"People do stupid things," started one Vonage commercial, following up on that claim with jackass-style stunts ending badly. Nowhere is that wisdom more visible than in paying more for theoretical higher streaming music quality, while using a headset and phone combi, or the way that millions of typical users listen to music every day.
The revamped Apple Music app
arrived as part of the fresh iOS 8.4 update, and comes accompanied by the new Beats 1
curated radio station, the Connect music social network, and other audiophile accouterments. The latest entrant in the hot subscription streamers field, however, gushes tunes out with a 256kbps bitrate, which on paper is lower quality than Spotify's 320kbps maximums, not to mention Jay Z's Tidal
, whose whole premise is that is streams in veritable CD quality, at 1.4Mbps. Apple Music, however, uses a higher quality encoder, AAC, compared to Spotify's Ogg Vorbis, for instance.
How much of that audiophile mumbo-jumbo is of actual matter to the average, and even the not-so-average music listener out there? Well, a blind test can settle all things related to user preferences once and for all, right? That's exactly what's been done to compare the streaming quality of Apple Music vs Spotify vs Tidal
. The listeners were given one ordinary getup that millions of listeners around the globe use to consume said services every day - a midrange Sony MDR-7506 headset that won't break the bank, but is still able to emit some quality tunes, and an iPhone 6 Plus
, which is one of the better handsets when it comes to music output out there.
The results? Well, as you can see in the video below, they are all over the place for one the same song streamed to a few different people over the three competing services. Tidal's whopping bitrate definitely didn't make a dent in the listener's perception, while the 256kbps "only" of Apple Music didn't put it dead last, either. Thus, for all practical purposes, it seems that your monthly tenner or so more for Tidal's quality would be wasted, unless you are an ear-sensitive audiophile with really expensive equipment at home. What do you think?