Streaming services

Rudy

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I think it was either Google Play Music or Amazon (maybe both?), where you could upload your own music in order to stream it to any of your devices. Some felt it was questionable because they could replace what you uploaded with the same tracks from their existing library of music available for streaming or for sale. I understand why--it saves them storage space. I guess for casual listening it wouldn't be a problem, but someone who had a rare version or a different mastering would be disappointed to find it had been replaced.

One thing I have noticed lately is that if I buy a cd I usually get a free download of the mp3. I haven’t used it much but I have a sort of library of those in Amazon. Probably should download those and load a flash drive.
I have a few of those in my Amazon account also, although lately it has mostly been vinyl purchases (which are also eligible). Some records also come with download cards--Peter Gabriel does it right and offers high-res downloads, not MP3, so at least we have the option to downsample and burn to CD, or convert to WMA or MP3 (or whatever else we'd like) for portables.
 

Rudy

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A quick update. Qobuz is now taking applications for their beta program. I've been on the waiting list for a month or so now, so I am just waiting for word so I can go activate my account.

It will be a game changer for me. I reluctantly use Tidal--I have found some of the lossless files to be flawed. The worst one I have heard so far is the Elvis Costello/Burt Bacharach tune "In The Darkest Place." There is some strangeness in the midrange (it has this odd warbly "underwater" sound to it), and it appears that this is a sign that the file is heavily watermarked. There are others. Tidal also hopped on board MQA, which is a highly controversial lossy "high-res" (yeah, I know, an oxymoron) format that I completely avoid if possible.

Qobuz is offering three subscription levels. $9.99/month (or $99/year) gets you MP3 quality. $19.99/month (or $199/year) is CD quality lossless (and exactly matches the monthly prices of both Tidal and Deezer for CD-quality lossless). $24.99/month ($249/year) gets you high-res streaming up to 24-bit/192kHz. They offer all sorts of perks with their accounts--monthly newsletters, editorial content (like their own summaries of the albums and tunes vs. outsourcing it from AllMusic), the ability to create playlists, etc. The best news is that they have brought some major talent on board for their US launch, including audiophile evangelist David Solomon. There are hints that Qobuz is working with the high-end manufacturers and some of the software companies like Roon, so there will be widespread support right out of the gate.

I will post my impressions once I'm connected and ready to rock. :)
 

Rudy

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Funny I should mention it--I got the beta invite sooner than expected. Email arrived late this morning, signed up for the free trial this afternoon, and I'm streaming to the Oppo at the moment.

I'm using the mconnect app so I can stream via DLNA. Here are some screenshots showing the player and part of a selection of albums. (An overlay shows the resolution you are streaming at.) Click to enlarge.

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This is from the official Qobuz app. Left to right--album listing, album player, track queue, and a sample of an artist overview written by Qobuz staff. Note here, too, the "Hi-Res" badges beneath some of the album listings.

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Finally, here is the desktop application, which lets you choose which audio device to stream to on your computer, or choose a Chromecast-audio-capable device anywhere on your network.

qobuz-pc.png

Initial impressions are that it sounds pretty good, better than Tidal's lossless. I need to shift around a few things to make a proper comparison.
 

Rudy

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I've been using Qobuz exclusively, listening primarily to music I already own. Sort of. :laugh:
I played four Mancini titles that I did not know were in Hi-Res (there are more than I thought!), and I have to say they kill any CD version I've ever heard. It's not so much the added resolution as it is the mastering. I have earlier CDs of many of Mancini's recordings, and the original vinyl usually sounded better. On the other end of the spectrum, I have three Mancini LPs from Analogue Productions (45 RPM cuts) that are straight from the original master tapes, cut straight to lacquer, and they sound the best I've ever heard. The mastering of Music from The Pink Panther on the Hi-Res version on Qobuz is the closest I've heard to the Analogue Productions LP as of yet. (I do not have the SACD.)

Another thing to mention--Qobuz actually has a lot of the rarer Mancini albums, in addition to the usual suspects widely available for decades. The soundtracks to The Party; What Did You Do In The War, Daddy?; Visions of Eight; High Time; Two For The Road; The Great Race; Arabesque; Experiment in Terror; Darling Lili...all in Hi-Res. I don't even think a few of these were ever out on CD. There are also the long-lost albums like Hangin' Out and Mancini Country (both country-flavored albums), The Cop Show Themes and Mancini's Angels (both based on, yep, cop show themes). And of course the jazz favorites are up there also like the two Peter Gunn and Mr. Lucky albums, Uniquely Mancini, Mancini '67, Combo!, The Mancini Generation, and...well, there are way too many other albums to list.

I've also been playing some ECM albums, again, a couple I did not know were reissued in Hi-Res. But even the standard resolution files I played have sounded every bit as good as the versions on my server. Ralph Towner's Open Letter is a very clean and detailed recording, and it did not reveal any artifacts. The two Nik Bartsch's Ronin albums also sounded as they do from my server.

I'm currently playing Oregon's Winter Light. This was essentially the version of the group which spun out of the Paul Winter Consort A&M album they all played on together. (I also found their album title a little...interesting, given they had left Paul Winter. :wink: ) I'll queue up a couple more Mancini titles over lunch to see how they sound. Fairly impressed so far!
 

Bobberman

Well-Known Member
I've been using Qobuz exclusively, listening primarily to music I already own. Sort of. :laugh:
I played four Mancini titles that I did not know were in Hi-Res (there are more than I thought!), and I have to say they kill any CD version I've ever heard. It's not so much the added resolution as it is the mastering. I have earlier CDs of many of Mancini's recordings, and the original vinyl usually sounded better. On the other end of the spectrum, I have three Mancini LPs from Analogue Productions (45 RPM cuts) that are straight from the original master tapes, cut straight to lacquer, and they sound the best I've ever heard. The mastering of Music from The Pink Panther on the Hi-Res version on Qobuz is the closest I've heard to the Analogue Productions LP as of yet. (I do not have the SACD.)

Another thing to mention--Qobuz actually has a lot of the rarer Mancini albums, in addition to the usual suspects widely available for decades. The soundtracks to The Party; What Did You Do In The War, Daddy?; Visions of Eight; High Time; Two For The Road; The Great Race; Arabesque; Experiment in Terror; Darling Lili...all in Hi-Res. I don't even think a few of these were ever out on CD. There are also the long-lost albums like Hangin' Out and Mancini Country (both country-flavored albums), The Cop Show Themes and Mancini's Angels (both based on, yep, cop show themes). And of course the jazz favorites are up there also like the two Peter Gunn and Mr. Lucky albums, Uniquely Mancini, Mancini '67, Combo!, The Mancini Generation, and...well, there are way too many other albums to list.

I've also been playing some ECM albums, again, a couple I did not know were reissued in Hi-Res. But even the standard resolution files I played have sounded every bit as good as the versions on my server. Ralph Towner's Open Letter is a very clean and detailed recording, and it did not reveal any artifacts. The two Nik Bartsch's Ronin albums also sounded as they do from my server.

I'm currently playing Oregon's Winter Light. This was essentially the version of the group which spun out of the Paul Winter Consort A&M album they all played on together. (I also found their album title a little...interesting, given they had left Paul Winter. :wink: ) I'll queue up a couple more Mancini titles over lunch to see how they sound. Fairly impressed so far!
I still have the CD twofer of Mancini`s Angels and The Theme Scene issued by England's Dutton/Vocalion label in 2010 and that's just one of many albums Reissued by them between 2003 onward they reissued almost complete discographies of artists on the London/Deeca Phase 4 stereo label like Ronnie Aldrich and his two pianos and Frank Chacksfield and the London/Decca proper releases of Mantovani and many other artists in the easy listening genre I was able to get them from a mail order import store for pretty cheap compared to what I would have had to pay elsewhere paying $18 for import CD two fers was a real deal the Cds I bought then are now out of print and they have all been ripped into my laptop I was one lucky fellow
 

Rudy

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One missing album was Mancini's Symphonic Soul (which had a lot of jazz players on it), but they do have Big Screen, Little Screen which was another movie/TV theme album. Sadly the crappy grey market reissues are ending up on there, like the few unofficial Peter Gunn releases. However, overall, they have fewer of those unofficial releases than those other sites. It's just about impossible for any service to keep ahead of reissues for old albums and know which are legit or not.
 

Bobberman

Well-Known Member
There are so many Unauthorized Issues out there as a rule I would make a list of what I knew was the official discography and keep it handy as a reference that's how I did my music shopping for years and anything that didn't match my list I avoided ( that was until things changed) but still regardless of whether it's vinyl CD or download the Goal is to always Get the authorized official versions at the best quality and price possible
 

toeknee4bz

Well-Known Member
This is What I keep saying and have been forever it seems sadly the Anti physical product crowd( I prefer to call them the property is theft loony crowd) are So Bent on making us pay hefty sums just to maintain what we already have they are trying to make all physical media unusable and therefore forcing us to pay dearly to use what we have I always suspected the industry wants to create a technology that allows our downloads we buy to last only a short time then it disappears forcing us to Pay per play by downloading it again this may sound off the wall and far fetched and it's ok but the way everything appears to be shaping up I've been been proactively protecting my collection from that eventuality there is No Way I am going to buy everything I have all over again and much of what I have Is completely out of print and will never see any digital reissue whatsoever so as I always been warned " A word to the wise should be sufficient"!
Agreed 100 percent! I refuse to pay for music that I have already paid for and owned for decades. I bought my first Digital Audio Compact Disc (RISE by Herb Alpert) in 1986, and it still plays like brand new today. Sure, I've replaced my CD player a couple of times over the years... but I'll never get rid of my physical copies. Nuff said.
 

Mike Blakesley

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Moderator
I have the best Ford stereo they make... 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.

I am happy to provide an update.... Ford has done several "system updates" over the past year that have done nothing to address those iPod issues, but lo and behold, not long ago, I fired the F150 up and was surprised to see that the music player screen looked ever-so-slightly different. Some of the fonts were a little bigger, and a couple of the buttons had been re-designed. And then...the iPod played perfectly! Whatever was wrong has been almost completely fixed. I say "almost" because it's not perfect yet -- once in a great while (maybe once a month) the music will come out distorted and sounding like a very bad transistor radio. But, just unplugging and replugging the USB cable fixes that issue and the player still keeps its place in the playlist.

So, nice job, Ford...I will stop considering Chevies and Dodges...for now! :D
 

Rudy

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I am happy to provide an update.... Ford has done several "system updates" over the past year that have done nothing to address those iPod issues, but lo and behold, not long ago, I fired the F150 up and was surprised to see that the music player screen looked ever-so-slightly different.
:thumbsup: :thumbsup:

One sad part about the newer vehicles is that we can no longer put in better head units. I am looking to upgrade in the next year or so, and I either have to go back to using a tablet mounted to the windshield to get navigation, or leapfrog a few years and get a newer vehicle with a head unit running Android that I can "root" and unlock all the features I need.

Once the newer cars are out there a decade or two, I think that will pretty much kill the aftermarket head units.
 

Rudy

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Agreed 100 percent! I refuse to pay for music that I have already paid for and owned for decades. I bought my first Digital Audio Compact Disc (RISE by Herb Alpert) in 1986, and it still plays like brand new today. Sure, I've replaced my CD player a couple of times over the years... but I'll never get rid of my physical copies. Nuff said.
If you already own it, there is no need to pay for it again. I have all of my CDs stored away, but everything is still accessible on a music server in the basement. (I haven't used a CD player for a few years now.) Legally, I can't sell the CDs since the copies I made are for my own personal use.

With a couple of the streaming services, though, you can purchase downloads, in lossless CD quality or better, and keep them forever. You own them.

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For collectors, streaming does have its uses. I use it often, but it does not replace my collection. I listen to all sorts of music I don't yet own, out of curiosity, for discovering new things to listen to. And like above, I can choose to buy something if I like it enough. (Although I sometimes will buy it on vinyl.) If not, the subscription actually saves me money. I have hundreds of CDs I bought for only one or two songs, that got played maybe a month or two and were then never listened to again.

Streaming also allows me to access much of the music I already own when I am traveling--I no longer have to spend time stuffing bulky CD carriers and wallets. It doesn't have everything, but it covers a very comprehensive selection so I'm not wanting for music.

When having visitors over who listen to music (especially audio club members), having a large streaming selection is also very helpful, as they can queue up favorites that I may not own.

It does have its uses. But, we have to remember that the bulk of mainstream streaming customers are not music listeners or collectors like us--these are people who probably owned at most several dozen CDs or LPs and were never compelled to buy more. They don't collect, they consume, and having a large music selection via streaming (which essentially is "renting" the music) is more important in their lifestyle.
 

toeknee4bz

Well-Known Member
If you already own it, there is no need to pay for it again. I have all of my CDs stored away, but everything is still accessible on a music server in the basement. (I haven't used a CD player for a few years now.) Legally, I can't sell the CDs since the copies I made are for my own personal use.

With a couple of the streaming services, though, you can purchase downloads, in lossless CD quality or better, and keep them forever. You own them.

View attachment 3316

View attachment 3317

For collectors, streaming does have its uses. I use it often, but it does not replace my collection. I listen to all sorts of music I don't yet own, out of curiosity, for discovering new things to listen to. And like above, I can choose to buy something if I like it enough. (Although I sometimes will buy it on vinyl.) If not, the subscription actually saves me money. I have hundreds of CDs I bought for only one or two songs, that got played maybe a month or two and were then never listened to again.

Streaming also allows me to access much of the music I already own when I am traveling--I no longer have to spend time stuffing bulky CD carriers and wallets. It doesn't have everything, but it covers a very comprehensive selection so I'm not wanting for music.

When having visitors over who listen to music (especially audio club members), having a large streaming selection is also very helpful, as they can queue up favorites that I may not own.

It does have its uses. But, we have to remember that the bulk of mainstream streaming customers are not music listeners or collectors like us--these are people who probably owned at most several dozen CDs or LPs and were never compelled to buy more. They don't collect, they consume, and having a large music selection via streaming (which essentially is "renting" the music) is more important in their lifestyle.

Funny, I was just listening to The Police yesterday... including this one. You must've been reading my mind! LOL

As for streaming though, I understand the appeal to non-audiophiles who have never really lived and breathed their music as we have. That being said, I still don't see where I personally need to PAY for a subscription to a service which I don't need. I can check out new material on either iTunes or You Tube, and I can download whatever I wish from iTunes for a pretty reasonable price per song or album... but without any subscription. The lion's share of my 217 vinyl albums have already been ripped to CDRs years ago and uploaded to my 1TB hard drive, and subsequently imported into my iTunes folder, along with the bulk of my 742 CDs, and I can already do pretty much what I want with them... again, no subscription.

But hey, as I've said before... to each his own. If streaming works for you, enjoy.
 

Bobberman

Well-Known Member
Funny, I was just listening to The Police yesterday... including this one. You must've been reading my mind! LOL

As for streaming though, I understand the appeal to non-audiophiles who have never really lived and breathed their music as we have. That being said, I still don't see where I personally need to PAY for a subscription to a service which I don't need. I can check out new material on either iTunes or You Tube, and I can download whatever I wish from iTunes for a pretty reasonable pric8e per song or album... but without any subscription. The lion's share of my 217 vinyl albums have already been ripped to CDRs years ago and uploaded to my 1TB hard drive, and subsequently imported into my iTunes folder, along with the bulk of my 742 CDs, and I can already do pretty much what I want with them... again, no subscription.

But hey, as I've said before... to each his own. If streaming works for you, enjoy.
I totally agree with you although I have more than 742 Cds I have everything ripped into my 900 plus GB laptop including tons of Downloads and much more room to spare it's nice to have that kind of convenience I can get more SD cards and copy portions for portable devices so for example when I travel and have long layovers I can really pass the time technology really does help sometimes when it really counts
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
Kind of found this interesting:


So if you go into their demo room, you are more likely going to hear their equipment being demoed with CD’s rather than a high resolution streamed file.
 

Rudy

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So if you go into their demo room, you are more likely going to hear their equipment being demoed with CD’s rather than a high resolution streamed file.
He does make clear that the digital formats like DSD and high-res PCM sound better than CD quality, since they have a recording suite on premises that is run by Gus Skinas, and can listen to any of those formats directly from the sources they recorded. Other engineers vouch for that.

Paul likes to demo things with the best sounding sources, so that's no surprise. Yet in my own system, with my own ears (and coincidentally, using my PS Audio DirectStream DAC), I haven't heard a difference between files and CDs, and honestly don't hear much (if any) difference in online streaming vs. files on the server--perhaps a slight difference, but certainly not "garbage" by any means. (Paul was comparing online streaming vs. CD.) I don't think they have a true server/renderer setup in place just yet (they are working on that as a future product, however), which is how one would typically play files back through their system.

Where the real comparison needs to happen is between the same exact mastering played on every single one of these formats: CD (disc), DSD (disc, SACD), DVD-Audio or BluRay Audio (disc, PCM), CD (file), DSD (file), hi-res PCM (file), CD (online stream), hi-res (online stream). That's eight different formats of the same mastering. Only then can any of us determine what the differences are.

One has to keep in mind, also, that PS Audio's "disc player" is not something you would find readily available. They use it through a DirectStream DAC, yet their own player (the now-discontinued Memory Player) outputs in I2S format, which is the raw data format that comes off of the CD, unlike most other transports which have coaxial or digital outputs, and that introduces another level of "impurities" that the I2S output avoids. (I can convert an Oppo 103 or 203 to I2S output if I were to buy an aftermarket add-on board...yet since I don't play discs anymore, why should I bother?)

Paul said (in an earlier video) they still haven't figured out why ripped files sound different from CDs when the data is bit-identical. He has theorized that it might have to do with the processing power needed to play the files (especially FLAC files which need to be unpacked first), and that their upcoming player (renderer) would be something that eliminates that difference. I think they were going to call the new product their Octave music server.

In my case, I don't really care. 🤷‍♂️ And I doubt 99.99% of listeners are going to hear these differences anyways. Qobuz still sounds the best of all the streaming services I've tried, and nothing is going to change that for me unless a better service comes along. It does what it does quite well, for less than the cost of a single CD per month. How can I find fault in that? I can't. With online streaming, it's the delivery mechanism (the Internet) that is probably the deciding factor here.

BTW, I'll be seeing Paul and the PS Audio gang at AXPONA this year, and if my plans don't get cancelled again, I'll be visiting their Boulder facility later this year (probably late September/early October if not August), so I can ask Paul a question if anyone here has one.
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
I still think internet streaming site like Quobuz still have a long way to go when compared to CD, from what I’ve sampled. And CD, I pay for it once and I own it for years, and a lot of times I can get a CD copy a lot cheaper than what those streaming sites are charging, and I don’t have to worry about those sites losing the license. And from CD I can rip my own files at my own level of quality if I want to, but I don’t have much use for doing that as my main system doesn’t have anymore room for plugging in a Bluetooth dongle and the system in my truck can take Bluetooth with an accessory, but it’s no longer made, although my truck’s system does allow me to play DVD’s so I can play Dual Discs or DVD Audio or fill a DVD-RW with CD-Quality files and have more music than your average CD for long road trips.

So in theory and on paper hi-res audio and streaming may sound great but in practicality it’s snake oil.
 

Martin Medrano

Well-Known Member
I have a question. So if i buy let's say the a song for you cd and then rip the files into flac will there be a big difference in quality. Just curious.
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
In theory there shouldn’t be. But in practicality I’ve found there is a difference. I usually rip my CD’s to uncompressed WAV’s and I find that’s the best way to go.
 
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