Here’s a riddle: If higher quality sound sounds better, and higher quality music is more enjoyable, shouldn’t you be streaming music with the best possible audio quality?
The answer is yes. Listen to music in the best possible quality. You’ll love the shimmering drum cymbals that keep singing long after they’ve been struck. Hearing the fingers slide down the neck of the guitar will bring a new dimension to the acoustic ballad that makes you tear up every time you hear it. Listening to the most faithful streams will make you feel like you are in the room with the performers.
The answer to the riddle is also no. Streaming songs in the best audio quality possible costs most people too much money and effort to justify it. And this is where the riddle lies.
There is no initiation sequence or membership card to become an audiophile. If you love to hear the finer details of a song, dive in. John Farrey, Head of Label Relations for Amazon Music, describes a specific example of the level of detail possible with high-resolution 24-bit / 48kHz audio streaming.
“Pharrell William’s production on Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Alright’ really shines in UHD,” also called “Amazon Hi-Res Audio,” said Farrey. “He uses an a capella band as a sample and although they’re really tight you can actually hear the debuts of the individual singers. Terrace Martin’s two-note sax line from 1:28 to 2:08 is much quieter than the bass line and vocals, but you can hear every note. He lives in his own way and is not overcrowded in the mix. “
Not everyone, even music lovers, needs this level of detail. The information below will help you better define what is needed to achieve these types of audio details, and whether or not it is for you.
Can I hear the difference in quality?
First, there are no standard conditions regarding audio quality. This can make the discussion a bit difficult. The dividing line here for “high quality” will be lossless audio. If a stream does not remove any frequency data or sound from its stream, it is lossless. Today, streaming music is almost universally lost, which means it doesn’t carry all of the sounds of the original recording – tiny bits and pieces are missing.
The heart of lossless music compared to lossy music is human hearing. The reason you might never know if sounds are missing from the latest radio bop is because computers know which sounds are omitted. Only the most aggressive compression is noticeable to the majority of people. If you are curious about your hearing ability, take a break here and take a quick audio test to see how well you notice the missing bits. It’s a chance to be honest with yourself about the accuracy of your hearing and how you notice the differences.
Do i need special equipment?
Suppose you have an awesome hearing. The paradox is that you need equipment that performs end to end to achieve full, lossless, high resolution audio.
“Most smartphones released after 2014 (including iPhones and iPads) can support 24-bit / 96kHz playback,” says Farrey. “A smartphone connected to a good pair of wired headphones, which you could use for work or games, will give you a great listening experience.”
Plan to use wired headphones to listen to high quality music. Bluetooth headphones and earphones just do not support top fidelity in any way.
To be clear, spending more money on better headphones won’t solve the problem here. Even buy Apple’s AirPods Max at $ 550 headphones, and then wirelessly listening to songs using Apple Music on your iPhone will not produce high quality lossless sound. It’ll sound great and you’ll get the fullest picture of that 256KB AAC audio stream, but that’s it.