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Opinion: Class of Music Servers


Paul R

Streaming Audio Opinions  

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This is just something that came to mind after reading some recent posts. I realized I had formed a bit of a mindset and wondered if other people had too. And if so, where they landed on the subject.

 

Basically, the poll will hopefully reveal some of the issues, good or bad, that people have with streaming. Enjoy, but don't take it too seriously. Feel free to discuss in this thread of course, but please, play nice. Respect opinions that differ from your own. :)

 

-Paul

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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I think streaming is part of the future, but I can see there being more differential between streaming and new material for purchase.

 

If you think of video streaming, new material (excepting Amazon / Netflix financed material) is usually available elsewhere either broadcast or (in the case of movies) available for purchase as physical or download material.

 

With audio though its expected that material is immediately available for streaming.

 

I can see more artists following Adele (and others) in making their back catalogue available for streaming while keeping the new material unavailable for a period.

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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Steaming makes sense for movies and TV shows, because you tend only to watch them once. For music you intend to listen to occasionally, it makes sense. For music you want to hear and maintain control, owning a copy is vastly preferable. I stream when I get a free trial. I usually grow bored with it before the trial expires.

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Good poll and thread Paul.

 

The difference between streaming and owning music is very blurry with products like Roon and Meridian Sooloos. Interweaving local and cloud streamed music into a single interface is a game changer for me and many others. I have cut way back on purchasing music since lossless streaming became available through Tidal. When I used to stream MOG, my music purchasing went way up because I sampled lossy then purchased lossless.

 

I have no interest in owning music if I can stream it. Yes, this is inefficient because I'm streaming the same thing over and over, but I also don't have to store it, tag it, back it up, etc...

 

I'd like to hear more from Bill about why, "For music you want to hear and maintain control, owning a copy is vastly preferable." If I know I would never be able to purchase a lossless copy of an album if lossless streaming went away, then I'd buy the album. However, I'm just not that worried that my access to lossless music will disappear. Thus, I don't want to own if I don't have to.

 

No judgement on how others view streaming. As Sheryl Crow says, "If it makes you happy, it can't be that bad."

Founder of Audiophile Style | My Audio Systems

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The Poll itself seems 'blurred' in that it doesn't appear differentiate between network streaming audio devices (vs the traditional computer running music player software) and internet music streaming services (vs owning music). The two are quite distinct concepts and bundling them together in the one poll is likely to lead to confusion, IMO.

We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.

-- Jo Cox

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The Poll itself seems 'blurred' in that it doesn't appear differentiate between network streaming audio devices (vs the traditional computer running music player software) and internet music streaming services (vs owning music). The two are quite distinct concepts and bundling them together in the one poll is likely to lead to confusion, IMO.

 

Many many products out there today that really do blur the line. Many apps today make it difficult to tell if you are playing music you own, or if you are playing something from Tidal or Apple Music. Roon, Sonos, Apple...

 

Major players who have a goal of just making the music you want available to you when and where you want it. Apple of course, would also like to sell music to you, but they are also perfectly willing to rent it to you.

 

I think we are in a change time, where "what we know" is rapidly morphing into "what we used to know."

 

-Paul

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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I like owning some of my media. But streaming is the way to go for most everything else. Being able to mix streaming from the internet with your own collection seamlessly is a great thing. I love having access to almost anything I could want to listen to, be it live concerts, CD quality albums, or custom playlists that others have out for me to enjoy. The difference between my acccess to music now and when I was a kid with a few tapes and records in my collection is amazing.

ReadyNAS Ultra/6 stored flac->GigE network->roon->Uptone JS-2->microRendu->W4S Recovery->W4S DAC-2v2 SE>W4S STP-SE STG2 Preamp->W4S ST-1000 Amplifer->Von Schweikert VR-44

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Many many products out there today that really do blur the line. Many apps today make it difficult to tell if you are playing music you own, or if you are playing something from Tidal or Apple Music. Roon, Sonos, Apple...

 

Major players who have a goal of just making the music you want available to you when and where you want it. Apple of course, would also like to sell music to you, but they are also perfectly willing to rent it to you.

 

I think we are in a change time, where "what we know" is rapidly morphing into "what we used to know."

 

-Paul

Agreed, all valid observations in the music streaming services vs owned music argument. However, it doesn't answer why you've (confusingly) included options in the poll referring just to streamers, so nothing to do with music streaming services as such, ie:

  • Cost is clearly indicative of the sound of a streaming player.
  • I want a "High End" streamer to sound better because it costs more.
  • PrePros, AVRs, BluRay Players, DLNA make great streamers.
  • Anything that cannot play gapless music is fatally flawed, despite the cost.

We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.

-- Jo Cox

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Agreed, all valid observations in the music streaming services vs owned music argument. However, it doesn't answer why you've (confusingly) included options in the poll referring just to streamers, so nothing to do with music streaming services as such, ie:

  • Cost is clearly indicative of the sound of a streaming player.
  • I want a "High End" streamer to sound better because it costs more.
  • PrePros, AVRs, BluRay Players, DLNA make great streamers.
  • Anything that cannot play gapless music is fatally flawed, despite the cost.

 

I was trying to be general and cover the whole idea of streaming, be it from the internet, a home server, a phone, or whatever. I do understand why that seems a bit confusing though. :)

 

Yours,

-Paul

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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The Steam concept for games is what I'd like to see for music streaming, also similar to Nook and Kindle. Buy your music online, have the ability to stream for on demand play or download locally into a limited number of devices with appropriate copy protection. No more lost media and your collection follows you cradle to grave

Regards,

Dave

 

Audio system

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…For music you want to hear and maintain control, owning a copy is vastly preferable…

 

I agree and I actually prefer a physical disc to downloads. In the past I usually bought high resolution downloads if they are not available on SACD, Blu-ray, etc. or if I didn’t want the complete album. Or if the download is legally free. However, I’ve quit buying downloads as they have no resale value.

 

Another problem I see with streaming is you have to be signed on to the internet to play music. Some have said you can listen offline with a cellphone or a iPad. I don’t have a cellphone (don’t want one), I have a corded landline and I don’t want a tablet or iPad. While my apartment’s wi-fi is free, they boot me off if I use too much data. In my case it is better to play music from my computer's hard-drive or physical formats from my Blu-ray/SACD player. Surely, I’m not alone.

I have dementia. I save all my posts in a text file I call Forums.  I do a search in that file to find out what I said or did in the past.

 

I still love music.

 

Teresa

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Paul, I checked “Aw, you missed it again! I'll tell you what I think in the forum thread!”

 

My vote: “Streaming Audio may be the future, but I don’t care for the idea.”

 

I do stream YouTube videos and those 30 second previews to decide if I want to purchase a SACD, HDCD, CD or Blu-ray disc. I no longer purchase downloads as they cannot be sold or traded in for credit. If I watch too many YouTube videos my apartment’s free wi-fi service disconnects me, so streaming music is out of the question as I would likely get banned and I refuse to pay for internet service, or indeed pay for a streaming service.

I have dementia. I save all my posts in a text file I call Forums.  I do a search in that file to find out what I said or did in the past.

 

I still love music.

 

Teresa

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The Steam concept for games is what I'd like to see for music streaming, also similar to Nook and Kindle. Buy your music online, have the ability to stream for on demand play or download locally into a limited number of devices with appropriate copy protection. No more lost media and your collection follows you cradle to grave

As soon as I read "appropriate copy protection" I get nervous. When such a service goes out of business you'd lose access to the music you purchased. This has happened in the past. It's different for games because most people don't care if they can't play Madden 2009 anymore. Once the newer versions are released the old are usually done. Music, not so much.

 

Also, if you downloaded all the music before the company went under, a new service would have to allow uploads. Otherwise you'd be stuck with your newly purchased cloud collection and your previously purchased downloaded collection.

 

Maybe I'm thinking about this differently than what you had in mind :~)

Founder of Audiophile Style | My Audio Systems

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The Steam concept for games is what I'd like to see for music streaming, also similar to Nook and Kindle. Buy your music online, have the ability to stream for on demand play or download locally into a limited number of devices with appropriate copy protection. No more lost media and your collection follows you cradle to grave

 

That sounds a lot like how iTunes started, with FairPlay. I find that I am not at all comfortable with copy protection these days, mostly because of companies disappearing. Take DIVX for example...

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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I have often been disappointed with streaming because the music I want to listen to is not available.

 

Also, I am very suspect with regards to the provenance of the version being streamed. I have compared a few of my favorite recordings (streamed versus my ripped copy of the original disc) and have often found that the masterings being streamed were quite inferior.

 

This really raises the question with regards to where and how the streaming services get the files. Think about what goes on in the process of mastering/remastering an album. Do you really think that anyone at the record companies or streaming service really sweats over which version of a record they are sending or adding to their library?

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Companies would like for streaming to be the future, but honestly how many of us even listen to everything that is available? Brings to mind TV channels, I have over 200, but really do only watch (even that's in the past) 5 to 6 of them, but honestly it's mostly Netflix and Amazon Prime now. Eventually I may cut the cord, and I believe most folks are headed that way in this day and age of online streaming. However, a true videophile or even someone with a home theater in a box/sound bar and understanding of audio codecs will want to buy their own Blu-ray discs for a true surround sound/home theater experience.

 

So why not for audio? Especially if you want to go higher up the chain into high resolution music. Streaming (even for audio) can only go so far. Even something like MQA is only a compromise and not true high-definition music.

 

And how many of us actually listen to the 20 or 25 million songs available via streaming, and I believe some companies like Atlantic even claim 40 million.

 

I listen to music more than the average person, and so have a little over 2000 CDs. This number may come down to 200 or even 50 for the average not into music consumer. Doesn't it make sense then to simply buy the CDs (or downloads) instead of paying for a streaming service in perpetuity?

 

Personally, I would not categorise local streaming as streaming, I still own the music here. Also, I don't hear streaming even via Tidal Music to be better than local playback.

 

And then there is the off chance that after paying for and using a service for 3 to 5 years it may go under, in which case after having spent all that money you still don't own anything.

 

Personally, if there is an album that I will listen to multiple times, or a movie that I will watch time and again (even if only for the special effects and the audio), streaming does not compare, I'd definitely prefer buying and owning the media, especially for the higher definition formats.

 

PS: Isn't that what we are all striving for here? The absolute best in sound reproduction. Of course if convenience is the name of the game, then Apple Music (available for as little as $2 in some parts of the world or with a family plan) will do especially at 1/10 the cost of Tidal Music.

Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world - Martin Luther

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PS: Isn't that what we are all striving for here? The absolute best in sound reproduction. Of course if convenience is the name of the game, then Apple Music (available for as little as $2 in some parts of the world or with a family plan) will do especially at 1/10 the cost of Tidal Music.

 

Great post!

 

Also, I forgot to mention two things:

1) that I believe that artists are better compensated by CD/LP sales than by streaming;

2) that I much prefer to experience an album as produced and intended, rather than just a track or two (and yes I know that these days the streaming services offer up the full albums).

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In my case it is better to play music from my computer's hard-drive or physical formats from my Blu-ray/SACD player. Surely, I’m not alone.

 

Same here. My listening is 90% classical and a music streaming service has zero appeal to me; while SACD is my favourite digital format, not least as I can own the music for as little as £5 a disc new (and half to a third of the cost of the exact same item on download). If I want to discover new music I listen to the radio (which I guess is a kind of streaming service...)

 

However, if was just starting out, or wanted to explore an unfamiliar genre, a streaming service might appeal.

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Companies would like for streaming to be the future, but honestly how many of us even listen to everything that is available? Brings to mind TV channels, I have over 200, but really do only watch (even that's in the past) 5 to 6 of them, but honestly it's mostly Netflix and Amazon Prime now. Eventually I may cut the cord, and I believe most folks are headed that way in this day and age of online streaming. However, a true videophile or even someone with a home theater in a box/sound bar and understanding of audio codecs will want to buy their own Blu-ray discs for a true surround sound/home theater experience.

 

So why not for audio? Especially if you want to go higher up the chain into high resolution music. Streaming (even for audio) can only go so far. Even something like MQA is only a compromise and not true high-definition music.

 

And how many of us actually listen to the 20 or 25 million songs available via streaming, and I believe some companies like Atlantic even claim 40 million.

 

I listen to music more than the average person, and so have a little over 2000 CDs. This number may come down to 200 or even 50 for the average not into music consumer. Doesn't it make sense then to simply buy the CDs (or downloads) instead of paying for a streaming service in perpetuity?

 

Personally, I would not categorise local streaming as streaming, I still own the music here. Also, I don't hear streaming even via Tidal Music to be better than local playback.

 

And then there is the off chance that after paying for and using a service for 3 to 5 years it may go under, in which case after having spent all that money you still don't own anything.

 

Personally, if there is an album that I will listen to multiple times, or a movie that I will watch time and again (even if only for the special effects and the audio), streaming does not compare, I'd definitely prefer buying and owning the media, especially for the higher definition formats.

 

PS: Isn't that what we are all striving for here? The absolute best in sound reproduction. Of course if convenience is the name of the game, then Apple Music (available for as little as $2 in some parts of the world or with a family plan) will do especially at 1/10 the cost of Tidal Music.

Hi Master - A main difference between audio and video streaming is that there are no lossless video streaming services. Thus, bluray is the only option for high quality.

Founder of Audiophile Style | My Audio Systems

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I listen mostly to classical music. Old Jazz and swing, broadway musicals and Great American songbook are next. The only streaming service that is likely to have good metadata and an effective UI is ArkivMusic's service. It's mp3 based.

 

I'll keep watching the evolution of streaming services for awhile longe before taking a plunge. I expect individual services to come and go.

 

On my LAN, I use JRiver's own TRemote facilities rather than DLNA. No NAS either.

 

Streaming has become an ill-defined buzzword that needs to be retired.

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Prefer to generate my own stream. I don't find the selection adequate for my tastes on online streaming services. Plus there is no promo video streaming service with lossless audio. I would say around 80 percent of my library is unavailable for streaming services and that is what I mostly listen too.

(JRiver) Jetway barebones NUC (mod 3 sCLK-EX, Cybershaft OP 14)  (PH SR7) => mini pcie adapter to PCIe 1X => tXUSBexp PCIe card (mod sCLK-EX) (PH SR7) => (USPCB) Chord DAVE => Omega Super 8XRS/REL t5i  (All powered thru Topaz Isolation Transformer)

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