Upstream

Digital Audio Streaming

Upstream!

 

Music is rapidly becoming an on-demand commodity rather than something that is owned. Just like the DVD, CDs are becoming superfluous for new generations as the ultimate flexibility of music streaming takes centre stage.

 

Whether the above leaves purists thoroughly depressed or not, music streaming is here to stay. With more and more services available, we have been listening to just a few to see how they compare quality-wise especially with regard to good listening on the move.

 

In the dark ages of digital audio, many companies decided that quantity was better than quality. Thus, MP3 music compression was born with scant regard to the final quality of sound produced. The same dark forces have been at work with music streaming. Based on a basic human desire for more, often exploited by marketers, the most successful streaming services have enormous catalogues of music in order to attract as many consumers as possible.  In more recent times, these happen to offer the “best value for money”. However, value is in the eye of the beholder is it not?

 

Basic services from Spotify, Amazon, Apple etc. are all fine. They provide many people with hours of listening pleasure with scaled tariffs to suit personal circumstances and quality requirements. Many youngsters in particular, are quite happy to play music through the tiny speakers in their mobile phones or tablets and are perfectly happy with the results. In fact, I have met many adults who listen in the same way. However, these folk are unlikely to upgrade the audio in their vehicle for quality purposes.

 

When deciding to improve quality in whatever environment you listen in, you become a critical listener. This can be most rewarding as there is no doubt that the better the quality of reproduction, the more music is enjoyed. We know this particularly by the way people we demonstrate music to suddenly get enjoyment from material that they would not naturally choose to listen to. Critical listeners can also be marketed to in nefarious ways and the most underhand of all is technical specification. We speak to many who are convinced that their stream of choice must be the best because of some spurious technical element or other.

 

I have been a Spotify and Apple Music discourager for a while now. I have used both services in anger including premium/lossless versions and they do not sound good to my ears. Two services I have been drawn to however, are Qobuz and Tidal. It is extremely difficult for me to get detailed information as to why these should sound better, but they definitely do!

 

The most popular theory is that both services pay better artist royalties and as a result get better masters from record companies to work their magic on. Others speak of magic algorithms which are based on the musicality of the final rendering rather than bandwidth restrictions.

 


Car Audio Upgrades Made Easy

In association with our partners The FOUR MASTER Network, we are able to provide you with a no obligation custom quote on a system for your car.

Not ready for that yet? Why not book a demonstration at your home, place of work or with your local FOUR MASTER?

FOUR MASTERS CAR AUDIO