New Lossless and High-Resolution Streaming Services Raise the Bar for Digital Music Sound Quality
To some audiophiles, streaming music has had a bad connotation. In large part, it has to do with services like Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music all using compressed audio formats for streaming to devices like mobile phones. Some audio purists only want to listen to lossless music or the warm analog sound of vinyl records.
You can’t blame audiophiles for eschewing compressed music. They spend many thousands of dollars on their high-end audio systems, and good equipment exposes all the warts in heavily compressed music. If you’re a high-end audio enthusiast in Lincoln Park, IL, you want your system to sound as good as possible. But there’s no denying the convenience of being able to call up most of the world’s recorded music with a few taps on your smartphone or tablet.
Fortunately, after years of focusing on interfaces and easy access at the expense of audio quality, there is a return to the pursuit of better sound with digital music. Music services like Tidal, Amazon Music HD, and Qobuz are leading the way with lossless and high-resolution music, available for easy streaming. If you’re still digging through racks of CDs, you may want to keep reading!
Music streaming, like downloads, started with compression for a simple reason. When digital music on computers began in the mid-1990s, storage space and internet bandwidth were at a premium. Today, with fast internet that streams 4K video and seemingly unlimited cheap storage in many devices, lossless music is a much easier proposition.
In the past few years, some music services have started to cater to listeners looking for higher quality sound with the convenience of streaming. One of those is Tidal, which launched in 2014 and was purchased by JayZ. The service offers CD-quality lossless streaming of up to 60 million tracks. Another is Qobuz, which has been in Europe for years but launched in the U.S. in May 2019. Both are currently available to stream via apps on IOS and Android. More recently, none other than giant Amazon has jumped into the fray, offering its Amazon Music HD service with a similarly massive library of CD-quality lossless tracks.
If you’re an audiophile, you may already know about these newer lossless streaming options. And you likely know that audio is also moving to a higher plane with high-resolution audio. A wide variety of today’s audio equipment can play high-resolution audio, as audio formats on Blu-ray discs are already high-resolution, and home theater receivers are in many homes. Audiophiles, however, don’t look at most AV receivers as the last work in two-channel music fidelity. They look to high-end brands like Meridian, a pioneer in digital audio and one of our favorites at Barrett’s Technology Solutions.
Besides lossless streaming, services like Tidal, Qobuz, and Amazon Music HD are also offering high-resolution audio streaming. While the library for these isn’t as extensive, it’s growing all the time. Tidal and other services have adopted formats like MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) as an efficient way to pack and distribute these larger high-quality files without compression, and MQA is supported by an increasing number of high-end audio brands.
What Does it All Mean?
This is the real “Golden Age” of audio. The amount of quality high-end audio equipment available today is immense, from old school tube designs to digital-focused systems like those from Meridian. Turntables continue to increase in popularity, so pure analog is also far from dead. It means you have a wealth of amazing choices for superb sound on your high-end audio rig, including the incredible convenience of streaming.
Let Barrett’s show you how to build the perfect high-end audio setup. Serving Chicagoland since 1966, we’ve been experts in audio since the dawn of the hi-fi era! Call us at (630) 898-2850 or contact us here to get started – we look forward to working with you.