Music streamers and their differences

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Bill Willems

Audiophyte
Total noob here getting back into very minor hi fidelity after being into it in the 80's, then getting lulled to sleep with compressed music. But I've got a question about music streamers. I've tried the Yamaha Music Cast system, and the NAD BlueOS, and realized that there is more to it than just the hardware. Do any of you compare the software side of how these different brands and systems work? Totally different on screen experience with the two I mention above, so I'm wondering what's going on with the other brands in this game? Especially their mobile apps and what they offer, and how crappy they are/are not at certain things like how other apps work inside of it.
 
T

Trebdp83

Audioholic Field Marshall
Do you have a subscription to any particular service?
 
B

Bill Willems

Audiophyte
I've got Amazon Prime HD and good old fashioned Pandora. Neither streamer I've tried has a very good interface with either of those. It's so weird because it wasn't until seeing a difference with Pandora on my Apple TV streamer and regular TV app that I realized that Pandora isn't Pandora across all different streamers and devices. It's a totally different interface with each one. I just replaced a 14 year old AV receiver and TV, so so much new and different stuff available now for me. I've been a late bloomer all my life, and this is my latest example I guess
 
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Trebdp83

Audioholic Field Marshall
There are more than a few choices out there these days for services and devices. Smart TVs, Smart phones, tablets and receivers all have their own app styles. Some receivers and TVs require separate device apps to cast to them. There are some software programs and apps that will gather your different services and make them available in one place.

Streaming services and different tiers within them are plenty. It’s kinda’ silly and can get expensive but it’s never been easier to have access to so much content on so many platforms. Everybody has their favorite service that is streamed from their favorite device app. I’m still trying to figure it out as I find that no one service, app and device combination does it all.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Jedi
Then again comparing different services can be difficult, as simple level differences can make a difference in perception. I've got a variety of ways to stream and it's mostly about your own setup IMO. Some services have audio adjustment/setup that you may need to attend to, tho.
 
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Trebdp83

Audioholic Field Marshall
It gets nuts. I’m streaming from Qobuz using dts Play-Fi right now and the f#%kin’ thing only lets me pick between stereo and all channel stereo modes.:eek: Hey, sometimes I want DIRECT mode to give the subs a rest. Amazon HD, Apple Music, Deezer, Pandora, Qobuz, SiriusXM, Spotify, Tidal... Audirvana, dts Play-Fi, HEOS, MusicCast, Roon... Dolby Atmos Music, HI-RES, f#%kin’ MQA!:eek: I need a drink.o_O
 
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Bartolo

Audiophyte
Yes each platform has its own look and feel on their apps. And even the term "streamers" can be confusing, as streaming services like Tidal and Qobuz have their own apps, but also integrate with hardware streaming solutions with which you'll use the hardware's app not the streaming service's app.

One important issue -- do you only intend to use online streaming services, or do you or will you have an in-home "library" of stored music that you want to play in your home on your hi fi?
 
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Trebdp83

Audioholic Field Marshall
Forgot to welcome @Bill Willems. And welcome to you @Bartolo. You had to bring up local libraries, didn’t you? Who told you about my flakey WD storage device?:D
 
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Bartolo

Audiophyte
Forgot to welcome @Bill Willems. And welcome to you @Bartolo. You had to bring up local libraries, didn’t you? Who told you about my flakey WD storage device?:D
Thanks for the welcome! What *I* do -- I have a Roon Nucleus, with an internal ssd. My wife and I both really like the Roon interface. I don't use any online streaming services, but Roon supports Tidal and Qobuz at this time. I = use the flac files on the Nucleus' internal drive, where I have about 1800 albums that I've ripped from cd's or purchased.

On my home network, the Roon Nucleus is simply plugged into my ethernet switch, and both of my hi fi's include networked digital players that are "Roon Ready" -- they too are plugged into my ethernet switch and it all works over my network, controlled by the Roon app on an iPhone or on my Macbook.
 
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Bill Willems

Audiophyte
I don't have any stored music other than on an external hard drive, and it appears that would require a dedicated PC in my system. So just streaming for me, and possible getting a turntable.
 
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Bartolo

Audiophyte
There are easy ways to add that hard drive -- a lot of music streamers allow you to attach an external usb drive. First one I looked at was the Innuos Zen Mini.
If you want access to that music you need not abandon it!
 
B

Bill Willems

Audiophyte
Thanks Bartolo! I'll have to do some more research I guess. My Yamaha WXC-50 manual says it won't work with external hard drive, but will work with just thumb drive. Might have to try it first
 
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Bartolo

Audiophyte
Thanks Bartolo! I'll have to do some more research I guess. My Yamaha WXC-50 manual says it won't work with external hard drive, but will work with just thumb drive. Might have to try it first
That's fairly common. The issue is that the receiver doesn't supply enough current down the usb cable to spin a hdd, but it's perfectly happy with a usb stick. You can certainly buy high-capacity usb sticks; just do that!
 
Eppie

Eppie

Full Audioholic
That's fairly common. The issue is that the receiver doesn't supply enough current down the usb cable to spin a hdd, but it's perfectly happy with a usb stick. You can certainly buy high-capacity usb sticks; just do that!
Yeah, a 64GB thumb drive is under $20 and that holds a lot of music files.

I have my music files on my PC which is networked. I initially used Playstation Media Server software to stream to my Playstation 3 connected to my AVR. That used a simple folder interface. I then installed the Plex Media Server app on my PC and Plex client on the PS3, as it also supports music but did better with video files. Plex is an ongoing service with regular updates. I like it for videos but the music interface is lacking. I later learned about Roon and it is my favorite. Not everyone will hear the differences in how Roon improves streaming among devices, but I love the interface both on my PC and the mobile app and the AI in Roon Radio (for randomly playing music of the same genre) works very well. Some hardware has Roon support built in, but if you want to stream local files with Roon you need a server and the Roon software is expensive. I stream from the PC to a small Raspberry-Pi which is connected to my AVR via HDMI. The Pi runs the Roon client and is controlled via the Roon app on my mobile. It can also be controlled by the PC. One license covers all devices. With the USB stick you'll have to experiment with the Yamaha to see how you like the interface.
 
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Trebdp83

Audioholic Field Marshall
It’s easy enough to select the USB device and the music on it with the MusicCast app Source selection tiles if going that route.
05740020-2A1B-4216-947D-EF354F71243B.jpeg
 
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sterling shoote

Audioholic Field Marshall
Here's an experiment which has lead me to appreciate my streamer:

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 had hoped the experimentation would determine what medium sounded best.



  • 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.
 
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sterling shoote

Audioholic Field Marshall
Yeah, a 64GB thumb drive is under $20 and that holds a lot of music files.

I have my music files on my PC which is networked. I initially used Playstation Media Server software to stream to my Playstation 3 connected to my AVR. That used a simple folder interface. I then installed the Plex Media Server app on my PC and Plex client on the PS3, as it also supports music but did better with video files. Plex is an ongoing service with regular updates. I like it for videos but the music interface is lacking. I later learned about Roon and it is my favorite. Not everyone will hear the differences in how Roon improves streaming among devices, but I love the interface both on my PC and the mobile app and the AI in Roon Radio (for randomly playing music of the same genre) works very well. Some hardware has Roon support built in, but if you want to stream local files with Roon you need a server and the Roon software is expensive. I stream from the PC to a small Raspberry-Pi which is connected to my AVR via HDMI. The Pi runs the Roon client and is controlled via the Roon app on my mobile. It can also be controlled by the PC. One license covers all devices. With the USB stick you'll have to experiment with the Yamaha to see how you like the interface.
I store all of my multi-channel FLAC downloads on thumb drive because the actions to play from it do not require PC involvement. I just stick it in my OPPO and click on the file I want to play from menu screen.
 
Eppie

Eppie

Full Audioholic
Thanks for detailing your testing process. It does come down to basically sound quality and convenience. I rip my CDs and make purchases on the PC, so it's natural to store it there or on a NAS (with backups). It also gives me equal access from the PC or home theatre and I plan to add another Pi upstairs. The Pi can be wired or wireless so it's inexpensive to add one to any room but requires some knowledge of Linux (or a good step by step guide).

Apple Music and MusicCast are both good ecosystems and with mobile apps it's getting easier to access digital catalogues from anywhere.
 

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