The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: The critics are unanimous — iTunes, Spotify, Pandora and others streaming services do a grave injustice to classical music. CDs and vinyl are far better. | July 31, 2015

By Jacob Stockinger

The critics’ judgments are in and they seem unanimous: iTunes, Spotify, Pandora and other similar streaming services do a grave injustice to classical music. In the end, CDs and vinyl LPs are far better than streaming for a quality listening experience.

itunes logo complete

spotify logo


pandora logo

The difficulties apparently have to do with engineering and the limits of technology, specifically of the digital compression of sound.

Here are three good and convincing critiques to read:

From The Atlantic magazine:

From the acclaimed prize-winning music critic Alex Ross (below) of The New Yorker magazine:

Alex Ross 2

Here is an analysis from the prolific and always interesting reporter Anastasia Tsioulcas (below), who writes for National Public Radio (NPR) and its outstanding classical music blog Deceptive Cadence. She tackles other streaming services including Pandora and Spotify. She focuses on the organization and the difficulty of finding the music you want to listen to:

anastasia tsioulcas


  1. Amen! “Classical Music” on Pandora (and in doctors’ waiting rooms, etc.) seems to be a paste-up of dissociated pleasant passages from different works. A snippet from the Brandenburg Concertos glides into a bit from a Mozart divertimento, then … wait, that’s from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Structure is lost, nothing is brought to its musical conclusion. It’s worse than jarring, it’s actually upsetting to listen to. There oughta be a law…

    Comment by Ed Haertel — July 31, 2015 @ 8:46 am

  2. As long as quantity and price, that is to say, music for free, are the prime factors in choosing what format to listen by, compressed digital files will have a strong life.
    Get used to it.
    I DO think that the wide dynamic range of most classical recordings makes them less than ideal casual listening.
    And, let’s face it, most people use ALL music as casual listening. Otherwise, we could not be surrounded my music of all types all day and survive mentally.

    Comment by 88melter — July 31, 2015 @ 6:56 am

  3. Hi Jake. I can’t testify to the fidelity — although its sound over my home stereo speakers is quite nice, my hearing isn’t what it once was — but Naxos offers quite an extensive library of classical music. B

    Comment by Bruce C — July 31, 2015 @ 6:23 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 1,268 other followers

    Blog Stats

    • 2,368,591 hits
%d bloggers like this: