Friday, January 16, 2015

The Sound and the Fury: Audiophiles fight streamed music's lower sound quality

If you open a book and it is laden with every grammatical mistake conceivable, chances are you'd put it back on the shelf. Even the average coach potato shirks from anything less than a fully immersive, high-definition viewing experience. But when it comes to music, consumers - and thus digital streaming services - seem all too content to let quality slide down the wayside.

Pandora, Spotify, YouTube - all these programs have abandoned the high fidelity supersound of the past and opted for tinny, super-compressed audio files that skimp on quality. While the average streaming service has a bit rate ranging anywhere from 256 to 320 kilobits, most CD's average of over 1411 kilobits per second. The difference is seismic; and, contrary to trends in most entertainments industries, quality has declined over time.

"High-fidelity sound quality is truly a natural evolution of the market," said Andy Chen, chief executive of Norwegian-based streaming service, Tidal.. "Music is probably the only entertainment-content format in which people have accepted lower quality than 10 years ago — we're saying that maybe that's not OK. Shouldn't it be the same level it used to be? Why should we accept less?"

The public's response has mostly been one of apathy, but a few audiophiles are attempting to reform this troubling trend. New streaming services such as Pono, Deezer, and Tidal are turning to Kickstarter and other startups to produce enhanced sound quality in their programs.

"You're talking about a large amount of people spending a large amount of money not having the music," said Tyler Goldman, CEO of Deezer "And now, having all those songs at high quality is a total game-changer."

Though I can't claim to be a sound quality connoisseur, or even a music connoisseur, or really any type of connoisseur, I have to question the integrity of any company that tries to compromise quality. I think that consumers need to educate themselves about the quality of the files they are receiving, and demand higher quality.

Though it's totally fine to choose lower quality files over higher ones - everyone's free to make their own decisions, this blog is a no-snob zone - I commend certain companies for taking matters into their own hands and preserving the quality. The consumer should at least have the option to choose a high quality listening experience.

Knopper, S. (2014, September 19). Is High-Fidelity Sound the Future of Streaming Music? Retrieved January 16, 2015, from

No comments:

Post a Comment