Proprietary Media

Photo by Guillaume TECHER on Unsplash

I’ve been reassessing and upgrading my audio equipment and library recently. In the course of these changes, I’ve noticed some things about the media landscape. In the current stage of music distribution, we are drifting towards more lock-in and more proprietary solutions. Right now, I’m and Apple Music subscriber. This presents me with some difficult choices with regards to how I consume audio.

Apple Music offers lossless streaming. If I want to take advantage of this feature, I face a number of limitations.

  • I have to get Beats headphones for listening on my iPad, because the iPad doesn’t have headphone jack and the latest Beats are the only headphones that I am aware of that can do lossless through USB-C.1
  • I can only stream lossless to an Apple HomePod smart speaker. If I have a Sonos speaker, lossless playback is not supported. For that I would have to get a Tidal subscription.
  • If I have a Tidal subscription, there is no way to add the music from my collection, so I’m limited to listening to whatever is in their catalog.
  • If I get an Apple HomePod, and then decide I want I use a different streaming music service, I can only do that through lossy Bluetooth wireless technology.
  • With a HomePod, I have to get another stereo setup to play vinyl and CDs.
  • If I rip my own music collection into lossless formats, that doesn’t get synchronized to my iPad as lossless.
  • Sony has a higher quality Bluetooth codec called LDAC, but Apple doesn’t support it on their devices.

With all of these constraints and more, it seems that the only safe thing for a music fan to do is to stick to universal technologies like CDs and vinyl records.

  1. The only port an iPad has is USB-C. ↩︎

Canned Dragons by Robert Rackley
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