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Topic: How much can we trust streaming services for their high quality tiers (Read 1501 times) previous topic - next topic
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How much can we trust streaming services for their high quality tiers

Hello there,

I've been reading this discussion about the state of Google Play Music purchases which triggered the next following logical question:

How much can we trust streaming services?

We all know different services (Spotify, Tidal, Google Play Music, etc) have different quality tiers based on different factors: price, settings, etc. Most stream their default quality version at high enough bitrates that the music should be transparent 90% of the times for 90% of the listeners. Some offer high bitrate versions or even more than 44.1Hz/16bit versions. But how much of those premium versions (or maybe even the standard) can be trusted as being what it is claimed? Or is it all a amalgam of better and worse with some albums having relatively low bitrate lossy versions as source for all their available version (even 24bit lossless)?
Yes, a bought album can be analysed via its spectrogram, can be ABX'ed against a CD ripp. But with streaming? I can't think of an easy way.
Somehow, what I know already makes me think that the good old CD is the only one to be trusted and will still be for the foreseeable future. This feeling is supported by the state of music tagging that these services offer: just search for the band "Autumn" and see what a mess it reveals.

What's your opinion on the matter?

Happy new year!

Re: How much can we trust streaming services for their high quality tiers

Reply #1
The trusted 1411k CD audio spec is eroding and replaced with NOTHING but a spegetti of lossy encoding. Various bitrates, many [lossy] codecs, no standards whatsoever, some better some worse but nothing for sure , except remaining physical CD sales.  This is sad as there is plenty of bandwidth in most cases for HD video and lossless audio weighs a lot less. They can stream lossless audio at home as they stream 4K netflix..
wavpack 4.8 -b3hx4cl

Re: How much can we trust streaming services for their high quality tiers

Reply #2
The way I see it and the biggest problem is the ABSOLUTE lack of proof for quality. Not even for the initiated ones.
One would have to go to extreme lengths to be able to confirm even the simplest: lossy or lossless source?

Bitrate has no proof value as anybody can create 24bit/192kHz from 16bit/44.1kHz mp3 at 192kbps.

Re: How much can we trust streaming services for their high quality tiers

Reply #3
Well, apart from Deezer and Tidal I can't give solid proof for their content. For Deezer mp3 streams are LAME encoded on 128kbps and 320kbps respectively  and they both seem to originate from lossless source and their lossless option is indeed lossless unless the content is not lossless in the first place on the original disc/release but other than that I trust them blindly. My point is that you can't put all of those streaming services in the same box since pretty like most of them follow different practices.

Re: How much can we trust streaming services for their high quality tiers

Reply #4
We can't. Just use streaming for music discovery. Appreciate your favorite songs locally with a lossless rip from the CD.

Re: How much can we trust streaming services for their high quality tiers

Reply #5
Apropos of this topic, I have been trying out the various streaming services recently.  I came across instances in Tidal of what sounds to me like a strange vibrato (tremolo, flutter? flutter echo?), for instance, in https://tidal.com/browse/track/4413372, at 0:16, 0:50, and 3:02-3:10.  Do you hear it too?  I hear it in many other places in the same album (Chopin Pletnev).  I don't hear it on the CD.  (If you don't hear it, I did complain, so maybe by the time you read this, they fixed it.)

My question would be whether this phenomenon corresponds to some known type of defect or artifact that someone here could identify?

Thanks,

Mark

Re: How much can we trust streaming services for their high quality tiers

Reply #6
Since DG is part of Universal you may hear the legendary Universal watermark.
Is troll-adiposity coming from feederism?
With 24bit music you can listen to silence much louder!

Re: How much can we trust streaming services for their high quality tiers

Reply #7
Since DG is part of Universal you may hear the legendary Universal watermark.

OK thanks!

Re: How much can we trust streaming services for their high quality tiers

Reply #8
I would probably place most of my trust in Qobuz. The glorious mysteries of MQA aside, I've found a quite a few lossy transcodes on Tidal. It's pretty evident that they don't even glance at spectrograms when adding music. Even worse, I tried actually reporting one track and was told "it's a FLAC file. This means it must be lossless!", whilst said file had an abrupt 16kHz cutoff and VERY audible artifacts.

Re: How much can we trust streaming services for their high quality tiers

Reply #9
Qobuz has also featured watermarked music, but it's none of the distributors' fault that happens, it's entirely on the labels for force feeding watermarked "lossless" media.

Re: How much can we trust streaming services for their high quality tiers

Reply #10
Qobuz has also featured watermarked music, but it's none of the distributors' fault that happens, it's entirely on the labels for force feeding watermarked "lossless" media.

Thanks, for what it's worth I have been taking advantage of trial offers in several services this month.  I have found less of this phenomenon in Qobuz than in Tidal when directly comparing tracks.  However, there is one place that sticks out in my mind in one of those Qobuz tracks, but I don't have the CD to compare in that instance.

I have to say I was all excited about this streaming and downloading business, but now I am disappointed and discouraged.  I have purchased a few hi-res albums (including complete operas) from HDtracks and Qobuz, and now I am suspicious that they might not be the same quality I would get from a CD.  The operas I purchased recently were EMI/Warner (the 1953 Callas/de Sabata Tosca and the Giulini Don Giovanni).  Beloved performances and recordings, and I wanted to get them in the best sound possible.  Oh well!

Re: How much can we trust streaming services for their high quality tiers

Reply #11
It says something that the only streaming service I've used for quality is YouTube, where I can most often find a good encode because the service allows multiple instances of a song, and it uses Opus. Which makes it kind of dumb that Google Play may offer worse encodes than its own YouTube counterpart.

For top quality, it's CD or offline files at 288kbps+ for me.

Re: How much can we trust streaming services for their high quality tiers

Reply #12
It says something that the only streaming service I've used for quality is YouTube, where I can most often find a good encode because the service allows multiple instances of a song, and it uses Opus. Which makes it kind of dumb that Google Play may offer worse encodes than its own YouTube counterpart.

For top quality, it's CD or offline files at 288kbps+ for me.

How do you determine the quality on YouTube?

Re: How much can we trust streaming services for their high quality tiers

Reply #13
How do you determine the quality on YouTube?

Exactly this.  Because someone can easily use an MP3 with 32 kbps bitrate, transcode to whatever output format their video editor supports which might be 256 kbps of some other format and upload to YouTube which will be further transcode into a bunch of other lossy codecs of varying qualities.  There's no reliable way to measure quality of a source on Youtube.

Re: How much can we trust streaming services for their high quality tiers

Reply #14
How do you determine the quality on YouTube?

Exactly this.  Because someone can easily use an MP3 with 32 kbps bitrate, transcode to whatever output format their video editor supports which might be 256 kbps of some other format and upload to YouTube which will be further transcode into a bunch of other lossy codecs of varying qualities.  There's no reliable way to measure quality of a source on Youtube.
Songs uploaded to the official channel or topic are usually high quality. Either way it can be checked with spectrogram for holes and listening test for weak transients that result from transcoding. I can always tell if it's from a low quality source, and could probably tell which codec was used, but obviously not everyone has these skills. It's reasonable for me until I get the CD.

Re: How much can we trust streaming services for their high quality tiers

Reply #15
How do you determine the quality on YouTube?

Exactly this.  Because someone can easily use an MP3 with 32 kbps bitrate, transcode to whatever output format their video editor supports which might be 256 kbps of some other format and upload to YouTube which will be further transcode into a bunch of other lossy codecs of varying qualities.  There's no reliable way to measure quality of a source on Youtube.
Songs uploaded to the official channel or topic are usually high quality. Either way it can be checked with spectrogram for holes and listening test for weak transients that result from transcoding. I can always tell if it's from a low quality source, and could probably tell which codec was used, but obviously not everyone has these skills. It's reasonable for me until I get the CD.

OK thank you!

 
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