Neil Young vs. Technology, Round 2

“I don’t need my music to be devalued by the worst quality in the history of broadcasting or any other form of distribution,” the Canadian rocker said in a post on his Facebook page.

Ladies and gentlemen, Neil Young. What a jackass.

The quality of streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify drastically exceeds that of typical FM Broadcasts.

It’s difficult to make a comparison of FM and streaming on the specifications, since FM is heavily processed (especially the dynamic range) before broadcasting, while streaming relies on perceptual encoding. We need to use subjective data to make the comparison. This paper from the Journal of the Audio Engineering Society (here’s a copy outside the paywall) equates the subjective quality of FM radio to 160 kbps data rate (using the DAB standard MP2 codec). This article indicates that Apple Music offers content at 256kbps AAC, and Spotify uses 320kbps MP3.

Streaming services offer higher bitrates with better codecs than the equivalent FM transmission. After spending the last month testing Apple Music, I’m convinced that their audio quality is sufficient for my very picky taste. Streaming also undisputedly trumps AM and cassettes, which Neil has definitely been a victim of over the years.

If Neil Young is so down on streaming quality, he should only allow distribution of his music on CD. This is just another publicity stunt.