Streaming services

Discussion in 'Collector's & Listener's Corner' started by Harry, Mar 13, 2016.

  1. Harry

    Harry Charter Member Moderator Thread Starter

    [Moved from a Carpenters thread]

    That's one of the problems with streaming anything. Yeah, sure, your favorite album (or movie) is available right now on your favorite streaming service, but will it ALWAYS be there. Can you count on that nameless, faceless service to always have what you want? I'm thinking "no", you can't. Someday, the owner of that album (or movie) will strike a deal with some other streaming service for "exclusivity", in order to attempt to boost the new service's subscriber rate. They'll dangle that carrot to get you to sign up for THEIR service too - or instead of your old streaming service.

    I've seen this all play out before when cable TV first started getting popular. You signed up with your local cable company to get the local channels crystal clear, and for just $10 more a month, you could add on HBO, which had access to all movies and would show them commercial free - and with all the curse words and nudity intact! :shh: It was great. You knew that six months down the road, anything that was in theaters would be on your living room TV.

    Then it happened. Not content to let HBO be the only fish in the pond, other channels sprung up. SHOWTIME, SPOTLIGHT, and in my neck of the woods, PRISM. These service made deals with the Hollywood studios for exclusivity for a certain number of years, of all of their titles coming on the market. So if you wanted to see a Paramount movie, you had to have PRISM. If you wanted to see a Warner Brothers movie, it had to be HBO, etc. (Those are examples and not necessarily the correct alignments as they really occurred.)

    It's happening all over again with streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon. There was a brouhaha recently about the STAR TREK TV series about to disappear from Amazon on a certain date, sending Trekkies everywhere into a panic, and stepping up their binge-viewing before the deadline. At the last minute, STAR TREK stayed on Amazon. But for how long? When will CBS actually pull their shows from other services when they're trying to start their own CBS ALL ACCESS? You just know it will happen.

    I see it as a lesser factor with music streaming. Let's face it, no streaming service is going to sign up for exclusivity to run the KAREN CARPENTER solo album. But suppose music giant Universal decides to start its own streaming service (maybe they already have, for all I know) and pulls all of its titles from the likes of Spotify and Apple? Then you might have to sign with THEM to get the A&M stuff you want.

    That's my long story about why I'll NEVER give up owning a hard copy of whatever music or movie that I fancy.

    Harry
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2016
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  2. Bobberman

    Bobberman Well-Known Member

    I agree Harry. And that is the Biggest reason why I Refuse to subscribe to any streaming service simply " Availability just cannot be guaranteed" and I always said "HOLD ON TO YOUR HARD COPIES" and take very good care of them. They will be with you a long time.
     
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  3. Eyewire

    Eyewire Well-Known Member

    I use the free Spotify service. It didn't cost me anything to join. It has ads every 30 minutes but it otherwise lets me listen to entire songs and entire albums from start to finish. I can repeat any song I like and I can listen to it at any time. It's a great way to audition an artist's back catalog and far better than the 30 or 90 second previews/samples you get with the various download services such as iTunes, Amazon, etc. I basically use it as I would YouTube to discover music, and the sound quality is usually much better. Spotify sometimes even distinguishes between original mixes and remixes, etc.

    If I like a song or an album enough, I will then purchase it from iTunes or one of the other legitimate download services so that I can have a permanent copy. However, if I really, really like something then I will of course seek out the physical CD from Amazon, eBay, Discogs, etc. Needless to say, the wonderful discography of the Carpenters most definitely falls into this latter category for me. :)

    So I don't necessarily view Spotify or other music streaming services as a bad thing. I see it as just another way to discover and listen to music. And with over 30 million songs, there's bound to be some new songs/albums/artists that I will stumble upon, and being able to preview entire songs and albums is awesome. I hope Spotify continues offering the ad-supported free option for the foreseeable future.
     
  4. Harry

    Harry Charter Member Moderator Thread Starter

    I never said that streaming was a bad thing - only that it's not always reliable for some specific things that you're seeking. I remember about two years ago, my brother in law was bragging about his streaming service that he thought had every song in the world. He had his iPhone and his little bluetooth speaker and told me that he could instantly play any song on any of the many CDs I had displayed on my shelf. But I knew differently, so I played into his little game. He urged me to pick out a song from any CD I had, and he would play it back to me on his magic devices. So I instantly grabbed Sergio Mendes' HORIZONTE ABERTO and suggested he play "Fato Consumado". He searched around, checked the spelling with the disc, and ultimately came up with some other Brazilian track that was not correct. "OK, so that's ONE. Try another."

    I grabbed Herb Alpert's BEYOND and asked for "The Continental". Again, he fumbled about with his lists and tracks, but couldn't come up with it. I haven't heard him preaching the wonders of his streaming service since! No I understand what those services are good for, and I appreciate what they provide. I just would RELY on them to always have EXACTLY what I want at any moment - no more than I ever would RELY on a radio station to play the song I wanted at the time I wanted it.

    Harry
     
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  5. Rudy

    Rudy ᕦ(ò_óˇ)ᕤ Site Admin

    US
    The only thing I can point out is that streaming services don't make the claim to have everything. They do have a lot (a million plus cannot be anything but "a lot"), but I would never expect to see a lot of my collection (especially vinyl titles I own that still aren't on digital) show up there. If they do, it's a pleasant surprise. Streaming is not marketed to those who are collectors or have "deep" collections they are looking to supplement or replace. It is more of a convenience for users of the "ipod generation" than anything. It covers most casual music listeners' interests and they are satisfied. And yes, very true, what's there today can be gone tomorrow--licensing issues change, or an artist or label could pull a release or an entire catalog for any number of reasons.

    Streaming by nature is a low quality delivery format anyway, unless you use Tidal or someone that actually claims to stream "Lossless" (vs. the false claims of "CD quality" which are not even true.) So even for those who want something of quality to listen to, streaming can't provide that either.

    For my purposes, and for an alternate take on it, Tidal is a great way to sample something I do not own. I know many listeners who are avid collectors or vinyl buyers who use streaming to give albums a try before buying. Some of what they recommended to me I found to be rather...lacking (if not unlistenable). :laugh: Others I have liked enough to purchase. It is also fantastic for those times when you've heard a song, or a version of a song, you have heard before but never identified. I used it to hunt down a couple of Xmas tracks this year.

    Some are saying five or ten years from now, streaming and downloads will be the primary method by which we listen to music, with very little physical product (aside from vinyl) being sold. CD is already a quickly dying format (check the RIAA figures year-to-year), and it's time to get prepared for what is already replacing it. Streaming surprised me in being as popular as it is (32%). There are many more analyses of the data, but here is a snipped of a report comparing the first half of 2015 to the same period in 2014:

    upload_2016-3-15_14-56-13.png
    Source: 2015 Mid-Year RIAA Shipment and Revenue Statistics | RIAA - RIAA » (Download the PDF linked within the notice.)
     
  6. Eyewire

    Eyewire Well-Known Member

    Oh I totally agree. I would never rely on streaming alone for my source of music. I'm old school, preferring to own my music and not simply renting it.
     
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  7. Rudy

    Rudy ᕦ(ò_óˇ)ᕤ Site Admin

    US
    Owning it, in any format, is definitely preferable. And owning any version of it is an "in the now" occurrence. If you see something today, buy it. There is never a guarantee it will be around forever. I can think of many titles we've discussed in this forum alone that have gone off the radar.

    Had I followed that advice myself, I'd probably have been flat broke by now. :laugh: But, I also would not be seeking out some of these titles decades later, when they are either impossible to find, or too unreasonably expensive for what they are.

    I realize streaming has its place, but anyone counting on it as a replacement for their entire collection is in for some disappointment...
     
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  8. lj

    lj Active Member

    Rudy--for blank DVDs, which format do you prefer--DVD-R or DVD+R? Its been said that the DVD+R has a superior format, which helps in better writing and accurate data handling. That said, for the average person after a number of playbacks, would this even be perceptible compared to the DVD-R format? And as for longevity for archive purposes, are there any major differences?
     
  9. Rudy

    Rudy ᕦ(ò_óˇ)ᕤ Site Admin

    US
    I haven't burned discs in several years now, so I'm working from memory. I remember it being DVD+R with the booktype set to DVD-ROM, which covers compatibility in most players out there. (You do need software which allows you to set the booktype.) I wouldn't say it's a matter of one being better than the other, but which is more compatible than the other. Or in other words, making a disc that any (or most) DVD players and drives can read.
     
  10. Bobberman

    Bobberman Well-Known Member

    To sum it all up ( in my opinion anyway)The Best streaming service of all Is One's Own Physical Library collection with its various forms ( Vinyl CD Download Tapes Etc) and best of all "Its guaranteed to always be available".
     
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  11. Rudy

    Rudy ᕦ(ò_óˇ)ᕤ Site Admin

    US
    One streaming service to keep an eye on is Qobuz. They are primarily based in Europe, but I have some intel from a high-end manufacturer that they have been given logins to Qobuz in order to get familiar with it, as they are going to be offering service in the US. Rumor was that they were going to open up to subscribers for the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest (which was a couple of weekends ago), for which they were the "official streaming provider" of the show.

    Why the fuzz about Qobuz? They have been around longer than most streaming services, they have one of the largest catalogs of music (40+ million titles) and they have subscription levels where you can get standard MP3 quality, CD-resolution lossless, or high-resolution lossless (up to 24-bit/192kHz). In addition, you can purchase CD-resolution or high-res albums from Qobuz like you can with online sellers like HDTracks or Acoustic Sounds.

    I'll drop a note here once they make it official.

    Of the other streaming companies, Deezer offers a CD-resolution lossless service, as does Tidal. Tidal also offers the highly controversial MQA format (which despite their arguments to the contrary, is a "high-res" lossy format). I doubt Tidal will remain around much longer--they've had a few interface changes, their search facilities are terrible (you're lucky to get half the albums an artist has released--you have to dig for them in other ways), they have yet to turn a profit, and despite catering to the lossless/audiophile crowd, the first thing that hits you in the face when you log in is rap. All negatives. (Some of us are hoping that if Tidal does go away, it'll take MQA with it, as no other streaming company wants to deal with MQA.)

    Final note: I found a really great use for a streaming service--using it while on vacation. Years ago, I had to try to pick a dozen or two CDs for my CD wallet that I hoped would get me through two or three weeks on the road. And every single time, I always wished I'd have made different picks. I do use both a large SD card and USB memory stick on my head unit, but I would rather keep those in place. In the hotel room, it is so much easier to log into Deezer and play whatever I feel like. (The only hiccup is that some hotels have a poor WiFi connection...yet if that's the case, I can fall back to Pandora.)
     
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  12. Mike Blakesley

    Mike Blakesley Well-Known Member Moderator

    I've been on record before about my feelings on streaming services (which are similar to Harry's) ... and now it's happening with video. People who thought they would save money by "cutting the cord" are about to enter a whole new level of frustration, what with streaming services by Disney, Warner Bros and AT&T all about to enter the fray to compete against Netflix and Hulu and the rest. And since everyone is now used to "getting what they want when they want it," they will either become low-level criminals (by resorting to torrent services) or will be spending more money on streaming than they ever did on cable or satellite, in order to "get everything they want."

    I do find using CDs to be kind of clunky and cumbersome compared to the iPod, but guess what...at least the CDs work 100% of the time when you plug them in the slot. The iPod, I have to keep unplug/replugging, rebooting, etc. to make it work with my vehicle. Hell, 8-tracks worked far more consistently that that thing does. I've used two iPods in two different vehicles and I would say my current setup (iPod Touch + Ford F-150) works properly, without a fight, maybe 5% of the time.

    Yep, ownership is the best way....and its days are probably numbered, sadly.
     
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  13. Bobberman

    Bobberman Well-Known Member

    I sadly Agree with you Mike but I don't use streaming services of any kind I use my media players in my tablet and laptops and a few good radio apps but mostly I use what I already own on physical media which I ripped into my devices for extra convenience but with the changing times I plan to hold on to all I have I can't afford to buy everything again
     
  14. Rudy

    Rudy ᕦ(ò_óˇ)ᕤ Site Admin

    US
    Video streaming is simply replacing the "on demand" video that cable companies have had for years now, without spending over $100/month per household. Movies are a different experience from music IMHO--I have some movies in the house that I want to be able to have access to at any time. But many movies out there are casual one-off views where many will watch it one time and never watch it again. That is who the video streamers are serving. Only thing is, now you can watch the movies on your schedule, and not have to wait for premium cable channels to maybe offer it up in the future. And we still have the option to buy physical copies for our collections--nobody has taken that away from us. (Or at the very least, movies will be like music in that we are able to buy downloads to keep permanently...same concept though, we have those in our possession.)

    Music streaming does have a place--I use it only as a convenience, and occasionally to sample music I am not familiar with (which of course might result in a purchase). But no, it never replaces owning physical copies, or copies we've downloaded. But it is one helluva a great supplement I can't see being without.

    It has been totally worth getting the Pioneer head unit I use currently--with the SD card slot and a free USB port, music playback is rock solid with the files all there on the storage. The unit plays from these directly, without having to go through a second device which may or may not be connecting or interfacing with a vehicle reliably. I haven't had CDs in the cars in years. Don't miss them at all. I'd say something about cassettes but don't want any lurking hipsters to curl up in a ball of anguish in the corners of their loft apartments. :laugh:

    Most new cars come without CD players now anyway, so there really isn't a choice anymore. :wink: (Someone did find a USB-driven CD player accessory from Ali Express, though, that will work on many car decks very similar to a USB stick. Neat idea!)
     
  15. Mike Blakesley

    Mike Blakesley Well-Known Member Moderator

    I think I'm going to get a huge-capacity thumb drive and use that in the vehicle. I've used them before and they work well, although not as easy to navigate, but at least they freakin' work. The biggest problem I have with that idea (and it's partly my fault) is, not all my music "rip" files are the same format. I've got mp3s, aac's, etc. So I need to do a bit o' housekeeping.
     
  16. Rudy

    Rudy ᕦ(ò_óˇ)ᕤ Site Admin

    US
    Depending on the head unit, it could play some of those formats without you needing to do anything. The Pioneer I have can play FLAC (lossless, up to 24-bit/192kHz), WMA, MP3 and AAC. Depending on who manufactured the head unit in your F-150, it could be a combination of two or three of those formats. (For instance, in the past, Honda has used Alpine and Matsu$#!^a as OEMs for their in-car audio. My older CR-V had an Alpine head unit and changer, and the cassette add-on was Matsu$#!^a; Pioneer provided the speakers.) Poking around online, you might get a feel for what would work best, before converting batches of files or re-ripping CDs if you go that route.

    If you can browse by folder, what I do is create artist folders, then put the album folders within those. (On my music server, though, I have the 26 alphabet letters, one number, plus one "various" folder and a "Classical" folder, then sort by artist in the first subfolder level, and by album in the second subfolder level. I find it fast to drill down to a particular album that way.

    I use a 256GB Sandisk memory stick. For something smaller, the Sandisk Cruzer is very small (it's smaller than the USB connector itself), and I use those in the older head units here.
     
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  17. Mike Blakesley

    Mike Blakesley Well-Known Member Moderator

    I have the best Ford stereo they make, but I'm not sure who makes it for them -- probably Sony, because there is a Sony logo on the dashboard. I know it can play WMA, AAC and MP3's for sure, but I think it draws the line at FLAC. (It's been 2 years since I read the manual!) I've been holding out hope that they'd come up with a "system update" that would address the iPod issues, but it never seems to get better, in fact if anything it's getting worse. Just today I had to unplug/replug the USB cable four times before it would recognize the iPod.
     
  18. Rudy

    Rudy ᕦ(ò_óˇ)ᕤ Site Admin

    US
    True, it could be Sony. If that's the case, it shouldn't have much problem playing an assortment of files. Even cheaper players handle MP3 and WMA. Hardly any play FLAC files and even there, any that I know of are aftermarket head units. (Not sure about the ELS systems that Acura uses, though--those play surround music, so they handle different file formats. ELS = Eliot Scheiner, the recording engineer, and I know the earlier Acura ELS systems were made by Panasonic aka Matsu$#!^a.)

    Not quite related, but in my aftermarket install, I have two rear USB jacks. Pioneer gave me one extension cable to plug in a phone. I had trouble with Android Auto dropping out at least once per drive. I ended up buying a dual USB3 jack that I mounted inside the center console, which had the cables attached--no more dropouts. It isn't that the data transfer speed is faster, but USB3 cables have better shielding than standard USB (which allows them to transfer data at higher speeds), so that could have contributed to the phone working better with the head unit.

    I don't know if anyone would make a better cable for your rig, and if it would even help...
     
  19. Rudy

    Rudy ᕦ(ò_óˇ)ᕤ Site Admin

    US
    No word on Qobuz yet, although they were giving out free trial accounts at the Capital Audio Fest this weekend. The NY Audio Show is next weekend and they will have a presence there also.

    My Deezer trial went well--their search interface is a lot better than Tidal's, and their stream never dropped out like Tidal had been doing for me on my last 3-month trial.

    A lot of us are waiting for some of the hardware manufacturers to build in support for Qobuz (who is also pursuing it with the manufacturers), including adding support for Roon. Roon is kind of neat in that it is easy to use, yet it can also blend together your own collection with a streaming service, so you can have access to a lot more without having to switch between multiple interfaces. It is not inexpensive though, and I have not engaged in a trial yet until I upgrade storage at home.
     
  20. Mike Blakesley

    Mike Blakesley Well-Known Member Moderator

    I doubt it.... I use a short "certified" Apple cable, so what could be better, right? It's maddening. Starting my vehicle is like opening a box of chocolates...you never know what you're gonna get:

    - iPod works fine
    - iPod shows up with controls on screen, but no sound
    - Controls show up, music plays, but the controls don't work and the display doesn't update
    - iPod link appears on the screen, but clicking it doesn't work
    - iPod doesn't show up at all

    I've tried:
    - Unplugging and replugging it in
    - Unlocking the iPod manually before starting the vehicle
    - Unlocking it manually after starting the vehicle
    - Waiting until after the truck is running to plug in the iPod
    - Bluetooth and USB both (they behave the same)
    - Rebooting the iPod
    - Updating the OS on the iPod

    The only thing that really seems to work most of the time is to unplug it, start the music playing, then plug it in...but even then sometimes it just won't see the iPod. And, sometimes after going through whatever hoops I have to jump through to make it work, it "forgets" where it was on the playlist and resets itself to play songs from the very beginning. I've heard the first few seconds of "Abacab" by Genesis so many times I've lost count.

    I don't know if it's a Ford problem or an Apple problem. But since the damn thing works fine with a $10 thumb drive, I blame Apple and their #&$! software.
     

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