While iTunes and MP3s tend to dominate the market of consumer market in the 21st century, vinyl is still alive and well in some niches. Not only is it popular amongst traditionalist DJs – most of whom honed their craft with vinyl records and old school turntables – but vinyl is still preferred by many music aficionados and audiophiles.
But the battle doesn't stop there. As streaming services like Spotify have made digital music even more accessible than ever and with traditional record stores all but extinct, some have no other choice but to embrace digital. Some of the newer artists don't even offer their albums on the traditional vinyl medium.
Preserving the Quality of Music
The majority of the population is perfectly happy with the quality of MP3s or with the audio of streaming services like Spotify. While most don't even realize what they're missing, audio engineers, music enthusiasts and audiophiles can immediately spot the difference – compression.
Compression is what happens to a music file when it is transferred to a digital format. That's where terms like "lossless" and "lossy" audio come into play. To the average music listener, most lossy audio formats, such as MP3 files and streaming audio services, have no discernible difference when compared to a lossless or uncompressed format such as FLAC or WAV.
But it's a never-ending debate. While music enthusiasts and audiophiles insist there is a noticeable difference between lossy and lossless formats, others vehemently deny it. In the end, it ultimately comes down to the preference of the listener and what they're most comfortable with.
Mediums like vinyl, as well as the analog equipment used to record many older, traditional albums, present unique nuances and flaws – such as a tinny sound or slight defects in the recording itself – that simply cannot be mimicked when transferring the audio to digital – including the higher quality, lossless formats that are preferred by audiophiles.
As expected, these nuances aren't typically present in the recordings heard on streaming services, either. While it's a non-issue for the average music listener, those who want to capture the true sound of their music – particularly the older recordings – aren't happy with the high compression used in today's streaming services. The product just isn't attracting their interest at all.
The listener's hardware also plays a part in all of this. While some still prefer the nostalgia of a vintage boombox or record player, many listeners now play their music via digital means – such as a computer, smartphone or other mobile device. Those who subscribe to streaming services are even more limited when it comes to playing their favorite tunes.
Following Your Preferred Platform
For some, their preferred medium depends on their musical tastes. Those who are in love with jazz from the 40s and 50s, for example, might not find their favorite artists on today's streaming services. Likewise, some of the newer artists don't even offer their recordings in vinyl. Some are even skipping CDs and traditional albums in favor of digital or streaming platforms, where they can release as few or as many songs as they want. While today's music enthusiast has more options than ever before, generally speaking, there are still some limitations to overcome.
Traditional Music vs Streaming Services
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