What Are the Best Music Streaming Services?
Get Quick, Intuitive Access with a Wireless Audio System
Audio reproduction has completely transformed over the past century due to significant technological advancements, changing the way we interact with our favorite music. Every new approach—whether it be the vinyl record, compact disc or digital downloads—was about finding a balance between convenience and quality. About five years ago, streaming became the latest technology to transform the music industry, allowing users to access thousands of songs at the press of a button.
Wireless audio systems have skyrocketed in popularity now that streaming services have become the primary way many people listen to music. Wireless speakers, AV receivers, and media servers make it easier to take advantage of these services. With this new technology, you can use a mobile app to access all your favorite streaming platforms and play them throughout your Mission Viejo, CA home at the press of a button or a swipe of your screen. To help you get the most out of these new wireless audio solutions, we highlighted some must-have streaming services for your system.
Spotify is currently the most popular streaming service since it’s so user-friendly. It boasts 39 million paid subscribers, 9 million more than its closest competition (Sirius XM Satellite Radio). Not only does it have an extensive music library, but it also lets you create and share playlists easily so you can discover new artists and turn your listening experience into a social one even if you’re sitting home alone. There’s seemingly a playlist available for any occasion whether it’s working out, hosting friends or cooking. With a wireless audio system, you can pull up a playlist that matches your activity with the press of a button. You can use Spotify for free or upgrade to a premium account for $9.99 to bypass ads.
When it comes to exclusive deals, Apple Music offers the greatest variety of any streaming service. You can also take advantage of playlists created by users and other artists and incorporate your personal iTunes library. You can also explore their curated radio stations to explore new artists. The biggest concern with Apple music is that they have the lowest-quality stream at just 256 kbps. A monthly subscription for Apple Music costs $9.99.
Want to stream your personal library through your wireless system? Then Google Play may be the best choice for you. Aside from serving as a traditional streaming service with an extensive music library, you can also use it as a cloud server to store your own collection. For only $9.99 a month, you can upload as many as 50,000 songs to access them quickly and broadcast them throughout your home. For added convenience, incorporate a Google Home device to control your music via voice commands.
If audio quality is your biggest priority, then Tidal is the way to go. Tidal is the first streaming service to offer high-fidelity audio that rivals the quality you would get from a CD with streams at 1,411 kbps. It also stands out for its exclusive content, showcasing music from Neil Young, Prince, and Beyoncé that can’t be found on any other service. For hi-fi streaming, you have to subscribe to TIDAL HI-FI for $19.99 a month. You can also sign up for their premium service at $9.99 a month, but that comes with standard streaming audio.
The French streaming company was finally widely released in the United States in July 2016. Just like Tidal, it stands out for its high audio quality. When you sign up for the Elite service for $19.99 a month, you can access files in FLAC format which offers the 1,11Kbit/s streams available on Tidal. The added benefit with Deezer is that you can upload your music library to access their Flow function, which gages your music tastes and recommends new artists. The one caveat is that Deezer Elite is only available through a Sonos system.
Amazon Music has risen in popularity recently due to its integration with Amazon Alexa, which lets you use voice commands to access thousands of songs. You can search for music you want to listen to, take advantage of recommended playlists and add your digital collection. The catalog is a bit smaller than other services so you may not be able to find some of the latest offerings from certain artists. Though the subscription typically costs $9.99, those using it solely through Amazon Echo can play at a reduced price of $3.99.
There is also a huge subsection of the industry dedicated to internet radio. The biggest players in this department are Sirius XM Radio, Pandora and iHeartRadio:
- Sirius XM Radio: Browse a diverse list of stations that center on specific types of music, news, talk radio and sports. Sirius XM is particularly popular for talk radio since it has exclusive contracts with major media personalities like Howard Stern and sports leagues including the NFL and MLB. The service costs $14.99 a month.
- iHeartRadio: This free service lets you listen to over 1,500 AM and FM radio stations from around the world. It also lets you create playlists based on preferred genres, artists or songs or search through its 15 million song catalog.
- Pandora: This service is best known for its ability to create personalized radio stations based on your interests. Type in a specific artists, song or genre you like and Pandora will curate a station based on it. Though you can use the service without paying, with a $10-a-month subscription you can bypass ads and save music to listen offline.
As you design your wireless audio system, think about the kind of music you want to listen to and how you’d like to manage it. You can then reach out to a local BRAVAS partner to find out what equipment and streaming services make the most sense for you.