Amazon Music Goes High-Rez

The era of streaming in CD-quality and hi-rez music has arrived at one of the world’s major subscription streaming services, complete with a free 90-day trial.

Amazon Music has introduced a CD-quality (confusingly called “HD” by Amazon)-plus-hi-rez (which Amazon calls “Ultra HD” so as (not) to confuse the masses) music tier at $14.99/month ($12.99 for Prime members). That price undercuts Tidal and Qobuz the two subscription streaming services most popular among audiophiles: Tidal charges $19.99/month for the tier that includes MQA, and Qobuz costs $24.99 for its Studio tier, the cheapest plan offering high-definition streaming. Amazon HD offers some 50 million songs in 16/44.1 FLAC format, with millions claimed available in hi-rez, up to 24/192 FLAC. Tidal claims a somewhat larger number of total tracks—56 million—with an unknown number in MQA. France-based Qobuz says it has about 40 million tracks online, including about 170,000 high resolution albums or some 2 million tracks.

The Financial Times, in a story posted July 10, estimated that Amazon's music services have 32 million subscribers altogether. Tidal claimed just 3 million subscribers in 2016; it isn't clear whether the needle has moved much since then. Qobuz, which entered the U.S. market just seven months ago and has said that it isn't competing with "the big guys,", reported on 15 August that it had 25,000 U.S. subscribers and some 200,000 subscribers in all its markets. In a press release issued earlier today, Qobuz welcomed Amazon to high-resolution streaming.

The entry of Amazon into the high-rez streaming market impacts manufacturers of music-related hardware; several audio brands, including McIntosh, Sonus Faber, Paradigm, MartinLogan, and Sennheiser, were described in the Amazon press release as offering "compatible ... third-party devices." Others will likely sign on. Music server software provider Roon, which has already integrated Tidal and Qobuz into its software, remained tight-lipped about their plans—if any—for integrating the Amazon service.

Rock icon Neil Young was not so reticent. "Earth will be changed forever when Amazon introduces high quality streaming to the masses,” he said, quoted in the company's press release. “This will be the biggest thing to happen in music since the introduction of digital audio 40 years ago.”

We'll see.

COMMENTS
JRT's picture

Redbook CD audio has sample rate of 44.1 kilo samples per second. There should be no content above the noise floor above 44.1/2= 22.05_kHz, else that content would mirror about that 22.05_kHz frequency in an ugly sounding manner. Because of that most everything above 20_kHz is filtered out (its ultrasonic anyways, above the range of very good youthful hearing) and there is nothing above the noise floor above 22.05_kHz.

Two samples provide perfect definition of frequency, and ten samples provide very good description of phase. So 44.1_ksps is adequate to perfectly describe frequency up to 22.05_kHz, and provides very good description of phase up to 4.41_kHz.

"High Resolution" digital audio has higher sample rate, and tends to include more ultrasonic content above the range of normal youthful hearing. 96_ksps in the ideal would allow content to 48_kHz, but practicable filters reduce that by 10%-20% without damaging the audible portion of the spectrum. Good definition of phase is provided to 9.6_kHz, ten samples.

A problem is that many amplifiers are not as well controlled at higher frequencies, creating more nonlinear distortion products on that higher frequency input content, and those nonlinear distortion products can cause intermodulations in the audible range.

There can be benefit to limiting frequency of the input signal entering the amplifier. Redbook CD audio does that. Higher sample rate PCM digital audio limits it at higher frequencies, but too high for some amplifiers.

Be careful what you ask for.

trb's picture

This has been studied and shown to be in general a non-issue. The paper is a free download, see the link below. There are references in it to some similar studies in the past but this is the best one so far. http://www.aes.org/e-lib/browse.cfm?elib=20459

doak's picture

... for sparing me the trouble.

JRT's picture

I hope that all went well, and that he is recovering well and quickly.

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

He's doing fabulously.

Rajugsw's picture

Just got it today and compared my equivalent 96 and 192 24 Bit DVD-A’s, it’s pretty damn good ! Bye Bye Spotify. Don’t like Tidal and QoBuz is nice but pricey. I am a Neil Young Archives Subscriber and for $20/year, it’s the best deal off all hi res websites !

JRT's picture

I don't want music digital data files locked into proprietary formats such as MQA. So I am not neutral about MQA, but rather am opposed to MQA, and want to see MQA fail sooner rather than later.

mtrot's picture

Just signed up for my free three months today. So far, just listening on my laptop pc with the Amazon app and connected to my pre-amp with el cheapo analog interconnect. Sounds decent to me. The "Ultra HD" files do seem to sound a bit nicer than the "HD" files. Now listening to Boz Scaggs Memphis album, which is "HD" and it seems nice except his voice is "edgy" on his higher notes, but maybe that is just his voice. Next, will try it with a USB cable to the pre-amp.

DH's picture

I think this is a death knell for Tidal and probably MQA. Tidal now has no compelling feature or price to offer the general public. Not that it had very many CD/Masters subscribers anyway.

Possibly also for Qobuz, although it may have the ability to hold out as an audiophile/jazz/classical/european streaming service.

Self Righteous's picture

I've had it for a day and am still finding my way round the site. SQ is as good as my Qobuz top tier (which will now be history), but one oddity is that some albums which are indicated as Ultra only play in 16 bit HD ( which is better than I've heard elsewhere) for some reason.
My one big problem now with Amazon music is that I cannot create a 'favourites' folder where all my artists are listed alphabetically with their albums listed a la Spotify, Qobuz & Tidal. All I seem to able to do is load albums into 'My Music', which is not really how I like my streamed music.

partain's picture

I felt I should say a word for Tidal. As A veteran , I get the top tier for $11/mo or so. Good deal.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Hello Apple ....... Are you paying attention? :-) ........

drblank's picture

cost and number of potential subscribers and the ability to provide such a service where it's actually profitable.

Financially astute companies like Apple have to measure each of their revenue streams from each "business" they are offering. Audio streaming is fairly new and it's pretty hard to make an actual AFTER tax profit unless you reach and exceed that breakeven point. So far, it's taken about 100 Million subscribers to reach a point where that business model reaches profitability. The problem is, how likely are they going to attract enough people at a certain price point where they can infatically say they are making a profit? For Hi Res, it's going to be VERY difficult for anyone to be really all that profitable.

Tidal has been on the ropes and there are signs that they might have to get sold off or they might go out of business when they can't find someone to continually dump money into the company to keep the lights on.

Just because Audiophiles want Hi Res, doesn't mean it can be done in a manner where it's profitable and sustainable. That might be part of Apple's reluctance. But in the mean time they have announced their Apple Master service and they are using their mastering software to get a better sound quality out of AAC files so they are closer to CD quality than ever before. If that satisfies the masses and they don't have to charge the higher rates that everyone else is charging, that might be their "solution" to the issue.

From Apple's perspective, most of their users that are using their subscription service are listening to music on their iPhone, Apple Home and they aren't really high end audiophile grade listening devices. So it doesn't make sense for them to offer such a service. They also might be waiting for a large enough catalog to be able to market. Do you like paying more money and only having a small catalog available? That's partly what's preventing me from subscribing to any of these.

There other aspect is required bandwidth and how many actually have access to high enough bandwidth to prevent buffering.

Graham Luke's picture

...Apple Masters sound excellent. Indeed, I have many albums from iTunes on the ECM label and others that sound superb at 256 AAC.
But then I don't get hung up about bit depth and sample rates.

dalethorn's picture

Comparing bit rates (VBR actually) from a number of iTunes downloads, I see rates peaking at 256, 320, even near 500 in some cases.

jimtavegia's picture

This is good news for (most) music lovers where convenience has always won over quality of sound. Those of you who "speak" to choose your music know what I mean.

I would love for JVS to talk to artists and find out what this will mean to them. I have been Joyce Cooling fan who said her new CD was for sale, yet Amazon does not show it and I wonder how she feels she will do under this new Amazon service? Are we forgetting about the Artists in all of this rush to subscription listening, higher quality or not?

JRT's picture

I would suggest that with properly streamed digital audio, if it is at or above the limits of Redbook compliant digital audio, any significant degradation of sound quality would occur during or before mastering, or in the playback system, and not in between.

jimtavegia's picture

You are comparing miles and miles of copper and fiber through countless networks and varying download speeds to the mastering engineers' suites with cabling of a few feet? I trust the quality of my CD library and my 2496 files burned to DVDs or from my computer HD before any stream. I watch my AT&T internet speeds go all over the place and down to even 8MBPS this afternoon.

I might have believe your comment if we were talking downloads, but streaming is a whole new ballgame. I don't care who your internet supplier is, if they cannot control and keep stable their internet download speed all bets are off.

Now if you are in the financial markets and have internet speeds that the average consumer does have access to I might buy your argument, for this is where a tardy financial transaction can cost thousands or millions, but for most of us who don't have download speeds of over 200MBPS, you may not be able to say streaming and high quality in the same sentence.

Everytime I see an AT&T internet commercial I want to puke. All I have to do is wait for school kids to get home, start streaming video games, and watch our internet speeds go into the tank.

Glotz's picture

ATT, Spectrum/Charter and many others are throttling bandwidth and despite having 250mb/20mb d/u w/9ms ping, it tanks to 100th of that at times, down to what is dial-up speeds!

I cast suspicion at the constant attacks from bad players globally, more so than admitted unprecedented, heavy traffic, but it is very real for the past 3-6 months.

Personally, streaming will continue to see power shifts like Amazon gobble up the music industry over time. Artist will have to adapt, and then die.

It will be horrible.

rschryer's picture

:-)

Glotz's picture

Oh, thanks Richard!

PS- I always love your input... sincerely.

Have a wonderful day... and evening!

rschryer's picture

People have called me Richard before. :-)

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Sir Richard Branson? :-) .........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

May be not Richard Nixon :-) ........

rschryer's picture

...call me what you want. Just don't call me late for supper."

Bogolu Haranath's picture

I will never, ever call you Justin :-) ........

Glotz's picture

I dunno what I was thinking...

Ok, you look like King Richard.

Sorry for that (preemptively)..

rschryer's picture

It's all good, Blotz. (Kidding!)

Cheers.

Glotz's picture

Touche!

JRT's picture

She could open her own store on Amazon and sell her own CDs with Amazon order fulfillment. She would own and finance the inventory in an Amazon warehouse, and would make small profit on sales. But the CDs would be widely available for sale.

There is already much of her music available on YouTube providing some useful samples regardless quality.

Like many others, I suspect that she makes most of her music related living on live performances, not so much in sales of recordings.

markbrauer's picture

I just signed up for the "90 day free trial". Then I looked at my Amazon account to determine the day I have to decide whether or not to cancel. That indicated I have a 30 day trial. So I called Amazon. It turns out that by signing up for HD you also sign up for Unlimited Music. The HD is a $5 add-on option. Unlimited costs $7.99/mo and HD is $5 more. By signing up for HD you get a 30 day trial of Unlimited and HD after which you are bill $7.99/mo for the Unlimited. You then get 60 more days "trial" of HD after which your bill goes to $12.99/mo. If you use the full 90 day "free" trial of HD it actually ends up costing $15.98. None of this is apparent when you sign up. Check your Amazon account under Digital Content and Devices / Amazon Music Settings. Detail is in the section called Subscription Renewal.

PAR's picture

..for that very useful piece of advice. Quite sneaky of them. I will make sure that I cancel my subscription to AmazonHD earlier than anticipated.

I do expect to cancel as, outside of novelty value, this service is inferior for my purposes to Qobuz irrespective of the price differential. Moreover for anyone who wants bit perfect data delivered from computer to their DAC, Amazon HD currently does not support anything except routing via Windows or Mac's internal sound engine ( i.e. Direct Sound). So to avoid the data being upsampled or downsampled it is necessary to reconfigure the sound engine every time that the originating file's resolution alters so that the in and out data resolution matches.

Doctor Fine's picture

Huh?
Amazon is willing to "give away" High Res at these prices?
When Tidal can't even show a profit at a much higher price?
Oh sure...
Obviously Amazon is hoping to CRUSH the competition.
And then what?
Why, raise prices and screw the consumer, of course.
Happens every time.
My advice?
Better hope Amazon is the BEST.
Because if Amazon destroys all the other companies you will then be STUCK with Amazon forever.
At whatever price Amazon wishes to charge you!

miglto's picture

It could put Tidal and Qobuz out of business... And if there's no Roon integration, this would be terrible. As a side note, I am very happy there's no support for MQA - this was the make-or-break for MQA and I am happy Amazon went with true high res.

markbrauer's picture

Brought up Amazon Music on my Bluesound streamer and then searched for and sampled various things I have listened to on Tidal. Some of the MQA selections on Tidal show up as HR on Amazon, some show up CD. At least one selection that is CD on Tidal comes up with no indicator (meaning data compressed) on Amazon. All my MP3 purchases show up in my Amazon library and they all play at MP3 quality. Ditto for CD purchases that came with a "free" download. In both cases, when I search for and find the selection in Amazon music it usually is available in CD or HD quality. (I have never uploaded CD quality music files to Amazon but I suspect they would play at MP3 quality too.)
Then I installed the Amazon Music app on my phone and attempted to cast to my Chromecast Audio. The cast icon is there but reports no devices. Turns out, for some reason, Amazon requires "guest mode" to be turned on in the Chromecast. No problem, easy to do. But then I notice Amazon also says streaming to Chromecast is limited to Standard quality - "up to 320 Kbps MP3". So Amazon falls far short of Tidal's ability to cast CD quality to Chromecast. (I believe Qobuz will do 96/24.)
Beyond that, the Amazon Music interface - whether computer browser, phone app, or on Bluesound - also lags behind Tidal, but maybe I'll get used to it.

jimtavegia's picture

1/4th of 1411 and where is the hi-rez? Don't you just hate it when it says, "Up to"? Most folks will not notice or even ask or know what they are getting.

Sticking with CDs, SACD's, LPs, and my expanding collection of Music DVDs. Plus streaming would only make my internet worse. We have no fiber in our subdivision, or AT&T thinks that "fiber" is something that comes from JoAnn's Fabrics. AT&T just sent me a new Gateway-Router and it is no better. When I view our download service it looks like a sawtooth with speeds up and down, up and down. Physical media for me for now.

Robin Landseadel's picture

Probably will sign up [again], soon as I get settled here in Lacey. Amazon seems to have all of the back catalogue on Astree, and that's more than enough for me. Blandine Verlet is to French Baroque harpsichord what Elizabeth Schumann is to Lieder.

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

At least one frequent commenter to the Stereophile understands what a treasure the woman was. Let's hear it for the triumvirate of Schumann, Lehmann and Tauber. Together with Maggie Teyte for French mélodie - she was born in 1888, the same year as Schumann and Lehmann - they are irreplaceable. Or so it seems. That era when people totally identified with the core repertoire has mostly passed.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

I think the 'triumvirate' of hi-end audio are JA1, JA2 and JVS ........ All three have the letter 'J'. in the beginning of their names :-) .........

Robin Landseadel's picture

[sorry, comment somehow got deleted]

What I meant to say:

I'm not all that familiar with the recordings of Lotte Lehmann & Helen Tauber. However, I once owned this massive EMI box of Maggie Teyte. For a few months had a series of Lieder, Mélodie & Song broadcasts on KPFA until I figured I was out of my depth. Also love Elly Ameling, Feodor Chaliapin, and Kathleen Ferrier [had about ten different masterings of the famous "Das Lied von der Erde" recording with Bruno Walter, the Vienna Philharmonic and Julius Patzak]. That first Angel recital of Maria Callas was one of my most cherished and played LPs.

I don't know how familiar you are with the Astree label, usually specializing in Early Music. Michel Bernstein was the genius producer for that imprint, having a remarkable gift for finding the perfect acoustic environments for his minimally-miked recordings, most featuring remarkable capture of beautiful sounding venues, usually old churches in sonically isolated locales. Montserrat Figueras was their vocal "Star", making many beautiful recordings of old Spanish/Catalonian music, directed by her husband, violist/conductor Jordi Savall. Blandine Verlet's remarkable series of recordings of French Baroque harpsichord music often featured real live "original" instruments—not copies or 'restored' instruments. Due to her father's employment at the Louvre Museum, she had access to their collection. Hopkinson Smith made a wonderful series of recordings on all manner of fretted/strummed instruments. His collection of the work of Ennemond Gaultier is not to be missed.

That said, I'm more likely to listen to Lady Gaga these days, make of that what you will.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Time to start listening to 'Yeezus' and 'IGOR' ......... Just kidding :-) ........

Robin Landseadel's picture

Good point. Think I will.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

"Hell Yes" :-) ..........

Robin Landseadel's picture

I did. Underwhelmed, though I suspect the insane production job is worth the entry fee.

Note to Jason, check out Rosanne Cash's "Black Cadillac", if you haven't already. My favorite song cycle of the 21st century.

And here's today's tune:

https://youtu.be/o8uMXyxvbKA

Bogolu Haranath's picture

"A Feather's Not a Bird" :-) .........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Jason is a .......

"Semi-Detached Suburban Mr. James" :-) .......

Bogolu Haranath's picture

"Keep On Chooglin' " :-) .........

Bluejimbop's picture

You gettin’ all this, Malachi?

Graham Luke's picture

...a good time to remind everyone to re-read Monty's educational piece 'Why 24/192 Music Downloads are Very Silly Indeed' on xiph.org....?

glq's picture

This tiresome and out-of-date opinion piece keeps getting recycled as 'evidence' against high sample rates. Monty Montgomery's argument amounts to reiterating, once again, that humans don't hear above 20 kHz, a fact that has been well known for around 60 years. It is also fact that high sample rates frequently sound better than CD if music has been well-recorded and reproduced, so a common sense answer is that the reasons for sounding better have nothing to do with hearing frequencies outside of the normal range.

Developers working in high resolution have understood this for the whole of the high resolution period and have looked to other explanations for the sonic improvement, including time domain effects, processing artifacts, hardware and so on. There are plenty of publications on these topics. Going back to the Monty piece amounts to showing ignorance of this entire field of work.

Archimago's picture

"Developers working in high resolution have understood this for the whole of the high resolution period and have looked to other explanations for the sonic improvement, including time domain effects, processing artifacts, hardware and so on."

Compared to a good linear phase digital filter, where has it been shown that hi-res sounds better? What "plenty" of publications are you referring to?

Even the Reiss meta-analysis in 2016 wasn't able to show large effect regarding the benefits of hi-res:
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/304572591_A_Meta-Analysis_of_High_Resolution_Audio_Perceptual_Evaluation

Describing the literature as showing "small and difficult to detect" differences even if statistically significant.

Bottom line has been that even if we take cases where the recordings are guaranteed to have been of hi-res provenance, the playback equipment capable of higher resolution, and the listeners trained for hi-res sound, benefits are simply small and nowhere near some of the "obvious" claims some people like to make. Certainly not deserving of the industry hype when we look at the academic literature.

Awsmone0's picture

Let’s quote the abstract rather than paraphrase it :)

Results showed a small but statistically significant ability of test subjects to discriminate high resolution content, and this effect increased dramatically when test subjects received extensive training. This result was verified by a sensitivity analysis exploring different choices for the chosen studies and different analysis approaches

Graham Luke's picture

...so what are you shilling...er...selling?

Awsmone0's picture

I don’t know why you make such an abusive comment
I have nothing to do with the audio or music industry and am just quoting a reference mentioned in a previous post accurately
Rationale discussion is based on facts not name calling or trying to label people especially people you don’t event know ?

Graham Luke's picture

Sorry; you are correct. My comment was little more than a callous hate-crime. What was I thinking?

rschryer's picture

...clear up the confusion. Graham Luke's comment was not in response to your post, Awsmone0, but a previous one. And I assume Graham re-responded not realizing you were not the same person he directed his initial comment to.

That's why it's always a good idea to check the name of the poster, and the dates the comments were posted.

Now, don't we all feel better?

Rob the diplomat

Graham Luke's picture

Oh, the White House called; are you available....?

rschryer's picture

...that good.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Rob is not that good at 'shake down and strong arming' people :-) ..........

jimtavegia's picture

and if you can hear an improvement on your system, it matters, If you can't hear it, it will not matter to you. I can hear an improvement on 2496 files, but at 72 I cannot hear all that 24192 has to offer. I can hear the benefits of DSD and SACD and so it matters to me and why I buy SACDs and have 5 vintage players and even with them, I can hear the difference and when I burn my 2496 files to DVD+rs I can hear it as well or as files from my computer HD.

If sample rate doesn't matter how they sound, then just press all LP's at 16 rpm, yet many prefer the lp's that are 45rpm. Those that say they can hear an improvement I do not doubt them. I doubt that many spend money on high Rez files or 45 rpm LP's just because they can.

pbgalvin's picture

Excited about Amazon moving into higher-res, but sad they seem to have no APIs / to ability for example to allow soundiiz to sync my itunes playlists to Amazon. So good for new users but not so great for those of us who have curated our own libraries...

Self Righteous's picture

You are able to import music from iTunes (pbgalvin 25 sept.). You'll find the info in prefences. I've not tried it myself as I rarely use iTunes these days.

pbgalvin's picture

Ah hadn't noticed that. Trying it out, but so far not promising. Amazon music app is clearly doing something but my amazon music library @ amazon is stuck at 866 albums for hours... Thanks for the pointer.

Trevor_Bartram's picture

10 years ago I bought my first Roku and signed up for Amazon Prime Video and Netflix streaming. There was occasional re-buffering and seldom denial of service but that cleared up within a year or two. The video quality was very good but I still preferred Blu-ray for important movies, the culprit transcoding to get the data rate down from Blu-ray's 20Mb/s to <5Mb/s for streaming. In general, I would say Amazon/Netflix streaming, with its lack of adverts compared with network/cable, has remained a bargain and it looks as Hi-Rez audio is following the same path. What a wonderful entertainment world.

tonykaz's picture

but it still feels like a high quality AM Radio performance compared to owner controlled content manually downloaded to a nice Player like an AK unit.

I'm still collecting hard copies of recorded music.

Tony in Venice

ps. is Washington gonna Tariff Global Music? ( it probably could, considering all the Industrial Wars we're in )

Robin Landseadel's picture

" . . . it still feels like a high quality AM Radio . . . "

I wonder how much of the listening rituals for us "Audiophiles" [read—music hoarders] contributes to one's perception of quality of sound? If one has to spend a good 10 minutes preparing an LP for playback, how much of the "payback" comes from the magical rituals, the self-hypnotism, the anointing of the disc with the sacred fluids, in this process of playing an LP?

tonykaz's picture

Geez....

Have you been discussing & pondering all this with my still suffering audiophile Psychiatrist and spiritual brother?

Tony in Venice

ps. you didn't mention Cramolin Red & Blue treating all the low level Interconnects and Speaker Wiring not to mention having dimmable 2700K LED lighting turned down to "just the right level" , beverages chilled properly, Kitty litter box cleaned and all other transducer devices removed from the listening room ( the original LINN discovery )

Robin Landseadel's picture

I suspect I reached my personal "peak analog" around the same time neo-paganism overtook my life—1985, Mission Bookshelf speakers, AR turntable, Dynaco tube gear, woven Kimber cable, Living Stereo/Living Presence/Blue-Back Deccas.

Make of that what thou wilt.

tonykaz's picture

Are you suggesting that I might droop or sag from your final Peak ?

I once owned Mission 70s, I was a dealer selling those AR players ( the newer one ), never owned any Dynaco except the little 35 Stereo Amp ( which was wonderful and I wish I still owned ) never one inch of Kimber or any of Harry's Living Presence or Decca .

You seem to have owned rather well thought out gear selections.

Neopaganism kinda feels like collective appreciation of our Indigenous Population's historical belief/understandings which resonate with the natural human condition to a greater extent than Modern Grab-it-all Capitalism, especially as we face our Global Environmental Crisis.

Seems like I find myself standing with you as we wilt.

Tony in Venice

Robin Landseadel's picture

Thank you sir, for your kind indulgence [so far]. If you might, perhaps you could be be my audiophile spiritual Psychiatrist for a bit.

As regards "high quality AM", some of my finest musical memories were delivered via a tubed Motorola table radio [placed on a concrete floor against the wall to enhance bass] back in 1966-1967. KRLA + KHJ were in full swing. This was about 15 minutes before "Underground Radio" [KPPC in Pasadena, later transmuted into KROQ] hit the FM dial. "Ode to Bille Joe" and "White Rabbit" sounded just fine,thank you.

If streaming turns out to be the ultimate Audiophile AM radio, this could be a very good thing.

". . . compared to owner controlled content manually downloaded to a nice Player like an AK unit."

Yes, I get that. I've got a Fiio M3K mated to Sennheiser HD599 'phones. I know I can do better with more $$$. But this is better than 90% of what I've owned. I've got about 2200 CDs ripped as Apple Lossless on a 512 gb micro sd chip, haven't got around to listening to about 100/200 albums recently ripped. I have heard enough streaming via computer to know that some files sound better than others. It's hard to predict, easier on my ears to rip cheap [nearly free] CDs. But I've heard good streams too, I know my time will come sooner or later.

Two things that drove me away permanently from LPs—I hear disc eccentricity about half the time. The degree varies, but it's presence doesn't. I listen to a lot of piano music, organ music, choral, electronic music, all the sorts of music has long held notes that stay directly on pitch. And it's not as if I'm seeking it out, it always finds me. As I listen to a lot of historical music, I can hear the disc eccentricity from the 78 source. Hearing the 33.3 transfer as a speed-shifting overlay induces nausea.

I would also hear a lot of used and thrift store records. We think the albums that are worn indicate cartridges that mistrack, dirty records, and so one. But it always gets worse at the end, new or used. If a record goes for more than 20 minutes a side, it gets pretty bad. Thing is, it's the groove speed that the stylus tracks radically reducing. Tracking angle, overhang and other obsessively tweakable adjustments can only go so far. Another sound that I'm not looking for that always finds me. Lots of pop records are sequenced to have low-energy tracks at ends of sides. But the finale of Beethoven's Ninth is around 24 minutes long and the loudest material is at the very end, it always distorts. And I start hearing the drop in sound quality long before the stylus meets the deadwax.

I've owned more than 40 different versions of the Ninth on LP.

Whatever my Fiio M3K is doing, it isn't doing that.

In conclusion, your honor, I'm spending less time listening to music these days, more time playing it. Something miraculous happened this week. I inherited a mid-1980's Washburn 12-string dreadnought guitar, made in Japan and very well made, with massive, resonant tone. I got new strings for it yesterday, only really got around to playing it today.

Ain't nuthin' like the real thing.

Happy Trails to you.

tonykaz's picture

You make sense to me.

Old Phono Shit remains Old horrible Phono Shit, I'll suggest that 98% of the pre Sheffield Labs Vinyl was crap, unplayable, for the most part, in my High End Salon : Esoteric Audio.

But music triggers fond memories, no matter how bad the playback is. I played some Jerry Vale for my new neighbor from Mass., I took him back 50 years to a vacation on Cape Cod.

For me now, music is a life companion, almost like an emotional support dog.

I will always have a Big System playing house filling & exiting music discoveries when the occasion arises but I get most of my recorded sounds through wearable transducers. god bless sennheiser!

Live Music is FARRRRRRRR mo-bettah than any or our home systems.

I agree.

Ain't nuthin like the real thing !!!

Tony in Venice

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