We all love listening to music, singing along to our favourite songs or just marvelling at classical performances. Today, there is so much choice not only in what to listen to but how to do so.
What is the best way to listen to music?
Every music lover will have their own preference and vinyl, CDs and streaming services all have their own pros and cons.
Streaming platforms have made music more accessible than ever before, all of which are available at the touch of a button from an almost infinite catalogue – each of the major streaming platforms offer in the region of 70 million tracks. Music from this source is also completely portable via phones or in the car so where you go, so does your music selection.
The growth of streaming platforms is testament to the popularity of this genre. Spotify vies with Amazon and Apple and they battle for subscribers alongside the likes of Tidal, Deezer and Qobuz.
But while streaming platforms tick the box for convenience and accessibility, there are some drawbacks. Subscribers don’t own a copy of the music they have streamed and music which has been streamed can’t be digitally reproduced. There has also been dissension from some quarters as the big corporate entities and tech companies profit more from streaming than the artists themselves.
Buying a CD, on the other hand, means you “own” that piece of music and once bought, you can play it over and over again to your heart’s content. Compared to vinyl, CDs are much more resilient, they don’t warp and are harder to damage. They also offer pristine digital audio reproduction and take up less storage space.
But there are those who have stayed loyal to vinyl and say its revival is not driven purely by nostalgia.
Vinyl almost became extinct in the 1980s and 90s with the advent of cassettes and then CDs which were cheaper, more reliable and far more portable. But the genre underwent a major revival and in 2022, records outsold CDs for the first time in 35 years. In total, 5.5 million were sold in the UK with the likes of Taylor Swift and Harry Styles topping the vinyl album charts.
So does vinyl sound better? Fans of the medium argue its end-to-end analogue format – from the recording to pressing to playback – more closely reproduces the artist’s work. However, it must be acknowledged, if the frequency of the recorded audio is too low and the sound too loud, the needle can become prone to bouncing out of the groove. And over time, those grooves can also suffer from literally being worn away.
Turntables generate a low frequency sound called rumble which is often caused by the bearings in the drive mechanism. Top quality turntables can help to mitigate this, of course. But while the sound obtained via vinyl may not be perfect, it is those credible imperfections which devotees love. They argue high spec digitalisation recordings lose the heart and soul of the music and lack the warmth and integrity of vinyl.
At the end of the day, what is better? Streaming, CDs and vinyl records all have their strengths and weaknesses. There is no finite answer and perhaps it is best to agree the best format is in the eye – or rather ear – of the beholder.
Whether you’re a turntable devotee looking for some advice, a die-hard streamer looking for some kit to get the best out of your collection, or a music lover that dabbles across multiple platforms and media, the Home Media team are here to help. Come and see us in our Maidstone HQ soon, or give us a ring on 01622 676703 to chat.
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