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Scott Dolan

Apple Music/Spotify/Tidal

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Does anyone else here do streaming? I have to admit I always stayed away from it because when Spotify first took off their sampling rates for the free model were an atrocity (96kbps MP3, IIRC). But after reading up on the new and improved streaming from Spotify Premium (320kbps Ogg Vorbis), Tidal (320kbps AAC, and FLAC/ALAC if you want to pay for it), and Apple music (256kbps AAC), I decided to audition it again today. 

Naturally, being a big iTunes fan I decided to give Apple Music and their three month free trial a go. So far, so good. The sound quality is the same excellent quality they offer with their iTunes store downloads, and it seems to run just fine, unless I'm overloading my processor as I'm web surfing on the same iPad I'm streaming on. The catalog is quite impressive, even for more obscure Free Jazz and European Improv releases. There are 53 Evan Parker albums, for example. 

So, today's listening:

Van Halen - Van Halen

Evan Parker - 50th Birthday Concert

Parker/Guy/Lytton Schlippenbach Trio - 2x3=5

Björk - Vulnicura

Three distinctly different styles of music, and all sounded wonderful.

I'm still an old fart that insists on buying and owning music, but I can see this as a nice little $10 a month supplement! :) 

Anyone else have an experience with streaming that they'd care to share? I do admit I'm very impressed with it so far. 

Edited by Scott Dolan

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I use iTunes for my digital files (ripped from CDs in ALAC) but i haven't tried their streaming service. I don't want to mess something up and have my files replaced/lost. Probably not a real concern but i just prefer to not have to worry about it. Just want to keep it nice and clear cut as possible (local files only, end of).

I've used Spotify's free service for a few years. I'm edging closer to paying for it, simply because i'm slowly warming to it and the free service on mobile phone is limited (can't skip songs, can't choose song etc).

Streaming for me is not the be all and end all but it's a nice 'other' option. You can be browsing Organissimo forums for example on your phone while sitting on the couch, see some interesting album mentioned and look it up and be listening in seconds (i'm one of those phone = transistor radio people).

It's great for checking stuff out and deciding if i want to buy. Also great for revisiting long lost albums that i don't really need to own again but are nice to hear again for nostalgic reasons. 

I have definitely noticed an odd phenomena, where i will listen to something on Spotify and i don't really dig it, but i end up buying it anyway and REALLY enjoying it then. Something about owning the album just makes it more enjoyable for some reason. I keep this in mind when 'judging' stuff: can't necessarily judge an album by a cursory stream.

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I might start using Spotify as well even though, ironically, I already have too much music in the sense that I don't even have enough time left on earth to listen through my collection once any more.   What I would use Spotify for is to try to keep up with listening to more new music.   I have really become too much of an old fart in my listening habits. 

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5 hours ago, xybert said:

I use iTunes for my digital files (ripped from CDs in ALAC) but i haven't tried their streaming service. I don't want to mess something up and have my files replaced/lost. Probably not a real concern but i just prefer to not have to worry about it. Just want to keep it nice and clear cut as possible (local files only, end of).

I've used Spotify's free service for a few years. I'm edging closer to paying for it, simply because i'm slowly warming to it and the free service on mobile phone is limited (can't skip songs, can't choose song etc).

Streaming for me is not the be all and end all but it's a nice 'other' option. You can be browsing Organissimo forums for example on your phone while sitting on the couch, see some interesting album mentioned and look it up and be listening in seconds (i'm one of those phone = transistor radio people).

It's great for checking stuff out and deciding if i want to buy. Also great for revisiting long lost albums that i don't really need to own again but are nice to hear again for nostalgic reasons. 

I have definitely noticed an odd phenomena, where i will listen to something on Spotify and i don't really dig it, but i end up buying it anyway and REALLY enjoying it then. Something about owning the album just makes it more enjoyable for some reason. I keep this in mind when 'judging' stuff: can't necessarily judge an album by a cursory stream.

A lot of what you've said here sums up my feelings as well. But I do have a question: why does it have o be a cursory stream? Why not stream it multiple times to make sure it's something you want? 

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1 hour ago, Scott Dolan said:

A lot of what you've said here sums up my feelings as well. But I do have a question: why does it have o be a cursory stream? Why not stream it multiple times to make sure it's something you want? 

True, it doesn't have to be, but for me it tends to be. 

But yeah, part of the beauty of streaming is that there's nothing stopping you from clicking on 'save' and having that album sit in your library. On several occasions i've had an album saved to my library that i wasn't really in to on first listen, but it costs you nothing to save it, and i've kept revisiting it here and there and finally bought a physical copy. 

I'm a believer that you can be zen about it and be like what difference does it make whether you hear it from a CD or beaming from outer space, and i believe that i can potentially get there one day and that the younger generation that's growing up with it is likely already there, but i'm yet to be able to sit down and listen to a stream of an album from start to finish on release day and get the same impact that i get from listening to a new CD when i receive it. I can see that it's arguably silly, but i just can't get around it yet.

Goes without saying but worth noting that straight up not everything is available for streaming.

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Just a random thought: classical music has long been the final frontier for me, i have a few dozen albums but the thought of getting anywhere with it in terms of buying CDs... it's like, i can't even fathom starting from scratch with such a huge genre again. I don't want to go there. The thought of making my exploration of classical a streaming adventure from the outset is very appealing. It feels like a weight off. It's liberating. I could keep a diary or spreadsheet to keep track of what i've heard, document it. Could pick up the odd favourite here and there... maybe i'll finally get in to vinyl, make it 'streaming and vinyl' for me with classical. Anyway, just thinking aloud.

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I use Spotify.  But What I have done is ripped 95% of my music on to hard drives, and connect it to a Raspberry Pi with a HiFiBerry DAC+ which I can run it to my stereo.  It is phenomenal. 

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1 hour ago, Stefan Wood said:

I use Spotify.  But What I have done is ripped 95% of my music on to hard drives, and connect it to a Raspberry Pi with a HiFiBerry DAC+ which I can run it to my stereo.  It is phenomenal. 

Is it possible to use a Raspberry Pi with a HiFiBerry DAC+ and have it receive an Apple AirPlay signal?

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5 hours ago, xybert said:

True, it doesn't have to be, but for me it tends to be. 

But yeah, part of the beauty of streaming is that there's nothing stopping you from clicking on 'save' and having that album sit in your library. On several occasions i've had an album saved to my library that i wasn't really in to on first listen, but it costs you nothing to save it, and i've kept revisiting it here and there and finally bought a physical copy. 

I'm a believer that you can be zen about it and be like what difference does it make whether you hear it from a CD or beaming from outer space, and i believe that i can potentially get there one day and that the younger generation that's growing up with it is likely already there, but i'm yet to be able to sit down and listen to a stream of an album from start to finish on release day and get the same impact that i get from listening to a new CD when i receive it. I can see that it's arguably silly, but i just can't get around it yet.

Goes without saying but worth noting that straight up not everything is available for streaming.

I think I know what you mean. Buying a CD/LP creates a sense of anticipation, right? Especially if you actually go and buy it from a store yourself. You pick it up,  inspect the front and back covers, but it, take it home and unwrap, etc., etc...

With streaming you simply click on it and off you go. Nothing to touch, or really look at. No booklet of liner notes...

It is a very different experience. But, what I will say is that now that I'm somewhat used to it since I never buy CDs anymore (outside of box sets), I find myself focusing on the music more intently right out of the gate. Perhaps because that's all that is confronting me. 

Does that make sense? 

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12 hours ago, xybert said:

Streaming for me is not the be all and end all but it's a nice 'other' option. You can be browsing Organissimo forums for example on your phone while sitting on the couch, see some interesting album mentioned and look it up and be listening in seconds (i'm one of those phone = transistor radio people).

It's great for checking stuff out and deciding if i want to buy. Also great for revisiting long lost albums that i don't really need to own again but are nice to hear again for nostalgic reasons. 

I have definitely noticed an odd phenomena, where i will listen to something on Spotify and i don't really dig it, but i end up buying it anyway and REALLY enjoying it then. Something about owning the album just makes it more enjoyable for some reason. I keep this in mind when 'judging' stuff: can't necessarily judge an album by a cursory stream.

These points pretty much sum up my current streaming use, too. I still buy CDs, especially at shows where they're selling their albums.

No one's mentioned Amazon's streaming service. If you already have Prime, the added streaming is cheaper than the other services and they have a huge catalog, too.

Edited by BFrank

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The only reason I avoided Amazon is because they're still using the stone age MP3 for their downloads and streaming. If they'd bump them up to 320kbps, then they probably would sound very good. But 256kbps MP3 CBR isn't good...

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I use Apple Music and iTunes Match.

The first is Apple's streaming service, the second is the Apple service that lets you stream music that you have bought/ripped yourself. There is a lot of overlap there.

When Apple Music first launched it was a bit of a mess when dealing with existing catalogs and the iTunes store, but it has gotten a lot smoother now. I use it to preview a lot of stuff when possible, and then I usually buy the tracks from the store, because I'm old fashioned.

I also used Spotify a bit before Apple Music launched. It's also pretty good. Both UIs kind of suck and the quality of the catalog varies a lot. But overall I'm happy with it for what I use it for.

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Yes, the UI on the mobile version of Apple Music leaves a LOT to be desired. Especially the search/results function. That's it's biggest black mark so far. 

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True, although I would argue it is slightly better than Spotify.  My primary MO is to play music downloaded to my iphone.  So a plus for Apple Music (versus Spotify) because both sets of music exist in the same app.

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12 hours ago, Scott Dolan said:

I think I know what you mean. Buying a CD/LP creates a sense of anticipation, right? Especially if you actually go and buy it from a store yourself. You pick it up,  inspect the front and back covers, but it, take it home and unwrap, etc., etc...

With streaming you simply click on it and off you go. Nothing to touch, or really look at. No booklet of liner notes...

It is a very different experience. But, what I will say is that now that I'm somewhat used to it since I never buy CDs anymore (outside of box sets), I find myself focusing on the music more intently right out of the gate. Perhaps because that's all that is confronting me. 

Does that make sense? 

Yeah totally. 

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14 hours ago, Eric said:

True, although I would argue it is slightly better than Spotify.  My primary MO is to play music downloaded to my iphone.  So a plus for Apple Music (versus Spotify) because both sets of music exist in the same app.

I've rarely used Spotify, but the differences as I see them is the Apple Music UI is bad, while the Spotify UI is too damned busy and confusing. 

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On 5/15/2017 at 8:47 AM, mjzee said:

Is it possible to use a Raspberry Pi with a HiFiBerry DAC+ and have it receive an Apple AirPlay signal?

I don;t see why not.  If you go to the hifiberry site there are many software options to run the Pi, headless (meaning not having it connected to a monitor) or not.

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On 5/15/2017 at 0:10 PM, Scott Dolan said:

The only reason I avoided Amazon is because they're still using the stone age MP3 for their downloads and streaming. If they'd bump them up to 320kbps, then they probably would sound very good. But 256kbps MP3 CBR isn't good...

With respect to downloading, I do not understand why Apple, Amazon, etc. do not give the purchaser a choice of format  -- e.g. Flac, ALAC, WAV, AAC, or MP3 (in various bitrates) -- like Bandcamp does.  I download rarely, but I would do so more often if some of the titles that I am interested in were available as full resolution files.  I can understand a label not reissuing a OOP obscure title in physical format, but I do not understand why that label would only make the title available as a download in a lossy format. 

With respect to streaming, I use YouTube to sample, but rarely use Spotify or any other streaming service.  I feel guilty doing any streaming due to the fact that the artists get paid so very little from the streaming arrangements.  

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I'd imagine it would be a logistical nightmare mostly because of the server space and internet bandwidth need for Apple, for example, to offer ALAC on top of AAC for over 40 million titles. 

It also likely wouldn't be financially feasible as downloads have lost a LOT of ground to streaming over the few years. They could potentially spend tons of money to upgrade their infrastructure, and never break even. 

I think the lossless thing is simply a nonstarter as well, because Apple Music and Spotify are still outperforming Tidal which DOES offer FLAC/ALAC streaming. It seems that the market is mostly dominated by younger people that don't pay attention to numbers, or those like me that can't hear a difference. 

Edited by Scott Dolan

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5 hours ago, Stefan Wood said:

I don;t see why not.  If you go to the hifiberry site there are many software options to run the Pi, headless (meaning not having it connected to a monitor) or not.

You're right!  I found a page there that was full of interesting suggestions.  I especially liked the rack made out of Lego's!

https://support.hifiberry.com/hc/en-us/articles/205699981?mobile_site=true

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1 hour ago, Scott Dolan said:

I'd imagine it would be a logistical nightmare mostly because of the server space and internet bandwidth need for Apple, for example, to offer ALAC on top of AAC for over 40 million titles. 

It also likely wouldn't be financially feasible as downloads have lost a LOT of ground to streaming over the few years. They could potentially spend tons of money to upgrade their infrastructure, and never break even. 

I think the lossless thing is simply a nonstarter as well, because Apple Music and Spotify are still outperforming Tidal which DOES offer FLAC/ALAC streaming. It seems that the market is mostly dominated by younger people that don't pay attention to numbers, or those like me that can't hear a difference. 

I can see your point about the cost/benefit concerning adding additional formats to titles that probably don't sell well at all.  However, with respect to newer titles and new re-issues of catalog material, I don't see cost and infrastructure being an obstacle -- storage is cheap and if we have enough bandwith to stream Netflix we certainly have enough to easily download an album. 

Bandcamp offers many newly released titles and catalog titles in MP3/AAC and full redbook cd resolution that are also available on iTunes/Amazon in MP3/AAC format only.   For instance, Pi Recordings has placed almost the entirety of its catalog on Bandcamp.  When the physical product runs out, it probably will not be reprinted due to the economics.  It makes sense to make that material available for download in full resolution for those still interested in purchasing.  I wish Bandcamp had access to material from more labels.  It my opinion it is the best platform available presently.

I understand that downloading is losing share and in a few years will probably be a "niche."  After Apple launched Apple Music, there were rumors that Apple plans eventually to eliminate downloading altogether.  If a cd is not manufactured of material that I am interested in, I would like to have the option of downloading a full resolution file.  I know that some cannot hear the difference and that sound quality is a controversial topic.  However, as many have been pointed out on the board, material available for streaming is being leased and is subject to being withdrawn and made unavailable.  Also, if I have a full resolution file that I own, I can always convert that file into a lossy file that takes up less space if needed.  A lossy file cannot be upconverted into a full resolution file.

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I didn't mean the bandwidth issue existed on our end, but on theirs. Netflix has little issues, but keep in mind all they're streaming is movies. 

Whereas the iTunes/Apple servers are dealing with downloads, streaming music, AND movies. So the models are significantly different. 

At the end of the day I get exactly what you're saying and largely agree. I still prefer to own music, and even though I can't explain why, I still rip my CDs to lossless. 

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On 5/15/2017 at 7:52 AM, Stefan Wood said:

I use Spotify.  But What I have done is ripped 95% of my music on to hard drives, and connect it to a Raspberry Pi with a HiFiBerry DAC+ which I can run it to my stereo.  It is phenomenal. 

I hope you guys won't mind a dumb question.  

What is the benefit of something like this over just running your pc straight to your stereo?  Thanks.

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I'm intercepted in the answer, too. I do a search on both and all I find are essentially printed circuit boards with ports connected to them. 

???

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