Skip to main content
Featured ArticlesRoom Acoustics Training

Pandora And Spotify – Streaming Audio

By August 16, 2013February 24th, 2014No Comments

Transistor Radio

Pandora Internet Radio is like the transistor radio I used to have. In fact, I think our gang of kids set up a music club and talked about the new songs we had heard on our transistor radios. I remember that “Rag Doll” with the Four Seasons, was our voted on favorite one week. It was a music source with a dial that you turned to different stations and music came out, new music all the time. Of course, at 8 years old, our music libraries were small, like our lives. Small was a good thing in 1960. Too many choices today, but not for digital streaming music sources.

Pandora Sign Up

When you sign up for your Pandora Radio, there appear to be two main types of service. As with anything these days on the net, there is something that is free. The basic free service has music choices available but this basic service has advertising in it. Just like our transistor radios. There were always commercials after every song, I remember that much. There are over 1,000,000 songs to choose from and you can get rid of the ads through, of course, an upgrade.

Marketing Scheme

Just like everything on the net these days, there is a service that takes away those ads. It is like having pop up blocker software. The ads are gone with this upgraded service and the resolution is higher. In fact, It appears to be 192k, which is a high end and quality resolution that when converted to analog, can be quite pleasing to listen to music with. The cost for the premium plan is around $4.00/month which would be in today’s dollars, about the cost of a full years supply of batteries for my transistor radio.

You Are Radio Station

After you sign up, you will be asked to create your own station. You can create a station based upon artist, song, composer, or genre. Now, here is where technology is used to encourage art. There is an algorithm that is built into Pandora that will choose songs and then give you the option to thumbs up them or thumbs down. This like/not like selection, tells the algorithm what direction to go in for future selections of music. I would like to know what parameters the algorithm is measuring for. I am sure you can figure that out over time.

Access From Many Sources

Whatever they are, you can really make your own radio station with a base of favorites and then build upon it. You can change your mind and not listen to the songs the computer chooses for you and go off in another completely different direction. You can go to classical rock, heavy metal, rock, or whatever musical genre you choose. Its like having many different transistor radios each tuned to a different station. You can access this data from any computer, mobile iOS, or Android application. Pandora is only for USA, Australia, and New Zealand.


Spotify is another streaming service that started in Europe and has migrated to the United States. Spotify memberships are by invitation only, which I am certain was a marketing effort to create some type of social value. Once in Spotify, you can invite friends. The basic service is $6.00 / month and the premium service is $10 / month. We have a higher bit rate with Spotify than Pandora. Spotify is at 320 k.

Songs Vs. Albums

The major difference between the two services is that Pandora is all about individual songs and Spotify is all about albums. Spotify has an unlimited album library. You can actually play a full album and not buy it. Facebook is also involved in the process. All of your Facebook friends will show up in the Spotify side bar, so it is easy to see what they are listening to. You can also take playlists that you have created and share them with friends on Spotify.

Sound Quality

The sound quality is excellent. We would expect nothing less from 320k bit rate. It is hard to tell how many of the albums on Spotify have been up sampled to the 320k bit rate, but all the albums I have listened to have been at that resolution. The continual remastering of albums for these formats can have its toll on the reproduction schemes, but I found headphone listening to be quite enjoyable.

Reliability Issues

I have heard that some of these systems are unreliable. These “cloud servers” have never given me any problems. I write documents using them all the time knowing that my text is not on my hard drive. I do not need to own something and have it in my possession. I prefer less possessions and having musical access through a “cloud” suits me just fine. With the ease of access and quality of sound reproduction, it is hard to beat Pandora or Spotify for convenience and having current music source material at your fingertips.

Two Great Choices

You can choose Pandora and create your own radio station. You can like and dislike the choices the software throws at you and thus refining its compatibility and selectivity for future choices. Its nice to see new music choices come up, even if a computer is doing it. It will “learn” what you like and don’t like about each individual song you listen to. Spotify has no “learning” radio station but it does have albums and better sonic resolution. Either way, for less than $10.00 a month regardless of plan choice, you get high resolution audio to listen to and lots of it. What could be better in this world of too many choices.

In Summary

Please leave any comments below so I can get back to you. If you want to learn about room acoustics please sign up for our free room acoustic treatment videos and ebook which provide step by step instructions. Get instant access by signing up now.



I am a structural engineer as well as a master furniture maker. I design cabinets for low frequency, activated carbon absorbers. Connect with me on Google+

Leave a Reply

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