Streaming update

Streaming update

In a previous post about streaming I mentioned signing up for a Pandora Premium 60-day trial and with only a short time left I’ve decided to cancel my subscription. While I enjoy Pandora for music discovery, the Premium service is just not what I was looking for to compliment my Tidal HiFi service. I like Tidal HiFi for it’s sound quality (CD-quality bitrates and MQA) and will continue to use it for more critical listening sessions but much of my music listening is casual in nature and the higher-bitrate Tidal HiFi streams are a bit overkill in this regard.

Music Unlimited

Enter the Amazon Echo Dot. I love this little gizmo and the convenience it brings to music streaming, so I decided it was high time to give Amazon Music Unlimited a spin. Amazon offers a 30-day trial and they have 2 options I’m interested in if I decide to continue:

  • Echo Plan – $3.99/month
  • Individual Plan  $7.99/month or $79/year for Prime Members

The Echo Plan sounds very tempting for the money but limits the service to just 1 Echo device. The Individual Plan allows you to use the service on all of your various devices including phones/tablets. Both plans offer a no-ads experience and a huge catalog of music. The price difference between these 2 plans is only about $31 (if paying the Individual plan yearly). In addition, the Individual Plan is $41 cheaper per year than Spotify Premium and the catalog is supposedly comparable. Not bad.

Alexa

Basic setup of the Echo Dot is an easy process using the Amazon Alexa app:

  1. Download the app and sign in to your Amazon account.
  2. Plug in the Echo Dot and wait a bit.
  3. Follow the instructions in the app to connect to wifi.
  4. Talk to Alexa.

The Echo Dot can connect to the Node 2 via Bluetooth or via the audio out jack for a wired connection. I’m using Bluetooth and after the initial pairing Alexa will remember the connection and will connect/disconnect with a voice command (i.e., “Alexa, connect” or “Alexa, disconnect”). Once connected, another simple voice command is all it takes .. “Alexa, play the album Communique by Dire Straits” or “Alexa, play Skylark by Bill Charlap”. Brilliant.

“Alexa, disconnect”

So why would you disconnect the Bluetooth connection? Well, sometimes you just don’t want Alexa coming through your nice hifi speakers. At times you will want to use the Echo Dot for other stuff like “Alexa, how do you spell audiophile?” or “Alexa, order me an Uber”, the kind of stuff the Echo is built for.

Amazon Music Unlimited is a nice addition to their ever-evolving ecosystem and quite compelling when used with the Echo Dot/Bluesound Node 2 pairing. So far, I like it. I’ll follow up with a decision in the near future.

 

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