Written by 5:42 am News

A “Guide” to Streaming Services?

Steven Stone looks at a recently published guide that doesn’t get it…

Vanity Fair online recently published an article entitled “Which Streaming Service Should You Use?” That dutifully describes each of nine different streaming services from Amazon, iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, Beats Music, RDio, Songza, Grooveshark, Prime Music, and AM – FM radio (the original streamer.) Nowhere in the entire article is there a single mention of sound quality. I suppose at Vanity Fair the sound coming out of the various streaming services is inconsequential.

AR-dtream1a.jpgIn her 1000 word article the author, Kia Makareschi, goes into great detail about the graphics, color schemes, depth of content, and even the legal troubles of some of the services, yet she has no information in her article about what sample and bit rates the various streaming services are using. Also the article doesn’t go into why these various streaming services might sound differently from one another. Decipherability and the overall level of musical involvement created by the various streaming services due to their level of sound quality doesn’t even seem to appear on Ms. Makareshi’s radar.

But rather than attack one writer, my purpose here is to show my fellow audiophiles how clueless mainstream media and their audience are about sound quality as it relates to streaming. Even if a streaming service was curated exclusively by Jimmy Iovine and guest DJs from alternate universes if the sound quality was bad enough (say Dixie cup and a string level) no one would listen. SOUND QUALITY MATTERS! Sorry, I had to scream…

AR-stream2a.jpgIn my humble opinion, ALL currently available music-streaming services deliver inadequate sound quality to be completely involving. Lord knows, I’ve tried to listen to streaming music without drifting into multitasking, but to steal once more a much lifted line – “There is no there, there.” Streamed music, as we know it today, lacks enough musical information to keep my brain fully occupied. Sometimes a new song can catch my attention briefly, but I can’t remember a single time when a streaming source waylaid me from my scheduled tasks into a listening session. This often happens to me when I play higher resolution music.

As more MP3-based streaming services, such as the new Prime streaming from Amazon, come on line, I’m becoming more eager for PONO, which is Neil Young’s promised new high-resolution music playback/streaming service. I can’t wait to see if mainstream media and “your average Joe consumer” notice a qualitative difference in the sound or if they just glom onto the latest celebrity endorsements…and the colors and graphics…

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