Why Does Spotify Sound Bad in My Car? (Solved)

In short: Spotify can sound bad in your car if it has access to your microphone. Disable the “Hey Spotify” feature, revoke microphone access, then perform a clean reinstall.

Have you realized that Spotify sounds bad in your car? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Here are 5 of the most common reasons why Spotify sounds distorted, quiet, muffled, and low in your car.

1. You are using CarPlay to play Spotify

Spotify sounds great over Bluetooth headphones or iPhone speakers, but the sound quality is very low over CarPlay. It’s as if the audio output is quiet and muffled.

Apple introduced CarPlay in 2014 as a way to integrate the iPhone and a car’s dashboard. In the United States, over 80% of new cars sold to support it, Apple said in 2021.

Unfortunately, many Spotify users complain that the sound quality is bad on CarPlay. Here’s what a CarPlay user had to say about the sound quality of Spotify in his car:

“I got a Kenwood DMX 9707S head unit set up in my car. The audio sounds fantastic when using YouTube, Apple Music, or other apps. But, Spotify? Sounds like a mess. It seems like Spotify is trying to do something with my microphone and that triggers the head unit to treat it like a phone call rather than like music/content.”

– Spotify car user

What I find interesting is that Spotify sounds better over Bluetooth compared to CarPlay, while Apple Music sounds better over CarPlay compared to Bluetooth.

Solution: Disable the “Hey Spotify” feature

Turn off the “Hey Spotify” feature if Spotify sounds bad on CarPlay. You need to disable microphone permissions and you have to disable the “Hey Spotify” within the app itself.

Open the app and tap the gear icon to go to Settings, then tap “Voice interactions.” You can turn off “Hey Spotify” or tap mic permissions to disable the voice feature completely.

It seems that Spotify has a passive learning feature that prompts CarPlay to downgrade the audio to allow “send and receive”. Once you disable that feature, the problem is solved.

2. Spotify needs a clean reinstall

Sometimes, all you need is a clean reinstall. It is different from a regular reinstall because a clean reinstall will remove the old drivers first and then install the new ones.

How to clean reinstall Spotify on iOS

  • Open Spotify.
  • Tap the gear icon in the top right corner.
  • Tap Storage then Delete Cache.
  • Head to your device’s Settings, then tap General.
  • Tap iPhone Storage.
  • Select Spotify from the list of apps.
  • Tap Offload the app and confirm.
  • Then, tap Delete App and confirm.
  • Once the app is deleted, turn your device completely off.
  • Wait a couple of minutes.
  • Press and hold the Top (or Side) button until the display turns on.
  • Switch your device back on.
  • Install Spotify from the App Store.

How to clean reinstall Spotify on Android

  • Go to your phone’s Settings.
  • Select Apps or Applications.
  • Select Manage applications.
  • Find and select Spotify in your list of apps.
  • Tap Clear Data.
  • Go to Storage > Android > Data and delete a folder called com.spotify.music.
  • Switch your device off.
  • Wait a couple of minutes.
  • Switch your device back on.
  • Open Google Play and install the Spotify Music app.

After a clean reinstall, give your device a quick restart. Once you perform a clean reinstall, your downloaded music and podcasts will be deleted, and your settings will be reset to default.

3. Spotify is using your microphone

If the music played from Spotify still sounds bad after a clean reinstall, try revoking the permission for Spotify to use the microphone on your device.

How to disable Spotify’s microphone access on iOS

  1. Go to your mobile Settings.
  2. Tap Privacy. 
  3. Tap Microphone.
  4. You’ll find the list of apps that have access to your microphone.
  5. Switch Spotify’s access to your microphone off.

How to disable Spotify’s microphone access on Android

  1. Open the Settings app on your device.
  2. Tap Apps.
  3. Tap Spotify.
  4. Tap Permissions.
  5. Choose Don’t allow.

You can also check Spotify’s microphone access from the settings of your Spotify app. Once you revoke Spotify’s access to your microphone, the sound quality in your car should improve.

4. Audio normalization is turned on

According to Spotify, normalization is a feature that balances the volume between soft and loud songs, creating a more uniform listening experience. 

In simple terms, it’s the setting that normalizes the volume of every song on your Spotify app so you don’t get songs that are louder or quieter than one another.

Many people debate whether they should turn normalization on or off, but in my experience, turning it on reduces the sound quality in my car (I can hardly feel the bass move my seat).

Solution: turn off normalization

If Spotify sounds bad in your car (low volume and muffled), turn off normalization. The volume normalization seems to cause so many issues overall, even when you’re not in the car.

You can learn more about Spotify audio normalization right here.

5. Your phone’s volume is not set to maximum

Some people never maximize the volume on Spotify. This means the sound output produced by Spotify is not going to be the best. Instead, adjust the volume on your car stereo.

Solution: maximize the volume on Spotify

One thing you can do to increase the quality of sound coming from Spotify is to turn up the volume on your phone to the maximum, then adjust the volume from your car stereo.

This allows Spotify to produce the maximum sound output and ensure the quality is at its best. If you don’t maximize the volume on the phone, the sound quality won’t be the best.

6. The head unit’s firmware is not up to date

Each car stereo has firmware. If the firmware is outdated, you could be experiencing audio quality issues whenever you listen to music from the Spotify app.

According to Crutchfield, firmware is basically the background programming of a device. It helps a device, in this case, your car stereo, to do what’s supposed to do.

Solution: update your car stereo firmware

To keep your car stereo working well, you should update the firmware to the latest version. Register your purchase with the manufacturer to make sure you’re alerted to important updates.

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