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HD Streaming Comparison: Amazon, IDAGIO, Qobuz, Spotify Premium, Tidal


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On 2/29/2020 at 9:31 PM, Calvin & Hobbes said:

I thought that IDAGIO's search design would be compelling to me for listening to classical music, but I'm finding that I actually like Qobuz's search better than that on IDAGIO

 

How do you search Classical music on Qobuz?  I mostly use IDAGIO because I love their drill-down search.  With Qobuz I'm exasperated that search results are displayed only as album covers with an artist name below that's often uselessly truncated.  

 

Am I missing a more efficient approach to searching on Qobuz?

Mac Mini (2012 i7) > HQPlayer > RME ADI-2 v2 > Benchmark AHB-2 > Thiel 3.7

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IDAGIO does have more detail in their search engine. Qobuz's search is a bit frustrating to use. I typically search for the composition and the artist or conductor for specific results. IDAGIO is definitely best for seeing all of the performances for a given composition. For my own use, I do like Spotify's search results which seem more visually oriented in its design.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I left Tidal because of MQA. Qobuz wins for me. The last straw was when I was fiddling with my Lumin streamer and Roon to see if I wanted to do the software unfold or the hardware unfold for the 1st unfold. Then something hit me and made me realize I do not have to deal with all that nonsense. I tolerated Tidal only because back then Qobuz song selection was way worse, it is catching up and as you mentioned sound quality is way better.

 

No more worrying about MQA, no more worrying about contributing/support their scheme, no more worrying about MQA compliant gear, feels really good.

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On 2/29/2020 at 9:31 PM, Calvin & Hobbes said:

Spotify actually is not bad at conveying detail, pace and presence from music

 

I am glad someone else shares this sentiment about Spotify and its Ogg Vorbis.  It really is pretty good considering it is lossy.  

RIG:  MB Pro - Benchmark DAC3 L - LA4  AHB2 | Paradigm Sig S6 Cables:  Van Damme, Canare 4S11, Lifatec optical, Wireworld and IsoTek power

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  • 3 months later...

Has Spotify improved recently? I gave it ago again as a few members are singing its praises. Well I have to say it now is significantly better than Tidal and Qobuz! This is via Android to Chromecast. 

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 3/15/2020 at 7:32 PM, photonman said:

 

 

I am glad someone else shares this sentiment about Spotify and its Ogg Vorbis.  It really is pretty good considering it is lossy.  

Apple Music as well, especially for pop music and/or stuff that isn’t recorded well to begin with. 

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Adding Primephonic (a classical-only service) to the list as well:

 

My subjective impressions of the musicality of the major HD streaming services: 

1. Qobuz

2. Primephonic

3. Spotify Premium (320 kbps Ogg Vorbis which is not lossless)

4. IDAGIO

5. Amazon HD

6 Tidal

 

Round 5: Qobuz vs Primephonic: 

 

Sound quality: A Primephonic's sound quality was quite good, but Qobuz' sound quality was still noticeably better. Qobuz provides more presence around instruments and voices while Primephonic, though good, tends to sound more 2-dimensional in its sound quality. The benefit of more presence is that recordings are more engaging because they sound more alive rather than just being reproduced.

 

Amount of Content: Also, Primephonic's lack of music content was an issue. When I did searches, I would often only be able to see one track shown from an album. Qobuz also has this issue, but to a lesser degree. Qobuz has enough gaps in content filled so that this is not so much of an issue.

 

Search Quality: From what I remember, search in Primephonic was difficult to use. For classical music, it is important to me to be able to be able to filter on performer and/or conductor. This seemed to be difficult to do in Primephonic. Spotify's search is best, but I'm finding Qobuz's search to be passably good.

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  • 4 months later...
On 9/14/2020 at 9:11 PM, Calvin & Hobbes said:

.....

Search Quality: From what I remember, search in Primephonic was difficult to use. For classical music, it is important to me to be able to be able to filter on performer and/or conductor. This seemed to be difficult to do in Primephonic. Spotify's search is best, but I'm finding Qobuz's search to be passably good.....

I've been a Primephonic subscriber since September. I gave up my Idagio subscription when Primephonic offered a half-price introductory year price (about $75). I am also a Spotify Premium subscriber (for popular music).

 

For Classical music lovers:

Primephonic has vastly improved on many, many levels: search (as good as Idagio), selection, support, booklets and documentation, music curation and suggestions based on listener history and finally they have now introduced what is called Maestro Listening guide. This is a real time guide that explains passages in the music you are currently listening to. The work that went into this simply awesome. Primephonic has gone all-out to be the best classical music streaming service available today.

 

https://primephonichelp.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/categories/360001309552-Act-II-Subscriptions

 

Webinars:

 

https://primephonichelp.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/360015307859-NEW-Learn-from-the-Primephonic-team-members-through-webinars-

 

(No affiliation - just a happy subscriber)

 

"The function of music is to release us from the tyranny of conscious thought", Sir Thomas Beecham. 

 

 

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I find QoBuzz to be great for passive background listening while doing other things or while discovering new music to get a general idea of how it sounds but pretty uninvolving when listening to music for pleasure or purpose. This is compared to playing files that are local to my home network.

 

I've tried Tidal as well and at the time it was the same story. I suspect this story would remain the same no matter which streaming service was being used IMO.

 

I have a QoBuzz monthly subscription for streaming and use it everyday...until I sit down in front of the main rig. At that point   only local music files make everything sound correct again to these ears. I don't even find it to be a subtle difference, the gap is pretty wide and immediately noticeable to me.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I too took advantage of the Primephonic discount.  I'm happy with the quality of the sound and I love the search.  But (like Idagio too) I cannot feed it through my Innuos Zenith to my dac.  They seem to be wedded to their web interface, with no plans to extend to LMS (which the Innuos server uses).  So I have a vintage 2013 Mac Air sitting on top of my DAC just for Primephonic.  Spotify premium has worse sound and nearly useless search, but it does have Spotty for LMS.

larryb

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I'm a new subscriber to Primephonic's top tier (hi-res). It's search functions are phenomenal for classical music. I find myself sitting down to listen to music while reading a book at night, and before I know it, I've listened to way more music than I had expected and hardly read my book. The liner notes are a treat. And BTW, you CAN search by conductor, soloist, composer, etc. Perhaps this feature was added after the poster earlier in the thread suggested that you cannot. 

 

One question regarding Primephonic v Qobuz:  how can the hi-res recordings sound different between the two services, if they're the same recording delivered at the same lossless sample rate and bit depth? Seems to me that they would be the same bits streaming to my DAC.

 

Primephonic vs. Qobuz. I have hi-res subscriptions to both. My review, based on headphone and speaker listening with entry-level audiophile gear (Chromecast Audio connected to Topping D50s DAC via Toslink, NAD AV713 receiver, KEF Q50 speakers, HiFiMan HE400i 2020 headphones):

 

1. No sound difference between hi-res tracks.  I would think they are bit-identical. I can't speak to the quality of their lossy formats. 

 

2. Primephonic's search feature for classical is head and shoulders above any other service, including Qobuz. it's an absolute joy for lovers of classical music. In just a few days, I have discovered many many many recordings that are new to me. Before subscribing, I found the search for classical on Spotify so painful that I only listened to jazz and pop on Spotify and relied on my own collection of recordings for classical.  Now, with the entire universe of recordings at my disposal and with a search tool that makes finding appealing music so easy, I'm awash in new classical experiences. No longer do I listen to the same albums that I've had for the past 20 years.  For example, I've never had the luxury of listening to five different recordings of Elgar's Cello Concerto in a sitting. Wow!  Or listening to different recordings of Bach's Trio Sonatas wherein one voice is a recorder, or the same voice is an oboe, or the same voice is a violin!  (I know I'm gushing here, but the search is really phenomenal. And, no, I'm not affiliated with Primephonic in any way.)

 

3. Occasionally, I hear a skip or drop-out with Qobuz's streaming. My WiFi is fast (~200kbps on speed test). I haven't had a dropout on Primephonic.

 

4. I have experienced a sudden blast of white noise on Primephonic while Chromecasting. This has happened mid-track about three times in the past two weeks. If I grab my phone (which controls the Chromecast) and click the "next track" icon, the noise goes away and the next track plays correctly.  I have no idea where in the chain of events/gear this is caused, but I haven't heard it on Qobuz or Spotify.  This is pretty annoying when it happens. I hope it stops.  It hasn't happened while I'm listening on my phone (with an iFi Hip-Dac) -- only via Chromecast.

 

5. Qobuz's handling of favorite albums has a search feature.  For example, you can search your favorites for "Bach" and see only your favorite Bach albums. I really like this.  Primephonic tech support told me that they hope to add this feature soon. Currently, Primephonic's favorite albums can be sorted by title or newest/oldest, but basically it's just a heap of recordings.  Reminds me of when I used to listen to LPs in college and I'd end up with a messy pile on the floor.

 

6. Neither service currently allows you to search only hi-res recordings. I'd really like this.  Primephonic tech support suggested that something like this may be added.

 

7. Currently, Primephonic only streams at 44 or 48Khz to my Chromecast Audio connected via Toslink to my DAC.  Qobuz streams on my system at up to 96Khz (the limit of the Chromecast Audio). Their stream should Chromecast at full hi-res. I've contacted Primephonic's tech support about this.  They told me that they couldn't reproduce the behavior. I hope that this is a bug that they can fix.  If you can currently Chromecast Primephonic at sample rates above 48KHz, please chime in to let me know! (This is as of February 24, 2021.)  Qobuz streams hi-res fine on my gear, so I doubt that my gear is the problem.

 

8. Qobuz has a very limited integration into Apple's CarPlay. You can only stream your pre-downloaded albums. There is no search feature.  Primephonic has no CarPlay integration at all. 

 

9. Primephonic has super radio stations. Qobuz has none. I really like listening to the Primephonic radio while reading my morning news. You can set the "radio" to genre, time era, mood, and instrument. I usually set my morning radio to Baroque chamber music with a joyful mood. I love it. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be an option to create a radio stream dedicated to a composer, like "Mozart."  You also can't create a radio based on a track or album the way you can with Spotify.

 

So, my take: if you like classical music, Primephonic is the clear choice. It's simply a joy to use compared to all the other services.  I tried Idagio for a few hours, but found their search less convenient and they don't offer hi-res audio (max is 16/44). I use my Qobuz subscription for jazz and pop, because, of course, Primephonic only offers classical. 

 

BTW, a nice feature of Qobuz is that you can customize the genres displayed on the home page. I have mine set to jazz. When I tried out Tidal, I didn't find a way to focus the home screen on my preferred genres. I found this really annoying. As another previous poster has said, Tidal uses MQA for their hi-res streams, which requires hardware certified for MQA. My Chromecast Audio doesn't support MQA, and a lot of other hardware solutions I've researched do not support MQA.  It's really nice that Primephonic and Qobuz support hi-res PCM streams with no additional hardware requirements.

 

 

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9 hours ago, CorvusCorax said:

Occasionally, I hear a skip or drop-out with Qobuz's streaming. My WiFi is fast (~200kbps on speed test). I haven't had a dropout on Primephonic.

 

With Qobuz via Audirvana I never had skip or drop-out with speed of around 50Mbps in my listening room.

 

Matt

"I want to know why the musicians are on stage, not where". (John Farlowe)

 

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I received a quick response from Primephonic's excellent tech support:  as of Feb 25, 2021, Primephonic limits their Chromecast streams to 16-bit, 48KHz sample rate due to their current server architecture. Primephonic is considering revising their architecture to allow hi-res support for Chromecasting. You can currently stream Primephonic up to 24-bit 192Khz sample rate via phones that support this quality or USB direct to your DAC.  My iPhone 12 successfully stream at 192KHz.  My Android Moto G7 streamed at 48Khz due to the downsampling to 48Khz that occurs on most Android phones.

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  • 2 months later...
On 9/15/2020 at 4:11 AM, Calvin & Hobbes said:

Adding Primephonic (a classical-only service) to the list as well:

 

My subjective impressions of the musicality of the major HD streaming services: 

1. Qobuz

2. Primephonic

3. Spotify Premium (320 kbps Ogg Vorbis which is not lossless)

4. IDAGIO

5. Amazon HD

6 Tidal

 

Round 5: Qobuz vs Primephonic: 

 

Sound quality: A Primephonic's sound quality was quite good, but Qobuz' sound quality was still noticeably better. Qobuz provides more presence around instruments and voices while Primephonic, though good, tends to sound more 2-dimensional in its sound quality. The benefit of more presence is that recordings are more engaging because they sound more alive rather than just being reproduced.

 

Amount of Content: Also, Primephonic's lack of music content was an issue. When I did searches, I would often only be able to see one track shown from an album. Qobuz also has this issue, but to a lesser degree. Qobuz has enough gaps in content filled so that this is not so much of an issue.

 

Search Quality: From what I remember, search in Primephonic was difficult to use. For classical music, it is important to me to be able to be able to filter on performer and/or conductor. This seemed to be difficult to do in Primephonic. Spotify's search is best, but I'm finding Qobuz's search to be passably good.

I appreciate that you put Spotify so high in your list. It’s highly counter intuitive to say the least and probably highly controversial since “hey it’s lossy!”, but I find Spotify musical as well, and thicker/darker sounding which can help tame bright systems.
 

And I do agree with Tidal at or near the bottom. Highly controversial again. I find it too bright and thin personally for my taste. And I tried 4-5 times to make sure in different system iterations. 
 

Did you try YouTube Music? Interesting flavor, soundstage wise. 

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8 hours ago, Topk said:

I appreciate that you put Spotify so high in your list. It’s highly counter intuitive to say the least and probably highly controversial since “hey it’s lossy!”, but I find Spotify musical as well, and thicker/darker sounding which can help tame bright systems.
 

And I do agree with Tidal at or near the bottom. Highly controversial again. I find it too bright and thin personally for my taste. And I tried 4-5 times to make sure in different system iterations. 
 

Did you try YouTube Music? Interesting flavor, soundstage wise. 

I haven't tried YouTube Music. Is YouTube Music available via a network streamer instead of just via a computer?

 

I find Spotify's shortcomings are "errors of omission" for which there could be some level of detail, presence or air around instruments and voices missing, but what's there is enjoyable. And, I agree 100% that those qualities may actually be beneficial for systems that sound overly bright.

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On 5/4/2021 at 7:56 PM, Calvin & Hobbes said:

I find Spotify's shortcomings are "errors of omission" for which there could be some level of detail, presence or air around instruments and voices missing, but what's there is enjoyable. And, I agree 100% that those qualities may actually be beneficial for systems that sound overly bright.

 

I agree,

there are rumours that selected users in the US, the UK and Sweden get Spotify lossless streamed to their devices.

This is not visible on the Spotify app. The listening impressions so far seem to be that it is musically much superior to Spotify Ogg Vorbis. Did you or some audiophile friends notice something in respect to?

Thanks

 

Matt

"I want to know why the musicians are on stage, not where". (John Farlowe)

 

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1 hour ago, matthias said:

 

I agree,

there are rumours that selected users in the US, the UK and Sweden get Spotify lossless streamed to their devices.

This is not visible on the Spotify app. The listening impressions so far seem to be that it is musically much superior to Spotify Ogg Vorbis. Did you or some audiophile friends notice something in respect to?

Thanks

 

Matt

I've not been notified that I am receiving Spotify Lossless so I don't think my Spotify stream has changed at all. I'd be curious to test it for sure.

 

Even if Spotify Lossless is good, I would probably still continue my Qobuz subscription to support an alternative streaming choice to Spotify. I appreciate the substantial steps that Qobuz has done to improve streaming sound quality. I say this with Tidal in mind. I didn't like how Tidal purported to improve streaming sound quality, but that actually was a front to try to get a scheme in place to be able to extract royalties.

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