The music streaming/download arena is maturing rapidly with the growth of lossless services such as Qobuz and Tidal, and the impending arrival of Meridian’s MQA technology claiming to make even high-resolution music files streamable over existing internet connections. Now Naxos has joined the fray with the worldwide launch of ClassicsOnline HD•LL, a dedicated classical music service offering not only downloads, but also streaming at up to 24-bit/192kHz quality.
Building on the success of the company’s Naxos Music Library subscription service, launched in 2002, ClassicsOnline HD•LL is now available for £11.99 per month, and offers a search facility tailored to classical music, plus a catalogue drawn from most of the leading classical record labels, allowing users to discover new artists and repertoire.
Subject to available content, bandwidth and hardware, it’s then possible to stream music in quality from 24-bit/44.1kHz right up to 24-bit/192kHz, thanks to the system’s use of adaptive bitrate streaming and dedicated player software, or buy music for download at anything from MP3 up to high-resolution FLAC. It’s also possible to cache streaming content for offline listening.
The adaptive streaming system monitors the bandwidth available on the user’s network connection, and adjusts the quality of the feed from the ClassicsOnline HD•LL servers to ensure continuous playback without buffering problems.
Naxos founder Klaus Heymann says that ‘The new platform is proof of our commitment to making a wide range of classical music available in state-of-the-art sound with a sophisticated search capability utilising the vast database of our various classical music services.’
The Naxos service increases the momentum of high-resolution download and streaming services, which look set to become a major part of high-quality listening in 2015. The next few months will see the launch of two new music stores, with Onkyo extending its e-Onkyo offering beyond Japan, where it has enjoyed major success, to markets including the USA and Europe, and Technics introducing its Technics Tracks service in support of its return to the home audio arena.
Both services are powered by online music provider 7digital, which has recently announced a global strategic partnership with MQA, the advanced audio transmission format announced by British company Meridian, and which aims to deliver music exactly as it was recorded in the studio direct to the consumer. Meridian says the new format enables ‘studio quality’ audio to be transmitted at data-rates no greater than those required for 24-bit/96kHz files, and 24/96 quality at CD-quality data-rates.
As well as the 7digital alliance, MQA has also announced it’s joining forces with Tidal, to integrate MQA into that company’s streaming service. And with MQA claiming widespread support from both the music industry and audio companies, many of which are also Tidal supporters, it seems likely that higher-quality music streaming and downloads are set to become a reality for a much wider range of users.