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Article: The Next Track: Episode 159 | Amazon Music HD

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Hooray! So Amazon is taking over yet another commercial space.  Wonderful.    


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After following several threads on this website related to this topic and now listening to this podcast, I'm still not sure what people are finding interesting about this new streamer.  I'll pass and stick with Qobuz.  With Qobuz I know exactly what I'm getting (excluding 100% provenance) and how to get bit perfect play back every time I use it.


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At the time we recorded, we hadn't seen the rumors of the new "audiophile" Amazon Echo, which was announced yesterday. So one of the reasons for their lossless/high-res service is, perhaps, to provide "better sounding" music for that device. 


I write about Macs, iTunes, music, and more at Kirkville.

Author of Take Control of iTunes 12

Co-host of The Next Track podcast.

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7 hours ago, kirkmc said:

At the time we recorded, we hadn't seen the rumors of the new "audiophile" Amazon Echo, which was announced yesterday. So one of the reasons for their lossless/high-res service is, perhaps, to provide "better sounding" music for that device. 

 

Thanks for putting "Audiophile" in quotes. By no sane definition is the new Echo Studio an audiophile device. 


Founder of Audiophile Style

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color me skeptical, but does anybody think that Amazon has gone back to the masters and sourced 24/96 and 24/192 files ???

 

I am going to believe they are streaming upsampled CD 16/44.1 files until proven otherwise 

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8 minutes ago, bbosler said:

 

color me skeptical, but does anybody think that Amazon has gone back to the masters and sourced 24/96 and 24/192 files ???

 

I am going to believe they are streaming upsampled CD 16/44.1 files until proven otherwise 

 

Aren't you not using them anyway?


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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

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On 9/25/2019 at 9:50 PM, The Computer Audiophile said:

over all though Qobuz is 100x better than Amazon. 

 

What is 100x better? 

Right now I have Tidal running with Roon,  a trial  subscription to Qobuz and to  Amazon HD.  I also have over 3tb of CDs ripped to a drive. I am not the kind of person to make my ear's bleed doing a-b comparisons, but it seems to me that the noticeable variation in sound quality is more from recording to recording than from service to service. I am more interested in the catalog offerings of relatively, what should I say, far out music-- jazz from small record companies, avant-garde contemporary classical music, and non-pop world music. This involves a very large amount of music, and I haven't scratched surface, but there is no question that Amazon on my measure--the offerings of the music that I listen to--is incomparably better.

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25 minutes ago, Abstraction said:

 

What is 100x better? 

Right now I have Tidal running with Roon,  a trial  subscription to Qobuz and to  Amazon HD.  I also have over 3tb of CDs ripped to a drive. I am not the kind of person to make my ear's bleed doing a-b comparisons, but it seems to me that the noticeable variation in sound quality is more from recording to recording than from service to service. I am more interested in the catalog offerings of relatively, what should I say, far out music-- jazz from small record companies, avant-garde contemporary classical music, and non-pop world music. This involves a very large amount of music, and I haven't scratched surface, but there is no question that Amazon on my measure--the offerings of the music that I listen to--is incomparably better.

Hi Abstraction - I have all three service as well. I agree with your assessment about sound quality.

 

I find Qobuz music selection, recommendations, and navigation so much better than the other two services. For example, I love the ECM records catalog. In Qobuz I can view the entire catalog by selecting the label. In Tidal forget about it. In Amazon I have to search ECM Records and it does return a dump truck full of albums, but I have no idea if this is actually all the ECM stuff in Amazon or a partial list or everything with the letters ECM or Records etc... Amazon search is just like the store, search for a hard drive and you'll get 30,000 results to weed through. Qobuz has information about many releases when you click on them as well. 

 

Then, think about playback. Right now the only way to enjoyable play Amazon bit perfectly is a BluOS or DTS PlayFi capable product. Forget about the desktop and mobile apps. They aren't built with audio quality, output selection, and sample rate switching in mind.

 

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.


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5 hours ago, 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

They charged you for the standard definition because you'd already used your free trial. They gave you a free HD trial. I don't now of any service that gives several free trials. 

 

Based on my DACs that indicate sample rate and bit depth, Amazon is delivering the same native HD content as Qobuz. 

 


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3 hours ago, 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.

Most agreed, my 2 cents.

I would never deal with Tidal as long as the company was under control of Jay Z and his little crew of gangsters.

 

I tried Qobuz for 2 months. Its the only one that has a way to direct stream the data to my DAC under Windoz10. Sounded fine like a any lossless stream should. But I'm a Linux guy and no native app for it. It's 25 albums of multichannel recordings is a joke. Too pricey for now.

 

I signed for the 90 day trial. Also sounds good but as mentioned, no easy way to get unmolested data to a DAC so it ends up choked by Windoz anyways.  Good pricing though.

 

As it stands, none offer IMO as good a catalog, UI, etc; as Spotify,  it has a native Linux app and sounds just fine for now

The first one that offers a full catalog of multichannel music will get my money away from Spotify.  ;)


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16 hours ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

I agree. There are no longer any albums I care about that Tidal has and Qobuz doesn't. 

 

It's interesting, because for a very short time - a year or two? - there were exclusives, and Tidal was notably trying to sell their service on that feature. I haven't heard of any big-name exclusives in a while; has that stopped? 


I write about Macs, iTunes, music, and more at Kirkville.

Author of Take Control of iTunes 12

Co-host of The Next Track podcast.

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4 hours ago, kirkmc said:

 

It's interesting, because for a very short time - a year or two? - there were exclusives, and Tidal was notably trying to sell their service on that feature. I haven't heard of any big-name exclusives in a while; has that stopped? 

That game seems over as fast as it started. 


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Isn't it great to have so many options.

 

I am not the most patient person but I do believe that it is only a matter of short time before some software vendor integrates with Amazon HD and then this drawback is eliminated and the debate can really begin about the sound quality difference.   And I gotta believe Spotify might have something up their sleeve too because they cannot stay forever in their equivalent world of cassettes and 8-track tape.

 

I keep going back and forth between all these streaming services and I was content to settle back onto Spotify for all the aforementioned benefits (catalog, superior algorithms, UI etc.) but then Amazon has to rock my world.  I find Amazon's curated playlists pretty darn good and the music selection is great but that OCD thing about getting bitperfect has me swaying back to Spotify but I intend to take advantage of three free months with Amazon.   I figure if I set my Audio Midi to 24 bit/44.1 i am at least at Tidal level, except for the resampling of the higher rates but Amazon's catalog is heavy on the CD quality stuff.

 

What I find ironic too is that Amazon probably already runs some of their competitors' backends in their data centers so they make money either way.  Lets see what Amazon HD evolves to in a year or so.  It wasn't so long ago that we were buying our SACD's and Chesky CD's from them so this is just the next chapter of Amazon music.


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Quote

They charged you for the standard definition because you'd already used your free trial. They gave you a free HD trial. I don't now of any service that gives several free trials. 

 

correct, i get that now. they counted my former Amazon music unlimited as a free trial.

 

Quote

Based on my DACs that indicate sample rate and bit depth, Amazon is delivering the same native HD content as Qobuz. 

 

That means nothing, I can resample 160K MP3 files to 24/192 and it will show on your DACs as 24/192, so unless you look at the spectrum you can't rely on what the DAC is telling you

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Just now, bbosler said:

 

correct, i get that now. they counted my former Amazon music unlimited as a free trial.

 

 

That means nothing, I can resample 160K MP3 files to 24/192 and it will show on your DACs as 24/192, so unless you look at the spectrum you can't rely on what the DAC is telling you

Are you suggesting Amazon is using DSP to get high resolution files? This would be quite a story.


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43 minutes ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

Are you suggesting Amazon is using DSP to get high resolution files? This would be quite a story.

 

I think he means re-sampling, kind of like what HD tracks sometimes does (or at least sells).


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Do facts matter?

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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.)


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