[All Platforms][Music] HiFi Quality - Lossless Streaming 16bit 44.1khz

I've just started a trial of Qobuz - they offer the standard 320kbps as well as lossless FLAC streaming (and high res downloads if you purchase them) the sound quality is noticeably better and on classical it's just wonderful to get all that resolution through your hi-fi or headphones! The catalogue has a way to go to get to Spotify's level, but they are getting there. The iPad app isn't' too bad (the desktop app is in need of an upgrade but I hear they are putting all their efforts into mobile apps right now).
 
So - lossless streaming - if Qobuz can do it then so can Spotify, they must have the same source - and obviously if you are asking £20 a month then those record labels and distributors take enough notice to make the high res tracks available for streaming. What this all means is soon, very soon, we will get lossless streaming and closely followed by high res downloads - but if Spotify aren't careful it will be Apple who get there first with an audiophile premium offering, and when they do it will be a much harder market place to make money in!

Updated on 2022-01-07

Hey folks,

 

We know that HiFi quality audio is important to you. We feel the same, and we’re excited to deliver a Spotify HiFi experience to Premium users in the future. But we don’t have timing details to share yet.

 

We will of course update you here when we can.

 

Take care.

Comments
LawLee
Music Fan

GBillett I can't say that Spotify deliberately lied to us. That they trotted out all this slick copy and videos may indicate that they thought they were going to be able to capitalize on that functionality. After all Amazon, Tidal and Qobuz charged a premium for lossless content. I think the fact that Amazon and Apple are giving lossless away for their standard price may have knocked Spotify back on their heels. So all their great talk about how important it is to get it out for artists and listeners got trumped by their financial interests.

 

But FUD something that my company in the Silicon Valley employs. It's not contemptible for companies to do it. It's a way to hold on to customers. It's not lying on Spotify's part. The FUD proposition was on my part. I hung on hoping they'd deliver. What I realize is there's no value hanging on. I don't lose a thing by leaving. And I'm not going to attribute benevolence to accompany who's principally interested in profits. I have said in my post get there with that I’d be willing to pay a premium for CD quality. Clearly not willing or able to bring it to market at this time. It may be a technical issue like with Spotify connect that won't let them be competitive. Who's to say? They're not talking.

 

I didn't call Spotify evil. They are neither good nor evil. There are a company. They make business decisions amorally. Go back and look at my posts and you'll see that have always pulled for them. Don't think for a moment that they're not going to do what's in their best financial interest. There’s only 26,000 of their millions of customers requested Hifi as a feature. I’m not in my peer group. I’m not their target audience. Perhaps their focus on podcasts, audio books, buying concert tickets keeps their loyal fanbase happy. I am interested in none of those things. When all of these things are tacked onto the Spotify app I can imagine the app looking more cluttered and confusing.

 

Like you other services offer the features I want. And as a consumer I need to do the same thing, vote with my dollars. I’m not mad at the company. What purpose would that serve? It's simply that for the way I listen to music Spotify no longer makes sense. For now...

 

LawLee
Music Fan

Interesting podcast to consider. It reinforces the idea that "beyond lossless CD quality" is not as significant as some think.

 

Ecoustics Podcast Interview with Dr. Mark Waldrep: Is Hi-Res Audio More Hype Than Reality? - ecousti...

 

Food for thought...

 

“Record labels, other than audiophile labels, don’t care about the sound fidelity of the recordings they release.”

“Hi-res audio doesn’t matter [for consumers]. It’s a marketing term to sell more records and charge more. People can’t hear the difference.”

“No album made before 2000 can ever be called hi-res, because the masters were not hi-res.”

“Loudness wars, compression, reverb during mastering are what’s destroying fidelity — not the [encoding] format”

“Just because audio is placed [wrapped] in a hi-res bucket, doesn’t make it hi-res.”

“MQA is dead, irrelevant, and should go away now that Apple/Amazon have lossless.”

 

“There is no such thing as ‘what the artist intended.’ It’s ‘what the label wants.’ Labels want loud, because louder sells better.”

NoNoise
Casual Listener
I like being able to purchase "hi-res" files via Qobuz or HDTracks (or even
Bandcamp sometimes has them), but for a streaming service, CD Quality is
more than enough.
Faintandfuzzy
Casual Listener
This is really a red herring to the topic…I am less concerned about real hi
rez…say 24/192 than I am about simply getting what Spotify
promised…uncompressed 16/44. There is a large sound sound difference
between that and the 320 bps we have now.
GBillett
Newbie

Lawlee,  I have no idea whether Spotify intentionally tell lies to their customers,  my assumption is that they do not. 

 

However there is a substantial case to suggest they deploy obfuscation to manage their news events and put 'spin' on their statements.  Their latest response ' “Artists and fans have told us that Spotify HiFi is important to them. We agree and look forward to bringing the Spotify HiFi experience to our premium users in the future, but we cannot provide further details yet ” is a prime example of that. 

 

Firstly there is no apology for the breaking of their promise to supply hifi quality streaming by the end of 2021.  Secondly,  artists and fans have been telling Spotify of their desire for streaming music of hifi quality for years;  repeating this information mantra like is patronising.  Thirdly,  they provide some hope to customers who have been patiently waiting for months if not years,  but continue to be vague and evasive about a timescale.  Many people loyal to Spotify will continue to wait;  others will experiment with and embrace their competitors' products.   

 

Whether this is FUD,  spin or evasive marketing technique is open for interpretation.

 

Yes I am angry;  music is important to me,  and I do not wish to feel 'strung along' whilst Spotify dilly and dally and exploit the loyalty of their customer base.  Apple and Amazon have seized the initiative,  been decisive and embraced difficult commercial decisions.  Perhaps they have deeper pockets than Spotify,  but Spotify is a world leader in streaming music,  and if minor player Qobuz can provide lossless and hi-res music so can Spotify.

 

As for the integrity of lossless or hi-res music streaming,  I think its great to have choice.  Qobuz provides a choice of listening bit rates - my system is probably mid range and I enjoy the depth and quality of the lossless and hi-res music I stream.  Is there a difference?  I dont know,  but it is certainly of higher quality for me than music served up by Spotify.  I guess there is variation but I also value the potential to be able to hear better quality as and when I upgrade my audio equipment.  But I am an older retired male who prefers playing albums to play-lists most days whilst sitting at home in front of the fire,  not from my mobile as I whizz about in a frenetic lifestyle.   I've been there and done that.

 

From where I stand,  Spotify is spinning its fans along,  dumbing down it's services,  providing less customer responsive services,  diluting its core music streaming service by diversification,  compromising its quality by not taking commercial risks like its competitors and rapidly losing technological ground as others embrace higher bit rate services. 

 

If Spotify had have been honest,  and more transparent with me,  as a former Premium customer,  my Premium account would not have expired yesterday.

Audioplayer
Newbie

Spotify is arrogant. Spotify is being stupid about this and waiting far too long to stay relative. They should sell the company now and get the money before it becomes worthless…

 

@LawLee

 

Beyond CD resolution does matter for the simple sake that quite a lot of newer recordings have been made with higher resolution analog to digital converters (just because that is the normal these days because the technology has advanced and is being used) and are being released as such so there is no need to release those files in less than the resolution they were made in. Dumbing them down to CD quality only for physical CD release is understandable but not for digital downloads or streaming regardless of what information is actually contained in the file(s).

Munozsa
Newbie

Very disappointed too. Looked forward to an announcement (as promised) before year-end. That the company didn't even issue a complaint is unacceptable to its loyal customers (I'm still one of them)

LawLee
Music Fan

GBillett et al.

 

I'm with you all. And by my posts I didn't mean to imply that beyond CD quality doesn't matter. But I'm a corner case. I have a very highly tuned system with 5.1 speakers and a decent AV reciever. If you've seen the picture that I posted of my desk you see that it's tuned perfectly to be able to enjoy surround music.

 

See: https://community.spotify.com/t5/Live-Ideas/All-Platforms-Music-HiFi-Quality-Lossless-Streaming-16bi...

 

Using  DTS Neo:6 Music rendering of stereo masters of music yields vary dramatic improvements in my listening enjoyment. Honestly I'd rather listen to stereo music in 5.1 than watch a 5.1 encoded movie.

 

What I found on my system is that Spotify premium didn't even sound as good as my 128kbs to 256kbs encoded MP3s. It really makes me doubt that Spotify is actually streaming out 320 kilobits per second in "very high" quality . If you look carefully at what they say they say the songs "can be up to 320 kilobits per second". That's what really irritates me. Unlike Qobuz and Amazon that tell you have FLAC at 24bit and 96kHz you don't even know what's really in the Ogg-Vorbis container. 

 

Now of course my system is processing the sound to distribute 5.1 speakers. It's likely processing the subtle time delays between left to right channels of the various instruments. I suspect with compression, encoding those subtle differences are lost.  A compressed file has the ability to have full frequency response from 20Hz to 20kHz. But a "joint stereo" compression throws out the common L+R information. And within a certain window of L-R error, that information is thrown out. I suspect Spotify's streams are processed with "joint stereo" encoding. It gives my receiver nothing to work its magic on.

 

So in my setup, I can definitely hear the difference between each step from compressed music, to CD, to high res. And it's dramatic. It is probably because there is simply more L-R information in higher-res recordings. Also, I'll tell you this too, I can take a song from different services, and I've compared carefully Amazon and Qobuz, and the same song can sound substantially different between them. This could be the result of different FLAC encoding schemes, or it could be the masters that they're using are different.

 

Either way, I'm sold on lossless. Just recently I ripped my collection of CDs, close to 300 total to 16bit, 44.1kHz FLAC at 0 compression. None of the streaming services sounds as good as those. Qobuz comes the closest in my opinion. What's interesting is I have found that if I download versus stream the same file in Qobuz they can sound different. That may mean that there is jitter related to streaming that's not there in the download files. I'm going to keep doing listening tests on this. Another factor here that just because something is 24 bit, 96kHz still doesn't tell you anything really. Something can be encoded FLAC at 24bit, 96kHz with compression. And all FLAC encoders are not the same. The best way to tell whether the stream is highly compressed is to watch how much data is buffered when a song is requested. Here for example is the song Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen. First from Qobuz which peaks out streaming over ethernet on my system at a little over 110Mbps...

 

Bohemian Rhapsody - Qobuz.jpg

 

Now from Amazon Unlimited peaking at 210Mbps

 

Bohemian Rhapsody - Amazon.jpg

 

 

Both of these are FLAC but in the same time frame the Amazon file is pushing out roughly twice as much data as based on the area under the curve. The area under the curve is the total amount of data or file size. This could be why I can perceive a difference between a streamed versus downloaded Qobuz. Amazon wins on this song, and as I said these two songs sound differently processed on my system. The take away: more compression equals poorer performance. More compression equals faster music delivery. When I've done this on Spotify premium at "very high", there practically is no blip and the play response is almost instantaneous. That tells you anecdotally that there is not much data there, Very small file size...

 

Personally I like the sound of Qobuz. But honestly IMHO none of them hold a candle to my CD rips at 16bit 44.1kHz FLAC at 0 compression of Bohemian Rhapsody, as an example.  

ajmarini
Regular

To be fair, do the research. Tidal's MQA has been a fail for me and this vid supports what I have experienced.

 

 

 

Yordan
Moderator
Moderator
Status changed to: Under Consideration

Updated on 2022-01-07

Hey folks,

 

We know that HiFi quality audio is important to you. We feel the same, and we’re excited to deliver a Spotify HiFi experience to Premium users in the future. But we don’t have timing details to share yet.

 

We will of course update you here when we can.

 

Take care.