While the overwhelming majority of people out there familiar with the MP3 audio file format – it’s been the “gold standard” for digital audio players, iPods, smart phones, and more seemingly forever – the truth of the matter is there are literally dozens of other audio formats out there that may or may not be better suited to your specific listening style, depending upon how serious you are about audio quality and sound fidelity.

 

girl with headphonesJust like some people are serious about listening to all of their favorite music on vinyl and and vinyl alone, never even considering to pop in a CD or listen to a digital download, some serious music junkies are only going to listen to music that is “packaged” in a handful of file formats – usually AAC or FLAC.

 

Determining which file format you want to have in your own library is never simple or straightforward. MP3 might work for the sake of convenience (and to help you save quite a bit of space on your hard drive and your mobile phone or device), but it isn’t going to be able to provide you with the true fidelity that you might be expecting due to inherent compression.  If you have multiple formats and want to unify them see this post on how to convert various formats in iTunes.

 

Here are a couple of audio format alternatives you may want to check out:

 

WAV and AIFF

 

Both of these file formats are “uncompressed formats”, which means they are identical in every way to the original source audio. Both basically store file information the exact same way, providing for an precise replica of the original digital recording, though they do so in slightly different manners. AIFF is a proprietary file format created by the folks at Apple, whereas WAV is a more “open source” approach to this kind of uncompressed file format.

 

While they provide you with the same kind of audio quality that the original source audio presents, they are also gigantic file types that will eat up a lot of storage space. If you aren’t editing the source on your computer, these formats may be more cumbersome especially when we’re talking about a large library of music, podcasts or movies.

 

FLAC

 

The Free Lossless Audio Codec (FLAC) is far and away the most popular and widespread of all the “lossless” audio file formats, and offers just a bit of compression without crippling the actual audio fidelity of the files themselves. This is after all, a lossless audio file format, which means you are going to get the same quality as the original source but without the gargantuan space commitments you need from the file formats mentioned above.

 

Apple Lossless

 

Sometimes described as ALAC, this file format is very similar to the FLAC but isn’t open source the way that that file format is.  In the spirit of stuff created by Apple, the quality is fantastic. ALAC minimizes compression to a fraction of what others produce but it isn’t quite as efficient as the open source version. Completely supported by iTunes and iOS devices, it’s a lot easier to use in a “drag and drop” kind of way compared to FLAC, and if you only use devices in the Apple landscape and Apple environment this is probably the way that you are going to want to go.

 

So are you convinced to venture out beyond MP3 now? If you’re using any other formats and find them superior to these mentioned please drop a note in the comments!

 

As connected as everyone seems to be via social media, do you really feel you’re getting turned on to new music now as much as when word-of-mouth was the prominent music discovery tool?  Bands are also feeling the frustration. There are too many platforms and too much noise to cut through.  For fans, trying to find hot new acts or even older but obscure ones is more elusive than it should be.

 

Sure, the radio is always a “go to” avenue of approach for those that want to let someone else handle the tunes and steer them toward Top 40 like sheep – but since so many of us now use streaming services to play our music (even in the car) we’re somewhat left to our own devices to find new music, new artists, and new bands to fall in love with.

 

There are more than a few music discovery sites out there but the four platforms below should give you all the variety you crave.  You’re probably using at least one of them now, but despite they’re having been around for a while these remain the best.

 

Sound Cloud

 

Not only is Sound Cloud the fantastic platform for artists that are looking to share their music with the world; a wonderful tool for independent artists and bands to spread their music all over the planet with a smooth and quick upload process, but it also happens to be a great place to find new music, artists, and to get hooked on the “next big thing” before they actually break through. Check out the curated groups run by the Sound Cloud community and you won’t ever have to worry about a shortage of new music again!

 

YouTube

 

The world’s largest video sharing website on the planet, YouTube is probably the biggest “time killer” as far as online platforms are concerned with more music, more movies, and more videos than anyone could ever hope to watch or enjoy in their lifetime. On a Friday night you can often find me wrapped in my Monster headphones and falling deep, deep down a YouTube rabbit hole of discovery.

Finding new music on YouTube is easy.  Punch up something you like and check out the YouTube recommendations of similar artists – and once you land on a couple of playlists that have genres or styles you are into you should have a straight shot to new music that never runs out!

 

Bandcamp

 

It’s impossible to bring up music discovery websites without highlighting Bandcamp. Another great platform for independent artists to publish and share (and also promote) the music that they are creating, it’s really easy to find all kinds of new music on this website as a consumer – especially once you start to listen to music on the platform and it learns your tastes and your interests. The Discover section of Bandcamp is a powerful tool for finding new music as well, giving you more control over the kind of music you are most likely to stumble across on the site.

 

Pandora

 

I’ve been a big Pandora Radio fan for years, and have found all kinds of new (or at least new to me) artists and tunes as a result.  One thing you have to do though is keep creating new stations if music discovery is what you’re after.  Over time all your thumbs ups and downs narrow the artist pool for a particular station down to only a few bands.  Creating a new station based on a genre, artist or even around a particular song every so often is the way to go.  The ads in the free version are a bit pervasive if you’re trying to get in a workout or something, but there’s usually a good run of 3 songs or more between commercials.

 

All things considered, you’ll find that the platforms mentioned above are quite innovative in the new music they expose you to – probably more so than your word-of-mouth connection. Best of all, all of these platforms are 100% free, giving you the chance to listen to new music without having to spend a penny until you’re ready for premium.