Spotify has just turned 5 years old. It is the opportunity for us to get a closer look at today?s best online streaming service. Since 2013, Spotify has been increasingly integrated to audio and video connected devices, to the point that Pioneer recently announced that all of their upcoming home cinema amplifiers and WiFi speakers will feature the streaming service (see list at the end of this article).
If you still need arguments as to why listening to Spotify is not just a trend, here are a few numbers that speak for themselves: in a 5 year span, a million years worth of music has been streamed (combining all users), over a billion playlists created and 24 million users subscribed to Spotify, including Barack Obama and David Cameron and let?s not forget to mention the 6 million paying subscribers.
A pay service for smartphones and connected devices
If Spotify is free for limited use, the service requires a paying account in order to have unlimited access via a device of your choice: smartphone, tablet, home cinema amplifier or certain network mini-systems such as the Denon Ceol N8 we recently reviewed. It is necessary to subscribe online via the Spotify.com website.
Convincing audio quality
To stream over 20 million musical files, Spotify uses the Ogg Vorbis encoding method. This lossy open source format is comparable, but superior in quality, to the mp3 format, although streamed at 128 Kbits/sec. Spotify paying customers (9.99 ? / month for unlimited use) benefit from a 320 Kbits/sec transfer rate, with a better channel separation and a larger amount of details, especially for complex music. It?s no HD streaming but the quality is nonetheless satisfying. Premium membership comes with the possibility of caching files on a computer, tablet or smartphone. A convenient feature to listen to your favourite tracks without internet access.
Using Spotify with a compatible amplifier or network streaming device
Major hi-fi and home cinema brands quickly understood the advantage of integrating access to Spotify in their products. Most home cinema amplifiers now offer a graphic interface (to display on a TV screen via an HDMI connection) which allows the user to browse the tremendous Spotify catalog and to listen to music. Besides, the home cinema amplifier?s control app is also compatible with Spotify. You can therefore sit comfortably on your sofa and use your smartphone or tablet as a remote control.
Spotify and AirPlay?
A winning team! iPhones, iPod touch and iPads are excellent mobile devices to select music via Spotify and stream them to a compatible receiver. The transfer between the mobile device and the router is done using the WiFi local network, then the signal is sent to the receiver via Ethernet or WiFi. The receiver can be an AirPlay home cinema amplfier, AirPlay network player or AirPlay wireless speaker. All there is to do is to install the iOS Spotify app and to select the AirPlay receiver by clicking on the AirPlay icon on the screen. The Spotify audio stream is sent with no alteration and the quality is very enjoyable. Browse our range of AirPlay compatible products on this page.
Listening to Spotify with an Audio DAC
t is a commonly asked question on our website. Although the audio stream from Spotify uses a lossy compression, its decoding can be considerably improved by using an audio DAC, with an optimised output stage digital to analog convertor superior to that of a home cinema amplifier. With a computer, a USB DAC linked to an amplifier via a quality cable will also improve the end result. It?s as simple as that. If your source is an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad, it is better to use an AirPlay receiver with the DAC. The Apple TV or Apple AirPort Express are AirPlay receivers equipped with S/PDIF optical digital outputs, which can be connected to any DAC featuring an S/PDIF input.
What about Android’
Android mobile devices do not allow the streaming of Spotify to a receiver connected to the local network. The fact that there is no protocol similar to Apple?s AirPlay means that Android tablets and smartphones must be used along with an amplifier or receiver natively supporting Spotify and the device?s control app.
This applies to the following products: Denon AVR-X1000, Denon AVR-X2000, Denon AVR-X3000, Denon AVR-X4000, Denon Ceol RCD-N8, Onkyo CR-N755, Marantz M-CR510, Marantz M-CR610, Yamaha RX-S600, Marantz SR-5008, Marantz SR-6008, Marantz SR-7008, Onkyo TX-NR1010, Onkyo TX-NR5010, Onkyo TX-NR525, Onkyo TX-NR626, Onkyo TX-NR717, Onkyo TX-NR727, Onkyo TX-NR828, Marantz AV-7701, Marantz AV8801, Onkyo PR-SC5509, Marantz NA-11 or Cambridge Audio Minx Air 100.
These products can also be used after updating the firmware: Pioneer VSX-528-K, Pioneer VSX-828-K, Pioneer VSX-923-K, Pioneer VSX-1123-K, Pioneer SC-2022-K, Pioneer SC-1223, Pioneer SC-2023-K, Pioneer SC-LX57, Pioneer SC-LX77, Pioneer SC-LX87, Pioneer XW-SMA1, Pioneer XW-SMA3, Pioneer XW-SMA4 and Yamaha RX-V475, Yamaha HTR-4066, Yamaha RX-V575, Yamaha RX-V675, Yamaha RX-V775, Yamaha RX-A730, Yamaha RX-A730, Yamaha RX-A830, Yamaha RX-A1030, Yamaha RX-A2030 and Yamaha RX-A3030.