So you’ve just finished your track and want to show your friends. It’s as simple as uploading it to SoundCloud and sharing the link with them, right? Wrong. You’ve uploaded your track and now it sounds like it’s being played from a tin can. The thing is, in your software and on your speakers – it sounds fine. So what’s the problem?
One of the most common complaints I receive from people using SoundCloud is that the platform is doing some witchcraft when they upload the track for it to sound nothing like they want it to. Usually the reason isn’t because you’re unable to mixdown a track. Far from it. It is simply because SoundCloud is compressing the file you are uploading. Let me explain in more detail.
If you upload a WAV you probably think that you are increasing the quality for users to listen to. In theory, yes. But the way that SoundCloud works to save on bandwidth is to transcode whatever is uploaded to it to a smaller, compressed format. In this case, 128kbps MP3. This is taken from SoundCloud’s website:
Please be aware that we transcode all tracks to 128kbps mp3 for streaming playback. When you make your track downloadable, however, this allows your listeners to download your track in the same format you uploaded it in, without any additional transcoding.
So, should you upload a 128kbps MP3 to fix it? No. All you need to do is upload a 320kbps MP3 to prevent SoundCloud from using its own engine to compress it for you. So why 320 and not 128? Because when streaming, the lower the quality the file, the worse it will sound. Eventually, browsers will be upgraded to cope with being able to stream higher quality audio on the fly.
The main point here is that you do NOT upload a WAV straight to the platform. The WAV gets converted to a 128kbps MP3 which means you lose an incredible amount of quality. If you are uploading 320kbps that will then stream in 128, but retain the quality of the MP3 by not converting it.
An easy way of converting is to stick it into iTunes and then hit edit and then convert. Make sure you change the default settings from AAC to MP3. Alternatively you can use something for free like Audacity.