Higher quality music

M

matt houser

Audioholic
What is the ideal way to get your high-quality music when it comes to streaming, I have used Spotify for the last 15 years but would like to step up to at least CD quality, I have messed around recently with Amazon HD and Tidal, I even have access to a year of Apple Music, Who is putting out a truly legit CD Quality file number one, and number two, what is the best way to get it’s raw form to my receiver, because this has proven way more difficult than I expected, I do have airplay but I have heard that is not a high quality sound transfer, I have an Nvidia shield TV and I also have an Apple TV 4K, both boxes seem to want to resample to 48 kHz, The Apple TV 4K is even doing this with Apple Music, is this OK or are these boxes degrading quality, I am able to get 44.1kHz through Heos but the apps music interface is awful and it doesn’t support Apple Music, it also has its limitations
 
TLS Guy

TLS Guy

Audioholic Slumlord
What is the ideal way to get your high-quality music when it comes to streaming, I have used Spotify for the last 15 years but would like to step up to at least CD quality, I have messed around recently with Amazon HD and Tidal, I even have access to a year of Apple Music, Who is putting out a truly legit CD Quality file number one, and number two, what is the best way to get it’s raw form to my receiver, because this has proven way more difficult than I expected, I do have airplay but I have heard that is not a high quality sound transfer, I have an Nvidia shield TV and I also have an Apple TV 4K, both boxes seem to want to resample to 48 kHz, The Apple TV 4K is even doing this with Apple Music, is this OK or are these boxes degrading quality, I am able to get 44.1kHz through Heos but the apps music interface is awful and it doesn’t support Apple Music, it also has its limitations
The problem seems to be different sites have different requirements.

I am very keen on using computers. For pure audio I use a DAW with external RME DAC. This connects to the pre/pro via optical connection. That I think has you covered for all audio only streams. There are not many loss/less AV streams, but the Berlin Philharmonic Digital Concert Hall have just started theirs and it is superb. They have an app for Android and Apple devices and now Windows 10. I have an HTPC for AV streaming. So I can use the HTPC, or the app I loaded on my LG TV and send the audio back to the pre/pro via eARC. In addition I can stream via Chromecast Ultra from my iPhone. People seem to forget about Chromecast, but that can solve a lot of peoples problems.
The BPO now have the best audio I know of on the Net, and the 4K picture is superb also. Audio on BPO is 44.1 FLAC and I can vouch it is CD quality.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Jedi
Spotify supposedly is rolling out a lossless service supposedly sometime this year. Have you even tested to see if you can ascertain a difference in regular use between cd/lossless and their current premium lossy offerings? Do a blind test with Audacity, or similar program, of various formats for audibility of differences? Your receiver in its processing may also be doing some converting of the signal. Can you really "hear" that difference consistently enough where it actually causes you to have some sort of odd "audiophile" reaction of it grating on your ears or some such description? When I trialed the Qobuz and Tidal services I didn't find the lossless version to be worth any extra $ for my streaming purposes, which is largely for casual listening and music discovery....and I stream my own cd rips and it's not anything I even notice a difference in when I change from one to the other. I just don't have golden ears perhaps and YMMV :)
 
TLS Guy

TLS Guy

Audioholic Slumlord
Spotify supposedly is rolling out a lossless service supposedly sometime this year. Have you even tested to see if you can ascertain a difference in regular use between cd/lossless and their current premium lossy offerings? Do a blind test with Audacity, or similar program, of various formats for audibility of differences? Your receiver in its processing may also be doing some converting of the signal. Can you really "hear" that difference consistently enough where it actually causes you to have some sort of odd "audiophile" reaction of it grating on your ears or some such description? When I trialed the Qobuz and Tidal services I didn't find the lossless version to be worth any extra $ for my streaming purposes, which is largely for casual listening and music discovery....and I stream my own cd rips and it's not anything I even notice a difference in when I change from one to the other. I just don't have golden ears perhaps and YMMV :)
For classical music you can really tell the difference. Strangely the most obvious is in the applause. The reason is that applause is totally random, and that totally defeats lossy codecs. You can not compress random noise. The next most obvious improvement is in the ambiance. As it is the ambient envelope that is preferentially discarded in the lossy codecs. For reasons that are not clear to me, the dynamic range of the lossless BPO stream is greater. The average level of the loss less stream is significantly lower. The lossless stream has much greater impact, especially the percussion. I think that is the random noise issue again.
I think the improvement in the high strings, which is very noticeable is again the ambient envelope being fully restored. Violins being omnidirectional radiators are highly effected by the acoustics of the venue.

So yes, the BPO are fully justified in forging ahead with their lossless audio to go with their phenomenal 4K picture.

The response to classical music streamed concerts during the pandemic has been truly astonishing. Just the two Scott brothers from Manchester UK have millions of regular viewers from around the world.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Jedi
For classical music you can really tell the difference. Strangely the most obvious is in the applause. The reason is that applause is totally random, and that totally defeats lossy codecs. You can not compress random noise. The next most obvious improvement is in the ambiance. As it is the ambient envelope that is preferentially discarded in the lossy codecs. For reasons that are not clear to me, the dynamic range of the lossless BPO stream is greater. The average level of the loss less stream is significantly lower. The lossless stream has much greater impact, especially the percussion. I think that is the random noise issue again.
I think the improvement in the high strings, which is very noticeable is again the ambient envelope being fully restored. Violins being omnidirectional radiators are highly effected by the acoustics of the venue.

So yes, the BPO are fully justified in forging ahead with their lossless audio to go with their phenomenal 4K picture.

The response to classical music streamed concerts during the pandemic has been truly astonishing. Just the two Scott brothers from Manchester UK have millions of regular viewers from around the world.
I've got nothing against lossless content, it tends to be my preference still (and have a large amount of lossless content to stream from my own rips) and with bandwidth improvements isn't much of a concern going forward I'd think (like saying goodbye to that awful mqa nonsense). If using a service like Spotify I just don't particularly listen for cues for the telltale differences (cymbals can be another), nor do they intrude on my experience. I tend not to listen to live classical either, or classical generally (did try those Scott brothers you mentioned before, too damn boring). I'm not looking to a streaming service to replace my own collection either....if I find something on Spotify or Pandora that appeals then I simply buy it and rip it for my collection.
 
S

sterling shoote

Audioholic Field Marshall
What is the ideal way to get your high-quality music when it comes to streaming, I have used Spotify for the last 15 years but would like to step up to at least CD quality, I have messed around recently with Amazon HD and Tidal, I even have access to a year of Apple Music, Who is putting out a truly legit CD Quality file number one, and number two, what is the best way to get it’s raw form to my receiver, because this has proven way more difficult than I expected, I do have airplay but I have heard that is not a high quality sound transfer, I have an Nvidia shield TV and I also have an Apple TV 4K, both boxes seem to want to resample to 48 kHz, The Apple TV 4K is even doing this with Apple Music, is this OK or are these boxes degrading quality, I am able to get 44.1kHz through Heos but the apps music interface is awful and it doesn’t support Apple Music, it also has its limitations
A few months ago I experimented with all my means to recorded music, hoping the experimentation would reveal what routing sounded best. The experiment was performed with Classic Hauser, a high dynamic range recording, on LP, CD, 24/96 FLAC Download, and Apple Music Download. Playing these, nine ways to Sunday as listed below, I got some unexpected impressions.

LP>Technics SL-1210GR/Shure V15V (SAS)>Sony TA-E9000ES Pre-Pro Phono Preamplifier input
24/96 FLAC Download>Foobar2000>OPPO-205 DAC up sampling to 24/192>Sony TA-E9000ES analog input
24/96 FLAC Download>Foobar2000>Creative Sound Blaster X-FI HD (for usb to S/PDIF conversion at 24/96)>TA-E9000ES optical S/PDIF input
Apple Music Download>iTunes>Airport Express (wi-fi to S/PDIF 16/44.1 output)>Sony TA-E9000ES optical S/PDIF input
Apple Music Download>iTunes>OPPO-205 DAC up sampling to 24/192>Sony TA-E9000ES analog input
Apple Music Download>iTunes>Creative Sound Blaster X-FI HD (for usb to S/PDIF conversion at 24/96)>TA-E9000ES optical S/PDIF input
Apple Music Download>Network connection to OPPO-205 DAC up sampling to 24/192>Sony TA-E9000ES analog input
24/96 FLAC Download>Thumb Drive>OPPO-205 DAC up sampling to 24/192>Sony TA-E9000ES analog input
24/96 FLAC Download>Network connection to OPPO-205 DAC up sampling to 24/192>Sony TA-E9000ES analog input
CD>OPPO-205>Sony TA-E9000ES analog input
CD>Rip to iTunes in ALAC>OPPO-205 DAC up sampling to 24/192>Sony TA-E9000ES analog input
CD>Rip to iTunes in ALAC>Airport Express (wi-fi to S/PDIF 16/44.1 output) Sony TA-E9000ES analog input
CD>Rip to iTunes in ALAC>Creative Sound Blaster X-FI HD (for usb to S/PDIF conversion at 24/96)>Sony TA-E9000ES optical S/PDIF input

Conclusion: all processes yielded a satisfying listening experience, whereby tone, sound stage, and detail seemed so similar as to preclude any revelation to a particular process delivering the most compelling sound; however, three things did stand out: first, the presence of pops distracted LP pleasure, second, play of downloads via OPPO usb DAC, Drive Port, or Network connection is inconvenient, and finally, the iTunes play of the Apple Music AAC download via Airport Express to the Sony TA-E9000ES was most convenient, and sounded on par with the CD, ALAC and FLAC media. This makes me question any need for a means to music other than APPLE MUSIC. At any rate, the exercise was a fun activity on a cold and dreary weekend which has kept me indoors. Note, Apple Music to thumb drive was not tested, since it would have required purchase of the album to permit copy to thumb drive.

Update, since my experimentation, Apple Music has introduced Lossless streaming and Dolby ATMOS; however, neither of these platforms are accessible from iTunes on my laptop outputting via HDMI for ATMOS or usb for Lossless. It appears I will need to buy an Apple TV to enjoy Dolby ATMOS and if I want to stream Lossless I will need to connect my iPhone vial a decoding/charging cable to my preamp's usb DAC. I do not expect to be wowed by Lossless but I think Dolby ATMOS Music might be very entertaining.
 
BMXTRIX

BMXTRIX

Audioholic Warlord
So much seems to depend on the music being listened to and the environment in which it is being enjoyed in. The electronics involved play a part as do the speakers and the room itself.

I've always enjoyed music for sure, but the quality has to start getting pretty bad before I really complain. A 64Kb/s mp3 is often quite enjoyable for many. 320Kb/s is a better choice. But, once you get up to CD quality and lossless codecs it is hard to care. There is some stuff which may be higher resolution, but I don't think I have the ears to notice or the room which makes me care. I can see there may be some who wants to hear every single person clapping in the most detail as they possibly can and good on them for that. But, at the end of the day, I think people need to be very aware of whether or not they actually are getting a quality difference, or are just wishing the money they spent did give them an improvement. A CD, delivered using any lossless format, should be identical to the original. Only high res audio MAY be better, but then it depends a ton on whether or not it was properly produced and created.

At the end of the day, it's still music to enjoy.
 
MalVeauX

MalVeauX

Full Audioholic
While it's not a bulletproof direction, you could start looking at some of your favorite stuff and sort by "download" as digital format source and see if some of the stuff you're looking for is high quality or if it's just compressed stuff.


Very best,
 
T

Trebdp83

Audioholic Samurai
What is the ideal way to get your high-quality music when it comes to streaming, I have used Spotify for the last 15 years but would like to step up to at least CD quality, I have messed around recently with Amazon HD and Tidal, I even have access to a year of Apple Music, Who is putting out a truly legit CD Quality file number one, and number two, what is the best way to get it’s raw form to my receiver, because this has proven way more difficult than I expected, I do have airplay but I have heard that is not a high quality sound transfer, I have an Nvidia shield TV and I also have an Apple TV 4K, both boxes seem to want to resample to 48 kHz, The Apple TV 4K is even doing this with Apple Music, is this OK or are these boxes degrading quality, I am able to get 44.1kHz through Heos but the apps music interface is awful and it doesn’t support Apple Music, it also has its limitations
If all of your devices are Airplay 2 capable, streaming Apple Music from an iOS device to the receiver will deliver CD quality sound. I recently stopped going nuts over bits/khz and put my Onkyo back in service this morning. Sorry Yamaha, ease of use matters and DTS Virtual: X is a must have after using it on the Onkyo.

I’m currently streaming Apple Music to the receiver via Airplay 2 and it sounds great. Not all lossless and hi-res tracks have the same bits/khz and I hardly care anymore. But, if interested in what a track actually is, one can tap the lossless or hi-res label and check the bits/khz keeping in mind that what is getting to the receiver via Airplay 2 is capped at 16/44.1 and dolby atmos tracks will be sent over in two channel CD quality as well.

Now, after listening for awhile, it was a lossy version of a track that sounded every bit as good as the others and just acted as a reminder to not stress over the numbers. I only switched over to the Apple TV 4K to enjoy some tracks that were labeled dolby atmos. I don’t think I’ll be able to enjoy “Weird Science” in two channel format ever again.

One thing to remember when streaming from an iOS device is to go into the settings and adjust the quality of the Music app. It has to be set to at least lossless. I just set it to hi-res with atmos on knowing it will Airplay in two channel 16/44.1. I’ve not connected an external DAC to my iPhone to get 24/192. Having to do so puts Apple Music in a similar place as Tidal in regard to achieving hi-res playback.

Anybody with a receiver that supports the Qobuz app could do much worse than their hi-res service. It just works. If Apple adds bitstreaming and hi-res support to the Apple TV 4K and adds atmos and hi-res support to HDMI outputs on the Macs, they will be in a very good place. Funny how they crippled the Macs. I was able to enjoy Qobuz in hi-res when run through Audirvana on the Mac. Silly.
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Bucknekked

Bucknekked

Audioholic Field Marshall
A few months ago I experimented with all my means to recorded music, hoping the experimentation would reveal what routing sounded best. The experiment was performed with Classic Hauser, a high dynamic range recording, on LP, CD, 24/96 FLAC Download, and Apple Music Download. Playing these, nine ways to Sunday as listed below, I got some unexpected impressions.
I am super happy to see these replies to the ongoing question of "HD Music: Fact or Fantasy". No matter how the question is phrased, what someone is looking for is a path to better quality sound. @TLS Guy also put in a good word for his specific favorite. All three of your replies line up with where I am on this topic.

If I were to sum it up, it would be "Up to a certain point in the quality curve there's real room for improvement. But beyond a certain point in the curve, diminishing returns make improvement almost moot". And for most of us that tipping point is CD quality sound. I always take a good look at what @TLS Guy recommends. His opinions are pretty well considered.

I would also like to give @sterling shoote shoot a gigantic virtual high five for saying out loud and in public that Apple Music (ie Itunes) gives as good a quality sound product as you're like to run across and if you're in the Apple ecosphere, there's nothing easier and more flexible to use. Amen. I don't sing the praises of my Apple setup too much in public because the haters love to throw mud and life's too short to walk around muddy. Truth be told however, the music quality and ease of use is pretty outstanding. I'm in the CD rip and store method of sound and have been for quite a while. When I stream, I stream my own stuff from my own library. Like @lovinthehd I will listen to Spotify and other sources to find new to me music. If I like it, I go and buy a copy and throw it in my library.
 
S

sterling shoote

Audioholic Field Marshall
If all of your devices are Airplay 2 capable, streaming Apple Music from an iOS device to the receiver will deliver CD quality sound. I recently stopped going nuts over bits/khz and put my Onkyo back in service this morning. Sorry Yamaha, ease of use matters and DTS Virtual: X is a must have after using it on the Onkyo.

I’m currently streaming Apple Music to the receiver via Airplay 2 and it sounds great. Not all lossless and hi-res tracks have the same bits/khz and I hardly care anymore. But, if interested in what a track actually is, one can tap the lossless or hi-res label and check the bits/khz keeping in mind that what is getting to the receiver via Airplay 2 is capped at 16/44.1 and dolby atmos tracks will be sent over in two channel CD quality as well.

Now, after listening for awhile, it was a lossy version of a track that sounded every bit as good as the others and just acted as a reminder to not stress over the numbers. I only switched over to the Apple TV 4K to enjoy some tracks that were labeled dolby atmos. I don’t think I’ll be able to enjoy “Weird Science” in two channel format ever again.

One thing to remember when streaming from an iOS device is to go into the settings and adjust the quality of the Music app. It has to be set to at least lossless. I just set it to hi-res with atmos on knowing it will Airplay in two channel 16/44.1. I’ve not connected an external DAC to my iPhone to get 24/192. Having to do so puts Apple Music in a similar place as Tidal in regard to achieving hi-res playback.

Anybody with a receiver that supports the Qobuz app could do much worse than their hi-res service. It just works. If Apple adds bitstreaming and hi-res support to the Apple TV 4K and adds atmos and hi-res support to HDMI outputs on the Macs, they will be in a very good place. Funny how they crippled the Macs. I was able to enjoy Qobuz in hi-res when run through Audirvana on the Mac. Silly.
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Yeah. I'm wishing for Lossless and ATMOS in Apple's next iTunes update for Windows 10. Then I could enjoy Lossless via usb to my Parasound P6's DAC and ATMOS via HDMI to my OPPO-205, serving as DAC, outputting to my analog multi-channel preamp. Until then, I suppose Iwill get a device/charger to send usb from iPhone to Parasound DAC and an Apple TV to juice my OPPO.
 
M

MrBoat

Audioholic Samurai
I'm worse. I catch myself enjoying youtube, as long as the ads are stifled with a browser add-on. Some recordings kind of suck, but it's just a click away from finding a better upload from someone else, or better yet, the youtube channel in the actual artist's name. Oddly enough, some of the ones that include "HD" in the title, are often, not so great, regardless of spec.

I use rips, CD and vinyl. I have a favorite system that I have to actually sit at and work the controls by hand and feed it CDs. But, since I habitually listen to albums front to back, streaming isn't really a grand convenience to me. CD has been, and still remains the most notable technological audio upgrade in my lifetime. I have the CD copies of many of my favorite vinyl albums as well, so I do have reference.

Honestly, if my music got any better, I would be missing work and stuff. Thankfully, I have a good CD system in my truck as well, that's an entire other music environment to enjoy as well. Funny that the young guy I give rides to work to thinks I'm the only person alive who still uses CD in a car. Truth be told, I'd rather eat bugs, than leave yet another mental task of dependency up to my handheld, AI communication device/s.

OTOH, I'm sitting here listening to War's, "The World Is A Ghetto" on vinyl and there is something about it that I really prefer over every other method. Another would be Rush's "2112", or Deep Purple's "Machine Head," Jim Croce, and a bunch of others, now that I think of it. Since I cannot (too lazy, currently) easily isolate my TT, I use CD or rips for the loudest of sessions.
 
MalVeauX

MalVeauX

Full Audioholic
It would help a ton if all the audio streaming services, including YouTube or other, would show a snap shot of the recording's frequencies so that you could see if it's a high quality (high dynamic range) file or if it's just compressed and re-sampled and re-encoded to show "high res" numbers (like the sampling and bit rates which are largely meaningless).

Very best,
 
T

Trebdp83

Audioholic Samurai
Yeah, like many, still switching from one medium to another for music. Ripped CDs get lots of attention. Some older CDs still get played from time to time as well as a few LPs, DTS CDs, DVD Audios and SACDs. Streaming services have come a long way and I've listened to several complete albums online. But, yeah, some stuff just can't be found sometimes and that is where Youtube comes in handy.
 
Pogre

Pogre

Audioholic Overlord
If all of your devices are Airplay 2 capable, streaming Apple Music from an iOS device to the receiver will deliver CD quality sound. I recently stopped going nuts over bits/khz and put my Onkyo back in service this morning. Sorry Yamaha, ease of use matters and DTS Virtual: X is a must have after using it on the Onkyo.

I’m currently streaming Apple Music to the receiver via Airplay 2 and it sounds great. Not all lossless and hi-res tracks have the same bits/khz and I hardly care anymore. But, if interested in what a track actually is, one can tap the lossless or hi-res label and check the bits/khz keeping in mind that what is getting to the receiver via Airplay 2 is capped at 16/44.1 and dolby atmos tracks will be sent over in two channel CD quality as well.

Now, after listening for awhile, it was a lossy version of a track that sounded every bit as good as the others and just acted as a reminder to not stress over the numbers. I only switched over to the Apple TV 4K to enjoy some tracks that were labeled dolby atmos. I don’t think I’ll be able to enjoy “Weird Science” in two channel format ever again.

One thing to remember when streaming from an iOS device is to go into the settings and adjust the quality of the Music app. It has to be set to at least lossless. I just set it to hi-res with atmos on knowing it will Airplay in two channel 16/44.1. I’ve not connected an external DAC to my iPhone to get 24/192. Having to do so puts Apple Music in a similar place as Tidal in regard to achieving hi-res playback.

Anybody with a receiver that supports the Qobuz app could do much worse than their hi-res service. It just works. If Apple adds bitstreaming and hi-res support to the Apple TV 4K and adds atmos and hi-res support to HDMI outputs on the Macs, they will be in a very good place. Funny how they crippled the Macs. I was able to enjoy Qobuz in hi-res when run through Audirvana on the Mac. Silly.
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They say lossless, but are they really? Have you compared? Not being a smartass, I'm not much of a streamer, but I did do some a/b comparisons between Amazon's hi rez and my lossless rips. I think it was about a year ago when I tried out a couple of services so it's been a while, but Amazon HD was about the closest I found and they weren't quite there yet. Maybe they've gained some ground since then, but I definitely preferred my rips. In fact I preferred my mp3 of the Fear Inoculum album over the stream.
 
T

Trebdp83

Audioholic Samurai
I hear you, and what they say and what actually is may not be the same thing. However, let's not pretend that every CD ever produced was of the best quality. Just as movies were slapped on DVD many years ago from poor quality sources, so were many albums slapped on CDs. I'm not crazy about compression for audio only streams, but it is what it currently is in the business. But, it doesn't mean good sounding material cannot be found and enjoyed as much as discs. It needs to be as discs continue to be phased out.:confused:
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Jedi
As to the listening to whole album thing my Spotify playlist is nearly all complete albums...probably 98-99%, just a few playlists of singles. That's one argument I've never understood from those saying vinyl is somehow better when with vinyl ya gotta flip the record rather than get the complete album at a time....
 

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