What service do you use for music playback?


#121

When you say that it “would still work”, does that include all the fancy metadata?


#122

I did the same as you and bought a one year subscription. I do like that it can unify streaming - although I have Sonos with 3 zones in the house already, which can handle mid-fi streaming just fine. It does bring in iOS and Android devices, though.

What I like about Roon are the notes and the discovery. As I’ve stated elsewhere, what I dislike is that there is no easy way to inform it of my tastes or choices in non-digital catalog. Even if it could take a listing like a spreadsheet of what I have offline it would be nice. Perhaps of marginal use, as Roon has never heard of Fresh or their album “Fresh Today” although if I put in some of the musicians it might match stuff up.

(They do know Earth Opera, and The Rutles, and even Men Opening Umbrellas Ahead)
If/When they can draw on more than TIDAL, it should improve.

Still doesn’t answer the question about if I plunk down half a G for the big subscription, and die the next day . . .

Maybe I’ll ask them.


#123

Officially, Roon subscriptions are non-transferable. I doubt they have any way of knowing though if you pass on your subscription to someone else.


#124

I’m a cranky old fart that’s also a Financial Advisor, so I reached out…


Hi David,

Thanks for reaching out!

If I buy a lifetime membership, and die the next day, do you keep the money? Is there a minimum guarantee?

We have a 30-day refund window, and are happy to issue full refunds within 30 days of purchase. If your legal representative contacts us on your behalf (and provides their government issued ID and copy of your death certificate), we can issue a refund.

Will you pro-rate 5 or 10 years and pay to may estate?

No, we do not offer prorated refunds outside of the 30-day refund window.

How do I name a beneficiary?

Roon licenses are not transferable, so you cannot name a beneficiary to your Roon account. We can work with immediate family members and representatives to close the account of a deceased person where appropriate, but our primary responsibility is to keep people’s information secure, safe, and private. We cannot provide passwords or other login details.

Best,
Kevin P
Roon Labs


Reading between the lines here, it looks like they don’t bother to close the account of a deceased person unless they have their noses rubbed in it. However, if the deceased left a password list to the spouse or estate, that person would probably be able to listen to dead man’s tunes. Not, of course legally.


#125

Sorry been a crazy week at work and just getting a chance to respond… Here is what they said in a forum a few years back when someone asked that question (when they replied to me when I had the same question - they directed me to this):

Look specifically for replies from “danny” as he is one of the owners/founders of roon.

In the forum he responds a couple of times but here is one:

"Yah, I get it. So right now, the application obviously logs in to our cloud services, for both metadata and membership checking.

In the unlikely event that we could not maintain those services, we would release one last build that would kill those dependencies, so you could continue to use the application without our infrastructure as a requirement. Obviously the functionality would be reduced, but it would work."


#126

Not exactly legally binding, but it’s a good aspiration.


#127

I wound up adding Qobuz to the list of music services I use.

It’s nice to a see a different bias in the catalog and the way it is surfaced vs. TIDAL. Not that I see what TIDAL pushes as I access it pretty much exclusively via Roon (portable use excepted). Neither service has a great native client. But both definitely score over Spotify in that you’re not limited to output using the default system audio output (a major pain in the arse if you have and use multiple DACs and outputs).

Quality is indistinguishable on the lossless stuff (16/44.1 kHz).

When looking at “Hi-Res” content, I find I prefer the stuff that’s at natively higher rates over MQA versions of it (with the advantage that no additional processing nor any special DAC is required to get the best of it). Not that I am particularly biased towards Hi-Res content, for various reasons, but I’ll come back to that in a minute.

One of the most attractive aspects of Qobuz, which I wasn’t expecting, is that I can buy something I want to keep right there and then, in CD (or “better”) quality.

Buying lossless downloads (as opposed to Hi-Res) has, to this point, been a royal pain. Most of the time you simply cannot get a lossless digital download in lossless form. Which means buying the CD, ripping it, and storing it. I already have thousands of the bloody things in storage and don’t want any more. The only consolation to buying the CD and ripping it is that it was typically 10-20% cheaper than the equivalent lossless (never mind Hi-Res) download.

So, I wound up subscribing at the “Sublime” level, which gets you the same streaming options as the lower “Studio” tier (including Hi-Res content), but also gets you 30-60% discounts on Hi-Res purchases (it does not lower the price of standard CD-quality lossless purchases).

“Sublime” requires that you pre-pay for the year, which makes it the same price as paying monthly for the “Studio” subscription - just that you have to pay it all at once. I’m fine with that, some may not be.

Why do this?

The Hi-Res prices on the “Sublime” plan are lower than the standard lossless CD-quality prices. And so far, haven’t been more expensive than buying the physical CD via Amazon either.

Historically, I have typically not bought the Hi-Res version of any album unless I have knowledge/provenance that is a different, and better, master than the CD copy.

I’m switching that practice now, however; at least for stuff that’s on Qobuz. And there are technical, financial and temporal reasons for my doing so.

Most professional studio-recordings are done at 24-bit depth, regardless of sample rate. This means that the final conversion to CD quality (16-bit, 44.1 kHz) requires, at a minimum, a bit-depth reduction. Reducing bit-depth either introduces quantization noise or has to be dithered (which is the process of introducing a small amount of low-level random noise that has the effect of randomizing the quantization error and making it inaudible).

I would definitely rather have a “Hi-Res” 24-bit/44.1 kHz copy of an album than a 16-bit one in this case, as it is highly probable that the only difference in the master is in the reduced bit-depth, and via Qobuz “Sublime” that 24/44.1 copy is cheaper than both the 16/44.1 version and the CD via Amazon.

I don’t want to pay more for a version that has “added noise” (even if it should be audibly transparent).

File size, after FLAC processing, for the 24 vs. 16 bit version is a non-issue, even for portable use.

Now, not all of the Hi-Res downloads Qobuz are 24/44.1. Most are at higher bit-rates too. Let’s assume that there’s no audible benefit there, even for a 24-bit, 176.4 or 192 kHz file. And let’s also assume that the master is identical for the 16/44.1 copy.

I’d STILL rather pay less for that Hi-Res version than the 44.1 version, which is what happens on that “Sublime” membership.

It is trivial to have those downloads automatically resampled to a powers-of-two lower bit-rate, at the same bit-depth, for use on my portable devices, so size is only an issue for my server storage (which really isn’t an issue).

So, for the “cost” of pre-paying for a year of service, I’m getting cheaper downloads for an at-least equal quality result (and potentially better) - for music I would be buying anyway and probably having to mess around with CDs to be able to buy in lossless quality at all.

While I’m sure my music buying habits are rather different to most (I’ve been known to buy an artist’s entire catalog in one shot when I find something new that I like), this has already saved me more than the entire subscription cost for the year. And that’s even considering that of the 40 million tracks on Qobuz there are only about 2.5 million in Hi-Res so far (again, there’s no discount for 16/44.1 purchases).


That I can now use my local library, TIDAL and Qobuz in Roon, seamlessly, including having “Roon Radio” pull across those services, is icing on the cake.

Oh, and Audirvana+ also lets you hit up both TIDAL and Qobuz directly as well, for those that don’t run Roon.

Both services are available to stream directly on both of the A&K DAPs I have.


#128

I was very pleased to see that Qobuz has the option of using Wasapi Exclusive Mode. It’s my most wished for missing feature in Spotify.
Sadly, the music catalog and discovery offerings are pretty lacking for the genres I listen to.


#129

Happily I don’t use Windows (and especially not for audio), so that’s good info regarding something I wouldn’t have been aware of.

Spotify was great for discovery and coverage … but for active listening … not so much. I’ll pickup my subscription again if they start offering lossless (or something other than Vorbis encoded in a way that seems to significantly exacerbate intersample-over issues).

Excepting Apple Music, on my iPhone, for raw convenience, I am done with any lossy setup.


#130

An interesting (for me), casual, observation I have, across various discussions (here and elsewhere) about music services/sources, is the relative bias different parties put on where they spend their “audio budget”.

In general, I see far more people willing to expend their budget on gear first and their source material second, than the other way around. Something that makes little sense to me (personally), since the best any piece of gear can do is “not make things worse” than the limits of the source.

Each to their own … but I would be investing in lossless source material/access before I spent more than $500 or so on a headphone rig. Especially given the level of performance that $500 buys you today.


#131

I am guilty of this, and I’m slowly remedying it. Building out my collection of FLAC media. I really appreciate your break down of the Qobuz tier and think that is a great way for me to build out my collection more efficiently.


#132

You don’t have to own it to have it lossless (or better).

It’s also worth noting that just because it’s lossless (or better) doesn’t mean it’ll sound good or not be screwed in other ways.

For example, while it’s not really “my thing”, a friend suggested I should listen to Weezer’s “Teal” album. What a mess - audibly distorted either in 24/44.1 kHz or via MQA versions. It’s obvious enough that I have to assume it’s on purpose.


#133

On this matter I’m pretty much in complete disagreement.

First, I routinely fail blind tests somewhere between 192 and 320 kbps versus Red Book audio with modern compression algorithms. Now, 128 kbps and early 2000s software…yes, that was really awful.

Second, some modern algorithms are better than others. I’ve used Amazon Prime bundled music for discovery (2 million songs), and it’s horrid. Lots of content sounds like it was sliced into a million slivers – the audio equivalent of retro 8 bit or 16 bit graphics. This isn’t the case with other compressed source (e.g., Apple or Google paid).

Third, I hear vast differences in playing a compressed source through a <$500 setup (e.g., HD-600 or Grado SR-80e) versus my >$500 headphones.

Fourth, most of my content is new, won’t be in my collection for more than a few months, and will (admittedly) never set any quality standards. A good portion of it is intentionally distorted. See below.

I’ve heard this album and it’s typical of contemporary production quality (but Weezer and this particular album with cover songs aren’t my thing either). Still, a good percentage of what I find is self-produced or aiming for a low-fi feel.

There will never be audiophile grade audio when the creator/producer ran the entire signal through a heavily distorting tube amp (e.g., Shannon in Nashville) or through a guitar distortion effect box (e.g., the Sleigh Bells “Treats” album), or uses massively distorted instruments in many songs (e.g., Muse, St. Vincent).

[And then I impulsively flip back to clean vocals or acoustic content.]


#134

I find lossy sources get fatiguing extremely quickly. Even when I don’t know it’s a lossy source.

Some codecs and algorithms are worse than others, for sure. Vorbis, as used by Spotify, seems particularly prone to smashing everything up against 0 dBFS and significantly exacerbating intersample over-issues (though I doubt that’s the only thing at work).

Some DACs are more problematic with such material than others.

I’m not saying there isn’t a bigger or more obvious difference with better headphones vs. lossy vs. lossless. I am saying that it really only takes a $500 system to start readily exposing such issues. And once you become aware of them, and their effects, its a lot harder to unhear/ignore them. More power to those that can’t hear the difference (blind) … it’ll save you a lot of time and money.

Regardless, no matter how much you spend, nothing in the chain can restore something damaged or unrecovered at the source. You might prefer the end result of a $1,000 headphone over a $250 one, but neither is fixing fundamental issues in the source.

I get that.

It still sounds bloody awful though.

While I’d rather listen to poorly-recorded (or mastered) good-music, than well-recorded crap, there are limits to how far I’m willing to tolerate “poorly-recorded”. This would be a good example of “taking it way too far”.

And there’s a difference between a deliberately distorted guitar or other tone, and what sounds like outright, indiscriminate, clipping.


#135

What makes the Wheezer album, and stuff mastered in similar fashion, so grating is that long portions of it are not broadly distorted at all. And then all of sudden there are bits that are just egregiously clipped or mashed.

It’s not consistent.

I can listen to an old, worn, noisy, mono LP of Louis Armstrong, with much lower overall fidelity and many other technical issues, far more readily. This is, I am sure, because those issues are consistent throughout and as a result they don’t stand out and make me wince when they occur sporadically.


#136

I’m very pleased that there are more and more high-quality streaming sources. I’ll probably add Quobuz when they get around to wanting my money. I was a bit late to the pre-release party. I’m finding I really do like Roon, despite it taking time to learn what I like from the pre-digital era.

While I appreciate your Hi-Res savings, I still find that when I buy music for the past couple of years, it’s on vinyl. I like Album graphics, even though they are generally cheaper than on older releases. I don’t mind handling a physical disc, and it makes me appreciate the flow of songs with no shuffles.


#137

Honestly any album I’ve bought over the past couple years has been vinyl also…I try to get albums that come with FLAC download files also though…this is all in prep for the day I finally bite the bullet and buy my first decent record player…I love the idea of them… but don’t have a good setup yet to take full advantage of a record player yet…I’ll probably go intro level $4-600 for my first player.

I buy my records from: Ghost Ramp, and Sub-Pop. not exclusively but those are the two most recent stores I’ve purchased from


#138

To me, fatigue is mainly a function of musical complexity and high-range harshness. Most female vocals (compressed or not) will never, ever cause fatigue. Acoustic guitar and piano never cause fatigue either. Brass and strings generally risk fatigue. Strong guitar distortion and intentional noise involve guaranteed fatigue.

I’ve been playing around with a tone generator to see what causes fatigue. By turning the gain up pretty high (and cautiously), I can hear up to about 16.5 khz. Stray sounds between 13 khz and 16.5 khz really bother me.

Amps too – I tend to dislike background noise or anything resulting in high-end smearing.

It costs less than $50 to expose the compression flaws in Amazon music! ChiFi IEMs will easily do it…

To me, it’s a matter of picking one’s own sensitivities and the lesser of evils. I myself am far more comfortable with compressed music on a clean amp than uncompressed music on a smeary amp.

Sigh. Cultural decline in action. At the peak of the Loudness Wars (roughly 2000 to 2010) a lot of even worse clipped material was released. The Strokes, Franz Ferdinand, and one infamous Metallica album. Etc.


#139

I rest my case.


#140

What part of the meaning of “most” does this violate?