At a glance, music streaming services can look like they’re all selling the same thing. It can be a confusing process trying to work out which service best fits your needs. If anything, most music enthusiasts are spoilt for choice. What’s the difference between services? Why Tidal when you can Spotify your tunes? Is there a quality difference? We’ve put together our top picks for getting the most music from your megabytes.
It’s likely that you’ll recognise at least one streaming service by name and that’s Spotify. They’re the original (and biggest) service out there at the moment. With an impressive array of artists across all genres, along with in-house DJs they have almost have something for everyone. Monthly costs are fairly cheap too – $10 a month gets you ad-free listening.
So, that’s it right? Wrap it up, end the blog, next question. Well, not quite. We’re big fans of Tidal and here’s why: quality. Although Spotify (and services like it) do a great job of aggregating content their focus has largely been on having lots of content rather than high bit-rate files. If your system is well-optimised it also makes sense to ensure that the files you’re sending it are up to the task. A general rule to live by is that it’s not possible to gain back information that you’ve lost at the source.
Here’s a little more information to help you work out which streaming service is best for you:
Tidal is the top of the pile when it comes to sound quality. Although they happily offer a Spotify-esque low bit-rate option, if you refuse to settle for anything less than 16-bit 1411kbps audio Tidal is the service for you for around XXX per month. Naim Audio customers with streaming products also benefit from Tidal’s integration into the Naim control app.
As mentioned above, Spotify is the most recognisable name on the list, and for good reason. It’s an incredibly easy service to use, no matter the platform, and with millions more users than their nearest competitor, it’s unlikely that Spotify will be knocked from their perch any time soon. Their catalogue includes established artists, newcomers and tunes created in Spotify’s own studios. Users can have either a free, ads-included membership, or a $10 a month ad-free listening membership. The paid subscription also enables Spotify Connect which allows you to send your favourite tunes to any compatible streaming speaker or amplifier via Wi-Fi.
Apple hasn’t become one of the biggest companies in the world by doing things by halves. Apple Music is an excellent option for those who are faithful Apple users. If you started building a library in iTunes years ago, it’s available via your Apple Music streaming library. You can also ask Siri to find music for you, and you’ll really notice how well Apple Music transitions between your Apple computer, iPhone or iPad. At $10 a month for a standard membership, Apple Music is a well-priced option for the Apple user.
Google Play Music
In much the same vein, Google Play Music was created for those who prefer Android over Apple products. A standard subscription costs around $10 per month, with a pared back free version that contains advertising also available. Google Play Music users can upload up to 50,000 songs to the cloud as well as gaining access to new artists, albums and podcasts that regularly updated online.
What else is out there?
Depending on where you are and what you want from a streaming service, there are plenty of other operators out there. Qobuz, for example offers high bit-rate streaming, along with an extensive classical music library. For those who like discovering new tunes and artists, Bandcamp has a great app which even lets you purchase albums and support up-and-coming acts. Radio diehards may like Tunein which aggregates a huge amount of local and international radio station into one elegant app.
Remember, no matter which streaming service you choose, your listening experience will only be as good as the audio system that plays it. Naim Audio products are compatible with all music streaming services, so no matter your preference, you’ll be able to enjoy your tunes crisp and clean – just the way they’re supposed to be.