Qobuz vs Local Network Streaming

Spinoff from Tom's thread.

Since the topic over there had many forum members saying that they could not hear a difference between their CD rips and the Qobuz streaming service, I thought I'd try it out for a month and see if its really that good.

A few hours of uninterrupted listening tonight, going between music that I am very familiar with, my suspicions were correct.

Qobuz does have very good sound quality. I picked albums that I have heard countless times on CD through the years. Those same CDs are ones that I have Secure Ripped and have on my server. About half of the choices I picked were special masters that I had sought out back in the day. DCC/Hoffman masters, MasterSounds, MoFi, etc. The other half were ones that are newer and were not sought out pressings/masters.

For the ones that were not my the special releases, I could not really pick up any significant difference in sound quality. Qobuz did a good job at having the same volume adjustment as my CD rips. No changes in volume needed.

The others (the ones I ripped from special sought after masters), I could pick up quite a few differences between the Qobuz and my local ripped versions. A couple that were really noticeable are below.

The MasterSound version of Wish You Were Here has so much more dynamic range. The room was filled with excitement as the song builds. The Qobuz felt flat by comparison. I mean, it still sounded very good, but the MasterSound rip was clearly more dynamic, had better punch when the kickdrums and bass guitar come in and had more find detail in the transient passages.

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For the DCC Gold Van Halen, it is just more enjoyable, less grating. Early Van Halen is not audiophile material as most of us know, but it is great music. The DCC Gold makes is more enjoyable.

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Overall, I was somewhat surprised how good Qobuz sounded. I was comparing 16/44 CD rips vs the same quality from Qobuz. That said, when I changed the setting in Daphile to allow for 24/>96, it wasn't a really noticable difference, at least on the few that I did direct comparisons.

So, the question for anyone like Tom who is considering to take a considerable amount of time to rip a vast CD collection and host it on a local music server is: How much rare, special master, limited press, sorta music do you have? If that is not much, then maybe its not worth the effort.

I started ripping my CDs long before CD quality streaming was an option so I didn't have a choice to get my collection to my DAC.

Today, the decision might be harder to make. I might not make the same choice, but I'm still glad I did.
For rig details, see my profile. Nothing here anymore...

Comments

  • billbillw
    billbillw Posts: 6,153
    edited November 2023
    I thought this would be a clear winner for the MoFi DSD rip from my SACD...

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    Turns out, it's not a slam dunk. The MoFi SACD is what I've listened to for 20 years.
    The Qobuz HiRez is different but enlightening. Its much hotter up top, probably due to less tape noise reduction. The cymbals are much livelier and playful.

    A surprise really.

    EDIT: further into the album, the MoFi version is definitely preferable. The hot high end on the Qobuz gets tiring. Miles should relax you. The MoFi does, thee Qobuz does not.

    For rig details, see my profile. Nothing here anymore...
  • billbillw
    billbillw Posts: 6,153
    edited November 2023
    Interesting results in this 3-way comparison.

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    The Qobuz HighRez was way to effing HOT. It was so loud, I had to turn down the W4S STP-SE preamp from 39 to around 21.

    The HDCD rip was very close to the 2005 LP Remaster from Qobuz. HDCD version is better though. Better detail and dynamic rangein transient passages.

    I should mention that not every playback streamer can reproduce the extra HDCD dynamic range. Daphile can. Not sure what others can. The difference became apparent during the 1st minute of Wooden Ships
    For rig details, see my profile. Nothing here anymore...
  • treitz3
    treitz3 Posts: 18,136
    I gotta be honest here....I don't know if it's Qobuz or the remaster? Sometimes, I listen for a stint and stop the music when listening to High Rez. I'll seek out a normal recording that isn't so damned hot. Same thing happened on Tidal. Sometimes? Less is more.

    I don't know why the mastering/re-recording engineers do this. But, it could be because of the "award winning" crap that happened when Adele was hot and heavy on the charts. To me? Those are some of the worst recordings in decades.....yet this was touted as how recordings should be made? LOL. As if..

    Tom
    ~ In search of accurate reproduction of music. Real sound is my reference and while perfection may not be attainable? If I chase it, I might just catch excellence. ~
  • billbillw
    billbillw Posts: 6,153
    Something that just came to me...when streaming from my local server, track changes are immediate. From Qobuz, there is a 1-2 second delay and a gap of audio. This may vary depending on your ISP latency. My T-mobile HINT is notorious for "lag" but that's mostly Xfinity BS because they are loosing customers hand and fist.
    For rig details, see my profile. Nothing here anymore...
  • treitz3
    treitz3 Posts: 18,136
    FWIW, Bill? (I take it that this is your real name)

    All I have to do is hit a button and I am playing the next song. Maybe a 1/4 to a half a second at most?

    Tom
    ~ In search of accurate reproduction of music. Real sound is my reference and while perfection may not be attainable? If I chase it, I might just catch excellence. ~
  • billbillw
    billbillw Posts: 6,153
    Too many choices from Qobuz? Wtf?
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    For tonight I'll just stick to this which sounds great.
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    Version choice anxiety? Maybe that's another + for local rip streaming?

    For rig details, see my profile. Nothing here anymore...
  • treitz3
    treitz3 Posts: 18,136
    LOL...I feel your pain. At least you have a choice. My only real gripe is that I wish streaming services would issue more information besides year released. Like, WHAT VERSION?

    If they would catalog their selections, like a UPC code of the recording, that offers all of the information? It sure would be a heck of a lot easier to do a direct comparison, without question(s).

    Tom
    ~ In search of accurate reproduction of music. Real sound is my reference and while perfection may not be attainable? If I chase it, I might just catch excellence. ~
  • heiney9
    heiney9 Posts: 25,017
    You do realize that Quobuz has nothing to do with the mastering of the version(s) they carry. If you were to buy the Miles Davis version Quobuz is streaming it would sound the same.

    I am sure those of you with multiple versions of the same music are not going to always agree the streaming service has picked the "best" or preferred version. So, I can see wanting to listen to your collection.

    But Quobuz when set-up properly is really superb. Again, you may prefer a 2/3 Master gold MoFi disc that Quobuz doesn't offer.

    For me, I've stopped buying physical music unless it's a special release or something I really want for collectable reasons and gone 100% Quobuz. A perfect example is wanting to hear the Stones new music. I wasn't going to buy it, but I could at least hear it on Quobuz. I probably won't listen to it again.

    I have put into place about as flawless and noise free a streaming system one can get w/o breaking the bank. I am perfectly happy with it. In fact I'm thrilled with it and Quobuz, much more music at my finger tips and it sounds fantastic.

    I still need to come up with a small server for all the music I have that Quobuz doesn't. Lots of bootleg recordings, friends live band recordings and stuff not on Quobuz.

    H9
    "Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgment. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not".--Nelson Pass Pass Labs XA25 | EE Avant Pre | EE Mini Max Supreme DAC | MIT Shotgun S1 | Pangea AC14SE MKII | Legend L600 | BlueSound Node 3 - Tubes add soul!
  • heiney9
    heiney9 Posts: 25,017
    treitz3 wrote: »
    LOL...I feel your pain. At least you have a choice. My only real gripe is that I wish streaming services would issue more information besides year released. Like, WHAT VERSION?

    If they would catalog their selections, like a UPC code of the recording, that offers all of the information? It sure would be a heck of a lot easier to do a direct comparison, without question(s).

    Tom

    I feel your pain, I hate they have zero information about what releases they are. I am a big fan of Depeche Mode especially the late 80's early 90's stuff. Quobuz has every single remix released, but very poor information about the remixes. It's the one thing that really irks me about Q.

    The current trend is to release bonus tracks on a "new" release of something old. Whether it be live material or alternate takes. But no information is given about the extra tracks. It's infuriating to have to look it up elsewhere.

    H9
    "Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgment. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not".--Nelson Pass Pass Labs XA25 | EE Avant Pre | EE Mini Max Supreme DAC | MIT Shotgun S1 | Pangea AC14SE MKII | Legend L600 | BlueSound Node 3 - Tubes add soul!
  • billbillw
    billbillw Posts: 6,153
    edited November 2023
    Another 3-way!
    This time, it's the newer "Remaster" that is inferior. No shocker there. New music is mostly mastered to appeal to ear bud users.
    My rip, one of my all time favorite albums. I've listened to this in my car, iPod, and every stereo/HT system that I've built.
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    I've probably heard that CD or it's rip 1000+ times.
    This 20th Remaster...1st time listening (repeated to verify)...sucks! No way about it. It's missing the whole low end energy that makes this album special. The deep bass is compressed and cut below 40Hz. (Ear-guess, not measured)
    7f0jk9b817ru.jpg

    This version is so close to my original CD or it's rip, that I can't declare a winner 🤷‍♂️
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    For rig details, see my profile. Nothing here anymore...
  • treitz3
    treitz3 Posts: 18,136
    heiney9 wrote: »
    I am sure those of you with multiple versions of the same music are not going to always agree the streaming service has picked the "best" or preferred version.

    Without a doubt. Sometimes, I ask myself why.
    heiney9 wrote: »
    I still need to come up with a small server for all the music I have that Quobuz doesn't. Lots of bootleg recordings, friends live band recordings and stuff not on Quobuz

    Dear lawd, let me give you some advice. Don't go on to my server thread. It's a road paved to he....

    Tom

    ~ In search of accurate reproduction of music. Real sound is my reference and while perfection may not be attainable? If I chase it, I might just catch excellence. ~
  • nooshinjohn
    nooshinjohn Posts: 24,928
    The new Red and Blue Beatles releases on Qobuz sound really good.
    The Gear... Carver "Statement" Mono-blocks, Arcam AVR20, Oppo UDP-203 4K Blu-ray player, Sony XBR70x850B 4k, Polk Audio Legend L800 with height modules, L400 Center Channel Polk audio AB800 "in-wall" surrounds. Marantz MM7025 stereo amp. Simaudio Moon 680d DSD

    “When once a Republic is corrupted, there is no possibility of remedying any of the growing evils but by removing the corruption and restoring its lost principles; every other correction is either useless or a new evil.”— Thomas Jefferson
  • heiney9
    heiney9 Posts: 25,017
    edited November 2023
    treitz3 wrote: »

    Dear lawd, let me give you some advice. Don't go on to my server thread. It's a road paved to he....

    Tom

    I've had a local music server before with my Squeezebox, not the best or easiest software to use, but pretty good for the time.

    My brother is in IT and has always steered me and helped me with my computers including the old music server. He would do it again and he recommends Roon as the end point (it's what he uses and is familair with). I like Roon and the interphase as well as the information and layouts, etc, except I am already paying a yearly sub to Q and then I'd have to pay a yearly sub to Roon too.

    Roon can be integrated with Q and give the information about a recording that I am desperately missing so the $$ would probably be worth it just for the art work and detailed song/album information. It would be nice to have all my music available because I'm sure I have some releases/versions Q doesn't currently carry.

    A new music server is on my list, but I'll probably tackle power conditioning as my next step in the rig. The new amp took all my audio reserves.....lol. Need to cool it for a few months.

    H9
    "Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgment. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not".--Nelson Pass Pass Labs XA25 | EE Avant Pre | EE Mini Max Supreme DAC | MIT Shotgun S1 | Pangea AC14SE MKII | Legend L600 | BlueSound Node 3 - Tubes add soul!
  • msg
    msg Posts: 9,214
    Mezzanine - great album. I was listening to that on repeat at work yesterday with the headphones.
    I disabled signatures.
  • mantis
    mantis Posts: 16,997
    Great thread.
    Many years ago , I got heavy into Flac Files, High Rez files etc and especially DAC's. back then, Streaming did not sound anywhere near as good as a good clean file running though a high quality DAC. CD's and SACD's also in general seemed matched by the High Rez files depending on the music.

    Fast forward to today and it's so much better streaming, no always in every album but the quality has improved so much in my opinion.

    I think even Apple Music for the most part, sounds damn good especially with all that they are doing and I use a Apple TV 4K unit as my music source. If you would have told me years ago, Your gonna be using a Apple TV for most of your music listening, I would have laughed pretty hard. But man, it's got so good.

    I also use Sonos as well and again , it sound great.

    I also have stopped chasing perfection, every little detail and nuance you have to sit and really pay attention to find, I find now a waste of time. When I'm in that mode, I'm not enjoying myself in that way, I'm trying to find the differences and end up just going into TECH mode.

    With how good streaming services are today, how good even a Apple TV 4K is , it's great times to be a music fan.
    Dan
    My personal quest is to save to world of bad audio, one thread at a time.
  • Toolfan66
    Toolfan66 Posts: 16,769
    qobuz also allows me to take all of that music with me where ever I may be, uninterrupted, no commercials, all music all the time..
  • mantis wrote: »
    Great thread.
    .....
    .....
    I also have stopped chasing perfection, every little detail and nuance you have to sit and really pay attention to find, I find now a waste of time. When I'm in that mode, I'm not enjoying myself in that way, I'm trying to find the differences and end up just going into TECH mode.

    ^^^^^
    I arrived at this point too with a server full of FLAC, etc.

    Now back to spinning discs just to enjoy the music.
    "Sometimes you have to look to the past to understand where you are going in the future"


    Harry / Marietta GA
  • billbillw
    billbillw Posts: 6,153
    mantis wrote: »
    Great thread.
    .....
    .....
    I also have stopped chasing perfection, every little detail and nuance you have to sit and really pay attention to find, I find now a waste of time. When I'm in that mode, I'm not enjoying myself in that way, I'm trying to find the differences and end up just going into TECH mode.

    ^^^^^
    I arrived at this point too with a server full of FLAC, etc.

    Now back to spinning discs just to enjoy the music.

    I quit chasing perfection also. This was just an experiment on digital source material.
    No way I'm going back to spinning discs.
    That option was removed when I sold my PD-D9J back in 2017. I still have a SCD-C333ES, but it hasn't been out if its box for almost 2 years.
    For rig details, see my profile. Nothing here anymore...
  • heiney9
    heiney9 Posts: 25,017
    I haven't quit chasing perfection, I am learning to just listen and enjoy. I have my rig to the point that it's emotionally engaging and sounds fantastic. I'll still tweak here and there, but the "chasing" part is over. I still listen with a critical ear and I still have certain expectations, but I am now learning to enjoy the music and make more of an emotional connection.

    Of course all the years of chasing is what got me to this point, so the chasing is fun and necessary. I'm 56 years old. It's time to actually enjoy the fruits of my labor and listen more for pleasure and less for "what's missing and what next piece of gear will "fix" it".

    The new amp has really opened a window to a new level of emotional engagement. It's so hard to put into words how great it sounds. The holographic 3D, and placement of instruments and vocalists. Physioacoustical traits are off the charts. This is an organic, realistic presentation.

    H9
    "Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgment. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not".--Nelson Pass Pass Labs XA25 | EE Avant Pre | EE Mini Max Supreme DAC | MIT Shotgun S1 | Pangea AC14SE MKII | Legend L600 | BlueSound Node 3 - Tubes add soul!
  • jbreezy5
    jbreezy5 Posts: 1,141
    I’m at that place too, just enjoying the music.

    Agree with @Mantis that Apple Music seems somewhat overlooked.

    I tried Qobuz for a few months and think it’s great overall. Switched to Apple Music b/c I heard their streams are lossless now and wanted to compare.

    I actually prefer Apple Music due to being able to use Siri voice commands while driving (Kenwood receiver). Unfortunately, Qobuz lacks this capability. I use this quite often when streaming at home too.

    It also has volume leveling which avoids the annoyance of having to adjust the volume from track-to-track due to the lack of an industry standard.

    I have even found some music that Qobuz lacked.

    It’s only $10.99/mo. compared to $12.99/mo for Qobuz.

    You can also download ALAC (essentially Apple’s version of FLAC) files at no cost. This was important for me, because I’m moving away from WAV files on my PC to save hard-drive space and get the metadata benefits, while keeping the audio quality the same.

    I’ve found that using a SSD via USB on my Bluesound Node 2i/N130 sounds closest to CD quality playback (not sure I can distinguish between the two).

    Tbh, streaming Apple Music directly doesn't sound much different than CD quality, if at all, either.

    Just my $0.02.
    CD Players: Sony CDP-211; Sony DVP-S9000ES; Sony UDP-X800M2 (x2); Cambridge Audio CXC

    DACs: Jolida Glass FX Tube DAC III (x2); Denafrips Ares II (x2)

    Streamers: ROKU (x3); Bluesound Node 2i and Node N130 w/LHY LPS // Receivers: Yamaha RX-V775BT; Yamaha RX-V777

    Preamps: B&K Ref 50; B&K Ref 5 S2; Classe CP-800 MkII; Audio Research SP16L (soon)

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    Turntable: Dual 721 Direct-Drive w/Audio Technica AT-VM95e cart

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