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Thread: Streaming Services - who like what, and why?

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    Streaming Services - who like what, and why?

    I ask out of curiosity, and because ...., well, I'll explain that in a minute.

    I'm curious as to what (if any) streaming service you use, and why you use that one. Is it range of music, is it what they have (or don't have), is it cost, is it quality of the bitstream, usability of app .... what?

    To put my cards on thee table, it is JUST curiosity. I asked a similar qustion a couple of years ago, and am still using Amazon. In the interim, they seem to have added in their "HD" service to the basic (paid) service. Anyways, in line with my general detestation of subscription services, I have a 12-month subscription which only renewed in December, so I'm not looking to change. Come next December, however, my plan is to cancel and just rely on my own 'streaming' service, of my LPs, CDs, etc which should by then all be ripped to my NAS.

    Is this legal? To be honest, I've given up caring. Or more to the point, as i'm not on the mod team, I no longer have to care, but if a mod thinks this goes too far ... fair enough.

    My attitude, and it dates back to the 70s, is that copying an LP (or latterly, CD) that I own onto a portable media (tape, Minidisc, Walkman/personal player) for use in the car or out and about, is morally defensible, should be legal (for personal use) and in some jurisdictions, is legal. By that same logic, ripping music that I paid for, often in more than one format,to my NAS for use at home, is just another format-shift. Is it strictly legal in the UK? Dunno, but it should (IMHO) be. I know there were proposed changs to the CDPA to enable this, but I haven't checked current status.

    Anyway, back on point, I'll probably cancel Amazon once I have my CDs, LPs etc all digitised. Meantime, I have until December anyway. So, I'm not changing streaming service at this point. The question is sheer curiosity.

    I said there was anothr reason. I'm curious about people's thoughts on MQA, and have been trying to work out what I think about it. My conclusions are :-

    1) I like the concept. Which, if I understand it, is that every single recording methodology applies 'colourings' to a recording. This applies right back to RIAA curves and encoding for vinyl to cope with the limitations of that media, and is still true today, to cope with the colourings of AD/DA's, filters, normaliation, and .... whole legions of 'processing'. So to try to apply a colouring to the final result to simulate that original studio master? Great idea. If it worked.

    2) Marketing MQA as "lossless" might embed that philosophy of getting back to the master, but is technically .... misleading. What the motivation for misleading is .... deceit, or over-simplifying? Dunno.

    3) I not only don't know, but I don't care.

    4) Re: 3), I have sadly reached the conclusion that my decades-long chase for .... if not audio-perfection, then the best I can get in my budget range, is pointless these days because the inevitable, relentless march of time has done it's thing. That is to say, my ears aren't up to hearing it any more.

    5) My 'ideal' sound system, therefore, is one that is good enough to sound pleasing to me, and I'm pretty easy to please. Audiophile-grade gear? Oh, please. I wish.

    So MY ideal streaming service is the one that'll be running from my NAS (and hence, not outside my home), and I'll put my music on a memory card, and carry my phone and earbuds when I'm out and about.

    But .... in the hypothetical situation that I did actually want a good, high-end streaming subscription .... what do the group use, why do you use what you do, and are you happy with it?

    And .... what do you make of the MQA controversy?
    Last edited by Saracen999; 02-05-2022 at 10:54 PM. Reason: A few tpyo's
    A lesson learned from PeterB about dignity in adversity, so Peter, In Memorium, "Onwards and Upwards".

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    MCRN Tachi Ttaskmaster's Avatar
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    Re: Streaming Services - who like what, and why?

    Radio is bad enough... but I don't really stream music at all, as I prefer having the physical record, tape, disc or file, and thus having complete and immediate control over its playback without having to rely on a data connection and all the little things that can affect/prevent it from delivering the service.

    For similar reasons, I don't really stream films and TV programmes much, unless there's a free service that offers what I'm looking for. Saying that, I've been using the PlutoTV website on the PC a lot lately and my phone actually came with their app, which was handy as they have several series I wanted.

    I'm generally happy with MP3, but I do have some FLAC and I wouldn't be averse to trying MQA.
    I find them so highly variable in terms of recorded quality anyway that the actual format is of no matter so long as my media player(s) of choice can actually play them. It's more about whether the files were done in clear, high definition to begin with that makes any difference. I also tend to prefer more of a raw CD-over-cheap-headphones kinds of sound, compared to all these lovely, warm, perfectly balanced audiophile-level recordings, as they never sounded like that when recorded live... and I just don't know enough about what I'm doing with a graphic equaliser to make things sound the way I want, so I'm kinda limited to how they come.
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    Re: Streaming Services - who like what, and why?

    I use Spotify as they do a family monthly rate so we all use it. So simply down to cost and convenience. We have Amazon Prime as well and some music on there, but never use it.

    Again, my ears are degraded to the point that ultimate fidelity just isn't that much of a target. Having said that, over the last year my wife has been getting some bits for her office to listen to music in. She currently has a Fiio DAC:

    https://smile.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07WT7TYWY/

    into some rather nice Sennheiser headphones.

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sennheiser-...dp/B08HNFV61M/

    But most of the time that DAC goes into an old Hitachi micro hifi amp somebody gave us, which has some awful little bookshelf speakers. It actually sounds OK, shock horror

    As for legality, I thought the problem was with the likes of DVD it is the decryption that is illegal not the fact you end up with a copy. So music companies can't stop you making a personal copy, but they don't have to make it easy.

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    Re: Streaming Services - who like what, and why?

    Quote Originally Posted by DanceswithUnix View Post
    As for legality, I thought the problem was with the likes of DVD it is the decryption that is illegal not the fact you end up with a copy. So music companies can't stop you making a personal copy, but they don't have to make it easy.
    With respect to format shifting/personal copy the govt tried to make it legal in 2014 but then this got overturned in 2015 so it's still illegal.

    One of the possible positives to buying CDs from Amazon is they sometimes come with free mp3 versions which you can download legally.

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    Re: Streaming Services - who like what, and why?

    My music is from the era when there was only vinyl's. I have a massive collection when they first came out so they are old like almost all of Zeppelin, Lizzy, Boston, Budgie, Eagles Boston, Van Halen etc. But digital I have tried most but I have enjoyed Amazon mostly and for my taste I find I can get more off Amazon. I use it when driving, links up with waze and I have Alexa in the car. So I can use it anywhere in the world.
    JABULANI NONKE

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    Re: Streaming Services - who like what, and why?

    I'm using the Amazon streaming service. One of the 'benefits' of getting...ahem...'older' (I'm in my early 50's), is that my hearing just isn't as good as it used to be. That, together with tinnitus means that I just don't hear the benefits of 'high end' audio the way I did in my younger years. As Saracen said, as long as it's 'good enough' audio quality, that's all I need.

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    Re: Streaming Services - who like what, and why?

    Quote Originally Posted by DanceswithUnix View Post
    ...

    As for legality, I thought the problem was with the likes of DVD it is the decryption that is illegal not the fact you end up with a copy. So music companies can't stop you making a personal copy, but they don't have to make it easy.
    IIRC, the "DVD" issue with legality is a different one entirely. What I was talking about was essentially whether or not it's copyright infringement, which (unless done in a commercial context) is purely a civil matter, which is to say you might get sued, but not pursued by the state over a criminal matter. And as such, the remedies were pretty limited - damages (for actual loss, not punitive), a court order to destroy infringing copies, and an injunction preventing you from doing it again. i.e. unless you're doing it commercially, making a copy isn't likely to be worth sueing about. If you're uploading it, and thousands (or more) then downloading it, well that is very different.

    But, the DVD thing meant deliberatly bypassing anti-copying technology and, IIRC, that was specifically created as a criminal offence. Once you'd illegal bypassed those measures, then you're back to the straight civil issues if/when you copy the actual copyrighted material. So, even doing it privately could be a criminal matter because of the copy protection methods, but the actual copying isn't. Which is a bit weird.

    All of that, to my mind, is a sign that the law hasn't caught up with the changes in technology. It still thinks it's the '70s and people are copying LPs onto C90s (for any 'kids' reading this, visit a museum to see those).

    If I were in a cynical mood, though (yes, me, I can be cynical .... occasionally) I might even suggest that this is exactly why the big studios are buying into, and so heavily promoting, all things streaming. They want us all renting media and paying to listen/watch, not buying a physical media once and only paying once, however many times we watch/listen to it. And, naturally, that is precisely why I hate the subscription model, and am 'format-shifting' my LPs and CDs to FLAC on my NAS.

    Of course, just like people used to borrow LPs/CDs from a mate and copy those to cassette (or CD-R, Minidisc etc), the switch to streaming doesn'tprevent that. Get a digital interface, reroute the system sounds to a loopback in the DAC and record into your DAW and, voila. That, however, most certainly would be illegal, and not morally justifiable in the same way that recording stuff where I have paid for the LP, CD etc is. Then again, I guess people ued to record cassettes from radio broadcasts, and there's still nothing to stop people recording a streaming service via an analog to digital conversion, using gear you can buy for, oh, twenty quid?

    So maybe my cynicism is wrong (on this occasion) and that isn't a motivation behind streaming (thugh profit, and a regularised cash flow, sure is), because if it were, the modern equivalent of copying to a casette tape sure ain't hard, or expensive. And you don't even have to buy tapes.
    A lesson learned from PeterB about dignity in adversity, so Peter, In Memorium, "Onwards and Upwards".

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    Re: Streaming Services - who like what, and why?

    The artist gets a hell of a bigger royalty chunk from said CD purchase too.

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    Re: Streaming Services - who like what, and why?

    I primarily use Spotify free version which has served me well on Desktop/Laptop for over 10 years.
    I use it for convenience even when I own the albums already. I like to subscribe to other peoples lists, it's an interesting way of hearing something new and doesn't have a radio host to go with it. I'd say its about the closest thing to physically sharing music in the old days.

    Sometimes I listen to an album pre-purchase, admittedly this takes some of the fun out of the experience. Nothing beats unwrapping a CD/Vinyl/Cassette and popping it into the player unheard. However, when it's a bad album I'm thankful for not making the purchase.

    The ads signal time to remove headphones for a moment or use the facilities.
    Spotify free on phone is diabolical so I don't have it on there.

    I've never paid for Spotifiy as in the early days it was just a glance pre-purchase, then today I have a once a month session of listening to music and thats that for another 30 days or thereabouts.

    Up until Windows 7 I also digitised CDs for my own consumption, however, I just fell out of habit over time.

    Overall I listen to music a lot less than I used to. 20 years ago on payday I'd blow £100-200 on DVDs and CDs. My dad got annoyed with them coming through the door almost every other day as they'd slam onto the floor, back then you had no idea what country they were coming from or how long it would take. When I got my first car that came to an end as fuel, insurance and owning a car suddenly had to be paid for.



    I'd not come across MQA until now and I highly doubt, for reasons that others have mentioned, that I will get involved.
    I'm happy with FLAC whenever I get it, while I notice a difference, it's only because I'm looking for the difference otherwise MP3 quality is enough for me.

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    Re: Streaming Services - who like what, and why?

    Quote Originally Posted by Saracen999 View Post
    They want us all renting media and paying to listen/watch, not buying a physical media once and only paying once, however many times we watch/listen to it.
    Ah, but the streaming companies are not the music companies. I can see what's in a monthly fee for streaming companies.

    ISTR someone in one of the big movie companies saying they loved how people kept buying the same films over and over again. First on VHS, then DVD, then Blu-ray and I think that was when 4K media was just turning up so they were fingers crossed to re-sell movies again. I presume the music companies wanted you to do the same, buying the same tracks (my kids don't do albums, I think they're missing out) over again and years ago you could buy the same album on LP, cassette and CD. That all seems to have changed, you kind of have CD or mp3 and again my kids at least don't really do CD.

    AIUI, bands make their money from merch these days. So if you want to support a band, go to a gig and/or buy a shirt. The songs just get you to their shows.
    Last edited by DanceswithUnix; 01-03-2022 at 09:20 AM.

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    Re: Streaming Services - who like what, and why?

    Quote Originally Posted by DanceswithUnix View Post
    Ah, but the streaming companies are not the music companies. I can see what's in a monthly fee for streaming companies.

    ....
    Yeah, but the streaming companies can only stream what they get the rights to stream from the rightsholder, which usually means buying (in one form or another) from the music company. Sure, some really big artists control their own copyright but, from what I remember, that tends only to be the bigger, established stars with the clout, and marketability in their own right, to doctate contract terms to the music company. Good luck to any newcomers trying that.

    Quote Originally Posted by DanceswithUnix View Post
    ....

    ISTR someone in one of the big movie companies saying they loved how people kept buying the same films over and over again. First on VHS, then DVD, then Blu-ray and I think that was when 4K media was just turning up so they were fingers crossed to re-sell movies again. I presume the music companies wanted you to do the same, buying the same tracks (my kids don't do albums, I think they're missing out) over again and years ago you could buy the same album on LP, cassette and CD. That all seems to have changed, you kind of have CD or mp3 and again my kids at least don't really do CD.

    ....
    Done some of that myself, certainly from LP to CD. Not on movies though. I own a lot DVDs, and barely any Blurays, not least 'cos I don't have a Bluray player. That hasn't stopped some people getting me the occasional Bluray present .... and more than a few from PR companies. Go figure.

    Quote Originally Posted by DanceswithUnix View Post
    ....

    AIUI, bands make their money from merch these days. So if you want to support a band, go to a gig and/or buy a shirt. The songs just get you to their shows.
    Yeah, 'cos I wouldn't feel at all out of place at a gig, these days. Besides, where'd I park the Zimmer frame?

    I take the point, though.
    A lesson learned from PeterB about dignity in adversity, so Peter, In Memorium, "Onwards and Upwards".

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    Re: Streaming Services - who like what, and why?

    Quote Originally Posted by Saracen999 View Post
    Yeah, 'cos I wouldn't feel at all out of place at a gig, these days. Besides, where'd I park the Zimmer frame?
    Depends who is playing... Most attendees will require zimmer seating at all gigs by The Rolling Stones, Status Quo, The Bay City Rollers, David Essex and others of similar era, so you're good to go.
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    Re: Streaming Services - who like what, and why?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ttaskmaster View Post
    Depends who is playing... Most attendees will require zimmer seating at all gigs by The Rolling Stones, Status Quo, The Bay City Rollers, David Essex and others of similar era, so you're good to go.
    lol, this is quite true. Some bands it would seem reasonable for them to have custom zimmer frames as part of the merch

    There seems to be quite a split. I went to a Twenty One Pilots gig with my youngest offspring before lockdown, and that was mostly teenagers with parents. But then I did Fleetwood Mac with the wife, and felt quite young in that audience. Perhaps there are bands in between.

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    Re: Streaming Services - who like what, and why?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ttaskmaster View Post
    Depends who is playing... Most attendees will require zimmer seating at all gigs by The Rolling Stones, Status Quo, The Bay City Rollers, David Essex and others of similar era, so you're good to go.
    I walked right into that one, didn't I?
    A lesson learned from PeterB about dignity in adversity, so Peter, In Memorium, "Onwards and Upwards".

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    Re: Streaming Services - who like what, and why?

    Quote Originally Posted by Saracen999 View Post
    I walked right into that one, didn't I?
    You did, but very slowly due to said Zimmer frame...

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      • Storage:
      • 1TB Sandisk SSD
      • Graphics card(s):
      • ASUS GTX 970
      • PSU:
      • Corsair AX650
      • Case:
      • Silverstone Fortress FT03
      • Operating System:
      • 8.1 Pro
      • Monitor(s):
      • Dell S2716DG
      • Internet:
      • 10 Mbps ADSL

    Re: Streaming Services - who like what, and why?

    Of late I have found myself reversing across all forms of digital media - that is to say, actively choosing to reduce quality.

    For example, I recently swapped out a perfectly functional set of 2.0 HiFi speakers for a replacement, and the replacement pair sounded worse to my ears, for the 30 minutes I spent comparing the two when they were both installed. So why do it? Because the new set are Bluetooth, and getting rid of the cables allowed me to move things around and consequently reduce the complexity of my setup.

    Over the last couple of years, practicality has far outstripped my hunt for "quality", whatever that means. I still have my FLAC files from my CD collection, so if I want to listen to a particular track at full fidelity then I can do that. But Spotify allows me to cheaply supplement my library, ties into the smart TVs and smart speakers and so on - if a family member or a guest wants to listen to music, then they can do it. They already know which app to pick and how to work it. And if Spotify doesn't have the track they want, they'll pick something else.

    I used to only have my FLAC collection, and would note down the music I was missing when people requested it, and would then make a point of trying to find a cheap album second hand somewhere. Even then, though, I could spend 8 minutes fumbling with remotes, reconfiguring, and snaking through an interface that only I can understand, and if anything skips a beat it was incredibly frustrating and everyone else begins to regret having mentioned music at all in the first place.

    Back to your question, then. For a lot of my music listening, I suspect that even mid-bitrate MP3 would be indistinguishable. I'm not paying enough attention to the music, it's not being played on high quality gear, and there are a thousand forms of interference - in terms of both life and electromagnetism. For the odd occasion that I want to listen to a track in great quality, I already own it on CD (or I'll happily buy it). So I don't need to stream every track, every day, in some amazing quality format. On that basis, my only criteria for music streaming is a) breadth of library, b) cost and c) lack of ads. I suppose interoperability as well, but that feels like a given at present. For me, Amazon Music and Spotify both happily meet those requirements, so I've had one of the two for the last few years. Virtually the same argument can be had for Netflix vs Blu-ray.

    On the MQA front, I know for a fact that even my "high-end" gear is not even close to stretching the limits of CD audio, so MQA would be a red herring.

    And, my conclusion at this point is that having more money in my pocket and more time to rest has produced far more enjoyment than any increase in "quality" could do. Perhaps in 10 years that will change again, but right now I'm pretty happy with the balance.

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