Music Streaming Services

Discussion in 'Computer Audiophile: Software, Configs, Tools' started by rott, Feb 22, 2017.

  1. psuKinger

    psuKinger Acquaintance

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    I'm *mostly* excited about this news from Amazon, because I'm choosing to be glass-half-full and believing that they will:
    a) listen to their customer-base and the folks with genuine interest in high-bitrate HiRez audio, and begin to incorporate the kinds of things we want/need in order to get-and-stay in the boat with this.
    And/Or
    B) It'll drive more streaming services (Spotify, Apple, Google, etc) to join in and make more/better quality (lossless and 24-bit) options available.


    I'll echo what others have said. If I can't:
    1) Get bit-perfect output via USB, from either my phone (Android; UAPP support or other) or laptop (Win10; WASAPI support from a stand-alone desktop app)
    2) Integrate it with my current whole-home-audio solution Roon

    This specific option doesn't work well *for me*. But choose is a good thing. Having higher-bitrate better sounding audio available for more people is a good thing. I've already gotten texts from 2 friends wanting to talk to me about it and what they need to know/do in order to make this work for them... and that's a good thing!
     
  2. treboR

    treboR Friend

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    So I got Qobuz and it's pretty good. Not as hazy or muddy as Tidal.

    The problem I have is its not clear what masters either Tidal or Qobuz use.

    For example, take Natalie Merchant's "Tigerlily". With Tidal, it sounds remixed compared to my CD copy, even though the credits show a 1995 release date. The stage is more closed-in, the bass a tad more bloated. And then with Qoboz these tracks are "LP Versions" and the release date is 11/2/2009. Different sounding than the Tidal Masters and my CD.

    So what gives here? It's clear these don't come from the original CD pressings.
     
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  3. rlow

    rlow A happy woofer

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    There’s something really strange with the “Masters” version of Tigerlily. It’s like a totally different album, with a crap ton of reverb added to some things, tempo differences, etc. There’s actually a non-masters version on Tidal that’s like the original, listed as 2007:

    https://tidal.com/album/3559570

    Really confusing I agree. Tidal has a lot of meta data issues especially with masters.
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2019
  4. treboR

    treboR Friend

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    Ok good, I'm glad someone else picked up on that. The strange thing is I prefer the Tidal Masters version over my CD copy. Yeah I know I'm weird.

    Oh and Fleetwood Mac's "Rumours". The Deluxe Edition, released in 2013, shows album tracks with (2004 Remaster). This is accurate as the Deluxe is the identical master as the 2004 release, however when you playback the album in "Hi-Fi" (there's no "Master") it sounds just like the 1987 CD pressing I have. But then when you turn to the "Master" version of the album in Tidal, with a release date of 1987, it sounds identical to the 2004 release. So WTF? Granted the DVD-A version of the album is probably the best sounding digital copy.

    You're right there's a lot of metadata issues that need sorted. But still I'm coming across quite a number of these "Masters" where the volume has been tipped up much higher than the "Hi-Fi" tracks or even sounds remixed.

    If you're a purist, stay far away from streaming. Although I like it out of convenience and I can explore tons of music I don't have. There's more clarity listening to ripped CDs in lossless format.
     
  5. Joshvar

    Joshvar Almost "Made"

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    Looking from the opposite angle "I stream all day! What's the difference with this HD/Ultra HD thing?" - they've at least not screwed it up so badly as to turn off us wood ears. So far, it's a pretty obvious step up (even on a $200 stack or ES100 with LDAC) over the regular compressed stuff. On AirPods, who knows...but anyone who's stepped up to decent hardware but not their catalog will be getting a pretty good upgrade for $60/year or whatever it ends up being.

    If this unlocks even more accessible/broad/cheap set of streaming services for us desk jockeys, that's great news. Tidal's barrier to entry wasn't much price-wise, but Amazon dispenses with MQA and is one of the more mainstream services that managed not to screw things up so badly as to turn me off. Can I pick out differences vs my own rips via the RPi DDC? Probably. Do I give 2 shits on an album I am hearing for the first time? No, and now I can be pretty sure nothing's fucking with the master so badly that I question the purchase of said album (or my memory). Hopefully this ends up being a rising tide, not a tsunami that takes better options with it...

    My low expectations were relieved. I really was figuring this would be a "Wait, is this working?" but it's obvious on familiar tracks.
     
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  6. psuKinger

    psuKinger Acquaintance

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    I'm not a "huge" box set fan (this is my only one), and I wouldn't even necessarily self-identify as a "huge Natalie Merchant fan"... but I am a fan. And just as a fan of good music and good sound quality, the Natalie Merchant box set is worth the price of admission. Of the 10 discs, 9 of them measure at least 8 dB of dynamic range (Roon r128), and 6 of them are at least 9 dB (including Tigerlilly). The 10th one, Motherland, has 7 dB. I bought it even though I already had Tigerlilly, because it was still a good price for 9 other quality CDs, and I'm glad I did.


    Back to the bigger-picture topic, FWIW I think this is where Roon really excels. The ability to let my personal files co-exist side-by-side with Qobuz is like a best-of-all-worlds solution.
     
  7. treboR

    treboR Friend

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    Tidal has been all over the place for me lately in sound quality. Some days it is crystal clear and other days it sounds hazy, unfocused, blurry. When I switch over to foobar2000 and play the same tracks in lossless format thru WASAPI, the difference is obvious.

    Anyone else experiencing this? I don't get this kind of fuckery with Qobuz.

    I have a feeling Tidal is feeding the stream thru some kind of an audio processor.

    EDIT: I'm running Tidal with Exclusive Mode turned on
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2019
  8. gefski

    gefski Acquaintance

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    For me, Tidal is used almost daily, and is consistent. I use the Audirvana/Tidal player, not Tidal's desktop.
     
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  9. allegro

    allegro Friend

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    Audirvana is really worth trying. They have a free trial then you buy if you like it. When Qobuz first came out the Windows app was buggy: sound often distorted or the app just plain locked up. Audirvana streaming Qobuz has always been rock solid for me on Win 10 Pro, they are doing something right. It may work better for Tidal as well.

    Qobuz has since greatly improved the desktop app it seems fine now but I still use Audirvana+ (just updated to Audirvana 3.5.0.) I don't need the features Roon offers so have not tried it.

    Right now Amazon Music HD runs only in Windows shared mode, the desktop app is a CPU hog and up or downsamples every file you play to your system setting. SQ is noticeably inferior to Qobuz. I have the 90 day free trial but can't stand to listen to it. Maybe sound quality will get better if they ever offer Wasapi exclusive mode in their app.

    Ideally they would charge Roon and Audirvana a reasonable licensing fee to open their API so we could use the players we prefer.
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2019
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  10. allegro

    allegro Friend

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    Audioholics posted an interesting comparison of Tidal and Qobuz on YouTube. Normally I can't stand to watch an hour long video but this one kept me interested. They briefly mention Amazon Music HD and say they are trying it out. I'm interested to see if they find the same problems with sound quality I did due to lack of exclusive mode.

     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2019
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  11. treboR

    treboR Friend

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    @allegro thanks for posting the video. What's the TL;DR? Which streaming service has the best audio quality? From my own comparison Qobuz pulls ahead by about 5%.

    No exclusive mode for Amazon Music HD? Yeah that's a dealbreaker. Tidal sounds like ass without it, dynamics take a huge hit.
     
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  12. allegro

    allegro Friend

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    @treboR I agree with you. Matt is dropping Qobuz and keeping Tidal because he feels the service is more mature and the app is trouble free. They both feel the services are roughly equal so you choose the one with the catalog you like. I could live with either one. He has a point about the Qobuz app still acting up sometimes, which is why I use Audirvana 3.5.0 to stream Qobuz. I like the ability to stream 24/192 and the Qobuz catalog has more of the music I listen to so that is the service I use.

    Matt promises to fast track an evaluation of Amazon Music HD. He said he is not married to Tidal and would switch to Amazon if sound quality was equal. He seems competent so I would be amazed if he does not find the same problems with Amazon Music HD the rest of us are.
     
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  13. treboR

    treboR Friend

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    Yep that's exactly why I'm sticking with Tidal momentarily because the app works better than Qobuz. If they can iron out the kinks then I'll dump Tidal.

    Why doesn't Spotify throw a bone to us audiophiles and give us higher-res streaming? I gotta think their library is superior to both Qobuz and Tidal.
     
  14. Inoculator

    Inoculator Acquaintance

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    I had to give up on Amazon Music at least for now, and head back to Tidal. I had been always setting windows bitrate settings to match that of Amazon music, but beyond that being tiring, it still sounded like crap compared to exclusive mode. Additionally, I found the same issue as others that sometimes Ultra HD stuff just seemed to be treble boosted and fatiguing.

    Beyond lack of exclusive mode issues, there are a lot of usability concerns that make it too frustrating. The app interface is garbage. One thing that ended up bugging me a ton is that you can't organize an artists albums chronologically, only by popularity. I also found that sometimes artists with similar names would have parts of their catalog bleed into other artists. The search is also terrible, and never seems to auto find the right things. It also didn't pass the wife test for me. She is not an audiophile at all, so I just had her app set to stream "Best Available", and when listening in the car, she gets frequent pauses and sputtering despite full coverage and never having trouble with Spotify or Tidal. Lastly, I use the Play-Fi ecosystem for casual listening/whole-home streaming stuff with the family. Alexa functionality is built-in (aka you can use alexa to queue up and control music on your play-fi devices), so I was excited that Amazon Music might be more reliable than Tidal streaming. Boy was I wrong. You can't share alexa devices between amazon accounts, so the only way I could get it working well was if everyone in my household was signed into the same amazon account. (AKA then I have my wife/son music tastes creeping into my account) I also have had way more crashes/freezes/etc with Amazon music vs Tidal with Play-fi streaming. Just a mess overall.

    I would agree with those above, that Spotify just need to get with the program for lossless streaming. Best catalog, best interface (well new UI is kind of terrible), best playlists/suggestions/curation. Qobuz had the edge for me over Tidal due to not using MQA, but within the first 48 hours that I used Qobuz I had multiple instances of it's library not having something I wanted to listen to.
     
  15. julian67

    julian67 Friend

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    I tried Amazon HD and it just had too many irritations. Stuff I bought on CD many years ago with Amazon's autorip feature (unasked for and with no opt-out) remains available to me only as mp3 with gaps. My portable Android devices support 24-bit and sample rates up to 384 kHz but the Amazon app identifies these devices as being limited to 48 kHz so I didn't get the "Hi Res" versions, and sometimes found the original 16-bit 44.1 kHz version resampled to 48 kHz. Also the catalogue is rather narrow for classical/orchestral/early music, which is my prime interest, so I unsubscribed.

    Spotify would be just about perfect if it supported lossless. I don't care if that means only red book 16-bit 44.1 kHz, that would be enough for me to stop haunting ebay for new and used CDs and SACDs and just let some other f*cker take the trouble of managing storage, booklet/cover scans, bandwidth etc.

    Meanwhile, I'm still buying and borrowing and ripping CDs and SACDs, scanning the booklets, and running my own music server, dynamic DNS, firewall, clients, VPN etc etc. It's just incredibly disappointing and dumb that decades after all this stuff became possible I can still do this better than global corporations.
     
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  16. YMO

    YMO Friend

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    Check your emails if you do anything with Qobuz and not streaming with them, I got this:

    Qobuz Studio Premier $14.99 a month no strings attached first 100,000 people only by 1/1/20. I signed up so fast you have no idea. So it's all the streaming plus in real high-rez (except for albums that you personally purchased from Qobuz). This will most likely say Bye Bye Tidal for me. The Windows App is so good now.
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2019
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  17. wormcycle

    wormcycle Friend

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    This was a great offer, they credited my balance on the existing 1 year subscription, effectively I got 8 more month of Qobuz Studio for $42.
     
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  18. allegro

    allegro Friend

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    @YMO I am confused about the Studio Premier plan ,,, is it limited to 24/48 or does it go to 24/192? The webpage is not very clear. Right now I am paying $24.99 for Studio with up to 24/192.
     
  19. treboR

    treboR Friend

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    It goes to 24/192.

    Thanks YMO for the heads-up, just subscribed again.
     
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  20. Magnetostatic_Tubephile

    Magnetostatic_Tubephile Friend

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