A Tidal Wave Of Listener Apathy

Nobody Listens PicThe recent relaunch of the Tidal music streaming service bolstered by many mainstream big music stars throws up more questions than answers for me.

The first of which is does the majority listener demographic of the music artists who were part of the brand push own the kind of equipment where listening to uncompressed audio actually reveals greater fine detail and fidelity. Or (shameful stereotyping warning) are they more likely to think that a pair of Beats headphones is the pinnacle of the music listening experience (they might be good for some types of bass heavy music. But I seriously doubt they are the best item for discerning the subtleties of lossless audio streams)?

I don’t know. But I’m unsure enough people care enough to pay twice the asking price of a service like Spotify. I’d rather music companies paid more attention to mastering. Even mp3 can sound good when care is taken. But uncompressed streams and conversely even CD’s, SACD’s,Blu Ray audio etc can sometimes disappointingly sound appalling or at best no better than compressed lossless audio options if mastered and/or encoded badly with high compression and maximised loudness which much popular music is prey to.

As a service aimed at audiophiles it will always be a niche product but popular music isn’t universally recorded to high audio standards. There are many music sub genres that revel in a decidedly Lo-Fi sound.

I wish them well but audio quality is not entirely down to bit rates. It’s not even about absolute fidelity. Look at the resurgence of vinyl as a physical listening medium which probably sounds good to many because you simple HAVE to take care in how you master to disc because the medium has all kinds of limitations.

Audio fidelity is often about the care taken in recording, mastering and transcoding to other formats. And not all music demands greater clarity (Have you heard the Blu Ray audio remaster of The Sex Pistols Never Mind The Bollocks? That kind of previously unheard fidelity almost sounds wrong applied to classic punk rock).

Image by id-iom under this creative commons licence

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