The buzz around lossless audio is on the rise in the music streaming industry, as major players such as Apple Music and Spotify upgrade their platforms to allow lossless quality audio streaming. This move towards lossless audio by these streaming giants has garnered significant attention, highlighting the increasing demand for high-quality sound among music enthusiasts.
The standard lossy audio formats used by most streaming services may not be sufficient. This is where lossless audio comes in. In this article, we will explore what lossless audio is, how it differs from lossy formats, and how you can stream lossless audio to get the most out of your listening experience. Whether you’re a music enthusiast, a sound engineer, or just curious about the world of high-quality audio, read on to learn more about lossless audio and how you can start streaming it today.
What does ‘lossless’ mean?
In the process of converting audio to digital file format, compression is often used to minimize file size. However, this compression can result in the loss of frequencies at the highest and lowest ends of the recording, which is why it’s called “lossy audio.” In contrast, when there’s no loss of frequencies, the resulting digital copy is considered “lossless” audio, meaning that it’s identical to the original recording.
Common lossy audio formats include MP3, MP4, WMA, and AAC, while lossless audio formats include WAV, AIFF, ALAC and FLAC. Despite using compression to reduce data storage, these lossless formats still maintain the full waveform of the audio piece.
Which lossless audio format is the best?
FLAC, short for Free Lossless Audio Codec, is a popular open-source audio format used by various brands such as Tidal and Amazon Music. In contrast Apple Music uses its proprietary lossless format called ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec).
Ultimately, the choice of lossless format while streaming music may not be necessary for most users, as it depends on the specific service and device they prefer. For Apple users, ALAC is the default format, whereas other streaming platforms typically offer FLAC or WMA (Windows Media Audio).
Is lossless audio the same as high-resolution audio?
Lossless audio and high-resolution audio are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. While both offer better sound quality than standard compressed audio formats, there are some key differences between the two.
As mentioned above, lossless audio refers to digital audio compression that preserves all the original data and information of the audio file without losing any quality. Lossless audio retains all of this valuable information and delivers a file identical in quality to the original audio recording.
On the other hand, high-resolution audio refers to audio files that have a higher sampling rate and/or bit depth than the standard lossy quality audio (44.1 kHz / 16-bit). High-resolution audio typically has a sampling rate of 96 kHz, and a bit depth of 24 bits. This means that high-resolution audio has a greater frequency range and dynamic range, capturing more of the nuances and details of the original recording.
So, while lossless audio preserves all the information of the original recording, high-resolution audio captures more detail in the recording, but still some of the original audio information is lost during compression, compared to lossless where no data is lost. It is worth noting that all high-resolution audio is lossless, and not all lossless audio is high-resolution.
Can I collaborate remotely on lossless audio?
Yes, it is possible to collaborate remotely on lossless audio, but it does require some additional set up and consideration compared to collaborating on lossy audio or other standard file types.
LISTENTO allows you to stream uncompressed, lossless audio in real-time to anyone, anywhere in the world. Whether you’re a musician, producer, audio engineer or voice over artist, LISTENTO allows you to collaborate on projects in real-time, symbiotically prioritising audio quality and user experience. It’s easy to use and is compatible with most DAW’s, you can collaborate seamlessly with your team regardless of their location.
LISTENTO allows you to transmit uncompressed audio in the format of PCM (Pulse Code Modulation). PCM is another method of translating analogue signals into digital data. It makes use of the binary language to store information about an audio signal in a digital medium.
PCM takes place over three stages:
- Sampling – Samples are snapshots of the incoming signal which record the amplitude of the signal at that given moment.
- Quantization – Quantization rounds those amplitude values to the nearest available value in the digital system, based on its bit rate.
- Encoding – Encoding is the final stage where the newly sampled audio information is written to a hard drive or other digital storage medium in a given format to be used elsewhere.
For bandwidth details, please refer to page 9 of the LISTENTO User Guide under ‘Resources’ to see our recommended streaming and internet settings.
Lossless audio streaming is a game-changer in the music industry, allowing users to enjoy high-quality uncompressed audio without sacrificing any of the original audio quality or information, in essence acting as a replica of the original audio recording.
With the popularity and necessity for high quality remote music collaboration, LISTENTO exceeds industry standards and provides a seamless and intuitive platform for music creators to collaborate in an efficient and controlled manner. Negating the need to worry about technical issues and flowing as naturally as an in-person recording session would, facilitating real-time lossless audio streaming.
Learn more about LISTENTO here.