Thursday 14 December 2017

Music: New adventures in hi-res audio

Starry night: Usher, Rihanna, Niki Minaj and Madonna at the launch
Starry night: Usher, Rihanna, Niki Minaj and Madonna at the launch
John Meagher

John Meagher

Apple quietly killed off the click-wheel iPod last September and a generation of devotees mourned. What would we do once it packed in? Would we have to rely on the cloud and/or the iPod Touch, or similar, which offers all manner of superfluous features at a price when what we only want is a dedicated music player? For the past month or so, my fears have become redundant and, dare I say it, so too has the fifth generation iPod Classic I used daily for years.

What's taken its place is hi-res audio streaming which has really come of age this year. I've been trialling services from Norwegian company Tidal - in the news this week thanks to the heavyweight endorsement of Jay-Z (who has invested in the company), Madonna and Coldplay - and French firm Deezer Elite and both are claiming to offer CD-quality music. The sound clarity and fidelity really are remarkable when listening to Tidal through headphones on my phone and Deezer Elite on Sonos wireless speakers (whom it is partnering with for the foreseeable future).

It makes me realise that in my enthusiasm for carrying around several thousand songs in my pocket - to paraphrase Apple founder, the late Steve Jobs - I was content to listen to songs that had been compressed to such a degree that what I was listening to was only an approximation of what the artist had completed in studio.

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