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Em2016

Radio mode of streaming services - Spotify vs Apple Music vs Pandora vs others

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Hi all,

 

In terms of radio mode (start a radio mode on a particular track/album/artist and let it pick the next tracks) of the streaming services, is Pandora still king?

 

Or has Spotify now caught the reputation that Pandora had of being king for a long while?

 

Or are there others that work really well?

 

I've just re-started my subscription with all these music services after being away from them for a couple years, so I'll find out myself. Will test out for a couple months before settling for one.

 

Just wondering what's working well for others out there.

 

Thanks !

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Pandora is still king for radio which is why I still pay for a subscription.

I find Spotify to be poor quality in just about every way including Radio.

Apple Music has better sound quality than Pandora (and Spotify which isn't hard to do) but the radio stations are not as good.  I'd love to see Apple buy Pandora and keep their human curated radio station features.

Roon has a really great radio station but you have to be willing to do Roon which doesn't fit everyone.

 

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6 minutes ago, DarwinOSX said:

Apple Music has better sound quality than Pandora (and Spotify which isn't hard to do)

 

Thanks Darwin. Do you mean here that Apple Music sounds better than both Pandora and Spotify? Or Spotify sounds better than Pandora?

 

How would you subjectively score each for sound quality, out of 10?

 

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Apple Music sounds better than both because 256K AAC is a better codec than Ogg at 320 which is what Spottily uses and Pandora goes to a maximum of 192K even for the paid tier.  I play both Pandora and Apple Music on a variety of devices including on my 4K Apple TV and I like to see the Album art and Pandora does a better job of that too.  Apple is more discerning about quality in general whereas Spotify will throw anything out there including lots of junk tracks. AM still has millions more tracks than Spotify plus it integrates much better with existing iTunes Music.  But AM's Radio stations need work including the ability to delete stations you don't want.

AM is #1 for sound quality, then Pandora, then Spotify mostly because Spotify is so inconsistent with some really poor quality tracks out there.  I also like Tidal which I use mostly with Roon.

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2 hours ago, DarwinOSX said:

Apple Music sounds better than both because 256K AAC is a better codec than Ogg at 320 which is what Spottily uses and Pandora goes to a maximum of 192K even for the paid tier.

 

That's not correct. The Pandora HiFi paid service, supported by some streamers such as Chromecast devices, streams lossless FLAC file tracks at CD quality resolution!

https://www.deezer.com/us/offers/hifi

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We are talking about the Pandora Radio service not the newish hifi service.  But I don't think the HiFI version is cd quality either.  Why are you showing Deezer when we are talking about Pandora?

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6 hours ago, DarwinOSX said:

Apple Music sounds better than both because 256K AAC is a better codec than Ogg at 320 which is what Spottily uses and Pandora goes to a maximum of 192K even for the paid tier.  I play both Pandora and Apple Music on a variety of devices including on my 4K Apple TV and I like to see the Album art and Pandora does a better job of that too.  Apple is more discerning about quality in general whereas Spotify will throw anything out there including lots of junk tracks. AM still has millions more tracks than Spotify plus it integrates much better with existing iTunes Music.  But AM's Radio stations need work including the ability to delete stations you don't want.

AM is #1 for sound quality, then Pandora, then Spotify mostly because Spotify is so inconsistent with some really poor quality tracks out there.  I also like Tidal which I use mostly with Roon.

 

Hi Darwin

 

Can you share a couple albums where you hear the biggest difference between Spotify and Apple Music sound quality?

 

Also what is your Spotify endpoint  feeding your DAC? Chromecast Audio?

 

And what is your Apple Music endpoint feeding your DAC?

 

Cheers

 

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I haven't used Spotify in awhile.  

I'm not a fan of Chromecast audio for a variety of reasons

A lot of people have the same opinion as me of its SQ compared to Apple Music but I don't feel the need to convince anyone of that.

I subscribe to Apple Music, Pandora, Tidal, and Roon.

I have many years of iTunes music, lots of FLAC's, and a turntable.

I pretty much only use Tidal in conjunction with Roon. .

I use Kef LS50W's for Roon and Tidal.  

Apple TV 4K with the new Sonos Amp with Sonos Sub and Revel Concerta 2 M16 bookshelf speakers with rear Sonos Ones.  I turn off the rears and set the Apple TV to stereo only for Pandora and Apple music.

I also have stereo paired HomePods and another set of stereo paired Sonos Ones in other rooms.

I love airplay in general and especially Airplay 2.  Too bad the Kefs don't do Airplay but I bet the next version does since the Kef LSX has it or will soon have it.

Attached is a picture of my tv/music setup I use most often.

The new Sonos Amp with the speakers and sub I mentioned and a Sony X930E 55 inch TV.

Roon radio with Tidal/MQA is really good and sounds great.  They have better radio than anyone including Pandora which is high praise from me.

 

IMG_0743.jpeg

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11 minutes ago, DarwinOSX said:

I haven't used Spotify in awhile.  

I'm not a fan of Chromecast audio for a variety of reasons

A lot of people have the same opinion as me of its SQ compared to Apple Music but I don't feel the need to convince anyone of that.

I subscribe to Apple Music, Pandora, Tidal, and Roon.

I have many years of iTunes music, lots of FLAC's, and a turntable.

I pretty much only use Tidal in conjunction with Roon. .

I use Kef LS50W's for Roon and Tidal.  

Apple TV 4K with the new Sonos Amp with Sonos Sub and Revel Concerta 2 M16 bookshelf speakers with rear Sonos Ones.  I turn off the rears and set the Apple TV to stereo only for Pandora and Apple music.

I also have stereo paired HomePods and another set of stereo paired Sonos Ones in other rooms.

I love airplay in general and especially Airplay 2.  Too bad the Kefs don't do Airplay but I bet the next version does since the Kef LSX has it or will soon have it.

Attached is a picture of my tv/music setup I use most often.

The new Sonos Amp with the speakers and sub I mentioned and a Sony X930E 55 inch TV.

 

IMG_0743.jpeg

 

Fantastic setup!

 

Reason I asked what your Spotify endpoint was, is because Chromecast (for example) resamples the 320kbps premium plan to 256kbps. Some people think this resampling with Chromecast makes Spotify premium sound crapper. Spotify playing to Chromecast does indeed sound craper to me too.

 

But if you didn't like Spotify on a different device, I was curious which device. Was that Spotify Connect on your wonderful LS50W's? 

 

I'm only 1 week in trialling all of these services (paying for the top plan for each, for one month) but I don't hear Spotify lacking Apple Music. Much more testing required of course.

 

That's also why I was interested in a couple albums that showed you the biggest difference in SQ.

 

I'm using a Bluesound Node 2i, which supports official Spotify Connect and official Airplay 2 for Apple Music. Using the digital output.

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9 minutes ago, DarwinOSX said:

A lot of people have the same opinion as me of its SQ compared to Apple Music but I don't feel the need to convince anyone of that.

 

And all noted. I'm not looking for convincing. Just friendly conversation, sharing impressions. It's ok to have different impressions! 

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4 minutes ago, Em2016 said:

 

Fantastic setup!

 

Reason I asked what your Spotify endpoint was, is because Chromecast (for example) resamples the 320kbps premium plan to 256kbps. Some people think this resampling with Chromecast makes Spotify premium sound crapper. Spotify playing to Chromecast does indeed sound craper to me too.

 

But if you didn't like Spotify on a different device, I was curious which device. Was that Spotify Connect on your wonderful LS50W's? 

 

I'm only 1 week in trialling all of these services (paying for the top plan for each, for one month) but I don't hear Spotify lacking Apple Music. Much more testing required of course.

 

That's also why I was interested in a couple albums that showed you the biggest difference in SQ.

 

I'm using a Bluesound Node 2i, which supports official Spotify Connect and official Airplay 2 for Apple Music.

 

Thanks.  The Node 2i sounds really good.  Lots of features that the Sonos Amp doesn't have although it doesn't have HDMI like the Sonos.

I used Spotify Connect on multiple devices including the Kefs and airplayed from the spotify app too.

 

 

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15 minutes ago, DarwinOSX said:

I used Spotify Connect on multiple devices including the Kefs and airplayed from the spotify app too.

 

Thanks for the reply! I know from personal experience, those are very transparent speakers.

 

I wonder why things sounded so different for you.

 

The reason for Spotify sounding crapper (for me) on Chromecast can at least be explained (maybe).

 

Just for the purposes of friendly discussion, I'll try to explain how Spotify and Apple Music are sounding to me.

 

Both sound great to me btw. Not as good as Tidal CD quality of course but the gap isn't as large as I expected (to my ears). Best way I can describe it, is if Tidal and Deezer disappeared (I hope not!) I could still easily enjoy Spotify and Apple Music.

 

Before the Node 2i I was comparing Spotify Connect on Chromecast vs Airplay via Airport Express. I wasn't enjoying Spotify on Chromecast Audio at all. Then I read that many people hated Spotify on Chromecast and read about the 256kbps re-sampling.

 

Now with the Node 2i supporting official Spotify Connect and official Airplay 2 (using digital output - not using the Bluesound DAC) Apple Music is sounding a little softer in the top end to me. Spotify sounding a bit more extended and open - sounding closer to Tidal in 'airiness' than Apple Music does (to my ears). Obviously in overall detail and resolution, it's a no contest - Tidal is better.

 

I'm hopeless at describing these things but there was my attempt.

 

We always say one thing sounds better than another but I'm always interested in the subjective reasons why, that's why I was asking if you could describe earlier.

 

Sometimes it's hard to put in words and describe these things I guess. It's often a 'feeling' that's hard to describe.

 

I'm much preferring Spotify's Radio mode too. It gets more things right for my type of music. This comes down to styles of music I think, so can vary quite a bit between each other.

 

I like the 'For you' playlist suggestions of Apple Music - it's been working well for my type of listening. I can't find the equivalent playlists in Spotify. I may need to subscribe to both long term! First world problems indeed.

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4 minutes ago, DarwinOSX said:

Whatever works for you.

 

Yes that's always the case for all of us.

 

Was hoping for a discussion / shared impressions.


Hopefully others can share impressions on this thread if they jump in later.

 

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