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Which music streaming service is right for me?

by Glen Keoghan

This is a common question for today’s modern digital world. In the past, we would go over to our CD library, pick a few CDs to throw into our CD changer and hit random. Today, music services provide the same fast and friendly use while adding more music than you’d ever want to listen to. But the question remains, which one should you pick? We have gathered our thoughts on the major music streaming services and how they can be integrated into an existing audio system. Before deciding which music service is right for you, ask yourself the following questions:

Tidal playing via Control4 system

Do you want to listen to track 3 of Bon Jovi’s greatest hits, or do you want the music system to play songs automatically?

Specific song selection will require you to create playlists and choose from a library of music. Some of the main services that fall into this category are Spotify, Tidal, Deezer and Apple Music. Generic music selection can be done with Pandora, TuneIn, Google Play Music and others.

How important is the quality of the music?

The trend for lossless (a.k.a. as close to the CD as possible) is taking huge steps forward. Services like Tidal and Deezer are paving the way for you to really hear songs like never before. If this is a requirement for you, look for a service that plays its data at a rate of at least 256Kbps (lossless music is at 320Kbps).

What is your price point?

Most services have some sort of charge per month, or song, depending if you want better sound quality or commercial free listening. For example, Pandora's free version transmits their music at 128Kbps (a little above FM radio quality) and will play a commercial every 2-3 songs. Other services like Napster don’t even offer a free version for simplicity.

How are you going to listen to your music?

Are you constantly travelling where you don’t have Internet? If so, a paid subscription to Spotify or Deezer where you can download your music to your phone may be the best bet. Also, there are considerations on your current audio system. If you’re curious, call us and we’d be happy to go over options for your home. Chances are, if you’ve had a Control4 or Savant system or installed in the past couple years, a simple software update is all you need to enjoy many of these features without any extra hardware. Others may require something like Sonos for integration. Either way, Lightworks can help you choose the best system for you.

What about my existing music collection?

It’s a question that comes up often. Homeowners have created large volumes of music stored on hard drives or computers at their house using iTunes or Windows Media Player. These can also be integrated into most smart systems, but you have to remember to keep the computer or laptop turned on and not let it go to sleep. This will just take a little bit tweaking the power and sleep settings on the device.

Do you want every song on the planet available to you all the time?

With Deezer and Spotify, you can pick your songs. With a service like Pandora, you will be limited to radio hits only.

Deciding which music service is right for you can be confusing, and Lightworks is here to help you decide. We have used many of these services and there are strengths and weaknesses with each, so give us a call for a demo of the many music services out there and what we could install to enhance your way of life. Get in touch with me +1 858 266 9095