Podcasting For Dummies
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Some of the listening options available in the Spotify Preferences pane depend on what kind of Spotify subscription you have, as well as whether you have a Mac or PC.

Enable Hardware Acceleration option

The Enable Hardware Acceleration option appears only if you’re using a PC, and it’s selected by default. Hardware acceleration is a process that uses your computer hardware, rather than the Spotify software alone, to optimize Spotify’s performance.

The downside to hardware acceleration is that your hardware simply may not be up to the task. Many people who use older computers complain of tracks jumping or fast-forwarding because hardware acceleration is turned on (Spotify isn’t the only program to have this problem). Deselect the check box if you ever run into such problems, and then reboot your computer.

How to set the sound level

Many albums have different nuances to them: One track could be whisper-soft, the next full of loud bangs. Some people like to listen to all music the way it was intended to be heard; others may be working in an office and want to have tracks play at generally the same volume (you don’t want your boss unexpectedly jumping out of his or her skin).

The technical name for playing tracks at the same sound level is volume normalization.

To keep a normal sound level for all tracks, keep the Set the Same Sound Level for All Tracks check box selected. To enjoy your music whether it’s tiptoe-quiet or crazy-loud, uncheck this option.

Stream sound in a high-quality format

The High-Quality Streaming option is grayed out if you don’t have a Premium subscription. But if you’re on a Premium plan, you can listen to a significant proportion of streaming music in a top-quality, 360-Kbps (kilobits per second) format.

By default, the option to listen at higher quality is turned off to make songs stream to you more quickly and to save on resources. With the option turned off, Spotify streams music at around 160 Kbps, which is perfectly ideal for everyday listening. And because you’re streaming smaller music files, it’s also a good way to help keep the data usage low (which is important if you’re on a data plan that has limits or using mobile broadband).

Audiophiles who listen to streaming music through quality sound systems may want a higher-quality sound. If you want better-sounding music and have a Premium subscription, make sure the High Quality Streaming check box is selected. Modern-day broadband connections should be suitable for this type of streaming — but if songs start jumping around or the web responds slowly, you probably either need to upgrade your connection speed or uncheck the High Quality Streaming option.

Spotify’s most popular tracks should be available in high quality because these tracks tend to take priority when the company converts its raw source files to 320 Kbps. As for the others, Spotify offers a huge proportion in high quality but hasn’t specifically indicated how many are available in a higher-quality format.

Spotify doesn’t tell you whether a song is offered at 320 Kbps, so you have no way of telling (apart from with your ears) whether a track you’re listening to is in high-quality streaming format.

Hiding Unplayable Tracks option

This welcome option was reintroduced to the Spotify Preferences pane after a long absence. Because of music licensing restrictions, you sometimes find grayed-out tracks that aren’t playable in your country. To avoid disappointment, keep the Hide Unplayable Tracks option selected.

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