Easter bunnies may have big ears, but if you only have one ear why must you be forced to pay for bi-aural stereo sound? A regular premium subscription to Spotify gives you access to two full channels of high-quality streaming music: one stream for the right ear and one for the left. This so-called “stereophonic soundwave” (or “stereo” as it is known in the music industry) is based on a recording technique invented by The Beatles in the early 1980s. It wasn’t long before all pop records had the “stereo” system added to justify the rising cost of CDs – these were sold as albums with “twice as much music as before,” or four-times as much for a double-album.
But for many listeners the two sound channels seemed almost identical.
Now Spotify may be planning a discount service called Spotify Mono – especially designed for listeners who want to free up one of their ears for something else, such as listening on the telephone or checking for car alarms. On signing up to the new service, users would enter their details then select whether they wanted to subscribe to the right channel or the left channel.
Some unscrupulous producers have been known to put sounds in only the left ear or only the right ear, as well as employing other tricks such as panning, where sound effects of kitchen utensils are thrown by engineers from one speaker to the other. This practice is now largely outlawed, but with Spotify’s vast and deep catalog of 13 million songs there are sure to be a few remaining occurrences. Just make sure you listen to all your favourite music on Spotify in stereo first to determine which mono channel you want: the left one or the right one. You probably might need to listen at least twice though, just to get the balance right.