Feb 21, 2019391 views

Recommended music sources?

I'm a novice, currently using the Sennheiser HD6XXs and the Schiit Magni and Modi 3's to listen from my Note9 through Google Play music(free trial subscription). However, after seeing an (apparently) respected community member refer to Google Play as a "plebeian" source, I'm wondering if someone can steer me in the right direction, as I obviously need it.
LuckyLuke575, Peter Foong Cheen Hong, and 2 others

I use Tidal Premium with my audiophile setup that I've just started out with. Very happy with the 44.1kHz/16 bit playback, the MQA/Master album versions are a bonus. Very good PC app, and iOS app allows for albums and playlists to be downloaded and played offline. As far as the money goes, I see it being worthwhile to be able to enjoy my music. I don't see the point in bothering with download sites; way too expensive to buy albums individually, and storage space is a huge headache. I'd personally only buy LPs/vinyl records, because of the physical aspect of having an album and a record that you can play and get a unique sound out of.
I have a Google Play Music Subscription. I like Google Play Music. The automatic (cloud-storage) integration with your own library (first 50,000 songs free) is fantastic. And the "free perk" of commercial-free-youtube is *the* reason why we have a Google Play Music family plan rather than any other alternative "lossy" streaming option. I got kids. Kids love youtube. And I want them to love music too. And compared to the kind of files I was listening to in high school and college (128 kbps MP3, if not worse...), Google's library of 320 kbps is giving my kids access to a much-higher-quality file for which to form some music-appreciation. Under "ideal" listening conditions and with access to "better" ("Mid-Fi" or higher) gear, I like "lossless" FLAC files. The majority of my own personal collection is CD-quality (16-bit, 44.1 khz) "redbook" rips that I make using a program called Exact Audio Copy. A small percentage of my collection is CD-quality (16-bit, 44.1 khz) "redbook" purchases that I've made from online stores like 7digital, and a small percentage of my collection is "Hi-Rez" (24-bit, at sampling rates at least as high as 44.1 khz) FLAC files that I also purchase from online stores like 7digital and HDTracks. I stream those around my house to my Android phone/tablet and Windows Laptop, and then from there either out to various headphone rigs OR cast to my speaker setups (using Chromecast Audios) using my Plex Media Server for now.... I might start a 30-day-free-trial on Roon this weekend though. It's appealling..... I also have a Qobuz Hi-Rez subscription. The majority of my use-case for it involves streaming at CD-quality (I only have access to the Firefox web player while at work, which doesn't support HiRez; and a majority of my listening at home is casting to my Speakers via Google Cast, and currently 24 bit 96 kHz casting to my Chromecasts is botched due to a wanky firmware update, and a good chunk of Qobuz HiRez isn't available at sampling rates below 96 kHz that don't foul up when being cast to Chromecast).... but occassionally I sit down with a Coffee or a Beer and plug my phone/tablet/laptop directly into my best Headphone DAC/AMP, at which point 24/96 plays back without dropout/error... Supposedly Roon will allow my Server to downsample all 24/96 content to 24/48 before casting to my Chromecasts, which is part of the appeal and reason to start a trial this weekend. For modern/synthetic music (stuff that was "played" through a digital system before it was recorded) I generally find the difference between Google Play Music (320 kbps) and CD-quality FLAC to be pretty minimal/almost zero. But for anything with strings that are plucked (piano's, acoustic guitars, violin/cello/etc), and for very complex or nuanced vocals, I think the difference between 320 kbps and CD-quality is pretty significant if/when it's "well-recorded." I think the law-of-diminishing returns kicks in to high gear when I go beyond-CD-quality and into the world of HiRez, *EXCEPT* when the HiRez version is "different" then the CD version in more ways than just the bitrate; if the HiRez version is a better-recorded "mastering" that has more dynamic range (http://dr.loudness-war.info/), the difference between the HiRez file and the CD file can be quite significant for me. If you want to try it out for yourself, I suggest you just rip a couple CDs to a lossless format (like FLAC or ALAC) and A-B compare the result against Google Play Music... it helps to have a spouse/significant other/relative/friend administer the test for you, and have you pick the one you like more without knowledge of which one is the "lossless" one.... I generally do quite well in this test (only when using my "better" more "mid-fi" gear), even when comparing MP3's and FLAC files that were created from the CD rip (and therefore neither file having any sort of inherent "GAIN" or "loudness" boost, which is a claim skeptics will make).
Thank you. The impartial "administrator" is a great idea. I'll take your accumulated knowledge into consideration.
If you use an Android device that's rooted, install the XtremeMusic mod from Google+. It will make your low-res music sound like hi-res music through various restoration and resampling algorithms. I use it with Spotify Premium and I can't tell a difference between that and Tidal now. I purchased the Premium version of XtremeMusic to unlock the presets. It's pretty nice.

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I put the cart before the horse!! I downloaded Xtreme music with every intention of rooting my phone, only to discover that the version of the Note9 I have contains the Snapdragon processor that cannot be rooted! Plenty of info on the web after the fact, of course. Oh, well. Tidal it is, I guess. Lol
Damn! That sucks man. I always make sure my phone is able to be rooted before I buy it.
I'd say that Tidal is better for high quality streaming, and it the best in general for music. Qobuz has clunky software and not as wide a selection of music. Tidal is also cheaper than Qobuz.
I tried a 30-day-free-trial (for the second time) of Tidal over the holidays, from mid-December to mid-January. I liked it. It's definitely a step-up, sound-quality-wise, from my Google Play Music subscription. BUT: 1) While it all "good," I often thought it didn't sound IDENTICAL to my own personal library of FLAC rips, and that kinda bugged me. Sometimes I thought the difference was a benign as just maybe Tidal had boosted the Gain up a little to make things sound louder? Sometimes I thought I could hear the "watermark" that some parts of the internet (SBAF) talk about. Sometimes I would go listen to specific tracks that people were mentioning as "watermarked" and couldn't hear it. Like I said, overall, I liked it, and A-B against Google Play it was undeniably a step up sound-quality-wise. But I signed up for a 30-day-free-trial of Qobuz over February. And I can't hear a difference between it and my own library. At. All. Their 320 kbps MP3 sounds like my 320 kbps MP3's. Their "CD" quality sounds like my CD rips. Their "Hi-Rez" FLAC sound like my 24-bit FLAC. And I like that. 2) More importantly, Qobuz is a lot more versatile (for me). In the office - The firefox webplayer is what I have to work with. Qobuz supports 16/44.1 "CD quality" on the Firefox web player. Tidal "Hi-Fi" isn't supported over Firefox. As such, Tidal sounds ~approximately~ like my Google Play Music subscription at work. At home (and to my knowledge), my best Headphone rig, a Schiit Jot, my best AVR, a Denon x4400, and my best local media streamer (an OPPO UDP-203) don't support MQA. But they play back 24/96 FLAC from Qobuz just fine. As for clunkiness, Qobuz isn't working very well over my whole-home-audio setup (google cast). Playback routinely pauses, and that's been pretty annoying. I've read good things about Qobuz integration with Roon, and had been eyeing up trying Roon out for a few years now anyway, and I think I might start a 30-day-trial this weekend. But as far as the GUI goes, and this might be pretty subjective/personal preference, but I didn't really like the Tidal app, and I really enjoy Qobuz interface. JMO. Over the weekend, as my 30-day-Qobuz trial expired, I signed up. Took advantage of the savings Qobuz offers for 1-year-subscriptions (which I believe make it more affordable than Tidal, if you're willing to make that commitment); I opted for the Hi-Rez option for $250, but strongly considered going with the CD option for $200.
I never liked using Google music because the sound quality was mediocre and the volume level overall was low too. I've been using V3 of Poweramp that has enhanced the sound. Along with decent headphones with the LG V20 I'm getting a pretty nice music experience, esp. with flac files.
I use spotify exclusively and have a/bd with tidal and higher bitrate sounds better. I'm scared to download dsd, flac etc. I'm all in on the spotify library, playlists, streaming with almost all devices, suggestion algorithms etc just give me CD quality. It's amazing time but I do miss the ritual of listen8ng to an album but I'll never forget making mix tapes and then burning my first mix CD. My friends post pictures on fb whenever they find my old cds. Enjoy the music first
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I built up a huge cd collection in the 90s and 2000s and I have been living in Europe for the last 15 years so I sold most of it and I dont want to start a library again. Also, Its tough to know which are the real FLACs or even if they sound better than cd or lossless. Addtionally, formats, formats and more formats.....
qobuz has the highest quality streaming. It will replace your cd collection multi -fold with better quality. I’m using Tidal hifi which is great, qobuz was not available in the US when I started to subscribe, may switch: qobuz.com I use Tidal for casual listening and exploring is fun, expand your musical world. Buying files for critical listening, “bliss”, I head for DSD; many trusted sites such as Acoustic Sounds: https://store.acousticsounds.com/c/391/DSD_Downloads no fear
You're getting into bitrates and lossless vs compressed territory now. That's always a fun can of worms. I'm not sure what bitrate google play uses, but it's undoubtedly compressed at least. I like to preface any advice in the audio world with: If it sounds good to you just enjoy what you've got. That being said, compressed audio loses some of the original signal in the encode/decode process to cut down file size and speed up transfer rates. There are purists that claim this is entirely unacceptable. I've spoken my piece on that. For my personal tastes, I won't listen below 320kbps. Music starts to sound squashed. It loses it's sense of space and air. Like it has lower signal to noise ratio. I can't really explain the sound differences any better than that. I prefer lossless sources (CD rips, SACD rips, HDTracks, etc.) over compressed formats for critical listening. If I'm just passively listening 320kbps is fine with me.
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I believe Google Play Music is 320 kbps MP3. They're kind of koy and close-to-the-vest about that, but when I test it against my own 320 kbps MP3's and Qobuz 320 kbps MP3, I can't hear any difference... One of my favorite features about it is the way it makes Cloud-stored-versions (first 50,000 songs for free), in (or converted to) MP3, of your own music library. So it's a convenient/easy way to make my own high-bitrate-flac files "portable" for outside-the-house listening.
You may be right. I believe I read somewhere that it is actually a dynamic bit rate with 320kbps max.