Audiophiles tend to be older. Our music preferences are distinctly different than the younger folks and our association with music is different. And we’re the ones that are in the cross hairs of the hardware and software companies that are trying to convince us that high-resolution audio is somehow going to rock out world. We’ve got the money, the interest, and the time to assemble a great audio system and accumulate plenty of software. How does it feel to be the target of so much marketing?
My children are consumers of music…except for my oldest son, the math metal musicians and band guy. They are content with low quality streaming. I’ve dragged them into the studio and made them listen to some of my recordings and they are dutifully impressed but it’s not something that they would spend excess time or money on. I get it. Music is a commodity these days. It used to be a driving force for many of us…and for many it still is. We long for the fidelity and emotional response of the vinyl LPs that we purchased and attentively listened to. It was almost ritualistic. A new record arrives and a dedicated hour or so of undisturbed time was needed to engage with the new tunes and sounds.
There is an article over at the Billboard website that examines whether there is a difference between listeners/subscribers of standard fidelity streaming services and the new “high-def” streaming services. You can read the piece at Billboard article. I think they’re on to something.
The “high-definition” streaming service Tidal released some information on the most popular tunes streamed at CD spec fidelity (notice that Billboard magazine and lots of others are using the term high-def audio…wouldn’t you think that we could use the same terms and acronym by now?). The premium level customers…about a half a million of them according to the company…prefer music that is reflected in the following list:
1. “The Endless River” by Pink Floyd
2. “x” by Ed Sheeran
3. “Guitar in the Space Age” by Bill Frisell
4. “Black Messiah” by D’Angelo and The Vanguard
5. “The Inevitable End” by Royksopp
6. “Seeds” by TV on the Radio
7. “Kiasmos” by Kiasmos
8. “Sonic Highways” by Foo Fighters
9. “Casting Nets” by Distance, Sky & Light
10. “Interstellar: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack” by Hans Zimmer
Bill Frisell? I know who he is because I’m a guitarist but does the rest of the streaming community know who is? I’m impressed.
The list available from Spotify tilts towards the contemporary pop music charts:
1. “x” by Ed Sheeran
2. “In the Lonely Hour” by Sam Smith
3. “The New Classic” by Iggy Azalea
4. “G I R L” by Pharrell
5. “My Evening” by Ariana Grande
The conclusion drawn by the author of the article and one that seems intuitively correct, is that “high-definition” subscribers are tapping into the audio enthusiast market. That’s us. And the hardware and labels are well aware of our passion and interest…and our willingness to by into the latest development in order to meet our music needs. That’s why there’s a large market for crazy expensive cables, power cords, isolation platforms and the rest of it.
It’s time to verify before you purchase. HRA is a sales pitch as much as it’s anything about fidelity.