Vinyl dominated the ’60s and’ 70s, cassettes helped define the ’80s, CDs caught fire in the’ 90s, and digital music stores like iTunes took over in the early ‘s, but nothing did. has made music more accessible than streaming services launched over the past decade.
Big tech companies and startups are giving you access to millions of songs for the equivalent of one CD purchase per month, and the benefits are clear: easy access to a huge library of music, streaming n ‘ anywhere from mobile devices, with the ability to download music for offline listening, playlists organized according to your musical tastes, and a constant stream of new music.
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All these cool features are offered by all music streaming service, however, so we’ve chosen to highlight all three with exclusive features that will actually interest you: Spotify, Amazon Prime Music, and Tidal. These services are available on computers (PC and Mac), smartphones and tablets (iOS and Android) and directly through smart speakers from companies like Sonos and Sony.
The best music streaming service you might already be paying for
If you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber, you get many more benefits than just a two-day free delivery, including a free Prime Music subscription.
Prime Music has all of the major features I mentioned above with one caveat: its library only contains “only” a few million tracks. For reference, the company’s paid music subscription service, Amazon Music Unlimited, gives you access to a library of 60 million songs. Amazon Music Unlimited starts at $ 7.99 per month for Prime members and $ 9.99 per month for non-Prime members.
That restriction aside, Prime Music compares very well to other music streaming services.
While it’s “free,” Prime Music doesn’t have ads, offers offline listening with unlimited skips, and access to thousands of curated radio stations and playlists. These first two features are generally only available for paid music subscription services. Because it’s developed by Amazon, Prime Music is also integrated with Alexa, the company’s smart home assistant.
If you have an Alexa built-in speaker (we recommend the Sonos One, Marshall’s Uxbridge, and Libratone Zipp), you can play tracks, albums, or playlists using your voice. This feature is also available through Amazon’s own smart speaker, the Amazon Echo.
Prime Music is a great streaming service to try if you already have an Amazon Prime membership and want the benefits of a paid music streaming service with no additional monthly fees. If you don’t have an Amazon Prime subscription, you can sign up for a 30-day free trial to experience Prime Music for about a month to see if it’s for you.
Check Out Prime Music or Subscribe to Amazon Prime Here >>
The best music streaming service you can get for free
Spotify recently announced that it has 271 million active users, making it the most popular music streaming service by orders of magnitude. One of the reasons it’s so appealing is that the company offers a completely free tier, which is a good deal if you’ve never tried a music streaming service before.
Spotify’s free tier subscribers get access to the same library of 50 million songs and a growing list of podcasts, some of which are available exclusively through its service. Spotify has a lot to offer, but free subscribers are limited in a number of ways.
First of all, you will need to listen to an advertisement after playing a few songs. If you’re listening to a concept album like Pink Floyd’s The dark side of the moon, or any live album, this interruption will be particularly noticeable. Second, you cannot download tracks to your device for offline listening, so you will still need an active internet connection.
Finally, you will not be able to listen to the songs you want on a mobile device and you will not have access to Spotify offers of the highest audio quality. You also cannot listen to music from another country if you are away for more than 14 days.
These restrictions can be lifted by subscribing to Spotify Premium, which costs $ 9.99 per month. Spotify offers a free three-month Premium subscription if you’ve never checked out the service before.
Spotify has become the default option in a crowded area, and its free version is still worth considering if you’re deciding if music streaming is right for you. You have nothing to lose and you always have the option to upgrade later if you wish.
Sign up for a free Spotify subscription here >>
3. The best streaming service for music history buffs
Liner notes have been one of the biggest losses in the transition from vinyl and CDs to fully digital music, but Qobuz has a solution.
The streaming service offers high resolution music (better than CD quality) and features apps on all major mobile and desktop operating systems. We tried Qobuz for ourselves, and the music selection is great, and the apps (Mac and iOS are the ones we tried) were stable and easy to use.
But the main reason to consider subscribing to this service is that some albums come with digital sleeve notes. They aren’t available for all albums, which is a shame, but a lot of recent releases come with these high-resolution digital booklets. It’s gratifying to know more about the recording history of an album after listening to it, so that you can enjoy the songs even more.
Qobuz is also the only streaming service that offers high-resolution music downloads, which you will own completely. Subscribers to his Sublime Studio package, which costs $ 249.99 per year (it breaks down to $ 20.83 per month), gets a 30% discount on all digital downloads from the Qobuz store, which is a perk that no other streaming service cannot match.
You can subscribe to his Premier Studio Plan (identical to Sublime Studio without the discount) for $ 149.99 if you pay annually ($ 12.49 per month) or $ 14.99 per month for a monthly plan. You can see a full breakdown of each plan and price on its subscriptions page.
If you are curious about the service, Qobuz offers a 30-day free trial for its Premier Studio plan. This will give you more than enough time to peruse their library and their sleeve notes feature. If you missed flipping through a booklet while listening to new music, Qobuz can satisfy that desire.
Discover Qobuz here >>
The best music streaming service for audiophiles
One of the big problems serious audiophiles have had with streaming services is the loss of audio quality compared to a CD, high-resolution formats like SACD and DVD-A, or high-resolution music files encoded in formats like .DFF, .FLAC.
Tidal, a music streaming service launched in 2014 and acquired by Project Panther Bidco Ltd. by Jay-Z in 2015, is a game-changer. The company offers a subscription called TIDAL Hi-Fi, which allows you to stream an entire library in Lossless (CD) quality. Most other music subscription services compress music, reducing its file size for easier distribution.
The company also offers an even more premium subscription service called Tidal Hi-Fi, which allows you to stream certain albums in greater than CD resolutions. We’ve written an explanation of the differences between streaming lossy, lossless, and high-res music if you want more information, but the bottom line is that albums available in “Tidal Master” quality will sound better than any other version. in streaming. I had the chance to listen for myself, and the difference is immediately noticeable.
Tidal Hi-Fi costs $ 19.99 per month, which is higher than other streaming services, but in this case, you get what you pay for. TIDAL is offering a free trial right now, which is a great thing to do if you want to experience the platform.
One thing to consider is that you will need to invest in the right audio equipment to take full advantage of Tidal Hi-Fi. You can stream it through any device, but wireless audio technologies such as Bluetooth will compress them, so you will lose out. quality.
If you’re listening through a home theater, we recommend the Powernode 2i or Cyrus Audio One Cast and Q-Acoustic 3030i speakers. If you’re listening on a computer or mobile device, we recommend AudioQuest’s DragonFly Black DAC (analog to digital converter) and Shure’s Aonic 50 headphones, which can be used as a wired or Bluetooth pair.
Like any audiophile business, Tidal HiFi is an investment, but if sound quality is your number one concern, it’s your best bet.
Check Out a Free Trial of TIDAL Here >>
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