A couple of months ago during a Computex 2022 talk, Microsoft's Panos Panay, the Executive Vice President and Chief Product Officer, reminded everyone that the main driving factor throughout the Windows 11 development process is ensuring the quality of the OS.
However, contrary to that, it looks like Microsoft has lowered the bit rate of the Windows 11 Startup sound in the upcoming version 22H2 (Sun Valley 2). The reduction was spotted by Twitter user and prolific leakster Xeno who saw that the audio file for the Startup sound has a reduced bit rate of 1,536 Kbps, down from 2,304 Kbps in last year's build 22463. This change was noticed in Beta Channel build 22621 which has been confirmed to be the RTM release candidate for Windows 11 22H2.
The 33% reduction in the bit rate may or may not ultimately lead to a perceptible difference in the fidelity of the Windows 11 Startup sound. It depends on the compression algorithm used, which could be Huffman or Arithmetic or something else. Nonetheless, it is still a sizable chunk taken away.
Additionally, the image below suggests that Microsoft has also made changes to the music itself, and the silence at the start has been elongated slightly in Build 22621.
Here is the original Windows 11 21H2 Startup sound for reference:
While the potential reduction in the quality here is probably not under the ambit of what Panos Panay meant, a perceptible reduction of the Startup sound could still upset users, especially those that prefer high-fidelity crisp audio whenever possible.
Source and images: Xeno (Twitter)