Flashback to 2001: The first ripple of the digital music wave starts.
This was the year Apple released the iPod, the device that many of us would argue single-handedly ushered in the new era of how we listen to music. It was introduced with the amazing promise of “1,000 songs in your pocket,” which at the time was mind boggling, as this was well over 300 CDs worth of music!
Fast forward to 2015.
Today’s music services now offer music libraries of more than 30 million songs.
I’m going to let that sink in for a moment. Thirty. Million. Songs.
So, that’s the good news, but it almost always leads to a more interesting question: How do I listen to it?
We all know the short answer. Typically, this music is enjoyed via the device in your pocket or within arm’s reach: your handheld device. Without a doubt, this is a convenient music-listening tool during those multitasking moments while you’re working out, in the middle of your commute, or performing some other “on the go” activity.
But what’s the best music listening option when you’re not on the go? When you’re settled on the couch and have time to really listen and enjoy? Here are four emerging music trends worth considering.
1. The potential game changer: Apple Music
The iPod, the iPhone, the iPad, the Apple Watch, and now the newest entry from Cupertino that hopes to change how you listen to music.
Apple took a $3 billion “all-in” bet when it purchased Beats Music, with the result of this acquisition turning into the Apple Music Streaming Service, which (for now) is being used in parallel with iTunes. If you don’t want to spend $10.99 to download Adele’s new album like I did (and yes I can feel you judging me, but I’m okay with that), Apple has taken a page from the “all you can eat” music streaming model that we’ve all become familiar with from other services like Spotify, Pandora, and Rhapsody. For $9.99 per month (single user) or $14.99 per month (up to 6 family members), you’re given access to its song-based streaming service, personalized suggested playlists “For You,” as well as Artist “Radio Stations.”
Once you’re signed up, you’re presented with a multitude of ways to get these tunes delivered to your house.
- You can stream the music directly to your iOS or Android device
- You can connect wirelessly your iOS device to any Apple Airplay-compatible device (of which he list keeps growing at a rapid pace).
- You can purchase the new Apple TV and use its Apple Music tvOS app
- You can access Apple Music on a Sonos Wireless Speaker system (along with almost every other digital music service on the planet).
2. Spotify Connect: Turning A/V equipment into music streamers
Apple Music is just the latest entry into the music streaming melting pot, and it’s looking to catch up with many of the established players who have spent quite a bit of time working on software and hardware solutions to play your music.
One recent innovation that’s becoming more prevalent is Spotify Connect-ready devices. Spotify Connect turns your powered speakers, audio/video receiver, and even your TV display into a Spotify Music Player, all while letting you use the Spotify App on your handheld device (like a smartphone) as the remote.
3. DTS PlayFi: Delivering high-quality audio without wires
DTS is better known as the company that brought Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park soundtracks to life and a format we’ve become accustomed to seeing at the local Cineplex and your home theater. Now DTS is looking to expand its reach into other rooms inside and outside of the house, and they’re doing it via technology that you likely already use at home: Wi-Fi
DTS PlayFi technology intends to deliver high-quality lossless audio from your mobile devices (or Mac /PC) to any number of speakers throughout the home, using the existing home Wi-Fi network. Although a relatively new technology offering, several manufacturers have already incorporated it into their products. Notable companies that will be offering DTS PlayFi playback capabilities include MartinLogan, McIntosh, Definitive Technology, Paradigm, Polk Audio, Arcam, and Bang & Olufsen.
4. A new “Twist” on how you listen to music
The “Twist Speaker” represents an option for people who may not have the ability, the desire, or the space to incorporate additional hi-fi components. It involves the simple act of replacing an everyday item you already have in your home: the lightbulb.
The Twist (starts at around $99) is an LED lightbulb that also functions as a wireless speaker. Twist made the decision to use Apple Airplay (sorry Android users) as its wireless transmission mode of delivery of music from any Airplay-enabled device to a single lightbulb speaker, or to multiple, synchronized speakers (the Twist can be purchased in packs of one, two, or three) to shed a “whole new light” on how you listen to music at home. While the bulb is pumping out music, it adjusts automatically throughout the day to mimic natural daylight–cool blue in the morning to a warm yellow in the evening.
Through the development of new technologies and innovation, music listening is bound to evolve even more in the coming years. It’s becoming a more versatile and affordable mode of entertainment, and the quality of the music has never sounded better. If you’re ready to enhance your home audio environment, the music listening world is your oyster.