Click in for tips on how to amp up your music experience – including the age old questions of vinyls vs CDs and over-the-ear headphones vs ear buds!
For a lot of people, music is simply something they listen to to pass the time, or to distract themselves for their own thoughts or surrounding noise. But others are really invested in the music experience. They want to hear everything the track has to offer. They’re willing to spend the time and money required to give their listening experience a massive boost. If you’re thinking about boosting your music experience, then here’s a quick guide for you!
Yes, this is a thing that people still do – and, in fact, it’s something people should do. While it is worthy to note that most music artists have always made the bulk of their money from live performances and merchandise sales as opposed to the sales of their actual music, the latter is still important. Besides, it’s the best way for you to experience the music that you want to enjoy. When you stream music, you’re always going to be restricted in terms of quality, and there will be times where the Internet connection you’re using simply isn’t fit for handling that much music streaming.
So actually owning a copy of the music you’re listening to is the best way to go about it, but where should you buy your music from? If you’re buying physical copies, then you won’t have to worry too much about this – although buying directly from the artist or label will net them the most profit. Buying digital music is a different story. iTunes is popular, but you can only buy tracks in AAC format, which is rather restrictive. Amazon is also popular, but the vast majority of the music they offer for download peaks at about 256 kbps – which is well below the standard (and best) quality of MP3, which is 320 kbps. 7digital offers DRM-free music in pretty much any format you want, and in the highest quality those formats can offer.
CDs or Vinyl?
When it comes to audio quality, this is an argument that rages on despite the fact it was settled with strong finality back in the 70s. There are a lot of self-proclaimed ‘audiophiles’ out there who will tell you that vinyl is the master when it comes to quality, that CDs are this terrible thing that only uninformed teens and old people buy. It’s odd that such a viewpoint is so commonly accepted in the music world, and that belief in this has led to a vinyl renaissance of sorts in recent years. The bottom line, as real audio experts have known for decades, is this: CDs sound much better than vinyl.
Vinyl is physically limited. High frequency surface noise, and the need to cut back on high and low ends to make the music fit on vinyl (which reduces the amount of detail in the music), makes vinyl irrevocably inferior to the uncompressed digital recordings you get on CD. This isn’t to say that vinyl isn’t awesome in its own way, because it really is. The unique surface noise that comes with vinyl is what helps make it special and popular. But if you’re after pure detail and quality, then you have no excuse to buy vinyl. It all depends on what sort of music experience you want.
Physical music players
What physical format you’re investing in, a poor music player is going to do injustice to the music you want to listen to. Let’s say you’re buying vinyl. You want to hear every pop and crackle; you want the visceral satisfaction of dropping good-quality needles onto the record itself. The turntable you’re using will have a big effect on the entire experience. It might be worth checking out Vinyl Vintage’s collection of turntables across a series or price ranges. Part of the joy of investing in vinyl is finding the perfect player to go with your records – it’s a more complex (and, for many, more satisfying) process than picking a good stereo system for CDs.
When it comes to CD players, you need to take care not to assume that a higher cost means you’re going to get a better audio quality. In truth, a lot of people buy CDs and then rip them onto their computer in 320kbps MP3 or lossless WAV formats. But if you do want to buy a specialized CD player, then the most important aspect you’ll want to consider when it comes to quality is the digital-to-analog converter, or the DAC. When looking at CD players, you’ll want to look for ones that offer high-end DACs.
Most music players, especially portable ones, will come with a set of in-ear headphones. Smartphones will also come with a pair. A lot of people are pretty content to use these for their music (well, until they wear out, which doesn’t tend to take very long!). But if you really want to boost your music-listening experience, then you’re going to want to invest in a good pair of headphones. While you can get very good in-ear earphones (and, for those who like to listen to music while they run, a good pair of in-ears should definitely be on your must-buy list), you’ll get the strongest quality from over-ear headphones.
Of course, a lot of people will find themselves scared off by some of the prices of these things. This is partly why so many people stick with cheap in-ear headphones; if you don’t care all that much about music quality, then why spend hundreds of dollars on something you can get for about $10? If it’s not all the same to you, however, then be prepared to spend in the triple-digits for a good pair (unless you can find a pair on sale at less than $100!). Remember that a high price doesn’t necessarily indicate quality; $150 should easily nab you a really good pair. This is most evident when you look at Beats headphones; Beats are okay, but their price comes mostly from their style and the fact that they’re sponsored by Dr Dre. You can get much better audio quality by spending about half of what you’d spend on a pair of Beats.