The Source of Good Music Part III: Online Streaming

What a couple of years ago sounded like science fiction in the truest sense of the word has now established itself as a serious foothold in the music industry. In 2013, the market share of online streaming services reached 5% of the total turnover of the music industry in Germany and a growth rate of 91% shows: Here the potential is far from exhausted. Meanwhile courting a number of providers for the favor of the customer. They differ not only in terms of the offered sound quality, but also in terms of compatibility and pricing model. So it’s worth a closer look and what we have done in some of the great services on hand for you: .

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The Contenders:

Our chosen examples are Google, Spotify, Napster and WiMP. Google is gone in Germany since the end of 2013 with its service “Google Music Play-All-Inclusive” online, but as a true industry heavyweight and because of the close linkage with Android-based devices always worth a look. The Swedish company Spotify is considered the mother of streaming. However, due to years of disputes over royalties, the German launch was postponed to March 2012. At this time the innovative edge was already playful and Spotify was no longer unrivaled. At the beginning of the millennium Napster became attracted a lot of media attention as the first large illegal exchange market for music. After a lawsuit against the operators for copyright infringement, Napster was shut down in this form. What remains is only the name. Meanwhile, it’s still a perfectly legal provider for music streaming. The last in the league, WiMP has its origins in Norway and is only available in a few European countries and exclusively. The fact that only supposedly is the underdog in the group with WiMP, a glance at the sound quality.

The Sound

WiMP is the only provider in our survey with “WiMP Hifi” has an option for lossless streaming in the program. Through the use of special formats (FLAC, ALAC), the user is able to enjoy music in CD quality, although an average internet connection would normally overwhelmed with files of this size. The competition only uses lossy formats (mp3, AAC, Ogg Vorbis) with bit rates up to 320 kbit/s or comparable values in their offers. Only Napster lags behind with 192 kbit/s. It always concerns values when describing the range of the possible. If you use the service on mobile devices, you are dependent on their cellular connection and may have to settle for a lower quality.

Receivers:

Speaking of phones: here the options are plentiful. All services – apart from WiMP – can be used directly on the browser of your home computer, while Google home again only works via browser. The other candidates offer a software download, available for Windows, of course, but also for Mac OS. Spotify is exemplary here and even has a Linux version in the program. They are mobile with iOS and Android in any case on the safe side. Again Spotify scores with a variety of support and is fully functioning on Windows Phone and BlackBerry OS systems. Napster and WiMP also support Windows Phone, but there is not yet available “WiMP HiFi”. According WiMP website it hooks to the operating system. An implementation should take place as soon as Windows Phone has got a fix.

In addition, a direct connection to modern multi-room systems is possible. Solutions of the Sonos brand are compatible with all presented here vendors, while about Blue. Sound can only access the catalog of WiMP WiMP and HiFi. Space field – the Multiroom system from Teufel – currently only supports Napster, Spotify and WiMP will follow.

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The Catalog

If you decide on the online streaming, stands next to the compatibility and sound quality, the question of the offered music catalog and whether their own taste in music is represented accordingly. Here, the verdict is not clear. The good news is that all services now have over 20 million titles in the range. So if your taste for the latest songs, famous artists and classic, is likely to be satisfied. If the music requests exotic, as well as the hit rate will decrease in most cases. This circumstance is in the nature of the thing, because the offer is of course tailored to a wide market and can not and will not compete with a year-long created and maintained record collection.

In order not to lose track of the programmers have come up a lot. In addition to search capabilities and the ability to create playlists, there are different approaches to the inclined users to present recommendations. These range from editorially supervised by proposals, on top lists of the most-played songs of different genres, to reviews of well-known music magazines and make sure for one or the other new discovery.

Costs

Another relevant factor in the choice of the future stream provider is certainly the price. Spotify here sets out from the competition. It is the only service in which an ad-supported, but otherwise free option is available. Napster, Google and WiMP offer a toll-free trial period of 30 days. The subsequent tariffs for stationary and mobile use with all providers are just under 10 euros. Sometimes there are even cheaper deals designed base, but these are due to the small savings and the restrictions on the use of only conditionally recommended. The higher quality sound “WiMP Hifi” fails with just under 20 Euros, with the test time is only 7 days.

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Conclusion

Take note: when deciding for or against the online streaming you should create realistic benchmarks. It is a relatively new technology and it relies exclusively on streaming services, the undisturbed music enjoyment is heavily dependent on fast and stable internet connection dependent. The repertoire of the provider has reached a considerable size, though here not everyone will be completely happy. On the other hand, the growing importance of the market and streaming of progressive technological development, in view assumed that such criticisms gradually lose weight. With the recently came to purchase the company beats and the associated streaming provider “Beats Music”, which is not yet available at the present time in Germany, now Apple is trying to position itself. A clear sign that currently there is a lot of movement in the market.

In terms of sound quality is still room for improvement. Especially the bandwidth of mobile, as well as a stationary internet connections continues to be a problem. The selection of high-resolution music files is still comparatively low, but the demand is rising steadily. In the area of online streaming shows “WiMP Hifi” already where things are headed. Within the four walls is to stream music, even significantly higher than CD quality, smoothly now possible. There’s the so-called “local” streaming a detailed article on our blog.

Of course we are happy to provide you with comprehensive consultations: we’re available by calling 030 253 753 10, by email us at eShop@hifi-im-hinterhof.de and of course face-to-face at Großbeerenstraße 65/66 in Berlin-Kreuzberg. Mon – Fri 10:00 – 19:00, Sat 10:00 to 15:00

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