Saturday, March 10, 2018

Music streaming services and sound quality

Back when I was a teenager I spent a whole lotta time on listening to music. I mean really listening - not just keep it running in the background while doing other stuff. First, I had a radio alarm clock with (cassette-)tape recorder. So I mostly listened to tapes which where recorded from radio. Of course the quality of those recordings and of the tape player itself would not stand any quality standards ;-) A little later I got my hands on my father's stereo equipment (SABA receiver and tape deck with a DUAL turntable and some nice Canton speakers). This caused my standards of sound quality to rise. I began buying records and copied them to tape. If I really liked the record it went on a "metal" tape, but usually I spent my money on "CrO2" tapes. Why the hell buy a record and then copy it to tape?? Why not buy the taped recording?? To all those younger folks: because those tapes didn't sound good. Copying the record to high or at least good quality tape would leave you with a much better sound on your way to school while enjoying the luxury of a Sony DD II Walkman. By the end of the eighties CDs made their way into my record collection. (By the way, my first CD was Depeche Mode's "Speak and Spell" album which I already owned as vinyl. I missed the "klick" sounds from my record to which I got used to over the years while listening to this album ;-) ) At first CDs where too expensive for me so I still got records but over time of course I got stuck on CDs - though I still think a good recording and high quality record sounds better than a CD of the same album. Since then quite some time has passed and today's music industry somehow made it's way to digital music downloads and streaming services - which I think is a good thing. However I really dislike treating lossy music formats as replacement for "real" non-lossy recordings. And I don't see the sense in them anymore. Low bitrate mp3 files of course where the only way to get music over the internet through your 56k modem - but nowadays? Really? Don't get me wrong, those codecs are fine while listening to music on your smartphone while you're on the way to work, but as soon you get some descent headphones this sound quality sucks.