Don’t worry, Apple heads: Apple Music will sound just as good as its peers

heres a sneak peek of apple music for android 970x0  1

While various sources have claimed that Apple Music will stream music at a lower sound quality than its streaming music competitors, they’re likely unfounded. Apple Music, which launched on Monday, has confirmed that Apple Music’s streaming bitrate is 256 kbps — seemingly below Spotify and competitors’ claimed 320 kpbs sound quality. But it’s an apples-to-oranges comparison, as Apple Music will most likely use its typical AAC format as opposed to other streaming services which use the OGG or MP3 format. As many sources agree that the sound quality of 256 kbps AAC files is equivalent (or better) to 320 kpbs MP3, Apple Music will not be skimping on sound quality after all.

Apple traditionally has used its AAC (or Advanced Audio Coding) format in its iTunes Store and related products. This audio encoding format, which is also standard for YouTube, has better sound quality than the MP3 format at similar bit rates. The AAC format is also more efficient, meaning that its files take up less space.

Spotify, on the other hand, uses the Open Source codec Ogg Vorbis, which is comparable to the MP3 format and therefore less efficient — and arguably poorer quality — than AAC files at comparable resolutions. In comparison, Google Play All Access streams music at 320 kbps MP3, Amazon Cloud Player streams music at 256 kbps MP3, and Rdio streams music at 320 kbps AAC. While Jay Z’s Tidal Hi-Fi streams at lossless 1411 kbps FLAC, Tidal Premium offers 320 kbps AAC streaming for its standard tier, as well. All of these music streaming services have a $10 monthly subscription cost, except for Tidal Hi-Fi which costs $20 per month.

The bottom line is that Apple Music will stream music at a comparable, if not better, audio quality than its peers (save for Rdio). Regardless of the variations in audio quality, though, you may not hear any difference. Many listeners cannot even differentiate between uncompressed (or lossless) audio files and compressed (or lossy) audio files in tests.

That likely has a lot to do with the components they’re listening through — a standard smartphone, for instance, offers a digital audio conversion that’s considerably lower quality than a premium DAC (digital audio converter), for instance. And then there’s amplifier quality, speaker/headphone quality, etc. While audio engineers using top-notch gear may prefer to stream their music via Tidal HiFi, it probably won’t make a resounding difference for the casual listener on a common smartphone, PC, or tablet. Instead, whether Apple Music is right for you will most likely come down to the interface, and the overall user experience.

Want to experiment for yourself? Check out this NPR quiz which tests whether you can hear the difference between lossy and lossless audio.

Mobile

Verizon Unlimited users can now sign up for 6 free months of Apple Music

Verizon's latest offer stands to benefit both Apple Music and its own subscribers, as the one-of-a-kind deal is likely to be compelling to both existing and potential new subscribers. .
Computing

Apple AR glasses will launch in 2020, says respected industry analyst

Apple AR glasses may be closer to reality than we thought. Here is everything we know so far about the augmented reality system, including the rumored specifications of Apple's Project Mirrorshades.
Music

Spotify vs. Pandora: Which music streaming service is better for you?

Which music streaming platform is best for you? We pit Spotify versus Pandora, two mighty streaming services with on-demand music and massive catalogs, comparing every facet of the two services to help you decide which is best.
Music

Listen up! These are the best movie soundtracks of all time

Whether you're a lover of beautifully composed original scores or a fan of perfectly compiled background music, these are the best movie soundtracks of all time — from Star Wars to Garden State.
Music

The best new music this week: Adrianne Lenker, Mitski, and more

Are you looking for the best new music? Each week, we scour the internet to find the most compelling new songs. On tap this week: Adrianne Lenker, Mitski, Big Red Machine, Mountain Man, Anna St. Louis, Marissa Nadler, and The Dodos.
Home Theater

Get the most boom for your buck with the best headphones under $100

Everybody wants a bargain, and this list has a bunch. For those looking for a solid set of headphones without spending a big stack of cash, this list is is your starting point. Check out all of our picks for the best headphones under $100.
Product Review

Optoma’s NuForce BE Free5 wireless earbuds cut the price, keep the good sound

Taking out all the wires and glossy paint, Optoma still gives its NuForce BE Free5 the goods to play audio better than Apple’s AirPods at a cheaper price. But are these the affordable true wireless earbuds for you?
Deals

Score a new Audio Technica turntable for $129 and get a free $50 Dell gift card

Want to break out your old vinyl records without spending a fortune on a high-end turntable? The Audio Technica AT-LP60BK-BT turntable is a highly affordable way to enjoy the warm analog tones of your vinyls, and it's now on sale for $129…
Home Theater

5 gorgeous turntables that spin stacks of wax in style for less than $500

Vinyl records are awesome, but they're also finicky. To get the best out of your stacks of wax, it's best to play them on a quality turntable. Here are the best turntables to be had for under $500.
Music

Spotify may eventually allow free users to skip all ads

Spotify is rolling out a new feature that may allow free users to skip ads whenever they want. Currently, the test is being conducted in Australia but if successful, it may be spread to other countries.
Home Theater

Crazybaby’s Air 1S true wireless earbuds won’t make you look like a dork

Audio technology company Crazybaby has launched the Air 1S true wireless earbuds, promising considerable connectivity improvements over previous models while retaining the sleek style and supreme comfort.
Music

How to convert and play FLAC music files on your iPhone or iPad

The high-resolution revolution is upon us, and FLAC files are a popular way to store hi-res sound. But what if you’re an iOS user? Check out our article to find out more about FLAC files, and how to use them on Apple devices.
Home Theater

Do you need an $8,000 gold-plated digital music player? Sony made one anyway

Sony's new DMP-Z1 digital music player features "audiophile-grade" sound quality and a gold-plated volume knob to let everyone around you know you take your music extremely seriously.
Music

How to clean your records to keep them looking good and sounding sweet

Vinyl records are back in a big way, but the sound quality can suffer if you don't keep them clean. Check out our tips for keeping your vinyl and stylus immaculate, so you can hear every note of your favorite tunes.