A Question of Fidelity: Spotify Goes CD Quality?

Spotify - as good as a CD

Spotify - as good as a CD

We adore the Spotify service. It still has a way to go, but it’s getting there. For those in the dark – it’s a streaming service. There’s a free version with ads scattered across your listening experience. Then there’s a paid version with no ads, exclusive albums, pre-release stuff and, just announced, CD quality streaming.

The word is Spotify are finding it tough getting people to upgrade to their premium service. Offering albums before release date and exclusives will help. It’s already at a good price. But will CD quality streaming convince anyone to make the switch?

There’s a bigger question of sound quality here – if it matters – over convenience. It’s been a dog fight from the beginning. Vinyl sounded great, but it got damaged easily and was hardly portable. The cassette brought great portability but the sound quality was terrible, and cassettes snapped easily. The CD had a nice middle ground, and the war stopped for a while. Until DVDA and SACD came in, beating it’s chest about it’s 5.1 surround sound. It was around that time that the mp3 took over as the main way people listen to music.

So, are people going to care about CD quality streaming? With today’s headphones and computer speakers, it hardly seems worth it. But there is a niche consumer who can hook up their computer with a nice home stereo. But that person will no doubt have surround sound and high definition – something Spotify isn’t offering. It’s the CD all over again, a bit of each without being much of either.

Spotify are growing. They will hit mobile phones this year. Their catalogue continues to grow. We have faith. And we like the risks they are taking. We’re just not sure how many people are taking a risk on them right now.

NME covered the story quite nicely as well – http://www.nme.com/news/spotify/45507

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