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By virtue of their extensive libraries and inexpensive subscription fees, streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music have become increasingly popular mediums for listening to music in recent years. Unfortunately, these services sometimes compromise audio fidelity in the name of convenience. So which service offers the best audio quality? Today we’ll look at a few different options.
This streaming service was created with audiophiles in mind. Tidal allows you to stream music in uncompressed “lossless” formats that are far superior to the compression formats you find in many other streaming services. Tidal’s library isn’t as large as some of its competitors, but it’s always adding more material in crystal-clear audio formats.
This service from Google doesn’t have audio formats that are quite as good as Tidal, but with a 320 Kbps streaming bitrate it’s still much better than some other contenders. Google Play Music also has an enormous library that includes podcasts and audiobooks as well as music.
The free version of Spotify uses a heavily-compressed audio format that sounds pretty lackluster on high-end systems. With Spotify Premium, users can download higher quality files that sound significantly better. This option also allows you to listen to your music on Spotify even when you don’t have an Internet connection.
Spotify and Apple Music offer very similar streaming audio formats, but the general consensus seems to be that music on Spotify sounds slightly better. That said, your personal listening experience will vary depending on your stereo equipment and the recordings you listen to. If you’re a die-hard Apple fan, then this service will probably serve you just fine. But if you want consistently good audio quality, then you’re better off looking elsewhere.
In the process of building a home entertainment system, it can be easy to wind up with a tangled mess of power cables and speaker wires that snake around the floor of your living room. Loose cables not only detract from the appearance of your setup, but they can also affect the sound of your stereo and create fire hazards in your home. By taking a little extra time to organize these cables, you can make your home theater more attractive and easier to maintain. Today we’ll look at a few ways to keep cables under control.
A robust power strip should serve as the hub of all the power cables in your theater setup. Power strips are essential safety devices, but they can also become the epicenter of cable tangles. By building a charging station with holes to route wires through, you can hide unsightly power strips and keep all your cables in order. You can turn just about anything into a makeshift charging dock, from a toolbox to a shoebox to a small trunk. Get creative, and build a charging dock that matches the aesthetic of your theater system. While you’re at it, consider labeling power cords so you know which device they belong to.
You can create manageable cable bundles using zip ties or reusable Velcro cable wraps. Place them at regular intervals along the length of the wires to prevent them from getting tangled in the future. Zip ties and Velco wraps can also allow you to separate speaker wire from power cables. Speaker wire should never be run next to electrical cables because they can create power interference which causes an audible hum or buzz to come through your speakers.
A simple piece of pegboard can be used to create a vertical mounting rack for wires, peripherals and power strips. The rack can be hidden on the wall behind your TV, keeping it out of sight but easy to access if you need to add or subtract anything. Just use zip ties and screw mounts to hold everything in place.
A sound system is only good as the listening environment you create for it. Audio fidelity depends on the acoustic properties of a room, so it’s important to prepare your listening space so that your stereo will be able to live up to its full potential. We call this process acoustic treatment. In recording studios and devoted listening spaces, you might see walls covered in irregularly-shaped foam panels to help disperse sound. In a living room, you probably want to choose acoustic treatment options that are somewhat more subtle. Today we’ll look at a few ways to improve the acoustics of your living room without compromising its aesthetic qualities.
Due to its reflective qualities, large stretches of uninterrupted hardwood can have a negative impact on sound quality. On the other hand, wall-to-wall carpeting can deaden high-frequency noises and alter the overall sound of a recording. Try to strike a happy medium by placing speakers on area rugs, while leaving a border of tile or hardwood around the edges of a room.
Acoustic foam panels might not suit the style of your living room, but a set of heavy drapes can do the job just as well. Even a large painting on a canvas can serve as an effective acoustic treatment. The goal here is to eliminate broad, flat surfaces that can bounce sound around a room. By adding decorative features that absorb sound, you can create a better listening environment, and a more inviting living space.
Upholstered furniture can improve the acoustic qualities of your living room as well. Experiment by moving furniture around relative to your stereo to see what sounds best. Try to create a sitting area that allows you to sit directly between the left and right channels of the stereo. This is the spot where you’ll hear the most accurate audio reproduction.
Need a hand creating the perfect listening environment for your sound system? The audio experts at Stereo Advantage are happy to help. Give us a call today at (716) 632-8038 to learn more!
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