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Lossless Audio! Streaming for All to Hear!

The music you play is as important as what you play it on and what you play it through. The truest, cleanest, highest bit rate audio content will yield the best sound when played in the perfect scenario (connections, components, calibrations). While analog may be the “original”, accessing vinyl in a digital world represents a challenge. So, how can you enjoy truly lossless audio?

No Need to Settle

We want our music and we want it now, but at what costs? Are we willing to compromise on quality? Are we willing to pay an added fee on top of a base subscription for higher quality? Those answers seem to be yes, but to a certain point.  While a quality set of earbuds and a smartphone can produce a rather impressive sound, we understand that digital content is “compressed”, like a zip-file, and that we’re missing out on some of the depth (think standard definition vs. 4K). Portions of the music that have been deemed undiscernible to the human ear have been removed.  This may be acceptable for casual listening on-the-go or during your workout at the gym, but not when you want to really experience music. That, however, is about to change.

Frustrated by excessive subscription fees, rocker Neil Young is on a mission to make available top-quality digital sound at a reasonable cost.  He is preparing to launch a high-quality streaming music service, Xstream, which is based on a technology developed by Orastream.  It will be an adaptive streaming service that changes with available bandwidth. His feeling is that the higher bit rate will provide a more authentic analog sound vs. the more “squared-off” (more compressed) bit-rate which loses, in some ears, the essence of the music. While the technology behind the service is amazing in that it is capable of complete high resolution playback, Young himself expressed doubts that smartphone chips could adequately decipher the high-quality files.

Another service making a splash in streaming is Tidal.  Tidal is the first subscription streaming service to offer both High Fidelity music and HD music videos. Their lossless audio plays well with Apple devices and Android systems, as well as on a PC or when integrated in a wide range of hi-fi network players. To really appreciate the difference, they offer an audible demonstration of Lossless 1411 kbps (kilobits per second) music, as compared to the Vorbis 320 kbps of Spotify (desktop version) and iTunes’s AAC 256 kbps*.

Popular streaming service Spotify is reportedly testing the market for lossless audio too.  The service tier referred to as Spotify Hi-Fi would be competively priced between $15-$20/mo. Great news for those who want to access a vast library of tunes on a quality sound system.

If you’re one who enjoys hearing every note that every instrument plays (who doesn’t?) which, until recently has meant analog, then these new streaming options are music to your ears. What you play it through (hi-end audio system) is another story, and one in which we at All Digital are eager to assist!

*As reported by Tidal

Additional References:

How to Build the Audiophile Listening Room

Sony Music Goes Back to Vinyl Records