September 25, 2019 § Leave a comment
“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”
September 6, 2019 § Leave a comment
“If you’re on a tight budget, go for Spotify. It offers a free subscription plan supported by some (fairly annoying) adverts. Audio quality is limited to a maximum of 160kbps and you can only skip a track six times per hour on mobile devices. Still, it’s free.
Step up to Spotify’s £10 a month Premium subscription plan and the audio quality shoots up to 320kbps. You also get ad-free music, unlimited search and skip, plus the option to listen offline.
There’s also a Premium Family subscription for the discounted price of £15 per month. It covers up to six users (everyone has to live at the same address) and includes parental controls.”
July 13, 2019 § Leave a comment
“Moving from seventies rock to eighties pop, and this combo proves itself to be a seriously enjoyable musical performer. David Bowie Let’s Dance shows how fast, lithe and agile it is on its feet, rhythmically speaking and I can easily hear the woodblock percussion playing along, and how this is a counterpoint to the tight, fast-attack, quick-release drum sound. At the same time, Bowie uses keyboard bass in parts of this track and electric bass guitar in others, and the Edge combo is agile enough to show which is which. Indeed, the reverb on the track’s great Stevie Ray Vaughan guitar solo is clear to hear along with the brilliant rhythmic gait of his playing. The NQ/W offers both impressive amounts of detail, as well as the vital ability to string it all together in a musically coherent way.
Via its internal DAC and streamed from my Western Digital NAS drive, the Edge pre/power serves up a sumptuously wide recorded acoustic from Kate Bush’s Snowflake in 24/96 WAV format. This is truly immersive stuff, as I bask in the intricacy and vibrancy of the close-miked piano. Kate’s voice hovers over this ethereally, located with great precision in the recorded acoustic.”
June 19, 2019 § Leave a comment
“With Monday’s formal announcement from Tim Cook at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference keynote speech in San Jose that the company was knifing iTunes and slicing it into three separate applications, many users of the dated service breathed a sigh of relief.
Perhaps some of them were even binary-centric audiophiles; although I don’t know any who use the app for playback anymore – at least not in the past three or four years – as streaming services with names like Spotify, TIDAL and Qobuz became part of the hi-fi lexicon for digital-music playback.
April 7, 2019 § Leave a comment
“Interestingly, there is no physical headphone connector, as the provision for Bluetooth wireless headphones is there. There is also wireless internet connectivity to the M10, but without an ugly external antenna, although I strongly prefer a wired LAN connection for speed, reliability and sound quality. At least you have choice and flexibility.
Internally the M10 is operated by a powerful NXP 1GHz ARM® Cortex A9 Processor, and the digital to analog is handled by a high-end 32-BIT/384kHz ESS Sabre ES9028 DAC.
A feature that you don’t see every day on a product like the M10 is Dirac Live integration. Dirac Live is a patented room correction technology that is capable of correcting the frequency response and the impulse response of your loudspeakers within the listening room and is a very welcome addition at this price point. Unfortunately, our review unit has not had this function activated yet and is expected to be enabled within weeks.”