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Article: Introducing Tonal: A Minimalist Music App for Collectors and Audiophiles


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Hello Baoshan,

 

Very interesting program you have created. I have had some difficulty getting it to work for me. I uploaded a couple of CD's and even though they show, they will not play. When I click the play, I just get a spinning icon. The second issue is one of the CD's I uploaded was a 3 disc set. 2 of the discs were identified properly but one of then was not. The album is Frank Zappa Halloween 77 3 CD set. Discs 1 and 3 have proper metadata and disc 2 shows as a separate album with no art work. Is there a way to edit the metadata?

 

Regards,

 

Marc

 

 

Tonal.jpeg

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24 minutes ago, mneveux said:

Hello Baoshan,

 

Very interesting program you have created. I have had some difficulty getting it to work for me. I uploaded a couple of CD's and even though they show, they will not play. When I click the play, I just get a spinning icon. The second issue is one of the CD's I uploaded was a 3 disc set. 2 of the discs were identified properly but one of then was not. The album is Frank Zappa Halloween 77 3 CD set. Discs 1 and 3 have proper metadata and disc 2 shows as a separate album with no art work. Is there a way to edit the metadata?

 

Regards,

 

Marc

 

3

 

Thank you for your reply, Marc! I’m sorry for the trouble Tonal brought.

 

I hope the metadata issue has gone. Please confirm. I’ve made some magic to the metadata.

https://github.com/ICMD/Tonal-Metadata/commit/6deb02e7488633e14a2c213be03f309942c330c2

 

On the playback issue, may I know if it plays fine on your internal speaker? If it plays fine on your internal speaker, we can focus on your specific selected device (Biforst gen 5).

 

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Have added 4 hires (24/96) flac files from external hard drives. Different genres (rock, jazz, classical) and metadata all handled very nicely. 

 

Sounds very nice.

 

Question: Where are the music files I have added being stored? It appears somewhere in the cloud? Is there a limit on the amount of storage? Could I add a terabyte (or more) of data if I wanted to? (That would take a bit of time - seems to take several minutes to process each music folder.) Is there a chance my data might just disappear in a puff of smoke some day?

 

It will take some getting used to not having any way to adjust preferences...

 

Thanks for the opportunity to try this out!

 

Follow-up: The fifth file I tried to add has failed. Flac 24/96. It seems to process, and I get the "success - you have added the disc" message, but it is nowhere to be found. I have also tried searching by name - no results. Tried this 3 times now with same folder - same results - nothing added. Hmmm. Any thoughts?

Office desktop: iMac ((Retina 5K, 27-inch, Late 2015) (4 GHz Intel Core i7) (512GB SSD) (32GB Ram)) => USB (Kimber Kable USB Silver) => V-Link 192 USB Input => V-Link Coax Output (AQ Sidewinder) => Schiit Bifrost Multibit Coax Input => Schiit Bifrost Multibit RCA Output => Schitt Pyst => Schitt Asgard 2 => (Audioquest - Mini-3) => Audioengine HD6 (slave connected with Audioquest Type 4 cable) (Pangea AC-14 Power Cord) (IsoAcoustic L8R155 stands) => Audioquest Sidewinders => Audioengine S8 Subwoofer

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2 minutes ago, Joebah said:

Have added 4 hires (24/96) flac files from external hard drives. Different genres (rock, jazz, classical) and metadata all handled very nicely. 

 

Sounds very nice.

 

Question: Where are the music files I have added being stored? It appears somewhere in the cloud? Is there a limit on the amount of storage? Could I add a terabyte (or more) of data if I wanted to? (That would take a bit of time - seems to take several minutes to process each music folder.) Is there a chance my data might just disappear in a puff of smoke some day?

 

It will take some getting used to not having any way to adjust preferences...

 

Thanks for the opportunity to try this out!

2

 

Hi Joebah,

 

Thank you very much for giving it a try.

 

Where are the music files I have added being stored? It appears somewhere in the cloud?

The audio (in a proprietary format, without any metadata or personal information) is secured in a content-addressable cloud storage (Amazon S3). The key to access above audio and link above audio to according metadata is registered in your private iCloud storage. Only you have the read/write access. Since we only store the key in your iCloud storage, the extra storage required for iCloud drive is quite small (usually in kilo-bytes). We don’t know our users’ name, email, iCloud account, etc.

 

Is there a limit on the amount of storage? Could I add a terabyte (or more) of data if I wanted to?

There is no limit, as long as my credit card backing my AWS account is not maxed out.

 

Is there a chance my data might just disappear in a puff of smoke some day?

In the current architecture, I need to keep my AWS account active for users of Tonal to access their data. I’m open to decentralized storage solutions, which could totally eliminate any 3rd party in the chain.

 

On the adjustable preferences topic, I think there’ll be a day we need to introduce a preference panel. But must audiophile related parameter is optimized automatically.

 

Thank you again, Joebah.

 

 

 

 

 

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Follow-up: The fifth file I tried to add has failed. Flac 24/96. It seems to process, and I get the "success - you have added the disc" message, but it is nowhere to be found. I have also tried searching by name - no results. Tried this 3 times now with same folder - same results - nothing added. Hmmm. Any thoughts?

 

(Trying a different file now; still processing slowly... taking quite a few minutes. Perhaps because this one is 24/192? Finished and success! But not sure what happened with my fifth try.)

 

Also wanted to say that the interface is very nice! Clean, uncluttered. Album art looks great.

Office desktop: iMac ((Retina 5K, 27-inch, Late 2015) (4 GHz Intel Core i7) (512GB SSD) (32GB Ram)) => USB (Kimber Kable USB Silver) => V-Link 192 USB Input => V-Link Coax Output (AQ Sidewinder) => Schiit Bifrost Multibit Coax Input => Schiit Bifrost Multibit RCA Output => Schitt Pyst => Schitt Asgard 2 => (Audioquest - Mini-3) => Audioengine HD6 (slave connected with Audioquest Type 4 cable) (Pangea AC-14 Power Cord) (IsoAcoustic L8R155 stands) => Audioquest Sidewinders => Audioengine S8 Subwoofer

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Unfortunately, just had another failure. Flac , 24/96, classical. Spent a number of minutes processing and got the success/added message, but it is not there. :(

 

So have added 5 out of 7 - two failures.

Office desktop: iMac ((Retina 5K, 27-inch, Late 2015) (4 GHz Intel Core i7) (512GB SSD) (32GB Ram)) => USB (Kimber Kable USB Silver) => V-Link 192 USB Input => V-Link Coax Output (AQ Sidewinder) => Schiit Bifrost Multibit Coax Input => Schiit Bifrost Multibit RCA Output => Schitt Pyst => Schitt Asgard 2 => (Audioquest - Mini-3) => Audioengine HD6 (slave connected with Audioquest Type 4 cable) (Pangea AC-14 Power Cord) (IsoAcoustic L8R155 stands) => Audioquest Sidewinders => Audioengine S8 Subwoofer

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21 minutes ago, Joebah said:

Follow-up: The fifth file I tried to add has failed. Flac 24/96. It seems to process, and I get the "success - you have added the disc" message, but it is nowhere to be found. I have also tried searching by name - no results. Tried this 3 times now with same folder - same results - nothing added. Hmmm. Any thoughts?

 

Thank you for letting me know this issue.

 

I guess your file is ripped from vinyl, with no compact disc counterpart. Our underlying metadata sources has no record for the disc, so I had to manually catalog it:

 

https://github.com/ICMD/Tonal-Metadata/commit/04775358529e809922ad64b7fce20d2d981704cc

 

Can you see the album in your collection now? Please let me know.

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6 minutes ago, baoshan said:

Yes, thank you. One of the missing is now there. This might be a problem for me. The vast majority of my hires files are  digitized from my record collection. I also have some that I have purchased from HDTracks - does your metadata source work with HDTracks? (I have thousands of CDs that I spent a long time ripping to iTunes - and I use iTunes and/or Audirvana to listen to those and would not plan to again take the time to add them to the Tonal cloud.) The strange thing is that all of the albums I have successfully added are also vinyl rips - seems some work and others don't.

 

 

Quote

 

 

https://github.com/ICMD/Tonal-Metadata/commit/04775358529e809922ad64b7fce20d2d981704cc

 

Can you see the album in your collection now? Please let me know.

 

Office desktop: iMac ((Retina 5K, 27-inch, Late 2015) (4 GHz Intel Core i7) (512GB SSD) (32GB Ram)) => USB (Kimber Kable USB Silver) => V-Link 192 USB Input => V-Link Coax Output (AQ Sidewinder) => Schiit Bifrost Multibit Coax Input => Schiit Bifrost Multibit RCA Output => Schitt Pyst => Schitt Asgard 2 => (Audioquest - Mini-3) => Audioengine HD6 (slave connected with Audioquest Type 4 cable) (Pangea AC-14 Power Cord) (IsoAcoustic L8R155 stands) => Audioquest Sidewinders => Audioengine S8 Subwoofer

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3 minutes ago, Joebah said:

 

 

 

Does your metadata source work with HDTracks?

Yes. Most albums from HDTracks have their compact disc counterparts.

 

On the iTunes / Audirvana topic:

Tonal has a playback engine designed for predictable audiophile performance. I believe there’ll be some community members interested in the playback engine design. Plus, if you enjoy the metadata Tonal renders, I truly wish you could give Tonal another try.

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29 minutes ago, Daverz said:

I'm in based on the pictures.  What's the Github link?

 

Hi Daverz,

 

The GitHub links reveal how the metadata engine of Tonal works. Please ignore them if you’re not interested in the internals.

 

Thanks!

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Interesting concept.  What is the likelihood your development includes native DSD?  Windows as a platform?  I ask cuz your "future of" article mentions them.  Thx

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17 minutes ago, ted_b said:

Interesting concept.  What is the likelihood your development includes native DSD?  Windows as a platform?  I ask cuz your "future of" article mentions them.  Thx

 

Dear ted_b,

 

DSD is certainly among the top wanted features and is technically quite feasible. Then Windows (PC) support.

 

 

The 1st item on my to-do list is finding financial support for the project, covering at least the next 6 – 12 months’ design and development. I believe the project is promising and deserves a dedicated team.

 

Please forgive me for not willing to add DSD support today.^_^

 

Thanks again!

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7 hours ago, baoshan said:

 

Thank you for your reply, Marc! I’m sorry for the trouble Tonal brought.

 

I hope the metadata issue has gone. Please confirm. I’ve made some magic to the metadata.

https://github.com/ICMD/Tonal-Metadata/commit/6deb02e7488633e14a2c213be03f309942c330c2

 

On the playback issue, may I know if it plays fine on your internal speaker? If it plays fine on your internal speaker, we can focus on your specific selected device (Biforst gen 5).

 

Hi Baoshan,

 

Metadata has been fixed for the Zappa album. Plays fine through the internal speakers but does not play when Bifrost 4490 is selected.

 

Marc

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1 hour ago, mneveux said:

Hi Baoshan,

 

Metadata has been fixed for the Zappa album. Plays fine through the internal speakers but does not play when Bifrost 4490 is selected.

 

Marc

 

 

Hi Marc, It’s very interesting. Could you confirm no other application is hogging the Bifrost (do you mind restarting your Mac)? Do you have another DAC in your hand? Does any other DAC work? If the problem still exists, I’ll dig into the issue.

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6 minutes ago, baoshan said:

 

Hi Marc, It’s very interesting. Could you confirm no other application is hogging the Bifrost (do you mind restarting your Mac)? Do you have another DAC in your hand? Does any other DAC work? If the problem still exists, I’ll dig into the issue.

Hi Baoshan,

 

The Schiit Bifrost 4490 is the only DAC I have. I will reboot the system and report back in a few minutes. Thank you for your time.

 

Regards,

 

Marc

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1 minute ago, baoshan said:

 

Thank you Marc for your feedback. Stay tuned on the Bifrost 4490 issue.

Thank you Baoshan,

 

It is a very popular DAC in the USA so will be worth the time to figure it out. I am in no rush. I am sure you have many things to work on.

 

Regards,

 

Marc

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Just a few additional observations that may be unique to the situation where the source of the music being added is a digital flac file from a needle-drop....

 

The cover art does not match the actual lp cover (even when the actual cover art is included in the file folder) - Tonal must just try to make as close a match that it can based on other information. A minor nit, I guess, but I am would prefer the actual cover art.

 

Like the cover art, Tonal is making an educated guess at the name of the LP - though close, the guesses are sometimes off, different from what is possibly  a more accurate name. Again, a minor thing, but it is a little disorienting to see the titles changed to something different than what I have provided.

 

At this stage in its development, at least, Tonal is probably better suited to CD information rather than needle drops. I also noted it would not accept an ISO file.

 

I am going to experiment a bit with some of the files of CDs that I have ripped from my collection currently located in my iTunes library.

 

I haven't yet done any A/B listening comparisons (listening to the same music on Tonal as compared with Audirvana or HQPlayer), but Tonal does sound good.

Office desktop: iMac ((Retina 5K, 27-inch, Late 2015) (4 GHz Intel Core i7) (512GB SSD) (32GB Ram)) => USB (Kimber Kable USB Silver) => V-Link 192 USB Input => V-Link Coax Output (AQ Sidewinder) => Schiit Bifrost Multibit Coax Input => Schiit Bifrost Multibit RCA Output => Schitt Pyst => Schitt Asgard 2 => (Audioquest - Mini-3) => Audioengine HD6 (slave connected with Audioquest Type 4 cable) (Pangea AC-14 Power Cord) (IsoAcoustic L8R155 stands) => Audioquest Sidewinders => Audioengine S8 Subwoofer

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15 minutes ago, Joebah said:

Just a few additional observations that may be unique to the situation where the source of the music being added is a digital flac file from a needle-drop....

 

The cover art does not match the actual lp cover (even when the actual cover art is included in the file folder) - Tonal must just try to make as close a match that it can based on other information. A minor nit, I guess, but I am would prefer the actual cover art.

 

Like the cover art, Tonal is making an educated guess at the name of the LP - though close, the guesses are sometimes off, different from what is possibly  a more accurate name. Again, a minor thing, but it is a little disorienting to see the titles changed to something different than what I have provided.

 

At this stage in its development, at least, Tonal is probably better suited to CD information rather than needle drops. I also noted it would not accept an ISO file.

 

I am going to experiment a bit with some of the files of CDs that I have ripped from my collection currently located in my iTunes library.

 

I haven't yet done any A/B listening comparisons (listening to the same music on Tonal as compared with Audirvana or HQPlayer), but Tonal does sound good.

 

Hi Joebah,

 

Thank you for sharing your discovering! The metadata (cover art, album title, etc.) you see is generated by a sophisticated algorithm. But the metadata does not end there: you can edit it by yourself, or you can PM me (the only contributor for now).

 

Once the cover art (and/or the title, etc.) is updated, your collection will be reflected in real time.

 

But you’re correct: Tonal is designed with ripped or downloaded lossless music in mind. Issues related to needle drops need to be re-considered more thoroughly.

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8 hours ago, Unblessed Be said:

Will your app support multi-DAC chips for headphones in certain flagship smartphones such as the LG V30's Quad DAC? Would be awesome if it did.

 

Hi Unblessed Be,

 

Thank you for your suggestion. Windows and Android platforms will be scheduled after iOS. The macOS/iOS combination needs to form a reference experience first.

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