Music Streaming Services

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

  1. TheBarnard

    TheBarnard Friend

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    I just realized Tidal doesn't have this and it's seriously a deal breaker now that I'm using my speakers again
     
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  2. Marc Shivers

    Marc Shivers Acquaintance

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    I've used Spotify and Tidal, and played around a bit with Google Play Music. GPM looks kind of cool and I plan on playing around with it more, since it's free with Youtube Red, but don't have an informed opinion yet. Tidal is a huge disappointment. I signed up for their $19.99/mth HIFI version last month. I hate the GUI, you can't stream to other devices, and new music discovery is horrible. The only thing they've got going for them is their lossless streaming. I've done some A/B testing with listening to snippets of tracks at different bitrates; there's a clear improvement from 160 to 320, but I have to really concentrate to tell the difference between 320 and lossless. And I can't say it makes any difference at all to me in terms of musical enjoyment.

    For me Spotify is the clear winner: easy music discovery with lots of both curated and user playlist, great search features, very good "similar artists" links, and Spotify Connect to control music output to/from any pair of devices.
     
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  3. Kattefjaes

    Kattefjaes Mostly Harmless

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    Whether you can hear if something is lossless or not depends on your chain, and your experience as a listener*. For non-critical listening on so-so gear (or on a noisy train) etc., lossy is fine if the bitrate is ok, and the coder competent.

    Of course, on a a good chain, there's the issue of so much stuff having an audible watermark too- if you know how it should sound, it's easier to notice. That's awful, as then you can't unhear it.



    * A lot of hearing happens in the brain. Obviously the mechanical business of hearing is a bottleneck, but perceptually, the business of hearing is about your brain deciding what's "important", how to recognise and separate sounds and what information to discard. You can learn to a good listener just like you can learn to notice birds camouflaged in trees in a forest. That old woodsman may have more knackered eyes than you, but he's better at seeing.
     
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  4. Taverius

    Taverius Smells like sausages

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    Like quite a few who got into digital audio early in a big way, I used to be able to tell what mp3 encoder was used on a file, and the approximate bitrate, by hearing a short sample.

    Nowadays?

    Ogg 320 - aka Spotify highest quality - is perfectly good enough for any situation where I don't want to just stream the flac from my nas.

    Certainly good enough to figure out if I want to own the album.

    Any album I want to own I'll get the lossless whichever way gets me a watermark-free file.

    If it wasn't for the watermarks - and the terrible remasters - I'd be happy to use spotify as a primary source on mobile.
     
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  5. Kattefjaes

    Kattefjaes Mostly Harmless

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    If we want to be codec hipsters, I ran LAME before the first public release. I used to hang on the same IRC channel as Mike Cheng, and my CPU was loads faster than his (welcome to the m68k ghetto), so it was good to get me try very early versions on my godly 68060 *ahem*

    I also participated in formal listening tests under lab conditions run by a major broadcaster to see see how Vorbis stacked up against the alternatives, carefully chosen by evil signal processing experts to break them. I never want to hear another bagpipe as long as I live. Please give generously to the appeal for the bagpipe victims.

    (Also, the then organiser/pimp dude of Xiph generously repeatedly stopped me falling out of my chair in a long boring meeting once, when I had been awake.. err.. celebrating for a couple of days prior. What a nice guy. Discrete, despite the Batman design Bermuda shirt.)

    Now where were we? (fx: dispels nostalgia, stops with silly dickwaving)

    I carry FLACs on my DAP, synced from my NAS. If I'm using my phone, it's 256k AAC, which trumps Vorbis at equivalent bitrates. Still, people who want to go full Stallman are more than welcome to use Vorbis- it sounds a fair bit better these days, especially with respect to temporal resolution and pre-echo.

    I do completely agree with "If it wasn't for the watermarks - and the terrible remasters". Even with these, Tidal or Spotify are usually enough for me to tell if I want to buy a "proper" copy of an album though. However, it's a lot to pay for the pleasure, esp for Tidal lossless. Also, I am a bit salty about the months of Jay-Z spam I got from them. Fuckers. Nearly cancelled there and then.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2018
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  6. Taverius

    Taverius Smells like sausages

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    Why.

    WHY.

    Now I remember those bagpipe killer samples again q.q

    Those were making the rounds, the scars, man.
    I could never find a record store in Italy that had the music I wanted to listen to anyway, being able to preview before buying feels kind of new still

    Tidal though, I'll pass - there's crusty unix software from 30 years ago with better ui, and it's free.

    The phone gets 256-ish opus these days.

    SQ aside, the battery drain is noticeably better than anything else, with only ogg coming close.
     
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  7. Kattefjaes

    Kattefjaes Mostly Harmless

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    Along with harpsichords and the acapella Tom's Diner, of course!
     
  8. Taverius

    Taverius Smells like sausages

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    *searching for the dislike post button*

    Back on topic, I haven't tried Qobuz yet.

    When my stack is back up and running, I think I'll give the 44/16 a go.
     
  9. Marc Shivers

    Marc Shivers Acquaintance

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    Another plus for Spotify: integration with facebook lets me see what my friends and family are listening to... adds some fun to Spotify's already-great music discovery tools.
     
  10. jnak00

    jnak00 Rando

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    RE: control from other devices.

    I just discovered that I can control Spotify from my PC, even if the music is playing over a different network. At my office, we aren't really supposed to stream music on PC as it eats up too much bandwidth and affects performance across the office. We also have public wifi (different network, isolated from our office network) that we can stream to our heart's content on. All our PCs are connected via ethernet, though, so we can't stream to PC at all over wifi.

    With Spotify, I can start music from my phone over wifi on a Chromecast audio, and then start the Spotify PC app and control the music from my desktop. Now I can stream all the time, and have keyboard control of my music.

    It's a pretty unique use case, but it's super slick. I'm on a $0.99/month trial of Spotify Premium and will be ditching GPM once the trial's up.
     
  11. Kattefjaes

    Kattefjaes Mostly Harmless

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    Oi, behave ;)

    Harpsichords were actually incredibly good at showing up codecs with poor temporal resolution. At the time, they caused noticeable pre-echo with Vorbis, in fact.

    I've not tried Quobuz either, but then it's tough to even remember that it exists, most days.
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2018
  12. Marlowe

    Marlowe Rando

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    I've used both Spotify and Tidal for more than a year each and have settled on Tidal for sound quality even though Tidal's interface stinks. A couple of particular lowlights: the Windows and Android apps do not synch with each other (Spotify does) and when alphabetizing favorite artists, Tidal uses The (which IIRC Spotify ignores as it should). YMMV, but I find this last one extremely annoying. Tidal's library is pretty good for my needs (I mainly listen to rock/folk/pop from the '60s-'80s, though there are many exceptions). Most of the things I want that are missing on Tidal are also missing on Spotify with a few exceptions (Jerry Garcia's major label solo albums from the '70s are not on Tidal but are on Spotify, a particular peeve for me, though great versions of the best songs from those albums are available on the myriad of Grateful Dead live albums).

    At one time I had a fair number of dropouts with Tidal but they are very rare now. Whether this is due to upgrades to the Tidal app or the introduction of the Schiit Eitr to my gear (or a combination of the the two), I cannot say. However, in late summer and through most of the fall (suspiciously around the time I got the Eitr) I had various major problems with the Windows (but not the Android) app. On Masters recording (which I believe can only be played on the Windows app and not from a browser or mobile app), on the completion of a track, the app would usually skip the next track and play the track after next (i.e., if not changed manually, it would play tracks 1, 3, 5, etc.). Also, Master tracks would often begin as electronically distorted sludge unless manually restarted. On non-Master albums, around a third of the time the app would not move to the next track at the conclusion of a track but would buffer endlessly unless manually advanced. I contacted Tidal support about these annoying issues. Their response asked me to supply a great deal of computer information that was not easy for me to locate (not being particularly computer savvy); about two days later, while I was still attempting to find the answer to their questions and on Labor Day weekend in the US, they sent me a snippy email stating that since they had not heard back from me they were closing my ticket. For this reason, I will likely move back to Spotify if they ever institute a lossless service.

    Happily, after several updates to the Tidal app, the Windows app now works almost perfectly for me. Sometimes the app will cut off the final few seconds of the final track of an album. This is a minor annoyance, but compared to the major problems outlined above, I can live with it.
     
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  13. Metro

    Metro Almost "Made"

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    Masters recordings will play everywhere, but only the Windows and Mac apps perform the MQA software unfolding. On mobile, you can't tell whether or not an album is Masters because the app doesn't show the M icons.
     
  14. shipsupt

    shipsupt Admin

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    It's been a while since I checked this thread. I honestly thought I was the only heathen who was using Spotify! I have tried most everything and I keep drifting back to Spotify, mostly at work for discovery listening. iTunes ends up being a distant second.

    I used Qobuz when I was living in the UK. I like the quality, but the interface wasn't great, and the music selection was limited. That and half of it seemed to be in French. I'd like to know if it's improved because it had promise. I noticed today that they had a pop-up saying that they are going to "Launch in the US" in 2018.
     
  15. Kattefjaes

    Kattefjaes Mostly Harmless

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    I hit a seam of watermarking on Tidal, while listening via my desktop setup. This was sufficiently annoying to make me cancel- I'm paying how much for "hifi" audio?

    Maybe I'll go back to Spotify at some point, but maybe not paying through the nose for any future lossless option- since that'll doubtless suffer the "Universal warble" too.
     
  16. wormcycle

    wormcycle Almost "Made"

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    I did not think wartermarking was Tidal specific:https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...tential-watermark-audibility.639/#post-184520. UMG and all it's labels are doing it, some other companies.It is very likely that what is watermarked on Tidal is also watermarked on Spotify. I am listening to classical music mostly and Harmonia Mundi sounds to me like it is clean, there are many others that are most likely not watermarking.

    @Metro posted some interesting links and comments about MQA and watermarking on Computer Audiophile: https://www.computeraudiophile.com/...arking-and-mqa/?do=findComment&comment=755352.
    In any case I am staying with Tadal for some time. I found a lot of excellent music from small labels that I would not be exposed to if not for Tidal.
     
  17. Kattefjaes

    Kattefjaes Mostly Harmless

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  18. crazychile

    crazychile Eastern Iowa's Spiciest Pepper

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    I cancelled my Tidal subscription a couple weeks ago after having it for about a year or so. Mostly for the same reasons as others have mentioned like the User Interface, but there was always something about Tidal that didn't sound right. Lossless files on my hard drive sounded a little better and this was all with using USB as a connection to my Yggdrasil. Maybe it was the watermarking that some of you have mentioned. On my phone, Tidal always had problems streaming when I was at the gym. Even if I knocked the playback quality down a level or two. It just seemed like for the extra money I was paying for Tidal, that it wasn't worth it.

    I went back to Spotify Premium. No streaming issues and the sound quality is close enough. I also upgraded my Yggdrasil and Bifrost MB to the Gen 5 USB and that seemed to make the most noticeable difference for me on Spotify. You'd think it would make the flaws of lossy material more annoying, but for me it went the other way.
     
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  19. Kattefjaes

    Kattefjaes Mostly Harmless

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    @crazychile - there's no real point in lossless when you're getting watermarked content, anyway. In some ways, it's as bad as light compression for the signal, depending on the material type. That's why I cancelled- paying over the odds for lossless which can sometimes sound as bad as lightly lossy streaming feels like a rip-off.

    This is an interesting read:

    https://www.mattmontag.com/music/listening-test-results

    It's annoying. Back to CDs and maybe lossy Spotify (with its better interface and curation) at some point. I'm no longer jonesing for them to launch an uncompressed service any more, though.
     
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  20. crazychile

    crazychile Eastern Iowa's Spiciest Pepper

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