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Article: The Future Of HiFi


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Hi,

 

i'm new to this forum in spite of heaving read a while silently.

 

But i have to contribute here, because i live in Germany and i'm using WIMP HiFi for a while now.

The monthly fee here is 20€, that is about two CDs worth.

 

All in all i'm satisfied with the service. Audio quality is good.

 

But you should know that not nearly all albums that are listed in the catalog are really HFi.

I have a long, long list of albums i'd like to hear in HiFi, that are only available in 320-quality.

Not mentioned that many of the listed albums are only fake. They can't be streamed, only bought. The over 20,000,000 Titles that are advertised are by no way streamable.

Many Artists are not even listed if your taste is out of mainstream.

 

I suppose, HipHop is complete in HiFi, but not genres that would profit from quality.

 

There is still plenty of material in HiFi, but you should't expect it to be complete.

So, don't sell your CDs!

 

Fridolin

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Hi,

 

But you should know that not nearly all albums that are listed in the catalog are really HFi.

I have a long, long list of albums i'd like to hear in HiFi, that are only available in 320-quality.

 

 

Does anyone know what the resolution of Spotify Premium streaming is?

 

It sounds better than I was expecting (when I bypass the sound card, at any rate), but I can't find any online statement beyond "Hiqh Quality Audio", which of course means different things to different people...

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Does anyone know what the resolution of Spotify Premium streaming is?

 

It sounds better than I was expecting (when I bypass the sound card, at any rate), but I can't find any online statement beyond "Hiqh Quality Audio", which of course means different things to different people...

 

320kps

David

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Hi,

 

i'm new to this forum in spite of heaving read a while silently.

 

But i have to contribute here, because i live in Germany and i'm using WIMP HiFi for a while now.

The monthly fee here is 20€, that is about two CDs worth.

 

All in all i'm satisfied with the service. Audio quality is good.

 

But you should know that not nearly all albums that are listed in the catalog are really HFi.

I have a long, long list of albums i'd like to hear in HiFi, that are only available in 320-quality.

Not mentioned that many of the listed albums are only fake. They can't be streamed, only bought. The over 20,000,000 Titles that are advertised are by no way streamable.

Many Artists are not even listed if your taste is out of mainstream.

 

I suppose, HipHop is complete in HiFi, but not genres that would profit from quality.

 

There is still plenty of material in HiFi, but you should't expect it to be complete.

So, don't sell your CDs!

 

Fridolin

 

Thanks for the heads up.

David

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320kps

 

 

This is correct, however when I did a short term trial, I didn't feel like I was always getting that level. Maybe my imagination... or perhaps for reasons of network or server performance, they sometimes provided less.

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How can almost free access to virtually any recording ever released at the drop of a hat be considered "depressing"? I just don't get it :/

 

Brittany Spears, you got it!

 

Old and New Dreams, probably not.

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This is correct, however when I did a short term trial, I didn't feel like I was always getting that level. Maybe my imagination... or perhaps for reasons of network or server performance, they sometimes provided less.

 

I think Spotify will just buffer if bandwidth/throughput is low. This is what I experience when my internet isn't good.

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IF something like this does become the reality...I will never own newer music...period.

 

Once I pay for music, my expectation is to be able to do as I will providing I do not sell it for commercial use. Anything less would be a step in the wrong direction for the countless reasons already listed.

 

Also, lately vinyl seems to be sounding much better than its digital counterparts due to excessive compression. The latest Beck is a prime example.

 

Don't misunderstand I would much prefer a digital equivalent to the vinyl - uncompressed - NOT a MP3 vinyl rip!

 

Now pay per month at the hands of corporations? Why not make it pay per listen. That WILL be the end.

BattleScarze,

 

More is only better when less is no good!

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Reading all these posts, there are very few that reflect the actual experience of accessing 17 million titles, all at 16/44 lossless, streamed over an iPad to your system.

 

The selection, quality and user experience do it for me - no DLNA, RAID, JRiver ad nauseum for me - let the techies at the service do all that for you.

 

And, it's bordering on paranoia to imagine that anyone cares what you listen to IMO!

 

All available right now on Qobuz for 20 euros or $28 USD per month - about the cost of 2 cds.

 

I haven't touched a cd in years, except to record them, and sold my BAT VK D5SE tubed cd player while it was still worth something.

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Reading all these posts, there are very few that reflect the actual experience of accessing 17 million titles, all at 16/44 lossless, streamed over an iPad to your system.

 

Are you sure that really all of that 17 million titles are in HiFi quality?

Wimp pretends that, too. But in reality about a third of the titles i want to listen to, is at lower quality.

And there is no gapless playback, that means all of the Live-Albums have ugly gaps.

 

At least Wimp is not so perfect yet. If Qobuz is, then i will change immediately.

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Its quite interesting I have Qobuz Hi-Fi and rarely touch a local media library these days, if my Mac Mini was not running my security cameras it would be turn off.

 

I was looking for an easy way for the wife to use Qobuz without screen sharing from the mac of trying to get her to use the XBMC remote and Qobuz add-on.

 

The system from today is iPhone/iPad with Qobuz app connected via Apple TV using airplay linked into my Cyrus 6DAC.

Have to say it sounds fantastic..........I'm not sure if anyone could quantify any short comings quality wise with this setup?

Linear Power supply for an Apple TV??

 

The other interesting part is I use iTunes Match so I can also just stream my iTunes library from the cloud.

 

I guess you could spend hours trying all my available options trying to see what sounds best if you can tell the difference, stream flac via mac mini,iPad/iphone, local via iTunes,jriver,xbmc.

I've ended up with so many options i've gone with the one thats easiest to operate.

 

Cheers Phil

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I'm just trying out the Qobuz demo. If the SQ proves to be noticeably better than Spotify Premium then I will jump ship, even though it will cost me twice as much monthly. Qobuz choice seems a bit down on Spotify, though I'm not sure by how much, however the plus side for me is that there is a whole plethora of French music, which suits for reasons I won't bore anyone with.

 

Out of interest, does anyone know if the 16/44.1 stream is formally encrypted?

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I'm just trying out the Qobuz demo. If the SQ proves to be noticeably better than Spotify Premium then I will jump ship, even though it will cost me twice as much monthly. Qobuz choice seems a bit down on Spotify, though I'm not sure by how much, however the plus side for me is that there is a whole plethora of French music, which suits for reasons I won't bore anyone with.

 

Out of interest, does anyone know if the 16/44.1 stream is formally encrypted?

 

Light and day.

Plus you can register 3 mobile devices with Qobuz so you can share one account across the family.

Another positive is if you favourite an artist all the albums are listed under the artist rather than spotify where you have to favourite each album.

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Be sure you're demoing their "hi-fi" (16/44) option.

 

Yeah, that caught me out initially.

 

Luckily the track resolution is always displayed, so I could tell things weren't right from the get-go. Sorted now.

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For the 10% of the music market that listens to classical music, today's streaming services are a joke. Some estimates of the size of the market segment run higher, but even if the size were only 5%, we would still be talking about a lot of people who listen to classical music. Chris, apparently, is not one of them because his vision of the future of audio says little about the egregious problems with the metadata provided by streaming services. I can't comment on Chris' favorite, WiMP, because I don't live in Denmark, Germany, Norway, Poland, or Sweden. However, I have looked at Spotify. Their metadata are a horror. Try searching for Mahler Symphony No. 8. I get a list of 30 recordings. The assortment is surprisingly good, although one of the recordings in the list is actually Schubert Symphony No. 8 and two are Mahler Symphony No. 2. Now suppose I want to browse the list to find a performance by a conductor I admire. That information is not consistently available. I see one conducted by Sir Simon Rattle, but the same field contains “Gustav Mahler” for another. I'm pretty sure that he is not the conductor. A third presents “Royal Concertgebou”, the name of the orchestra (misspelled), and a fourth says “Heather Harper”, the name of one of the soloists. I can make out the conductor on some of the recordings by examining the cover art, but not all covers provide that information. Ditto if I am interested in knowing the orchestra, the chorus, or any of the eight soloists. A new feature of WiMP that Chris describes would allow me to select each recording in turn and then “press & hold” a track to get additional information, which might include the conductor. If the recording I selected has as conductor someone whose performance I do not want to hear, then I have to return to the search results and repeat the procedure up to 29 additional times. Unacceptable. Select the recording conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas (you will have to be able to recognize his picture on the cover). The first movement has four tracks. They play with gaps! Unacceptable.

 

Maybe Chris is postulating that streaming companies will fix these problems. If they do, great! Is there any evidence that they are working on the problems? Addressing the needs of 90% of a big market satisfies most companies, so I doubt that they even care. It sucks to be in a minority, but at least I have options now – options that Chris predicts will vanish. I might have to do a little typing, but some existing programs make it possible to correct the errors and omissions of the metadata provided with downloads. With subscription services, we are completely beholden to the services for metadata. Are the WiMP editorial teams gearing up to provide the information that they are ignoring now? Is WiMP planning to go through their entire existing catalog to add the missing information? Even if Chris is able to answer both questions in the affirmative, can we be sure that any streaming company will devise a good solution to the metadata problem? Just getting the information doesn't mean that we can use it in helpful ways (ref. comments above on the press & hold feature). And then there is the problem of librettos. If I am listening to a stream of an opera sung in a foreign language, will I be able to view a translation of the words in the application provided by the subscription service? Will translations be available for users who speak languages other than English? The technology for such a service might be feasible, but expecting subscription services to expend the effort to satisfy only a portion of the 10% is fantasy. A handful of subscription services all chasing the lowest common denominator won't give a hoot about me. People who listen only to pop or who seek only background music may embrace Chris' future, but those of us who are computer audiophiles – especially the ones who listen to classical music – will ignore subscription services like we ignore cheap Radio Shack speakers.

 

I completely agree with this. IMO this is the main reason why streaming will never really work for classical music aficionados. For it to do so, you would need (i) a unified tagging system applied to all classical music streamed and (ii) all labels offering classical music would need to be available on that particular streaming service. I believe that this is, unfortunately, utterly unrealistic to ever happen, as classical music is a niche product and the work involved in the above would not be profitable for anyone.

 

I do agree (and find that quite positive) that we are moving toward a dematerialisation of content, you can observe that with books (Kindle), films and music. However, moving everything into the cloud and seeing all-over streaming as the only future seems too black&white for me. I think that at least for classical music (and possibly also jazz) this is not achievable, at least if you are not only interested in hearing any performance of a given work but actually like to differentiate between a considerable number of different renditions of the same piece (which in itself is the reason why classical music is so attractive, at least to me).

 

There are other drawbacks in an exclusive-streaming scenario that will make it unattractive for many audiophiles. One is the question of availability of librettos or booklets. The other is the utter dependance on the streaming provider for your choice of music. Then there is the data protection angle.

 

I also think it should be differentiated between "access to cloud" and "streaming". While streaming is always dependent on a specific provider and such provider's agreements on distribution rights with the content providers (i.e. record labels of old), a cloud service would basically function similar to a NAS, except that it is not located in your home but in server parks somewhere else. That might also include the possibility to upload your own tagged recordings, thus solving the issue with the faulty meta data. However, all of that assumes that the upload bandwidth will be increased exponentially (as uploading an entire music collection with several gigabytes of data is otherwise not doable), which from a simple IT infrastructure point of view I do not see happening in the near future.

 

IMO streaming will be very attractive for mainstream (i.e. pop / rock) music, where no real meta data issues exist and where sound quality and therefor bandwidth is less of a factor. For classical (and jazz) music I can envisage a tendency to digitise and dematerialise the music in the form of download options increasing, but due to the diversity and complexity of that kind of music a streaming service would not work.

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Hey Chris, Great for sharing your thoughts and perspective, mine is a little less optimistic. First, we have a basically terrible Internet infrastructure in this country, until everyone is able to access true broadband services, real speeds of 20 Mbps or more, hopefully via fibre optic networks, we are in trouble. I live close enough to Denver, CO that I can see downtown at night from my upstairs windows, but there is no acceptable high speed Internet service here (only satellite based systems, or really weak Wireless repeater set ups). It is hard for me to even imagine what the situation is for people in really rural areas. We have a long way to go before we have a robust, viable, high speed Internet across the entire country. Sad.

In the good old days, the Federal Government would step in and take care of these infrastructure problems, as is what happened with electricity, telegraph, and telephone systems in our past history. But now, some people's irrational fear of "Big Government" is a huge stumbling block that we are going to have to get over...

OK, rant over, of to drink Margaritas!

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Hey Chris, Great for sharing your thoughts and perspective, mine is a little less optimistic. First, we have a basically terrible Internet infrastructure in this country, until everyone is able to access true broadband services, real speeds of 20 Mbps or more, hopefully via fibre optic networks, we are in trouble.

 

+1 - even here in Calgary - a supposed technophobe dream city if there ever was one - I still can't even stream a lossy album to my phone while on the bus to work.

 

Until infrastructure truly catches up with "imagination" AND the cranky broken down wiring of yesteryear coupled with the "gouge them at every opportunity" cable/TV/internet providers (along with their caps) will virtually guarantee none of this future utopia will come to pass.

 

And I won't even get into the cost to use/join/access the "future" infrastructure - as most hard working folks can barely afford what little we get today.

 

The Big 3 here in Canada (Shaw, Telus and Bell) will decide who gets what, when and at how much cost. Joe Audiophile is way better off (Today anyway) to enjoy his music on his server in his house at the resolution and bandwidth that he is supposed to be getting.

 

VP

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I absolutely agree with Borrows. The US is only #32 in average access to broadband on this planet. No streaming for me. I live at the edge of one the most densely populated areas in California and can not even get DSL. I tried MOG early on but could use it only very sporadically. For me reading about Hires streaming is like: See what I have and could can't get!

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I would suggest that the technology is not quite up to the task yet, given we are just now really beginning to understand Big Data and all the implications thereof. It is possible there will be several technology advances before things all come together.

 

Streaming music in 2014 (in any resolution) is technically not a challenge, but doing it in high-res (let's say 24/192) to millions of users simultaneously would still incur quite a bit of extra bandwith cost for the streaming service. Unless they would find a lot of customers willing to pay extra for this, it does not economically make sense at the moment to offer a hi-res streaming service. In the future, with continuously falling bandwith costs, they might upgrade to hi-res as bandwith costs become insignficant.

 

For example - Lossless compression at 1000:1 or better would really enable hi-res content to be skittered about over the web. It's coming. A 90min highdef video delivered to local buffer storage in only a second or two would make an incredible difference.

 

Not going to happen. The information density of (not extremely boring) video or audio recordings is much higher than that. Any lossless compression cannot go lower than that. That said, we might develop better lossy codecs that can reduce data rates even at very high quality settings.

 

Then politics and economics gets into the picture too. The fight between 20th century Cable Companies as ISPs and what consumers today really want. I think your idea that data caps are being used a blundgeons to extract danegeld from companies like NetFlix and Apple is spot on and exactly so. Google, or more likely some amalgation of companies like Google, Apple, NetFlix, and so on could decide to eliminate the cable companies. That would be an interesting war to watch. :)

 

Data caps in the land of the free, home of the brave? Brrr ;)

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Just an update on one subscription streaming service. Been trying Spotify out heavily to get a hold of its capabilities (or lack of) and am finding recordings disappearing. Was looking through Keith Jarrett's (pretty mainstream artist,eh?) albums and saw that the songs on album after album were grayed out, which in Spotify means they are not available. I was there again earlier today and lo and behold, the albums which I had been looking at (many) now not only had the songs grayed out but the albums themselves were no longer there! I think this is the huge fear that many have about a subscription streaming service.

 

You sign up, pay your monthly premium fee and suddenly artists start disappearing. I am very curious how Qubuz is going to do once it open's itself in the US and how it will maintain its hold on the artists and albums it now (or so I'm told) has in its supposedly vast library.

 

This fight for song rights and pay for play is not over for both artists and labels and if it continues as it is right now the only streaming service that will be solvent and relevant may turn out to be Pandora and iTunes. Don't bet against it.

 

PS. As a quick aside, I think it is very label dependent and one of the labels that seems to be fighting this pretty hard is ECM which

wouldn't you know it, is one of my favorite labels out there.

David

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This fight for song rights and pay for play is not over for both artists and labels and if it continues as it is right now the only streaming service that will be solvent and relevant may turn out to be Pandora and iTunes. Don't bet against it.

 

PS. As a quick aside, I think it is very label dependent and one of the labels that seems to be fighting this pretty hard is ECM which

wouldn't you know it, is one of my favorite labels out there.

It's not really a fight for song rights. The rights are facts that can only change if one rights holder give up his rights to another.

 

Is Pandora solvent right now?

 

I don't get that ECM is "fighting this pretty hard." Either ECM allows its content or not.

 

 

I think artists and labels who elect not to be part of the streaming world will disappear. In the not too distant future the Beatles will have to be on all the streaming services or the music will disappear from the public consciousness. Those who only use streaming services will simply ignore music from artists and labels who elect to remain in the purchase only world.

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