What service do you use for music playback?


What would be your recommendation for learning what to listen for?
Also, I am thinking of getting the Sennheiser HD650 because of all the love it’s getting, but saw the Focal Elear is just a few hundred more.
What do you think would be the better buy that would go well with the headroom amp?


My recommendation for learning what to listen for - and I think @Torq would agree - is to go to as much live music as you can. Have hearing protection for loud music, but try to get to all kinds of events of interest. There are often classical and chamber music events that are local and cheap. Likewise bluegrass and even folk. The more you hear the sounds of real instruments and real voices, the better your yardstick will be for figuring how headphones and music services measure up.


That would very much depend on which HeadRoom amp we’re talking about (specifically).

Well, let’s see … as I have both.

The HD650 I will listen to as-is*. It scales well, has excellent tonality, good resolution.

The Elear is more technically capable (better transient response, more resolving), but really needs either a pad swap (with the Clear) or some relatively convoluted EQ to get anywhere near as “correct” tonally as the HD650 is stock.

As things stand, I will only use the Elear with True-Fi’s correction curve applied to it, otherwise it’s all over the place with an overemphasized bottom end and a wonky mid-to-top end.

The Elear has more potential, but if I had to keep it stock or not use EQ with it then I’d go for the HD650

See @pennstac’s post above … as his suggestion is as good, or better, a starting place than anything I can give you.

*It benefits from any of a number of simple mods (some reversible, some not), but it’s still a good listen in stock form.



it’s brilliant.


To respond to the thread topic, I use Apple, Google (paid), and Amazon music. Apple reveals source flaws best (sometimes unpleasantly), Google is transparent and good quality, but may be correcting source recordings, and Amazon Prime (non-upgraded) music is weak. It stutters and sounds just fair overall.

Regarding the headphones above, I have two cousins: HD600 and the Massdrop Focal Elex. These are my Junior and Senior “neutral-ish” sets. The Elex has the Clear pad swap already ($700 paid new/total). I’ve had the Elex for a couple weeks, and have tested it heavily.

Quick Comments:

The HD600 has well-earned its strong reputation as the modern baseline for overall performance. It will kill my ears fast with a bad amp due to harsh high-end noise. The bass improves and the top mellows out with a good tube amp. However, the Elex is technically better in almost every way and never causes anywhere near as much fatigue.

I’m liking my Elex a lot. But, in this price range it’s important to understand the quirks and characteristics. The Elex is scary with a decent DAC, as it reveals every tiny difference in volume. Some have compared it to ‘splitting music into individual instruments.’ Soft notes are s-o-f-t, while loud notes are L-O-U-D. This sensation is disconcerting when you quickly switch from a more compressed source/headphone, but not as noticeable after a few training hours or with fresh ears. Also, for the first 10-20 hours the Elex was faintly metallic/brassy with female voices. This has diminished or disappeared with break-in time. Finally, the Elex seemed a bit uneven on the high-end at first; not sure if my ears have adapted or if it has broken in…subtle…


I really like the Elex also, I have been listening to it almost exclusively the last couple days, just threw on the HD800s tonight after a long listen with the Elex(Songs to test headphones with creating this)…and :astonished: wow the HD800 just for me is the spot, so much clearer, and present. Bass is not as lively/exuberant, but the quality is just wow. I will definitely be keeping the Elex though as it has replaced my HD6XX as my easy listening pair/next to my Fostex PH X-00 for just plain simple good fun listening.


I’ve just stated using Tidal. The sound quality is definitely noticeable. 16/48 FLAC lossless CD quality streaming, so I think I’m totally fine with the price. ($20)
I don’t think I like MQA, proprietary :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: and the scetchy compression algorithms. Ugh.
But having a choice is good. As I understand it on Tidal you have to select it and then pay a fee? (desktop) I’m on iOS and it’s not available quite yet but soon. Or you can just stick with the regular FLAC.
Kinda reminds me of Betamax. But with questions on the overall quality improvement. And “distinct Colouration signature”. ? (I’ve heard) ? Iwill just have to see… So it goes…

Anyone who uses MQA on a desktop version of TIDAL I would love to hear what you think. I’ve looked I looked around here and I can’t find a review of MQA. .?
Or are there are some ?


Do you mean MQA?

If so, for me, for known common-masters I’ve found I prefer straight PCM pretty consistently.

Occasionally you find a better master available as an MQA encoding which compared to the existing raw PCM versions can sound better … but that’s entirely down to the master and not the MQA aspects of it.

And what’s interesting is that, when the master used for MQA is clearly different to, and better than, the raw PCM (CDDA/Redbook) version … then it remains so even when listened to on a non-MQA DAC.


Yes and I fixed my typo MQA.
Thanks for the input, and that’s what I basically wondering since it is a lossy compression just where does it fall in between the 24/96 and the 16/48.


I am quite fond of NatureSpace.
It’s 320 AAC full Binaural !!!
And is amazing, but only iOS because mp3/FLAC won’t/can’t compress binaural. (As opposed to AAC/ALAC witch can. )

For CDs I like

It’s all independent…



CDs , and lossless downloads!!! , what’s better than that?


JRiver its marvelous. It has more features than I know what to do with.


Roon with Tidal and FLAC mostly.

I currently also keep Spotify.
I have and am back and forth on Spotify and Apple Music.
I like the social aspect of Spotify, Apple Music’s library and “radio” are amazing though.
Having more than two services seem a bit overkill to me at the moment…


I’ll put another plug in here for Roon. I’ve ripped over 1,800 CD’s in my collection and Roon is just light-years ahead of using iTunes as a music catalog/player/interface. The access to the metadata for the individual CD and artists is tremendous. I used to listen to music with my computer in front of me with about 10 tabs open in a browser looking at Wiki articles, lyrics search on another, Googling artist webpages, etc. Now it’s all available through the Roon interface - all just a click away. Unfortunately, I cannot access streaming services (Tidal, Spotify, Pandora…) from my home here in the Bahamas. The country is just too small for those services to work out royalty agreements. I used to be able to access some through VPN’s, but the services have become wise to that loophole.


Yes, I love the user experience of Roon. I still think that it’s overpriced, but they continue to develop it and bring out useful new capabilities (like recently adding Chromecast support), so I’m willing to live with the cost (for now).


Has anyone here got an invite to the Spotify lossless beta? Supposedly there are people using it in Canada.


What… I want in on this… I wonder if it will change the pricing


Tidal brings master-quality audio to its Android app https://www.engadget.com/2019/01/07/tidal-master-audio-android/

Interesting development…


I signed up for Tidal on New Year’s Day for their promo of $1.99 for 3 months of Tidal Hifi. I’ve been a Spotify Premium user for years. The Tidal desktop app doesnt seem to like my Monolith THX amp but the webplayer works fine. I’m not sure if the genre recommendations get better, but Tidal in my limited use, seems to advertise a lot of music I don’t care too much about (hip hop/rap) as well, so from the outside looking in, it looks like it doesn’t cater to me. I find the quality maybe a tad better sometimes over Spotify, but I don’t know if it’s enough to justify paying double the price per month on a family plan.

The interface looks really similar though, which is nice. I will continue to try out both side by side and see what I like.


Since Tidal is Jay Z’s product, I would not expect that to change anytime in the future. I am not a huge fan of the Tidal interface, especially when you compare it to how easy Spotify is to use along with Spotify’s much better pre-made playlists.

Because the A&K SP1000M has Tidal though, I have been using a lot more Tidal lately. I find its much more painful to build a proper music library though but that may just be the millennial in me haha.


The TIDAL application isn’t fantastic for actual music discovery. And it definitely pushes some very specific and limited genres in terms of what it actively promotes. I find it’s best used as a streaming source and do the actual “discovery” part with other tools.

At home I use Roon as the interface, so TIDAL’s contribution there is simply whether things shows up in searches or in the rich metadata linkages that Roon enables - which are very rich from a discovery perspective. The “My Music” catalog in TIDAL gets populated from there, so when I’m using the TIDAL app (on mobile devices such as my phone or the A&K SP1000M) I don’t wind up browsing much and am just selecting from my existing album and playlists.

I don’t actually find Spotify to be any better for finding new music - though it certainly has a broader selection in what it actively surfaces. The problem I have there is that an hour of listening via Spotify has me turning down the volume, so I tend to only go there anymore if it’s the only place I can find an album that someone has recommended to me so I can have a proper listen before I wind up buying a lossless copy/CD version of it.

I’m hoping the imminent US launch of Qobuz gives me the last bit of streaming coverage that I still keep Spotify around for, and does so in a lossless form to boot, with pending Roon integration, so I can ditch Spotify (that, or they need to get their lossless program going pronto).