Music formats and the way we consume music has changed massively over the last number of decades. From tape cassettes and vinyls, through to the compact disc, not to forget the attempt at making super audio CDs and minidisk successful. This then led to MP3s and now streaming and the landscape continues to change and evolve as other technologies improve, such as broadband speeds.
Now we’ve see the Resurgence of people buying vinyl records en-masse and indeed I witnessed a massive queue snaking around the city centre where people were trying to get in to record store shops on ‘record store day’ in order to buy limited edition vinyls. Given that you can now stream in lossless formats with Apple Music and at CD quality on Tidal and similar platforms, one might wonder why people are buying such an old technology.
But there is still something special about holding a physical object when it comes to enjoying music – and vinyls sound different to compact discs and streaming due to their very nature in the way they are manufactured.
But what I find particularly interesting right now is the advent of Spatial Audio that is now offered on Apple Music and which I have tested out.
For some time now I have had Dolby Atmos on my mobile phone and was able to enjoy a more immersive listening experience, but nobody wants to have to hold their phone and front of their face in order to listen in this way.
With Apple Music’s new service, this spatial audio can be heard on headphones and on high quality speakers. I tested it out in comparison with Tidal Masters – which is the full CD quality streaming.
What I found was that the experience of listening to music was completely changed. Lead vocals were right out front; Instruments and synth sounds seemed to envelop you all around and reverb and delay effects were more audible – as they had their own space to breathe.
I used to show artists the difference between listening to MP3 streaming compared with Tidal Masters to show what they were missing out when choosing lower quality streaming platforms, but now in comparison, I feel that this new format will most definitely dominate the future of how we hear music and I certainly don’t want to go back!
Coupled with the fact that you can now listen to music in the same quality that it was recorded at (internet speed and storage permitting) I really hope that we are now moving away from getting used to hearing music in a very compressed format. So much is lost when music is compressed into tiny files and now finally we are living in an age when music can have its own soundstage exactly as the creators intended.
The Future Sound of Music is truly exciting and it is beginning right now!