OK, three topics and four products to discuss today.
I tried Qobuz a few years ago from here in the US, but at the time I was less than impressed. I also was somewhat satisfied with Tidal at the time. But, as Bob Dylan said, things have changed. This week I started using Qobuz again mainly because the company is bringing its service to the US in late Summer / early Fall. I need to use every product possible and be familiar with all the services in which the members of the Computer Audiophile community may be interested. I know tough job, but somebody has to do it.
Based on my very early use of Qobuz on iOs, desktop app on macOS, and integrations with AURALiC and Aurender I am very impressed. Finally in the US we have a lossless and high resolution service that's tailored to people who love good quality sound, love music, and appreciate little things such as desktop offline'ing of albums and a luxury feel to the application.
It's too early for me to say "game, set, match" between Tidal and Qobuz, but the horizon looks bright for Qobuz as of today. Much more to come on this front.
Great New Album
On June 28, 2018 Charles Lloyd & The Marvels released an album featuring Lucinda Williams called Vanished Gardens. Thanks to Qobuz I found the album and have been streaming it in high resolution 24/96 over and over. The entire album contains fantastic music and sounds wonderful.
I could go on and on about it, but just give it a listen for yourself!
- HDtracks has the download for $17.99 - HERE
- Qobuz has the lossless 24/96 version - HERE
- Tidal has the lossy MQA version - HERE
Here's a great video playlist with an interview and some tracks off the album.
iOS Ethernet Solutions
Huh, Ethernet for an iPhone or iPad? Yes. I know this sounds foolish for many in the community who have great WiFi, but it's actually something of value for a fair number of people. I started looking into this because of a conversation I had with a HiFi manufacturer about customer WiFi issues. Not issues to the audio device, but issue with the iOS control point. What was a customer WiFi issue was reported as a faulty product requiring the manufacturer to visit the customer's house. Situations like this are nothing new for HiFi manufacturers.
Anyway, I found a couple Lightning to Ethernet adapters to test out here at CA HQ. I wanted an adapter that provided said Ethernet connection, but also supported powering the iOS device. Ideally a user could connect this next to his/her iPad near a listening chair and not have to unplug the adapter just to charge the iPad. Either that or something similar, you get the idea.
The first adapter I received was from a company named findUWill, model number PC0003C10 (LINK).
The company claims this adapter works with new iOS devices and iOS 10 & 11. It appears that a 2 amp charger is required as well, but there's no real instructions or requirements documentation. What the company offers are instructions for connecting the adapter to an iOS device in terms of a procedure. This procedure must be followed exactly as stated as I found out. Unfortunately I still ran into issues I couldn't work through.
As a Lightning to Ethernet adapter without powering the iOS device, this product works great. Below you can see my Speedtest results wired versus WiFi on my iPhone 8. I was able to connect and disconnect the adapter from my iPhone with pretty good luck. Meaning, it worked without jumping through hoops.
As soon as I tried to connect another Lightning cable to the adapter to power my iPhone, things went bad quickly. The bottom line is that I couldn't get it to power the iPhone even after an hour of trying several different approaches. Sometimes just connecting the Lightning cable to the adapter caused the Ethernet device to disappear from the iPhone. This is without even connecting the Lightning cable to a power source on the other end! Flakey indeed.
Wifi | Wire
The other device I received (thanks to @Em2016 for letting me know about it) is by a company named Elecjoy, model number ... come on that would be too helpful for potential customers. There is no model number in sight. At least this adapter shipped with a mini user manual. (Product link here)
The great part about this adapter is that it has Lightning input for power, Ethernet output of course, and also a USB connection. This is a great feature set for those of us with USB DACs looking to create an audio endpoint that's wired rather than wireless.
Did this adapter work? As a Lightning to Ethernet adapter without power it worked perfect. When I added power to the unit to pass through to my iPhone it also worked perfect. What about the bonus feature of adding a USB DAC? With the AudioQuest DragonFly Red this adapter also worked perfect! I was able to stream 16/44.1, 24/44.1, and 24/96 content via Qobuz on my iPhone 8 and output it to the DragonFly (max supported sample rate of the DAC is 24/96).
I'm really quite surprised that everything worked as advertised. The product most certainly isn't MFi certified from Apple. My only complain about the Elecjoy unit is that it's a bit bulky to have hangin on an iOS device. The adapter cable is only a few inches long and the plastic end of the adapter is awkward with three things connected.
Fortunately we can take this little setup to eleven by using a Lightning extension cable. I recently received a 6.6 feet Lightning extension cable from a company named VTEK, model number V2001002SL (LINK). The cable is really nice. The exterior is braided and the ends have a nice silver metal finish. I placed this extension between the Elecjoy adapter and my iPhone 8 and it worked perfect without a single issue. With this in place, my iPhone had a single 6.6 feet Lightning cable connected to it for all intents and purposes. The bulky adapter, Ethernet cable, and Lightning power cable were well away from the iPhone and didn't interfere with my use of the phone or my iPad Pro in my listening chair.
I highly recommend this adapter and extension cable for anyone who either needs it because of bad WiFi or wants to for a cool wired and powered iOS audio endpoint.
Note: Qobuz didn't see the Ethernet adapter as a WiFi device so it logically functioned as if connected to a mobile network in that the app used my mobile streaming settings rather than WiFI settings. I changed my mobile settings to equal that of my WiFi settings (up to 24/192 audio) and the app functioned just like it did via WiFi. Fortunately, the Qobuz app used the Ethernet connection even though it functioned in mobile mode. All around great stuff.