Is Your Broadband Fast Enough to Stream Audio?

Learn how to test your internet speed and capacity

Middle-aged woman sitting on sofa, listening to music and reading book

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A slow internet connection causes buffering and intermittent pauses while music or video is playing. This means that the data transferred (streamed) to your device is moving too fast or is too much for your connection to handle. To evaluate whether your broadband connection is fast enough to watch movies or to use a music subscription service, check the capacity of the connection by testing its speed.

Instructions in this article apply to cable, FIOS, satellite, and other broadband types on Mac, iOS, Windows, Android, and other platforms.

How to Test Your Internet Connection Speed

There are several online tools to check your connection. One free web-based tool is Speedtest.net. Use this online tool to see your actual internet connection speed. After you test your connection, look at your download speed.

Internet speed test at speedtest.net

Streaming Without Buffering

If you have access to high-speed internet (broadband) service, audio and video streams in real time without problems. Having a broadband service, however, doesn't mean that you'll be able to listen to all music streams.

Broadband service varies from area to area. If it's on the slow end of the scale, you might be able to stream music but not high-quality audio that is encoded at a high bitrate (320 Kbps), because the higher the Kbps, the more data is required for streaming.

Streaming over a wireless connection (Wi-Fi) can be hit-and-miss compared to a wired connection to a home router. If possible, configure your system to stream music over a cabled connection for maximum transfer rate and uninterrupted listening.

Connection Speed Requirements

Audio streams use less bandwidth than video. If you stream only audio, then your broadband speed requirements can be lower than if you also stream music videos and movies (for example, from YouTube). To stream audio, the broadband speed should be at least 1.5 Mbps.

Recommended Capacities for Streaming Music Videos

Video takes up bandwidth because it forces more data through the broadband pipeline. Streaming music videos (at standard quality) requires a broadband speed of at least 3 Mbps. For high-definition (HD) videos, an internet connection that can handle 4 to 5 Mbps is an ideal range to prevent dropouts and buffering.