Spotify: how good is high quality streaming?

Is there an actual difference between high and normal quality streaming on Spotify? How does Spotify high quality streaming compare to CD quality?

I’ve been looking all around to find a decent review that shows me how good is the quality of Spotify’s “High quality” streaming. No luck, so I’ll do one.

CD RIP (flac)

This is the spectrum and wave of the original, 1996 CD version:

enigma-tnt_for_the_brain.cdrip-flac.spek
spectrum, CD version
enigma-tnt_for_the_brain.cdrip-flac.wave
wave, CD version

320kbps MP3 from CD RIP by ffmpeg

enigma-tnt_for_the_brain.cdrip-mp3.spek
spectrum, 320kbps MP3 from CD
enigma-tnt_for_the_brain.cdrip-mp3.wave
wave, 320kbps MP3 from CD

Spotify high quality (desktop) streaming

( Recorded with audio-recorder[^3] into flac. )

enigma-tnt_for_the_brain.spotify-high.spek
spectrum, spotify high quality
enigma-tnt_for_the_brain.spotify-high.wave
wave, spotify high quality

Spotify normal quality (desktop) streaming

enigma-tnt_for_the_brain.spotify-normal.spek
spectrum, spotify normal quality
enigma-tnt_for_the_brain.spotify-normal.wave
wave, spotify normal quality

Conclusions: high quality is still not CD, but is far ahead of the 320k MP3 output of ffmpeg.

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