Music streaming

Video: Comparing music streaming services with Audioholics

On February 3, 2022, Gene DellaSala, President of Audioholics.com, hosted a panel discussion live on YouTube with three members of the acoustic team; @ThatHiFiGirl Emiko, Editor-in-Chief, Ian White and Founder, Brian Mitchell, to discuss the state of digital music streaming services.

Each person shared their experiences using the different music streaming platforms to help you figure out which one best suits your needs. Emiko, who made her first appearance on Audioholics Live, expressed a unique perspective as a professional musician and music producer.

For reference, here is the breakdown of current music streaming options and costs per unique user per month in the US.

Comparison of music streaming services

*Not Lossless | As of February 3, 2022 | Source: acoustics.com

Useful definitions

lossless means the same bit-for-bit quality as a CD, which is 16-bit/44.1kHz.

Hi-Res Audio is digital music sampled at more than 16-bit/44.1kHz, such as 24-bit/96kHz. In almost all cases, a DAC dongle or an external DAC (digital to analog converter) is needed to decode these signals. As we learned on Dr. Mark Waldrep’s podcast, it proved impossible to hear the difference compared to lossless.

MQA music is mastered using a proprietary compression technique designed to achieve high-resolution audio quality using less bandwidth.

Dolby Atmos is an object-based audio format that can place sounds all around you when played through a multi-channel speaker system.

Sony 360RA stands for Sony 360 Reality Audio. It is a competitor format to Dolby Atmos which can play sounds in a 360 degree sphere using regular headphones. Very few speakers are supported at the moment, including Sony SRS speakers and Sennheiser AMBEO soundbar.

Spatial audio is an umbrella term often representing Dolby Atmos, Sony 360RA, or other similar object-based surround sound formats. Sometimes spatial audio can include head tracking.

Subjects discussed

Dolby Atmos. Most people would be amazed at how much better spatial audio sounds when properly mastered and played through a Dolby Atmos sound system.

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The devaluation of music. With so much music available for free, whether through YouTube or free music services, many people think spending $10-20 a month to access unlimited music is too expensive.

The best deal. Apple Music for $9.99/month set the bar by offering the highest quality music at the lowest price. Meanwhile, Qobuz and Tidal have gained niche support among audiophiles. Spotify HiFi is still missing.

Music royalties. You might be surprised how little revenue artists earn when their music is streamed. Qobuz has been recognized for paying music creators the most for streaming. Purchasing physical media is even more beneficial for creators. It just pays them more.

Streaming is not proprietary. Renting music isn’t always what it seems. Music can be deleted from your favorite streaming platform and there is nothing you can do about it except buy it or switch streaming service. Ownership of physical media is always important. It’s better. This is yours. It works when your Wi-Fi goes down.

Thank you

Thanks Gene for hosting a very informative conversation and be sure to visit Audioholics.com.


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