Best Ways to Enjoy Your Music
Listening to music can be a great way to enjoy some alone time, release some stress or tension, or to just add a soundtrack to whatever activities you’re doing. However, for those who are more particular about how they enjoy music and musics quality in general, also known as audiophiles, it’s very important to understand a few factors that can improve any person’s music listening experience.
What Type of Listener Are You?
To find the best way for you to personally enjoy music, it’s important to figure out what kind of music listener you are. This can be determined through questioning a number of things.
Are you the type of listener who’s bothered by low-quality musics (when played through speakers or headphones)? Do you pay attention to a lot of small details in the background of songs? Do you tend to listen to music as background noise or as a main activity?
If you answered no to the first two questions, and listen to music more as background noise, then you’re probably more of a casual listener of music and can enjoy experiencing music in a large number of ways! If you answered yes to those two questions and focus on the act of listening to music, then you are most likely more of an attentive music listener and will want to find the best options for enjoying music in high quality.
Audio Formats & Quality
The audio files we use to listen to music on a daily basis are often referred to as ‘audio formats,’ which are based on the type of file they are. For these files, there are three different types of audio format categories: uncompressed, lossless, and lossy. These formats are categorized by the amount of compression done to their respective files.
The most popular types of files that are streamed and downloaded nowadays are MP3, WAV, and FLAC. MP3 is a lossy compression type, meaning that the file’s audio quality is reduced in order to make the file size as small as possible. WAV is an uncompressed type, which means that no alterations have been done to the file from its recording to its being converted into a file (i.e., it’s not been compressed). FLAC is a lossless type, meaning the file is compressed but doesn’t lose its high quality.
Out of the three, MP3 files are definitely the most popular for music. If you’re more of a casual listener, then any of the three will do, and MP3 will definitely be the most convenient. But for anyone trying to listen to the best-quality music, FLAC is definitely your best option.
For budding audiophiles who are hoping to find the best streaming option for enjoying high-quality music, sifting through the benefits and downsides of all the options can feel a bit tedious. In reality, however, for those looking to enjoy music, there are only a few options that will truly give you the type of quality you’re looking for.
Spotify and Apple Music are both great options and the most popular choices for listening to music — they both have vast libraries, and are very well-priced (they also have family and student plans). In addition, Spotify has a free option which is great for more casual listeners. However, at the same time, neither streaming service offers an audio quality option above 320 Kb/s (the best possible quality for MP3s — still below FLACs). And with the free option, Spotify’s files are only 160Kb/s.
It’s important to note that, for most people, the difference between 160Kb/s and 320Kb/s is not very noticeable at all, and is definitely a fair trade off for free use of the service. Both of these services are perfect options for a casual listener looking for a wide variety of music over high-quality audio.
On the other hand, there are streaming services like Tidal and Qobuz Sublime+, both of which try to cater more to listeners looking for very high-quality streaming and downloads. For Tidal and Qobuz, the standard subscription gives users 320Kb/s audio quality. Choosing Tidal, in particular, makes sense because there are a lot of artists who have released certain albums exclusively on Tidal (an example, until recently, is Beyoncé’s Lemonade album from 2016). For the most part though, users of these two streaming services will want to choose the high-quality subscription option, which allows users to stream lossless audio (i.e., FLAC-level quality).
The main issue here is that a standard subscription for both platforms is $9.99, but the high quality subscriptions are $19.99, meaning that paying monthly for high quality music can end up racking up quite the price by the end of the year. It’s important to decide if the cost is worth it for you in terms of what you’re looking for.
If it is worth it for you, then Tidal is definitely the best option, since it has a fairly extensive library (not nearly as wide as Spotify or Apple Music) and the option of a normal subscription and high-quality one. Tidal targets more serious music listeners but also offers options for casual ones!
Headphones may just feel like an essential item for listening to music, but for many people they decide whether your listening experience is immersive or passive. Bluetooth headphones have become exceedingly popular recently because of their convenience (in terms of not having tangled cables). However, it’s important to know that using bluetooth headphones leads to a slight, even if minimal, loss of sound quality.
For someone looking to listen casually and comfortably, bluetooth headphones are perfect. But for someone looking for the best possible quality, you’ll want to use a pair of headphones that have an auxiliary cable — this makes sure high quality files remain high quality.
No matter how you listen to your music, there’s a ton of ways to enjoy yourself while doing it. Regardless of whether you’re a casual listener or an audiophile, there are always options in terms of headphones, streaming services, and audio quality! If you’re the type who loves to blast music from speakers and lose yourself in the sound — regardless of what type of listener you are — it may be worth getting some ear plugs so you can make sure to protect your ears while you do it. Make sure that no matter what type of listener you are, you’re always having fun while you listen!
Resources: MakeUseOf, SoundGuys