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    The Computer Audiophile

    The Next Track: Episode 159 | Amazon Music HD

    Hey Guys - I was a guest on @kirkmc and @DougAdams The Next Track podcast this week. The episode is now available everywhere podcasts are consumed. 

     

     

    Here is the show for listening right now. 

     

     

     

    More information and show notes can be found at The Next Track website - https://www.thenexttrack.com/162



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    2 hours ago, kirkmc said:

    Do you really think people don't understand that this isn't a smorgasbord where they get to take anything they want for a few bucks a month? You can download movies on Netflix and Amazon Prime, and I don't think anyone thinks they are able to keep them forever. 

     

    And I'm not sure what you mean about paying for an HD file and getting an MP3. I haven't started a trial, but I'm assuming each album is correctly labeled as to the type of file available. It's clear that with the "HD" subscription everything is lossless, and that with the Ultra HD only some files are high-res. Amazon says "millions of songs" are Ultra HD, but I assume this is clearly marked. I can't see why you'd get an MP3 file if you have a subscription to the HD plan. 

     

    When you play using Amazon app you get hd. If you download for offline drm'd play, you get hd if that's what you have in settings. You are still renting the download for as long as you have a subscription.

     

    If you purchase and download, you "own" it (sort of) even after subscription stops. These purchased downloads, however,  are mp3 from Amazon's mp3 store. They are not hd. Amazon doesn't really disclose this. That is the source of confusion.

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    2 minutes ago, rn701 said:

     

     

    If you purchase and download, you "own" it (sort of) even after subscription stops. These purchased downloads, however,  are mp3 from Amazon's mp3 store. They are not hd. Amazon doesn't really disclose this. That is the source of confusion.

     

    Got it. But they're not claiming that these purchases are HD, so the confusion would arise from someone who has an HD subscription but then buys music thinking it's the same quality. Probably an edge case, but I see your point. 

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    2 minutes ago, kirkmc said:

     

    Got it. But they're not claiming that these purchases are HD, so the confusion would arise from someone who has an HD subscription but then buys music thinking it's the same quality. Probably an edge case, but I see your point. 

     

    I WISH they'd offer hd purchases. It would be amazing if they offered their entire hd catalog for purchase. I'd probably buy a lot!

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    2 hours ago, kirkmc said:

     

    Got it. But they're not claiming that these purchases are HD, so the confusion would arise from someone who has an HD subscription but then buys music thinking it's the same quality. Probably an edge case, but I see your point. 

     

    Also, there is a download-to-own segment of the industry in music, where there never has been one of any size or substance for movies or TV shows. Qobuz refers to download for local listening but not owning as "cache" or "offline" or something that makes it a bit clearer this isn't ownership.

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    On 9/27/2019 at 10:32 AM, wgscott said:

    I don't know where along the chain the up-sampling takes place.

     

    (I also have wondered if Amazon (via their player), or whomever provides them the files, is somehow enhancing the bass. It sounds significantly more pronounced/boomy in my system.)

     

    On the new Abby Road the bass has been enhanced.  According to Mike F. at Stereophile.

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    9 minutes ago, NOMBEDES said:

     

    On the new Abby Road the bass has been enhanced.  According to Mike F. at Stereophile.

     

    That's in the remastering itself, since the producer no longer has to worry about the limitations of vinyl grooves and cartridge tracking.

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    The audiophile is never happy.  For years we have been complaining about MP3, lossy files and other crimes against music.  

    Now we are able to listen to at least CD quality music on several services.  I call that a victory.  

     

    Over time the concerns listed above will be resolved.  

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    1 hour ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

    Enhanced by the remix or by a streaming service?


     

    Mikey sez remix.  Analog PLANET review of Abby Rd.

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    So, more on Abbey Road (and who knows, perhaps other streaming versions of files, though perhaps not...read on):

     

    1 - As you can see from DR Database and other sources such as @firedog here at AS, the Redbook version of Abbey Road appears to be measurably louder than the 24/96 Blu-Ray version.

     

    2 - From the Hoffman forum and again, firedog, it appears (at least with our information to this point) the 24/96 streaming version is louder than the 24/96 Blu-Ray.

     

    3 - If memory serves, Giles Martin did this with Sergeant Pepper and the White Album as well (i.e., the 24/96 was a less loud, more "audiophile" version than the Redbook - don't know about the streaming versions).

     

    4 - My guess is both the Blu-Ray and the Redbook versions were mixed/mastered at 24/96 in the studio.

     

    5 - Quite possible all streaming services got versions based on the 24/96 intended for Redbook, meaning the louder 24/96 streaming version would not have been upsampled, it just wasn't downsampled.

     

    6 - @David Craff and @dmackta, I don't know if it's at all possible to check out whether all the foregoing is correct and if so whether you can get the 24/96 less loud Blu-Ray version for streaming and sale, but if it's possible to ask, it would be appreciated.

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    While streaming services may normalize volume when playing music in playlists or on "radio stations," I cannot imagine that they would ever make any EQ changes to music they stream. This said, check your app or your device if the EQ seems different, because they may have EQ settings. 

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    18 hours ago, Jud said:

     

    Also, there is a download-to-own segment of the industry in music, where there never has been one of any size or substance for movies or TV shows. Qobuz refers to download for local listening but not owning as "cache" or "offline" or something that makes it a bit clearer this isn't ownership.

    Well, companies that "sell" videos - movies and TV shows - such as Apple, Amazon, etc., say that you can download them to own them (Amazon explicits says that; Apple doesn't), though it's not really true.  You are still subject to licensing conditions, and they have DRM, so you cannot do what you want with them. There are certainly some DRM-free video downloads, but only a very small minority. 

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    On 9/26/2019 at 10:44 PM, The Computer Audiophile said:

     

    In just about every category of what makes me select a product, Qobuz wins. Sure Amazon beats everyone on price, but in the grand scheme of things the price difference between all the services doesn't even amount to the sales tax on a USB cable for some people.

     

    Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I don't doubt that for most people who listen seriously to music Qobuz is a better product, but no stream is any good if it does not stream the music you want to hear. To be sure my interests in music are fringy, some might say weird.  The cutting edge of jazz is mostly to be heard in venues often with audiences less than fifty. These people are not being recorded by ECM.  I rarely use an audio service to discover music.  I search for new music on the NYC Jazz Record and the jazz blogs. It's a quandary. I retired and moved to an NYC apartment, so I could hear live music.  I sold my vinyl, but there is no place to store CDs.

     

     I don't know what I will do.  I still have free time left on Amazon.  Tidal is somewhat better for my musical interests than Qobuz.   The point is, I guess, that the problem of digital music distribution is still not solved. The musicians, especially the ones who are not big sellers, are being ripped off. I feel somewhat better about this because I hear and pay for a lot of live music, but that does not deal with the issue. I have Roon and Sonore rendus running on two systems. So, then what?

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    27 minutes ago, Abstraction said:

     

    Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I don't doubt that for most people who listen seriously to music Qobuz is a better product, but no stream is any good if it does not stream the music you want to hear. To be sure my interests in music are fringy, some might say weird.  The cutting edge of jazz is mostly to be heard in venues often with audiences less than fifty. These people are not being recorded by ECM.  I rarely use an audio service to discover music.  I search for new music on the NYC Jazz Record and the jazz blogs. It's a quandary. I retired and moved to an NYC apartment, so I could hear live music.  I sold my vinyl, but there is no place to store CDs.

     

     I don't know what I will do.  I still have free time left on Amazon.  Tidal is somewhat better for my musical interests than Qobuz.   The point is, I guess, that the problem of digital music distribution is still not solved. The musicians, especially the ones who are not big sellers, are being ripped off. I feel somewhat better about this because I hear and pay for a lot of live music, but that does not deal with the issue. I have Roon and Sonore rendus running on two systems. So, then what?

    I certainly hear you. If your music isn’t on a service, it’s useless. I’ll take my favorite music via AM radio over stuff I hate via high resolution streaming. 

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    On 9/26/2019 at 4:59 PM, bbosler said:

    no

     

    I signed up for Amazon but when they charged me $7.99 for the free trial I cancelled, still don't believe they are delivering native HD content

     

    have been using Tidal, jut signed up for Qobuz to see what that is like

    Wait, What proof do you have that it's not in HD if you cancelled it?

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    On 9/26/2019 at 4:59 PM, bbosler said:

    no

     

    I signed up for Amazon but when they charged me $7.99 for the free trial I cancelled, still don't believe they are delivering native HD content

     

    have been using Tidal, jut signed up for Qobuz to see what that is like

    Wait, What proof do you have that it's not in HD if you cancelled it?

     

    I am hoping that Tidal and Qobuz would lower their subscription price now that Amazon joined the Hi-Res club.

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    I have been listening to the free trial and glad I am not paying for it. Amazon Music HD is providing sound quality inferior to Qobuz at a discount price. I don't have a problem paying Qobuz more for better quality sound. I don't see Amazon getting better until/if they enable Wasapi exclusive mode.

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    I've been trying out the free Amazon HD and found it OK at the best. HD (16 bt ) was better than I'd experienced elsewhere including my own ALAC CD rips but the Ultra was nowhere near the SQ of Qobuz & Tidal top of the range streams. Also as I play on a number of devices (Mac mini desktop, another Mac mini connected to a AV system & a DAP) I wanted a proper favourites folder I can access with no issues like on Spotify & Qobuz, and also being able to integrate with Audirvana on my desktop. I'm in a position where I can make direct one on one comparisons and IMO Amazon doesn't really compare that well, so I'm not going to take up the subscription in three months & am sticking with Qobuz at around twice the price, but best of luck to those who find this suits them, it's actually very good value. Amazon may of course make improvements all round, in which case.....

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