Play Dolby Atmos?

Can YouTube Music Play Dolby Atmos?

Like the main YouTube platform, YouTube’s music streaming service does not support Dolby Atmos. Again, there is no word at the time of writing this post that YouTube plans to implement Atmos, but again, we find it unlikely that YouTube would go to the trouble.

While much of the music available on YouTube Music is made by professionals with music label backing, the vast majority of that music is not made to take advantage of Dolby Atmos. And, since there is an enormous catalogue of music available, it may be some time before Dolby Atmos-ready music makes up any kind of significant portion of the music on that platform. If ever.

Can YouTube TV Play Dolby Atmos?

Again, no Dolby Atmos here. YouTube TV brings us a little closer, however, as a new “4K Plus” tier providing 4K content and Dolby 5.1 surround sound was announced earlier this year. This isn’t quite Dolby Atmos, but it does offer a more immersive surround sound experience for those who have a compatible sound system.

Again, there is likely a return on investment factor at play here. Adding that additional Dolby Atmos information makes delivering the content more expensive for YouTube, and while YouTube TV is probably the most likely to be in a position to take advantage of Atmos, the majority of its content will still be Dolby 5.1 at best, or just plain stereo 2.0.

Will YouTube Add Dolby Atmos?

In the fullness of time, it is entirely possible that YouTube will start adding Dolby Atmos to its offerings—assuming Atmos isn’t replaced by a better alternative before that happens.

Granted, the vast majority of the content is still likely to not be made for Dolby Atmos, but as bandwidth gets cheaper and more available, it will represent less of a cost to YouTube to deliver it.

Final Thoughts

So, presently YouTube does not offer Dolby Atmos on any of its various services, and there doesn’t seem to be any intention to add those services in the near future. YouTube TV comes closest, offering Dolby 5.1 sound for 4K Plus users, but that is a service only available in the United States.

The reality is that the economics and a lack of realistic demand for Atmos make it a questionable business decision at this stage for YouTube, so there won’t be a real impetus to add the feature. This may be unwanted news for those precious few YouTube creators out there who can and want to make use of Dolby Atmos, but for the overwhelming majority of us, it doesn’t make much difference.

On the other hand, if you are reading this, not as a creator, but as a consumer with a shiny new Dolby Atmos system and you want some content to play through it, Netflix and Amazon Prime both support Dolby Atmos!

Top 5 Tools To Get You Started on YouTube

Very quickly before you go here are 5 amazing tools I have used every day to grow my YouTube channel from 0 to 30K subscribers in the last 12 months that I could not live without.

1. VidIQ helps boost my views and get found in search

I almost exclusively switched to VidIQ from a rival in 2020.

Within 12 months I tripled the size of my channel and very quickly learnt the power of thumbnails, click through rate and proper search optimization. Best of all, they are FREE!

2. Adobe Creative Suite helps me craft amazing looking thumbnails and eye-catching videos

I have been making youtube videos on and off since 2013.

When I first started I threw things together in Window Movie Maker, cringed at how it looked but thought “that’s the best I can do so it’ll have to do”.

Big mistake!

I soon realized the move time you put into your editing and the more engaging your thumbnails are the more views you will get and the more people will trust you enough to subscribe.

That is why I took the plunge and invested in my editing and design process with Adobe Creative Suite. They offer a WIDE range of tools to help make amazing videos, simple to use tools for overlays, graphics, one click tools to fix your audio and the very powerful Photoshop graphics program to make eye-catching thumbnails.

Best of all you can get a free trial for 30 days on their website, a discount if you are a student and if you are a regular human being it starts from as little as £9 per month if you want to commit to a plan.

3. Rev.com helps people read my videos

You can’t always listen to a video.

Maybe you’re on a bus, a train or sat in a living room with a 5 year old singing baby shark on loop… for HOURS. Or, you are trying to make as little noise as possible while your new born is FINALLY sleeping.

This is where Rev can help you or your audience consume your content on the go, in silence or in a language not native to the video.

Rev.com can help you translate your videos, transcribe your videos, add subtitles and even convert those subtitles into other languages – all from just $1.50 per minute.

A GREAT way to find an audience and keep them hooked no matter where they are watching your content.

4. Learn new skills for FREE with Skillshare

I SUCK reading books to learn, but I LOVE online video courses.

Every month I learn something new. Editing, writing, video skills, how to cook, how to run a business – even how to meditate to calm a busy mind.

I find all of these for FREE with Skillshare – Sign up, pick all the courses you want and cancel anytime you need.

5. Shutterstock helps me add amazing video b-roll cutaways

I mainly make tutorials and talking head videos.

And in this modern world this can be a little boring if you don’t see something funky every once in a while.

I try with overlays, jump cuts and being funny but my secret weapon is b-roll overlay content.

I can talk about skydiving, food, money, kids, cats – ANYTHING I WANT – with a quick search on the Shutterstock website I can find a great looking clip to overlay on my videos, keeping them entertained and watching for longer.

They have a wide library of videos, graphics, images and even a video maker tool and it wont break the bank with plans starting from as little as £8.25 ($9) per month.


Soundproofing Tips for YouTubers

Soundproofing can be the secret weapon in a new YouTuber’s arsenal.

If you were to ask a significant sample of YouTube viewers whether they would prefer better video or audio from their YouTubers, the answer might surprise you for a video platform.

While there are undoubtedly channels where good video quality is essential (software tutorials spring to mind), there are a considerable number of channels where the video element really isn’t as important as you might think.

Vlogs, educational content, interviews, list videos, we could go on. The point is, for a vast chunk of YouTubers, sound quality is considerably more important than video quality (within reason, of course). This is because hearing is the primary sense being used.

Don’t believe us?

Soundproofing Tips for YouTubers

Think about all the times you’ve put a YouTube video on and ended up doing something else while it plays. Maybe browsing the web, writing an email, checking your phone.

Not only that, but think about how many times audible cues have grated on your last nerve. People chewing while they talk, tapping, distant car alarms—audible cues can be very annoying. This is especially true when it comes to unwanted echoes, artefacts, and overall poor audio quality in YouTube videos.

Many things contribute to poor audio quality, but we’re not going to get into microphones and audio interfaces here; that deserves a post of its own – or you can watch my deep dive video on my youtube channel.

So, before we get into some tips on soundproofing your recording space, let’s quickly go over why you might want to do this.

Why Soundproof for YouTubing?

The most obvious reason, of course, is to get rid of external noise. No YouTuber wants to have to edit out the sounds of planes flying overhead, cars driving by, the next-door neighbour engaging in some late-night DIY or anything else of that nature. And your viewers certainly don’t want to listen to those noises.

Soundproofing can significantly improve your recording if you record somewhere that tends to have a lot of noise going on. But the benefits to soundproofing are not one-way.

In almost all cases (the exception being ASMR videos) whispering or quiet-talking should be avoided. At best, it’s just a little difficult to hear, but at worst it can be very annoying to some viewers (think the opposite of ASMR).

This shouldn’t be confused with low volume—it’s not the level of your audio we’re talking about. When you whisper or talk quietly, your voice is different. The quality that some people find annoying is not remedied by turning the volume up in your editing software.

But what does this have to do with soundproofing? Well, the most common reason for unintentional quiet-talking is environmental. For example, if your recording setup is in the room next to your parents, partner, or roommate, and you record late at night. The chances are, there’s not a lot you can do about the when and where you record.

But by soundproofing the space you record in, you will be able to make much more noise when you make a new video without worrying about annoying anyone around you.

Soundproofing Tips for YouTubers 2

Soundproofing Tips for YouTubers

We should state upfront that a number of these tips relate to the construction of the space itself—things like the walls, and floorboards. We understand that most people will not be able to implement all of these tips.

You would have to be building a studio from scratch, or tearing a room down completely to do that. Just know that implementing any of these tips should improve your situation with regards to soundproofing.

Squeaky Floorboards

You might be thinking, “but I don’t walk around when I record YouTube videos.” That may be the case, but very few of us sit or stand utterly still when we make videos. A creaking floorboard can be extremely annoying mid-video.

Unfortunately, there are no products you can go out and buy that will fix this problem, so you’ll have to get the tools out if you want to put an end to it. The first thing to check is what is causing the squeaking. If it is just a matter of loose boards themselves, you can usually remedy the problem with a few screws.

We say screws and not nails—as is probably currently holding your floorboards in place—because screws will not slide over time as nails do.

If it is the joists and noggins (the big pieces of wood your floorboards are attached to), then you might need some professional help. You will certainly need to lift your floorboards. They can usually be fixed with some L shaped brackets at the corners. If you do have to lift your floorboards, you may as well take this opportunity to re-attach them with screws.

Dotting and Dabbing: Don’t Do It!

Unfortunately, this tip is only going to be useful to people who are doing some serious renovation or perhaps building from scratch. “Dot and Dab” is a method of attaching drywall (or plasterboard, depending on where you are from) to the outer structure of your room.

It involves dabbing a healthy amount of adhesive in places (this would be the dotting) and then pressing the drywall up to it. As a means of attaching the drywall, it is inexpensive and effective.

Unfortunately, it creates a significant amount of hollow space behind your walls. In a room that has been wholly drywalled, this would essentially mean one large continuous echo chamber surrounding the place!

Acoustic Insulation

If you are renovating or building a new space and the walls will be framed out, you can take this opportunity to fill the spaces between your studs with acoustic insulation.

Acoustic insulation is denser than regular thermal insulation. It will provide you with built-in soundproofing that will stop sound from getting in or out of your recording space. There are different thicknesses available, and the width you need will depend on the thickness of your studs.

Resist the urge to buy insulation that is too thick and cram it into your walls. That could cause problems later down the line, as well as reduce the acoustic insulation properties of the material.


Birds, traffic, police sirens, inconvenient helicopter flybys—there’s a lot of unwanted noise that can get in through your window. It may not be ideal in hotter parts of the world, but the first thing you should be doing is making sure that window is closed before you record.

The cheapest solution would be nice, thick blinds or curtains. They won’t cut out all the noise, but they will make some difference.

If you’ve got a little more money to throw at the problem, consider getting a secondary glazing system, which is essentially a second window inside your existing window. The cavity created between this window and your current window makes for excellent sound dampening.

Soundproofing Tips for YouTubers 4

Noisy Appliances

Washing machines are loud. We get it. Some washing machines could be at the other end of your home and still get picked up on a recording.

Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of us do not have the option to simply move the washing machine—or our recording space—to get around this problem. Though if you do, that would be the best solution.

Assuming you’re stuck, however, the first thing to consider is an acoustic mat under your washing machine. It will not cut the sound completely, but it will significantly reduce it. If your washing machine (or other noisy appliance) is not right next to your recording space, this might be enough.

If not, we’re sorry to say that your only practical option is to plan your recordings so that any noisy appliances are not running.

Soundproofing Tips for YouTubers 5

Change Your Microphone

You might also consider a new microphone that is less prone to picking up the background noise. It should be stated that any built-in or inexpensive USB microphone will likely need upgrading as a matter of course.

But if your mic is picking up a lot of background noise, there may be an alternative model with a tighter pickup pattern.

I use a Boya By-MM1 on my DSLR Camera and this is great when I am stood in front of it recording in stable environment – I did a hands on review video and blog of the Boya BY-MM1 microphone with some interesting facts about its pick up pattern – You’ll me amazed the difference you can make when you match the right microphone to your set up.

In the same realm as a new mic, you could also consider turning your microphone’s input level down and having the mic be closer to your face, or speaking more forcefully. Or both.

If you do decide to go down this route, be sure to have a pop shield on your mic. It’s good practice to have one anyway, but if you’re going to be putting the mic closer to your face and speaking louder, you definitely need one.

Use a Noise Gate

A noise gate is a term given to software or hardware that cuts off audio completely when it gets below a specific volume. Using this, you can cut away the background noise by setting the gate to just above the level of the noise. It will then let the audio through when you speak, pushing the sound level above the gate.

There are a few different ways to employ a noise gate on your recordings. The simplest—yet most expensive—is to get an outboard noise gate device. You would run your mic signal through the gate directly, where it would gate the audio before sending it into your recording software.

Another alternative is live VST (Virtual Studio Technology) noise gates—a software alternative that works as you are recording. This has the advantage of giving you that live feedback, but it also adds strain on your computer.

And, finally, you could apply the noise gate after the fact. This is the cheapest option—free audio editor Audacity has this functionality built-in—but also the most time-consuming.

It is worth noting that if you have unusually high levels of background noise, a noise gate may not be the best option. The louder the gate has to be to cut the noise out, the more obvious it is when it activates. Not to mention, the noise will still be present when you are speaking.

Soundproofing Tips for YouTubers 3

Acoustic Foam Tiles

The more initiated of you are probably yelling, “that’s not soundproofing!” right now. And you are right. Those eggbox-like foam tiles you see on YouTuber’s walls are not soundproofing. The job of acoustic tiles is to kill things like echo and reverb in a space.

Imagine you have a bouncy ball. If you bounce that ball on some smooth concrete, you’ll get some good height. If you take that same ball and bounce it on long grass, you’ll be lucky to get any height at all. Now imagine the ball is a sound wave, hitting the wall and bouncing off. Foam tiles work a lot like the grass.

By strategically placing foam tiles around your recording space (or just covering every surface if you can afford that many tiles), you reduce the amount of sound reflection.

If you can only get your hands on a limited amount of foam tiles, consider what kind of microphone you have before placing them. Many microphones have limited pickup around the back, so reducing reflections coming from that direction would be a waste of your tiles.

Carpets or Rugs (or Both!)

A good, thick carpet or rug can address issues raised both in the squeaky floorboards section, and the previous section on acoustic foam tiles. Like foam tiles, a thick carpet or rug will significantly reduce sound reflection, meaning less reverb and echo when you record.

It will also reduce the amount of noise made by you moving around the room. It won’t fix squeaky floorboards, but if you didn’t fancy pulling your floor up, a thick carpet or rug would muffle the noise it makes.

You could also take this one step further by installing some acoustic underlay, which will significantly reduce the amount of noise that gets through your floor.

Soundproofing Tips for YouTubers 7

Microphone Shielding

Our last tip is ideal for people who can’t (or don’t want to) attempt any of the previous tips. Using a product like Kaotica’s Eyeball (or one of the considerably less expensive Chinese alternatives) you can isolate your mic from the outside world significantly.

These products are essentially a hollow ball of acoustic foam that your mic sits inside, blocking noise from all directions except the front. You will still need to worry about reflections from behind you, but the amount unwanted sound getting to your mic is significantly reduced. Just be aware that these are not compact items. You will need plenty of space around your microphone.

If you need any help in finding some of these upgrades then check out my resources page where I have selected some great discounts on products, soundproofing, microphones and more.