Spotify and my systems...yuck!

#21
Not sure - have not had an opportunity to check it out.

@David uses it regularly. You have to search YouTube Music specifically for the hi rez audio selections.

Tidal and Deezer give me a ton of choices and sound wonderful on the main system.
I don’t really use YouTube for hi rez audio just for the music you can’t have elsewhere easily
 
#22
Is everyone here referring to the Spotify Premium service that costs like $10 per month, or the (free?) Mp3 quality service?

I've never tried their cheap/free service, but use Spotify Premium through Sonos into a DIY DAC and find it totally acceptable. I once tried Tidal, and A-B'd the same set of demo tracks on both sources through the Sonos. Frankly on most songs I could not tell any difference between the two.

I've run across threads like this where "Spotify" is nearly unanimously regarded as unacceptable for serious listening or highly resolving systems, so for me something doesn't add up. What am I missing?
 

MikeyFresh

Moderator
Staff member
#23
Is everyone here referring to the Spotify Premium service that costs like $10 per month, or the (free?) Mp3 quality service?
I believe even that Premium service is still lossy (though acceptable at 320kbps) the only lossless foray Spotify made was "testing" back in early 2017 if memory serves.

Unless something changed that I missed, they never actually implemented lossless though. So while 320kbps is acceptable on many systems, it still doesn't truly cut it on a high-end/revealing system (not like Tidal or Qobuz does anyway).
 
#24
Is everyone here referring to the Spotify Premium service that costs like $10 per month, or the (free?) Mp3 quality service?

I've never tried their cheap/free service, but use Spotify Premium through Sonos into a DIY DAC and find it totally acceptable. I once tried Tidal, and A-B'd the same set of demo tracks on both sources through the Sonos. Frankly on most songs I could not tell any difference between the two.

I've run across threads like this where "Spotify" is nearly unanimously regarded as unacceptable for serious listening or highly resolving systems, so for me something doesn't add up. What am I missing?
I love the Spotify interface, large catalog and the quality of their catalog.

If Spotify Premium (maximum streaming bit-rate they offer) sounds as good as Tidal to your ears, on your system, I think that's great. I wish I got the same results so I could just use Spotify and be done with everything else.

Unfortunately, I did not get the same results. :(

I've compared Tidal, Deezer, Spotify, Napster, Google Play Music, Amazon Prime Music, Pandora and Tune-In Radio.

Sources were Sonos Connect, MacBook (using Chrome) and Ubuntu Studio 18.04 Linux on an IBM/Lenovo Laptop.

DACs were ConceroHD and Schiit Modi Uber.

IIRC, I had my prototype Quicksilver Dual Mono Line Stage preamp, CazTech SET845 amps andKlipsch LaScalas hooked up at the time.

On this system, in my room, to my ears, Tidal and Deezer sounded the best of the group by a very noticeable margin.

Spotify and Napster were the "2nd Tier" - OK on a plane or in an emergency. ;)

Tune In Radio sounds OK to stream our local 24 hr/day University Classical and Jazz broadcast radio station.

The others? Meh.....

I think that some of our intrepid and brave Havenites use Spotify, upsample to DSD and get pretty good results. Not sure if that and Tidal might be closer in that case?

In any event, just my opinion. :)
 
#25
On this system, in my room, to my ears, Tidal and Deezer sounded the best of the group by a very noticeable margin.

Spotify and Napster were the "2nd Tier" - OK on a plane or in an emergency. ;)

Tune In Radio sounds OK to stream our local 24 hr/day University Classical and Jazz broadcast radio station.

The others? Meh.....

I think that some of our intrepid and brave Havenites use Spotify, upsample to DSD and get pretty good results. Not sure if that and Tidal might be closer in that case?
You (and everyone else on this forum) have a lot more experience on the digital side than I do, so I appreciate the context. Trust me, I would love to upgrade from the lowly Spotify, which is admittedly my best source when my turntable is off for one reason or another. And I may do another trial for Tidal - unless they make me pay this time.

But the issue goes beyond Tidal, because around the same time I did a similar A-B between Spotify and ripped files stored on my wife's MBP. Its been a couple years, and to be honest I don't recall exactly how the ripped files fared (or how I ripped them, which seems to be important) but it did not persuade me to rip the rest of my CDs.

Is there any other explanation for what I heard, other than flawed hearing or flawed supporting equipment? My DAC is a NOS type (AD1865) with vintage tubes, and I accept that its tradeoffs include losing that last bit of detail. I can't imagine that would completely gloss over any Spotify vs Tidal differences, such as when doing the same comparison on UAL freebie earphones on a red eye - but maybe that's the case. Is there something about my DAC's sampling frequency or bitrate or what-have-you that could explain this?

Also, do you hear the same differences between the two sources exactly the same for each song you A-B'd? I've since heard references to variability in the quality from recording to recording on Spotify and others. I can confirm that the quality varies a lot on Spotify - the Doors for example sounded horribly compressed compared to any format I own. Fortunately, it's the Doors.
 
#26
You (and everyone else on this forum) have a lot more experience on the digital side than I do, so I appreciate the context. Trust me, I would love to upgrade from the lowly Spotify, which is admittedly my best source when my turntable is off for one reason or another. And I may do another trial for Tidal - unless they make me pay this time.

But the issue goes beyond Tidal, because around the same time I did a similar A-B between Spotify and ripped files stored on my wife's MBP. Its been a couple years, and to be honest I don't recall exactly how the ripped files fared (or how I ripped them, which seems to be important) but it did not persuade me to rip the rest of my CDs.

Is there any other explanation for what I heard, other than flawed hearing or flawed supporting equipment? My DAC is a NOS type (AD1865) with vintage tubes, and I accept that its tradeoffs include losing that last bit of detail. I can't imagine that would completely gloss over any Spotify vs Tidal differences, such as when doing the same comparison on UAL freebie earphones on a red eye - but maybe that's the case. Is there something about my DAC's sampling frequency or bitrate or what-have-you that could explain this?

Also, do you hear the same differences between the two sources exactly the same for each song you A-B'd? I've since heard references to variability in the quality from recording to recording on Spotify and others. I can confirm that the quality varies a lot on Spotify - the Doors for example sounded horribly compressed compared to any format I own. Fortunately, it's the Doors.
Anyone using a Slagle TVC is serious about good sound. :)

What is the rest of your system?

The same songs are very close between Tidal and Deezer - the reason for having both is to expand the available catalog of Classical and Jazz.

Spotify and Napster both max out at 320kb and the same songs sound pretty similar, albeit not as good as Tidal and Deezer.

So why did Spotify and Tidal sound similar on your system?

There are many things that can impact the results you get from the various streaming services:

1) How fast is your Internet?
2) Do you have the settings on your streaming services set to auto-compress if there is not enough bandwidth?
3) Are you listening when everyone (on the cable node/phone company DSLAM) in your neighborhood is streaming TV/Movies on Netflix/Hulu/Google/Amazon?
4) When was the last time your Internet provider checked your signal levels, drop, connectors, etc?
5) How old is your wireless router?
6) How many members of your household are also using bandwidth when you are listening?

Any of those scenarios (and more) can cause degraded performance when using higher bandwidth streaming services.

From my experience and just my opinion.
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
#27
My original comment was made in regards to the $9.99 Spotify Premium, and its really my main setup that is the one that presents all of the flaws of it. In my car, I use Spotify over Bluetooth instead of Tidal over Bluetooth because it doesn't sound all that different in that context, and the streaming from Spotify over my phone is more consistent in my area. I had Tidal set to hi-fi on my phone and it freezes up sometimes. In my main setup, and bedroom, I run Spotify and Tidal through a BlueSound streaming device.

I don't recall exactly what I said in the first post but I get a thinner sound, with more two dimensional images of the players, in Spotify on my main rig. It still has that swishy/indistinct mp3-ness on cymbals and other treble elements. Everything sounded rather unnatural. This difference isn't really apparent in my car, and its less apparent in my tube setup though still there a bit. The tubes happily mask some of it (thank you, tubes).
 
#28
My original comment was made in regards to the $9.99 Spotify Premium, and its really my main setup that is the one that presents all of the flaws of it. In my car, I use Spotify over Bluetooth instead of Tidal over Bluetooth because it doesn't sound all that different in that context, and the streaming from Spotify over my phone is more consistent in my area. I had Tidal set to hi-fi on my phone and it freezes up sometimes. In my main setup, and bedroom, I run Spotify and Tidal through a BlueSound streaming device.

I don't recall exactly what I said in the first post but I get a thinner sound, with more two dimensional images of the players, in Spotify on my main rig. It still has that swishy/indistinct mp3-ness on cymbals and other treble elements. Everything sounded rather unnatural. This difference isn't really apparent in my car, and its less apparent in my tube setup though still there a bit. The tubes happily mask some of it (thank you, tubes).
Thanks for the detailed reply! It's useful to get an opinion that this or that was better, but I was really hoping to hear the "how". It gives more context and something for me to listen for the next time.
 
#29
What is the rest of your system?

The same songs are very close between Tidal and Deezer - the reason for having both is to expand the available catalog of Classical and Jazz.

Spotify and Napster both max out at 320kb and the same songs sound pretty similar, albeit not as good as Tidal and Deezer.

So why did Spotify and Tidal sound similar on your system?

There are many things that can impact the results you get from the various streaming services:

1) How fast is your Internet?
2) Do you have the settings on your streaming services set to auto-compress if there is not enough bandwidth?
3) Are you listening when everyone (on the cable node/phone company DSLAM) in your neighborhood is streaming TV/Movies on Netflix/Hulu/Google/Amazon?
4) When was the last time your Internet provider checked your signal levels, drop, connectors, etc?
5) How old is your wireless router?
6) How many members of your household are also using bandwidth when you are listening?
Thanks, I will have to look into some of these factors. If I had issues with signal levels or bandwidth, wouldn't these manifest to at least some degree while listening to Spotify? The sound I get from Sonos/Spotify doesn't appear to fluctuate any more than that from my turntable. We have FiOS in the Washington, DC area but I suspect we have the lowest tier package. I have young kids so most of my listening occurs before anyone else is up (~5:30) or at night after they're sound asleep, so bandwidth on our network is not a factor.

On #2, the last time I checked, I didn't think there were any such settings with either Sonos or Spotify. Since you have used Sonos and Spotify, does that sound right? I will have to investigate this if I try Tidal again, as I probably assumed it would default to highest fidelity.

The rest of my system, after the DAC, is an "integrated" SET amplifier with built-in AVC, 417a driver, and 46 output tube. The speakers are also DIY, at the moment it's a 2-way with TAD/Pioneer drivers (TAD 1102 midbass, and Pioneer PD-801, which is an early version of a TAD 2001 on a 550hz RCF horn). Cables are all audio note silver except for copper Isis power cords. That's it, other than my analog source.
 
#30
Thanks for the detailed reply! It's useful to get an opinion that this or that was better, but I was really hoping to hear the "how". It gives more context and something for me to listen for the next time.
Be happy to elaborate on the "how". :)

Less detail. Reduced dynamics. Highs not as extended. There is a "fuzzy" and "indistinct" quality to the music. Soundstage is noticeably shortened - especially front to back.

Not what I would care to listen to on the Man Cave system (tubes and horns). Still noticeable on the Living Room system (Class D amp, B&W CDM1 speakers). As with @JohnVF , not particularly noticeable when mobile - car, plane, etc.

Hope this helps. :)
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
#31
To add a little more detail, when I did the comparison the only thing involved in my digital chain was my BlueSound Node2. I was using the DAC in it, which is actually not bad at all. Not the best but its good enough, considering my main system is mainly my vinyl setup. In my bedroom setup, where I also use both Tidal and Sonus, I use a first gen Berkeley Alpha DAC coming off of a BlueSound Vault2. I'm not upsampling or anything. I did make sure to have Tidal set to "hi fi" and spotify to its highest available bitrate. The bedroom setup with the nice DAC, Leben C300s tube integrated, and my little Royd Minstrel speakers, is a bit more forgiving of less than ideal digital, but it is still noticeable. I wouldn't call it unlistenable...but in my main setup, Spotify is indeed almost unlistenable except for background music. It's just nasty sounding. Note that a lot of what I listen to doesn't sound great to begin with... yes, I listen to a lot of well recorded jazz and whatnot, but often I'm playing indie rock or old soul. A lot of that music just exaggerates any problems with MP3. It needs a good light on it to sound decent at all.
 
#32
Thanks, I will have to look into some of these factors. If I had issues with signal levels or bandwidth, wouldn't these manifest to at least some degree while listening to Spotify? The sound I get from Sonos/Spotify doesn't appear to fluctuate any more than that from my turntable. We have FiOS in the Washington, DC area but I suspect we have the lowest tier package. I have young kids so most of my listening occurs before anyone else is up (~5:30) or at night after they're sound asleep, so bandwidth on our network is not a factor.

On #2, the last time I checked, I didn't think there were any such settings with either Sonos or Spotify. Since you have used Sonos and Spotify, does that sound right? I will have to investigate this if I try Tidal again, as I probably assumed it would default to highest fidelity.

The rest of my system, after the DAC, is an "integrated" SET amplifier with built-in AVC, 417a driver, and 46 output tube. The speakers are also DIY, at the moment it's a 2-way with TAD/Pioneer drivers (TAD 1102 midbass, and Pioneer PD-801, which is an early version of a TAD 2001 on a 550hz RCF horn). Cables are all audio note silver except for copper Isis power cords. That's it, other than my analog source.
Our systems are very similar.

Obviously, you have outstanding judgement in choosing fine audio gear. ;) :)

The "Auto" setting will be in the settings for the provider - Spotify, Tidal, etc. - and carry through to Sonos, Blue Sound, Laptop, etc. I'll look in the Spotify and Tidal settings when I am able.
 
#33
I’ve been a Tidal user for years, and am very happy with the quality. This past year or so they seem to be adding a lot more music which is great.

I wish they would do an API program so the community can build apps to use Tidal on more platforms.

I think Volumio has or will soon have support for Tidal. I’m building a very brute force rpi streaming box for this very reason. I’ll also use it to stream from my NAS on my local network.

Cheers,
Gable
 

SPL db

Junior Member
#34
All this talk of digital software and not one mention of Roon Labs. Is Roon strictly PC based and not able to be used on streaming devices like the others mentioned?
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
#35
I think I can use Roon with BlueSound and all the stuff I use on BlueSound. I've just not really understood what it was or what it would give to me that I don't already get from BlueSound. (?)
 

airdronian

Junior Member
#36
All this talk of digital software and not one mention of Roon Labs. Is Roon strictly PC based and not able to be used on streaming devices like the others mentioned?
Its quite flexible - Mac and PC, plus Linux for server and bridge functions. They also have ROCK (Roon Optimized Core Kit) a Linux based image for use with Intel NUCs.

I have avoided the free trial because I might get hooked. (IOW, too cheap)
 

SPL db

Junior Member
#37
I'm still very green on all of the streaming options out there. I use Spotify free to listen music that I'm thinking of buying on CD. :)
 
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