Streaming wars

September 28, 2018
 by Paul McGowan

Sometimes wars are won without much of a battle. Such is the case with the Streaming Wars.

As I have reported more than a few times I am not a big fan of Tidal. It’s a nice service with a decent library but sound quality always was an issue. Compared to my reference of CDs played on DMP there was not even a contest. In fact, the difference is so stark that I do my best to keep Tidal unavailable in Music Room One because it does not properly represent the system’s capabilities. Instead, we limit the options to my Mac Mini server or the best option, discs played back on DMP: still the gold standard for digital audio playback.

But now there’s Qobuz, the French company with their 40 million track library and quality streaming soon to be available in the States. Team members at PS Audio have been given accounts so that we might learn about this service and I must tell you, I am impressed. Blown away, in fact. While not quite as good as DMP it’s within spittin’ distance.

Qobuz allows you to not only stream but to download onto your local hard drive (they are encrypted so don’t get too excited about copying them onto discs) and sound better played back from the drive than streamed over the internet.

DirectStream and DS Junior owners can stream Qobuz through the Bridge in resolutions up to 192kHz 24 bits when available. Or, simply stream or download to your computer and connect via USB.

Finally, a streaming service that works like you’d want it to. No more fussing with MQA in the hopes it’ll be “better” than the original. Now you can enjoy a library that’s multiple lifetimes big and much of it at 192kHz 24 bits. You can bet Qobuz will be central to our upcoming Octave system.

The battle lasted about 10 seconds, but that’s good.

The war’s over.

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191 comments on “Streaming wars”

  1. The problem with Qobuz as with all streaming sites is that you are at their mercy as to which version of a recording they will make available, typically the latest “remastered” (read: over compressed) version that sounds horrible.

    1. Ye of little faith, prejudice and prejudgement.

      Take Crime of the Century, for example, mentioned below. They have at least three versions, including the original release in 16/44, the 2014 remaster in 24/192 (its mega) and the Deluxe edition, which is a 2 CD set with the 2014 remaster and a 1975 live set from my old haunt, the Hammersmith Odeon.

      The worst remaster was the Graceland 25th Anniversary Edition. They have the 1984 original and the 25th Anniversary.

      Qobuz has built up its business in Europe in association with discerning industry outlets, for example in the UK they have tie-ins with both Gramophone and Jazzwise magazines. I get both. Their readers wouldn’t put up with rubbish recordings. Qobuz work very closely with their labels to provide a supremely good quality library. They also check for upsamples, that kind of thing.

    2. I completely disagree. Tidal actually sounds much better than any other available service. It’s not even close.
      My system, Directstream dac, Directstream player, BHK preamp, P12, Soundscience Music Vault, PBN M2.5 speakers.
      Tidal sounds as good as Redbook cds played on PS Audio Directstream player, often with a better sound stage.

    3. Paul your comparison is extremely flawed. The issue is not whether Tidal or any other streaming service is better or even close your reference quality DAC and Transport or is the best music for Music Room 1. That is an absurd comparison, and I use the phrase with some reluctance because I enjoy and respect you videos and post even on those rare occasions when I disagree with them based on my experience (probably mostly in error and certainly not based on any technical training or expertise). Streaming on any kind, in my opinion, does not sound as good as a CD, ripped wave file or a high resolution download. Maybe it never will because there seems to be a presence and immediacy plus factor for files that are on our own system. Rather, the question is what is the best streaming service available to the masses in the U.S. at this time. It is clearly Tidal Hi Fi and MQA is clearly a few cuts above that. Rather, than taking curious positions on streaming services based on whether they sound as good as high resolution files played on what you have previously described as a world class system, I continue to advance the notion that we are all better served by supporting the best alternative against the purveyors of MP3 … talk about not worthy. But alas not a word against Apple and the other dreck masters.

      QBuz is coming and that is great. I trust your analysis that it sounds better than MQA, although I will certainly reserve final judgement based on hearing it in my system and weighing cost benefit based on the price point of available streaming services. Let’s make the comparisons fair and equitable and let the market decide. In other word let’s avoid putting our thumbs on the scale … even accidentally.

  2. I suppose it should be me who posts first, having been subscribed for about 5 years and Sublime since Day 1, which was about 2 years ago.

    I won’t even start to think how a 10 cent silver disk tracking 16/44 data by a laser can sound better than the original file, especially if 24 bit depth and usually 96khz. There are relatively few 192khz, but Crime of the Century is a nice one to start off with for the old rockers, Podger’s Vivaldi: 12 Concertos, Op. 3 “L’Estro Armonico” for the classical buffs. For jazzy blues types, Charlie Hunter’s “Everybody Has A Plan Until They Get Punched In The Mouth” is memorable. Some really good labels for quality stuff include ECM, alpha, Channel Classics.

    The Darko guide the forum is helpful. I used usb for some years, including with my PWD DAC, I now use an ethernet connection via Devialet Air or uPnP. Just make sure you have a wired ethernet and you are not bouncing data off wifi repeaters, as 24/96 may be flaky and 24/192 is likely to be a fail.

    The OSX app is now a state of the art thing. There is lots of useful editorial worth reading, plus album booklets. It has uPnP built in. It says beta but it’s faultless. In settings you can set your default music playing output device.

    When you stream it automatically stores the file in your cache. You can select to include cache items in your offline library. Sort your offline library by added date and you will be able to see your most recent streams and play them directly from your cache. You can set the cache to various default sizes or custom size up to 100gb. If I know I’m going to listen to something a few times I will import it straight off and play from cache.

    Sit back and enjoy.

    1. Paul’s summary on Tidal is a tad bit harsh. Granted, like all streaming services there are some dreadful sounding recordings, but some Tidal files are very good sounding. My personal gripe with Tidal has always been that they provide no information in regards to the recordings provenance.

      So my question is, does Qobuz provide the recordings provenance with each downloaded file? Just because an original analog or 16/44 recording is upsampled to 24/96 or 24/192 doesn’t mean it’s better and further, what percentage of the Qobuz database are original high resolution recordings?

      Just because your DAC lights up 24/96 or 24/192 while streaming doesn’t mean the original recording is high resolution. Crime of the Century is an excellent analog recording transferred, remastered maybe and upsampled.

      Qobuz (pronounced Co Buz) sit back and enjoy, indeed! Colorado will be buzzed at the Qobuz launch at RMAF.

      1. You will find multiple versions of albums and they are identifiable. I just checked Crime of the Century and Breakfast in America. Both have the original studio version in 16/44 as they would have released on CD.
        Breakfast in America was remastered in 2010 and was released on CD. It is online in 16/44 – IT HAS NOT BEEN UPSAMPLED. There is also a Deluxe 2 CD set with the remaster and a live set, both in 16/44 per the CD.
        When Crime of the Century was remastered in 2014 it was made available in HD at 24/192. The Deluxe Remaster was a CD version and it is online with the live set in 16/44 – as per the CD. IT HAS NOT BEEN UPSAMPLED.

        So you will find everything is in the bitrate and sampling frequency it was originally issued in and if there are HD issues they will be there to.

        They are careful to label each track if it is an album version, a remaster and, if so, the remaster date.

        They also have the correct covers, so for example the Graceland 25th Anniversary has the “25th Anniversary” album cover, the version original does not.

        1. Hi Steven I have COTC on Bluray 25th anniversary edition and the (useless) credits merely say “contains at least 96/24 material” so was this transfer done at 192/24?
          Sounds great whatever…
          Cheers.

          1. The audio remaster in 24/192. I assume it was done from the original tapes. If there is a blueray it may have been done in DSD and transferred to PCM. I honestly have no idea.

            It’s great music, a good remaster and a good demo disk for a system that has fast amplification and good dynamics. They were still good live 3 or 4 years ago.

              1. 24/192 is a rarely used sampling rate. 24/96 is much more prevalent. That’s why I suggested optical as the best connection, then just set the maximum streaming rate to 24/96. Best is ethernet anyway.

      2. Steven and Dr. Goodears,
        My first question about Qobuz was also about provenance, but if what you’re saying is accurate, then the provenance stops short. This will always be the biggest hurdle in my opinion. I agree with what you’re saying for the most part, but some of the “remasters” I’ve purchased have been disasters (see below), but in larger bit buckets leaving me feeling the only thing that changed was the number of times my wallet was remastered. Breakfast in America, & I’m not using it as an example, must’ve been recorded on analog tape & equipment of the day. IF the master tapes, if preserved, or when preserved by whom and by what equipment and technology. I would think that a digital copy of the masters would be a much better quality recording than a 16/44 CD.
        If only we could retain the sounds in our memories and our hearing ability of those times, then the war would be over.

        Respectfully,
        G8tor B

        1. The music I listen to tends to be well recorded classical and jazz, so it is not an issue. I assume record companies will have a library of analogue to digital transfers for their CD catalogue, and that is on Qobuz in 16/44.
          Remasters are done for various reasons, not just to move from 16 to 24 bit. If you enjoyed the CD, listen to the 16/44 original version. Remasters are nothing to do with Qobuz, if you don’t like them complain to the record company.
          Bear in mind that Qobuz started in 2007, so it already had 8 years or so of streaming 16/44 or lower before doing any HD.
          The vast majority of new releases are 24 bit, popular stuff sometimes 48khz, jazz and classical mostly 96khz.
          Just rest assured they do not upsample.

    2. We all know that +90% of “Hi-Res” music files come from analog tapes and CD masters that are remastered to 24-96/192, if the original recording was poor so it will the remastered Hi-Res version although it may sound “different”, however, if the original recording is good, chances are that, in most cases, the CD (16-44.1) version is indistinguishable from the Hi-Res version. Qobuz has the best classical and jazz library and the labels publishing these genres are the ones that generally care about good recordings, good examples are: 2L, Reference Recordings, Alpha, ECM, Channel, etc. Listen a recent recording from any of those labels in native 24-96 in Qobuz and you’ll be blown away.
      If you’re a music lover like I am, you’ll appreciate another unique advantage with Qobuz that is overlooked by most people, Qobuz is the only one streaming vendor providing you full information of the album, artist, composer and work synopsis in form of the CD version booklet and editorials, Qobuz really cares about “overall” quality not only sound.

      1. Thank heavens another user to dispel the sceptics.

        I use uPnP and an Amazon Kindle Fire (cheapest and best tablet) and use bubble uPnP. You can also get the booklets in the Android app (I presume iOS, I haven’t used it for a while) and read them in my Kindle reader. On the 10″ Fire they are much the same size as paper CD booklets and more readable.

            1. Yes, CD is still the dominant format in some countries (Japan, Germany, etc.) and the preferred format for classical and jazz that are the genres mostly listened by people over 50, who generally have less computer skills, so many are still reluctant to embrace computer audio. But CD sales go down around 10% every year. Computer audio industry have overall made a very poor job in educating the market and not adopting standards, so many users are very confused with the too many options available and the soup of acronyms: mp3, FLAC, DSD, MQA, DLNA, hard disk formatting, different and incompatible wireless streaming protocols, etc. so some abandon computer audio and come back to the easy-of-use of CD play, I’d not blame them.

              1. That is why Sonos has been so successful. The Sonos Bridge is a genius piece of kit because it does away with network issues. You just plug it in, do what the app tells you and it works, setting up its own dedicated wifi channel. It hosts all streaming platforms and can be used in audiophile systems.

                1. Sonos is still the best multiroom system available but their amplifiers/streamers/speakers don’t deliver audiophile quality, but 99% of their users don’t care. But now they’re attacked by the big computer fishes: Apple, Google and mass market audio: Denon, Yamaha, etc. who’re eroding their sales and profits.
                  I believe the near future of Hi-Fi will be a good quality active monitor with streaming capabilities, the bests examples are the wonderful Kef Ls50 wireless or the Devialet Phantom. No more ugly and bulky metal boxes, racks and cables around = happier spouses.

                  1. To conquer the pockets of the reluctant millions of true music lovers, the streaming providers must dramatically improve their metadata, today they all provide a poor search engine that will only recover the metadata available in the “album” “track” and “artist” fields of the digital file. That only works for pop/rock genres and only if the user perfectly knows the language of the artist or song name. Also, human memory is limited, you can’t remember all the songs and the artists names you like so you end up listening always the same artists and songs, boring. Music lovers want to select music genres by mood, by period, style, composer, instrument, country, etc. Qobuz has a decent selection option in their desktop web site, I wish they’ll port this feature to their mobile apps soon.

                  2. We’ve been there a while. One of my kids uses a Chromecast and active speakers, the Chromecast does 24/192 and is the greatest bargain in the world of audio, bar nothing.

                    I’ve mentioned before audiophile all-in-ones. The AVM CD2.2 has Qobuz on board. The Devialet 140 Expert is in another league technically (FPGA streaming and reclocking, FPGA DAC, amazing phono, a great power supply, etc.) but less power, and in the UK costs 25% less than a Directstream DAC. It does not yet have Qobuz onboard, but it is promised soon. Auralic nailed the software side of streaming years ago and now have some very serious streaming, reclocking and DAC components.

            2. Don’t knock it if you haven’t tried it (DMP/DSD) – I sure as hell never thought I would be playing CDs again, as I’ve been using server-based systems for about 17 years.

              Regardless, “Q” that Buz up! Glad it’s finally going to be natively available here : )

                  1. Quorn, a UK based meat substitute, is rather tasty and if you’re interested in your health and eliminating meat from your diet, Quorn products are a good tasting alternative. I enjoy their “chicken” along with homemade mashed potatoes once every few weeks.

                    1. I do not eat anything that starts with the letter Q. I don’t buy any audio equipment from a guy whose name starts with the letter Q. I won’t read a book whose name starts with the letter Q. And I certainly won’t pay anyone to stream anything to me for a price that starts with the letter Q. The letter Q should be expunged from the English language. It’s only use is in Scrabble where it is worth 10 points while the letter K which is just as good IMO is only worth 5 points.

                    2. I thought you pick up on that. I’d rather eat the box, and badbeef until recently lived in the biggest meat market in the world.
                      Quinoa is something good and edible beginning with Q.

                      Soundmind obviously is not a Bossa Nova fan – Quando quando quando?

  3. To date, of the available mass library steaming services in the US, Apple Music, Pandora & Spotify, Tidal has delivered the best sounding files.

    In the near future, we can look forward to a free 30 day trial so our ears can learn what Qobuz has to offer sonically and exactly which music is in their database.

    1. Qobuz is not competing with Apple, Spotify or Amazon. They are mass market. Qobuz generate at least 5 times the revenue per customer as those services. They don’t want Spotify’s 83 million paying subscribers, they’d be delighted with 10 million globally.

      Qobuz will directly compete with Tidal HD, but it’s not a fair fight. It may win over some of their SD business.

      I’ve never heard of Pandora.

      Spotify is fantastic and far away the market leader. In the first half of 2018 it had revenues of $2.4 billion and losses of $563 million. It’s operating loss was “only” $131 million, it had massive finance costs as it raised about $1 billion in 2017 by issuing loan notes. Fortunately about two-thirds of those are now converted to shares.

      Qobuz are likely to be in profit long before Spotify.

  4. Streaming is a total no-brainer in the context of access to literally more music than you could ever really, seriously listen to properly and the quality is there if the vendors are prepared to offer it. My concern is revenue to the people making it in the first place.

    1. Not only is it more music than you have time left to listen to it all, you couldn’t carry it around, or your wife wants them stored in a warehouse. I still don’t like the model of streaming. Despite the overall value of recordings available to the masses , I’ll always prefer a physical copy. I hope Qobuz is good enough to change my mind.

      1. I’m very happy to do away with all physical media on the basis of being greener – we don’t need plastic discs vinyl or otherwise, or the associated cardboard, paper packaging, transport impact etc. I also don’t feel a need to own my music under my own roof but people need to be properly reimbursed for their work and so buying and downloading stays my own personal way of doing this.

  5. I replaced my Mac-Mini server with a dedicated renderer which produced an improvement in the quality of the reproduction. Intuitively, and with hindsight, I would expect that because a dedicated renderer is minimalist and can also use high quality components. My renderer can operate in a mode (which I use) where the music file is downloaded from the onboard hard disc and the hard disc is turned off during playback.

  6. ” The battle lasted about 10 seconds”…

    I’m surprised to hear how much higher you rate the sound quality of Quobuz over Tidal Paul, having tried both this is not my experience. I have found Tidal a much better experience (both sound and service wise) here in the UK. Maybe Quobuz has has got it together and improved as I have not tried for them for over 3 years.

    Also like many others who are experimenting with this, since adding a quality switch with clean power supply I find streaming gives superior sound to local playback and I have quality music server and system including the DS Junior DAC.

  7. An acquaintance who writes for and researches audio for various publications insists that the ISPs packet filter the streaming services’ content in a way that affects the sound. I have mentioned this before but was told by many they believe this is nonsense. I do know that with Spotify content however it sounds better played back from my device after downloading than it does streamed. Tidal same way, downloaded and saved for offline playback. This is replicatable for me.

    The ISPs don’t know about Quobuz yet, but if there is any truth to this perhaps we revisit the topic in six months or more once the companies try to limit bandwidth use, to see if folks State Side are still waxing enthusiastic in the same way!

    1. Larry,

      I missed your reply because of the 4 minute rule… It certainly goes a long way to explaining to me why the same file when stored locally sounds better than the “live Stream”

      Greatly appreciated – mike

        1. I’ve been using a trail Qobuz acct since CEDIA and agree with Paul’s comments. I can speculate that the reason they aren’t launching next week is technically, the product isn’t ready. There is an active thread on the Roon forums and these are some of the main themes I’ve seen:
          1. Roon integration not complete
          2. Qobuz desktop app does not stream UPnP over a LAN reliably to many DACs. I haven’t tried it with the Bridge II but with the devices I have tried it with the Qobuz app either doesn’t work at all or it will play 1 song and stop.
          3. Their metadata is a bit of a mess. Lots of people reporting errors in the content, include the sample rate.
          4. They have UI issues with their app because when you search, it doesn’t distinguish between an album that’s available for streaming and one that is available for download. So people getting frustrated when they want to stream from a search result only to be repeatedly told that the album isn’t available.
          5. They have licensing issues with some of their content. For those that used a proxy to get a European account, keep it, because apparently they have a lot more content licensed for Europe than they do for the US. So US consumers may be disappointed at the number of albums they find that aren’t available due to license restrictions.

  8. So I have a question for Paul and all…..

    If certain Cd’s are the the reference for the DMP and if 192/24 downloads sound better being played from a local storage location than a direct stream, then why?

    I like the flexibility of finding more and new music offered by streaming services – but…..

    1. That is an excellent question and one I have pondered for many years. We know that how things are ripped can make a difference and one wants to ask how the streaming services rip their materials. Are they gifted copies in bulk from the labels? To handle 40 million tracks one supposes that is true, but then that’s a little frightening. Being involved with one of the best mastering engineers in the industry I can tell you most of the labels are clueless how to properly master their digital. Converting the analog to digital and then mastering it is quite an art.

      1. So I’m still confused? Probably Curious is a better word. Taking mastering out of the equation, ( no argument or discussion that mastering is key) If the same digital is streamed from Qobus but sounds better when stored locally and then played back, what is the reason for that? Theoretically It’s the same digital file….

          1. Paul I think what you speak of is the difference between the source of a streamed album (which could be an “earlier” digital master) compared to the source used for a CD album and the processes involved. I guess (as probably also an “early digital master” was used for a CD, the reason could be that the processes of producing a CD or SACD from that file are also harmful to sound (as Grundman suggested in your interview).

            I understood Mike speaks of the difference between a streamed file and the same file being stored lodally (encrypted as you described). IMO the reason why the latter could sound better is because the process of live streaming while constantly storing into memory can be harmful to sound in contrary to reading it from a local storage.

            Confusingly all that speaks against why a physical media from DMP should sound better than streamed from local source. But the reson for that might lie less in the fact of using a physical medium than in other improvements within the DMP compared to a streamer like the current bridge.

          2. Much of my streaming I’m playing stored offline files. I think the protection is achieved by caching the music as .raw files and the header and other data elsewhere. so you listen to the same data whether streamed or stored, and you can listen, stream and store at the same time.
            You can buy the same file as a .flac, iaff or wav, it will be the same and sound the same.

    2. Mike – lots of discussion about this in the Forums. One of the things that has become clear to me is that regardless of “bit being bits”, HOW they get from A to B matters. Literally every step of the chain can degrade/alter the end product coming out of your speakers in various heretofore little-understood (or even believed) ways.

      This is true for pure streaming solutions, server-based systems and discs of all descriptions as well. With any of those three, you may have completely different sorts of chains, each with their own potential issues.

      This is all very much dependent on your interest and/or willingness to pursue the best possible sound out of a particular solution, much as with Vinyl vs. Digital.

      1. Thanks badbeef – if I had more time I would dwell deeper into the forums – But being a ‘working stiff in the world of research lasers’ with limited time and just enough technical knowledge to get by here, I have an intense desire for my system to sound the best it can to me. My Thanks to you and the rest for the enlightenment / the thought challenges / the opinions / and the tolerance

  9. Let’s hope the battle is not over in ten seconds. New entry often forces the incumbent to up its game, especially when the new player offers something that a good number of customers prefer. An example from around here from a few years ago: there was a tired old Giant grocery store in the DuPont Circle area of DC. Whole Foods moved in and — surprise! — the Giant got a major makeover, including better produce.

    Unless Tidal is on its last legs, there should be a competitive response of some sort. If Tidal is on its last legs, the arrival of Qubuz in the U.S. likely will speed up its demise. . . .

    Competition is good.

  10. Overall I am happy with PS Audio. I like a lot of what they do and say.

    In this case, I have compared my Aurender N10 streaming Tidal against a fully updated Memory Transport playing SACD and PCM both into a Direct Stream. On ALL occasions the Aurender / Tidal combination prevailed, less now with the updates and same results when playing downloaded hi res.

    One thing I noticed is the first unfold of MQA via Aurender sounds very good, despite track depending. Full MQA via a Mac Mini through the Bridge II using MConnect misses a great deal and resides as a backup in case Aurender fails.

    So is it streaming or really the playback component barring decent internet and network, my vote it’s the component.

    With that being said, Tidals too heavy on specific genre that I don’t listen to and will be switching for that alone.

  11. I have a stunning Master Tape copy of “Crime of the Century” that might make anyone rethink the wisdom of converting this extraordinary recording to anything in the digital/streaming realm. ‘Course the downside is having to put up with the enormous issues of dealing with reel-to-reel tape and the machines to play it on. Not to mention the cost of the tape. But wow 🙂

    1. Nothing quite like (roughly) a Jillion magnetic particles a second traveling across a tape head ; )

      I’m most jealous in this regard of Dan Schwartz, who writes in Copper and posts here, as he has one of the original Tim deParavicini-modded 1” 2-track machines used to record some audiophile faves. The replay head was made by Greg Orton at Flux Magnetics.

  12. Correct me if I’m wrong. So you can transfer the streamed music to a hard drive, but not make a physical CD copy. Does this mean I can put this music on a usb stick and play it in my car? Streamed music is a deal breaker, if I can’t play the same music in my car like I can with CD’s, etc.

    1. No.
      The streamed music will go in the cache. The cache can be included in your offline library. The music files are stored as .raw files, various other data needed to play them is stored elsewhere, so you cannot copy and play them from a usb stick.
      I have an old car, but it has bluetooth, so I use an offline library on my phone and bluetooth it to the car. You can get HD audio in your car if you have a nice car.

      There are Qobuz FAQs about how to do car audio.

  13. I recently discovered Deezer, and am in their 30-day free. They advertise 16/44 Flac quality, which for me beats the [email protected] of Spotify Premium. I have until Oct 22 to decide. I like streaming it through Bluetooth on the SPROUT100, from my Motorola Moto.

  14. A bit late to the party today (Friday is the day my wife & I have our Arabic lessons … don’t ask). I had previously only heard Spotify over my son’s Sonos kit. I was underwhelmed by the sound but very impressed by the range and ease of track selection. I had been in two minds about the benefits of hi-res recordings, and in February decided to subscribe to a Qobuz Sublime+ account and get a year’s exposure to genuine hi-res to help me make up my mind

    It is unfortunate that for my genre of interest, Baroque, Quobuz has a relatively limited offering in 24/96 or better, although you do get some 48/24 as well. However the general range is so large that for the first six months I was like a kid let loose in a toy shop without adult supervision; forever grabbing newer and shinier exciting things. I found the sound quality to be indistinguishable from the same albums played from my NAS. Qobuz itself has been completely reliable, although a couple of times a month BubbleUPnP server and/or my renderer get their knickers in a twist and have to be re-started (the BubbleUPnp control app on tablet gives no problems and offers an acceptable interface).

    Since I intend to continue with Qobuz I have not taken much advantage of the cheap hi-res downloads my account offers. They are just as good streamed. Unless I want to convert to mp3 for a portable player, or Qobuz shows signs of folding, in which case I should raid the store, there is no advantage to a local copy. The convenience offered by a streaming service, not just Qobuz, is considerable.

    1. Now that you’ve had your lesson and watched Gogglebox, can you listen to Bachar Mar-Khalife : Ya Balad and tell me what he’s singing about. It’s one of those wonderful things I’d not have heard but for Qobuz.
      His father is the famous Oud player Marcel Khalife.

  15. I just tried to cunclude a few things by logic from todays post and discussions (whoever knows if it’s correct):

    If a file streamed from a quobuz album e.g. over today’s bridge (via local encrypted storage) sounds in “spittin’ distance” to the DMP, then the file of that album downloaded from another site selling non physical music media and streamed from a possibly even more sophisticated storage/streaming envoironment around the bridge should at least also sound with just that spittin’ distance.

    So far first annoucements of the DMP’s sound compared to streamed files were more enthousiastic than “spittin’ distance”, but ignoring this, I remember that the upcoming Octave server was so far announced as giving a major improvement over current streaming….which means: it must sound clearly better than a DMP…which means the temporary slight superiority of the DMP doesn’t relate to the fact it’s using physical media, but that it has a more sophisticated electronic envioronment/digital lens compared to i.e. today’s bridge while Octave (and maybe Bridge III) will again have a little optimized environment.

    Currently I personally conclude:

    Digital mastering and especially physical media production processes (and probably also so far assumed “lossless” copy processes) are harmful to sound. The less applied, the better. By the way this is also what some leading mastering engineers say.

    There’s no reason why music from physical medium (within a state of the art setup as the DMP temporarily stored before playing) should be better sounding than music directly from stored/streamed files. If it does, then the rest of that disc player has other improvements (after the data readout) causing this, which could also be applied to any streamer.

    If a file streamed from quobuz played over today’s bridge sounds in spittin’ distance to the DMP, then the “noisy” influences of the network connection within today’s bridge which are further optimized in Octave can’t do that much harm (except if music from physical media sounds extremely worse than from commercial files).

    I just tried to take everything serious and conclude…

  16. Beautiful streamer wake unto to me
    Starlight and dewdrops are waiting for thee.

    As I don’t tweet, I woof, I don’t stream, I white water raft. Tweeting and streaming are for twits and wusses.

  17. Since DSF files are roughly the same size as 24/96, there is no excuse for not streaming them. The REASON there are so few DSF distributions is you can’t fix or mix them.

    To those engineers who use Sonoma and Pyramix, MIXING IS DISTORTION. So are panning, splicing, overdubbing, EQ, compression and reverb. Native DSF is good discipline. All the engineering has to be finished before you hit the RECORD button, and all audio chains need to be one mic to one speaker.

  18. This whole streamed vs. local thing still remains a mystery.

    I’ve been enjoying a Qobuz trial sub for a few weeks, and recently tried an experiment, where I purchased an album I’d been listening to streamed: Mahler 8th, Solti/Chicago in 24/96: https://open.qobuz.com/album/0002894785766

    I actually already own this, ripped from a Blu-Ray release from a few years. Before I purchased the Qobuz version, I was noticing my local version sounded “better” than the streamed version. I assumed this was due to different provenance. But once I purchased the Qobuz version, I noticed that:
    1) the 2 local versions – my original BD and new Qobuz purchase – now sounded identical, suggesting the same provenance
    2) both local versions sounded better than the streamed version.
    3) if I streamed locally – from a NAS in my home network – the difference between it and local disk playback was miniscule.

    So the big difference was not streaming per se, but streaming over the internet.

    All this is despite a lot of clock, PSU, and ground optimizations in the network path from network ingress from my ISP to my audio chain. It really lends credence to the idea that “something” in the big bad internet between Qobuz and your house impacts the sound.

    It’s a head scratcher.

  19. I just started on Medici.tv. It is all live recordings, a lot of them near coincident pair since I usually don’t see mics in the orchestra. The sound quality is raw and flawed, but I prefer unprocessed to over-processed. The emotional arc of the performance is unbroken and the affect of the audience is essential.

    A telling feature is the video quality shows bitrate limiting, presumably to insure better streaming of audio. It is less fatiguing than PBS Classical concert broadcasts on cable.

  20. Late to the party, but I recently came across two new steaming service that are primarily devoted to classical music: Idagio & Primephonic. I tested Primephonic, but was not impressed with the search functionality. Idagio seems more useful. I would like to hear what others think of these two.

  21. If it was really about the music, you wouldn’t care what format it was in, you’d enjoy it the same in any format on any sound system.

    Let’s face it, all the BS aside, for audiophiles it’s about the equipment. C’mon, fess up y’all.

    1. Soundmind, your comment/critique about formats and audiophiles comes off as pretty rich given your (often fascinating) ramblings here. Aren’t you the guy who admits to spending days concocting custom playback settings for each of your recordings? Sounds like a lot of trouble when you could just be enjoying the music…

    2. Not true.

      I don’t stream, I buy media.

      That way I have access to my music when I want regardless of whether my ISP is tinkering with their network or a streaming provider loses access to a particular label’s products.

      If I hear a song I like, I often will go to iTunes and find the song, listen to snippets of the rest of the album then, if I like it, order the CD from Amazon if available, a Discogs seller if not, or perhaps the vinyl LP if it’s well regarded.

  22. Questions for those listening off-line to cached files from streamed Tidal or Qobuz:

    Do you find the sound quality to be comparable to downloaded files to your hard drive?

    And, this may be obvious, but can someone explain the technical difference between an off-line cached file and a downloaded file to your personal hard drive?

  23. I have found Tidal lacking as well–there are some albums where the alleged “lossless” version sounds absolutely terrible. In fact, I was able to capture one of the tracks on my computer digitally (direct from the stream, using a “loopback” interface) to prove to others how lousy Tidal can sound. For the record, the track is “In The Darkest Place” from the Elvis Costello/Burt Bacharach album ‘Painted From Memory’. I have the original CD released (which is an HDCD, by the way), the Mobile Fidelity hybrid SACD and the Mobile Fidelity vinyl (one of their few missteps in recent memory…it is not a very good cut). The HDCD and SACD sound nearly identical, but you can hear how garbled the piano sounds on the allegedly lossless Tidal version. Now, the rumor out there is that it was Universal who has been providing Tidal with these digital masters, and that the garbling in the midrange we are hearing is actually digital watermarking. I think Tidal had requested that Universal send them unaltered files, but who knows how that ever went?

    With Tidal’s recent issues with dropouts (I’m not the only one having issues) and poor search results and cataloging that make it frustrating to find the music I’m looking for, it makes me think they are on the way out. The fact that they’ve been running without turning a profit makes me think that it can’t go on forever.

    I am also looking forward to Qobuz. I don’t really need or use streaming that much but when I do, I want it to be of high quality. The fact that it is a good source for purchasing high-res versions of albums is also a plus.

  24. Question: How do you stream Qobuz to the DirectStream? Can I use the native Qobuz Android App and connect directly to the Bridge or do I have to use some additional software like BubbleUPnP? I tried Qobuz in the past and I am still using it for downloads. But for everyday streaming, I have cancelled my subscription, simply because of usability. I do like their native Android App, but other than Chromecast, there is no o

    1. Unfortunately the native Qobuz app does not (yet?) recognize the DS/BridgeII but there is a nice and easy rock solid workaround using the native Qobuz app in share with BubbleUPnP.
      This allows browsing the native Qobuz app to select/enqueue albums and/or tracks in Bubble to play it through Bridge II. They integrated Qobuz Connect to use the DLNA/UPnP protocol in their native app, not yet compatible with Bridge II but that’s just a matter of time (?):

      https://forum.psaudio.com/t/streaming-the-way-it-ought-to-work/6037

      http://blogsv2.qobuz.com/qobuz-blog-en/2017/03/07/to-summarize-with-which-products-is-qobuz-compatible-2/

      1. Yes, thanks. I know the BuubleUPnP workaround, but don’t like it at all. I am looking for a solution, which is supported by Qobuz directly. The only alternative solution I do accept is Roon, which has a really nice user interface and which is running really rock solid and stable by providing perfect quality. However, there are two drawbacks for Roon: 1.) It supports currently only Tidal as a streaming service. 2.) It only works in your living room and not on the road (there is no mobile client that runs without Roon Core). This makes it necessary to have two different music clients and also a redundant management of playlists. Really a pain… The first issue could eventually be solved by end of the year (I am still hoping for Qobuz support).

    2. The reason I am asking about the native Qobuz support for the DirectStream is that it would make the streamer independend of other pieces of software (like BuubleUPnP) and also streaming services. I do use Roon at the moment, as it delivers excellent quality in my living room. But in the same time, I am heavily dependend on Tidal as a streaming service. Also, Roon does not work on the go as the mobile client does not work without core. Offering native integration of Qobuz would give me more choice and more flexibility.

  25. When streaming, the speed and quality of your network makes a big difference. I used to have a typical dsl network and sound quality was fair when streaming. When I went to using a fibre 1G (1000M) network, things changed dramatically. Fibre is much more quiet and of course, I can stream multiple movies as well as multiple music sources at the same time without an issue. Tidal MQA surpasses cd and vinyl if it is a good recording, sat the latest Diana Krall album. I used to use the dedicated Auralic Aries unit that sounded better than the other servers I auditioned (aurender, lumin, for example and the ds Lightning software was much better than the others). When I went to the ps audio ds with bridge ii, sq surpassed that of the Auralic. Eliminating a music server using a USB connection is always a good thing IMO!

  26. I just read this thread because i searched for “directstream sounds better on qobuz”. I dont think its remotely close. Whatever Tidal is doing with MQA or Flac doesnt sound the same qobuz. I find the clarity, spaciousness and qobuz to be a lot more than Tidal.
    Paul – u r 100% on the money !!

  27. Thanks to all for reading my article. I am working on part two which will cover the “post-Phil” era starting with Glass House. They were indeed a phenomenal live band. I also saw Mahavishnu at Winterland (SF) on their first tour opening for ELP. They were a tough act to follow, and ELP was my favorite band at the time! The reviewer for the SF Chronicle said Mahavishnu Orchestra plays a “seething maelstrom of high-tension jazz-rock that makes Blood, Sweat and Tears or Chicago seem about as revolutionary as the Firehouse Five Plus Two.”
    I got to meet Gentle Giant and interview Derek on the Free Hand tour. How that came about is a crazy story that I will include in part two, which will be in Issue 103.

  28. Thanks to all for reading my article. I am working on part two which will cover the “post-Phil” era starting with Glass House. They were indeed a phenomenal live band. I also saw Mahavishnu at Winterland (SF) on their first tour opening for ELP. They were a tough act to follow, and ELP was my favorite band at the time! The reviewer for the SF Chronicle said Mahavishnu Orchestra plays a “seething maelstrom of high-tension jazz-rock that makes Blood, Sweat and Tears or Chicago seem about as revolutionary as the Firehouse Five Plus Two.”
    I got to meet Gentle Giant and interview Derek on the Free Hand tour. How that came about is a crazy story that I will include in part two, which will be in Issue 103.

  29. Thanks to all for reading my article. I am working on part two which will cover the “post-Phil” era starting with Glass House. They were indeed a phenomenal live band. I also saw Mahavishnu at Winterland (SF) on their first tour opening for ELP. They were a tough act to follow, and ELP was my favorite band at the time! The reviewer for the SF Chronicle said Mahavishnu Orchestra plays a “seething maelstrom of high-tension jazz-rock that makes Blood, Sweat and Tears or Chicago seem about as revolutionary as the Firehouse Five Plus Two.”
    I got to meet Gentle Giant and interview Derek on the Free Hand tour. How that came about is a crazy story that I will include in part two, which will be in Issue 103.

  30. This is no mystery, not least because in the UK the leading manufacturer has been making separate power supplies for all their components for decades. Over the last 20 years I have used class D or hybrid amplifiers by Primare, Linn and a Devialet, all of whom have patented power supplies as the core of their units. In the last 10 years, the main development in streaming and servers appears to me to have been the improvement in power supply options and the inclusion of mains filters.

    There used to be warnings in some countries “don’t drink the tap water” and one was wise to drink boiled water. These days a lot of audio equipment is designed to run off the tap water, however good or bad it is. The technology is also designed to be relatively cheap to produce, so you can have very good quality sound at an increasingly lower price.

    A lot of this technology seems to flow from other power-critical areas, such as telecoms, medical and aerospace.

  31. You could consider an amp as an elaborate device for allowing current from the PS to flow through the speakers. The most extreme example of that is a class D amp where the PS rail is ‘shorted out’ through the speaker in a series of rapid pulses. Any variation in the supply rail voltage is then mirrored directly through the speaker current to alter what you here. The PSRR (power supply rejection ratio) of the amp is zero and you need the supply to be rock solid. For modern class AB amps the PSRR is much higher, but a variation in power rail voltage will still produce a small change in the sound you hear.

    All power supplies include a capacitor (or several) between the DC rail and ground. In the simplest variant a mains transformer and rectifier supply pulses of current to the capacitor. As soon as your amp starts drawing current then ripple appears on the DC rail (and can potentially be heard through your speakers. You can reduce, but not eliminate, this effect by using more capacitors. A switched mode power supply still provides pulses of current to the capacitor, but the pulses are very rapid (high ultrasonic) and the ripple becomes less, and what there is is less noticeable. An SMPS is also physically smaller because the high frequency means you need a much smaller transformer. In my opinion the best approach is to use a regulated supply. With this you use a primary power supply to generate a higher DC voltage than you need, and then feed this through a power transistor which is controlled by a circuit which compares the output voltage against a reference, and allows through current to keep the output voltage constant. This can give a very stable DC rail voltage whatever demands the amp makes, and it also isolates the DC rail from a lot of mains variations

  32. I have always heard that an amplifier, or preamplifier, only modulates the power supply. Therefore any improvement in the power supply is audible.

    My friend Lawrence designs circuits and only uses LCLC filters and in a tube amp that is coming from a tube rectifier. I am a little less conservative, I use CLC power supplies. Both Lawrence and I prefer film caps in our power supplies.

    I don’t trust amps without a real transformer in it.

  33. As a consumer I don’t pay a lot of attention to power supply design and topology. I leave that up to the design engineers. If an amplifier can reproduce the signal I feed it, into the load I present it, at the levels I want without distortion, and virtually doesn’t add or subtract to the sound then I’m happy.

    Some of my speakers drop down to the one ohm level (or slightly below) , so I prefer, and demand, a design that can handle that. An iron fist when needed with a velvet glove touch – if you will.

  34. More than one manufacturer argues that the sound quality of an amp begins in the power supply.

    I have been able to verify that the amplifiers that have a robust PS sound particularly well, among other parameters: the low frequencies, the same ones that sound firm and deep. I do not know the theoretical details why that happens, I have only experienced it with my collection of 31 power amplifiers, that this is so.

    As shown, only 2 buttons, the small gem: Amber Series 70 which for its mere 70 w / ch / 8 Ohm, the transformer has 560 VA and 64,000uf capacitance, and the PSAudio: 250 Delta, Mono pair (I don’t have the figure of its transformer) but the capacitance is 120,000 uF. for its 250 w / 8 Ohm.

    Another button?

    Maybe someone has the explanation of why the manufacturer BAT, markets 2 versions of the same amplifier model, one with a standard PS, and another with a PS, 5 times more robust, the latter being the one that leads the sales of that model.

    Why do amplifiers with robust PS sound better?

    Designers have the last word.

  35. Number of people in the room and that many may have impaired hearing would make agreement as to what sounds good an impossible task.
    But the disagreement can be fun !
    Larry

  36. I my experience a power regenerator, e.g PSA P10, always improves the sound.
    Probably more in Bangladesh than in most European countries and Canada/USA.
    But of course, I have not heard all devices in every part of the world, so….
    And a good powercable can help too (well, not for the naysayers community obviously).
    I have good results with a Shunyata powercable and will try some more in the nearby future.
    Last (and off topic) but not least : Phantom Gold’s very good….?
    Well, I’ve have not heard them yet, but I did listen to all the previous versions, more than once.
    And my ideas of good sound are a little bit different.
    In fact I find the sound awful, an attack on my hearing.
    But for a summer garden party when you need a hard-hitting boombox, they’re just fine.
    The best (for me !) active speakers I heard so far are Grimm (Dutch) and ATC (English). But there are certainly more.
    Always interesting to see how we all have a different opinion/taste (food, audio, religion, politics, cars).
    Where does that come from ? Upbringing, genes ? Remarkable phenomena.
    Anyway, my point : never believe what others say, especially (?) in audio. Just listen for yourself and see what YOU think about it.
    Be it devices, speakers or power conditioners.

  37. Every electronic device in your sound system that generates or processes a signal (not transducers or so called passive preamplifiers) depends on power supplies to operate every active device, tubes, transistors, ICs. Therefore the quality of the performance can be no better than the power supply. I cannot understand why every high end audio product doesn’t come equipped with a laboratory grade regulated power supply. Stable voltage, well filtered, high slew rate, and more than adequate for any conceivable load the equipment is likely to encounter.

    I have designed the installation for thousands of advanced scientific instruments, many state of the art and not a single one of them had the power quality issues audiophiles complain about. IMO the need for power quality improvement products is the result of poor power supply design. Those products have to deal with the consequences of the shortcomings of the power supply. The worst design I can think of is a vacuum tube amplifier without feedback (and without DC indirect heated filaments.) The electron emission of the cathode varies enormously with variations in temperature which changes with voltage. This will cause the tube’s operating point to drift uncontrollably and with no way to compensate for it. BTW what ever happened to tube shields. You never see them anymore.

  38. This is no mystery, not least because in the UK the leading manufacturer has been making separate power supplies for all their components for decades. Over the last 20 years I have used class D or hybrid amplifiers by Primare, Linn and a Devialet, all of whom have patented power supplies as the core of their units. In the last 10 years, the main development in streaming and servers appears to me to have been the improvement in power supply options and the inclusion of mains filters.

    There used to be warnings in some countries “don’t drink the tap water” and one was wise to drink boiled water. These days a lot of audio equipment is designed to run off the tap water, however good or bad it is. The technology is also designed to be relatively cheap to produce, so you can have very good quality sound at an increasingly lower price.

    A lot of this technology seems to flow from other power-critical areas, such as telecoms, medical and aerospace.

  39. You could consider an amp as an elaborate device for allowing current from the PS to flow through the speakers. The most extreme example of that is a class D amp where the PS rail is ‘shorted out’ through the speaker in a series of rapid pulses. Any variation in the supply rail voltage is then mirrored directly through the speaker current to alter what you here. The PSRR (power supply rejection ratio) of the amp is zero and you need the supply to be rock solid. For modern class AB amps the PSRR is much higher, but a variation in power rail voltage will still produce a small change in the sound you hear.

    All power supplies include a capacitor (or several) between the DC rail and ground. In the simplest variant a mains transformer and rectifier supply pulses of current to the capacitor. As soon as your amp starts drawing current then ripple appears on the DC rail (and can potentially be heard through your speakers. You can reduce, but not eliminate, this effect by using more capacitors. A switched mode power supply still provides pulses of current to the capacitor, but the pulses are very rapid (high ultrasonic) and the ripple becomes less, and what there is is less noticeable. An SMPS is also physically smaller because the high frequency means you need a much smaller transformer. In my opinion the best approach is to use a regulated supply. With this you use a primary power supply to generate a higher DC voltage than you need, and then feed this through a power transistor which is controlled by a circuit which compares the output voltage against a reference, and allows through current to keep the output voltage constant. This can give a very stable DC rail voltage whatever demands the amp makes, and it also isolates the DC rail from a lot of mains variations

  40. I have always heard that an amplifier, or preamplifier, only modulates the power supply. Therefore any improvement in the power supply is audible.

    My friend Lawrence designs circuits and only uses LCLC filters and in a tube amp that is coming from a tube rectifier. I am a little less conservative, I use CLC power supplies. Both Lawrence and I prefer film caps in our power supplies.

    I don’t trust amps without a real transformer in it.

  41. As a consumer I don’t pay a lot of attention to power supply design and topology. I leave that up to the design engineers. If an amplifier can reproduce the signal I feed it, into the load I present it, at the levels I want without distortion, and virtually doesn’t add or subtract to the sound then I’m happy.

    Some of my speakers drop down to the one ohm level (or slightly below) , so I prefer, and demand, a design that can handle that. An iron fist when needed with a velvet glove touch – if you will.

  42. More than one manufacturer argues that the sound quality of an amp begins in the power supply.

    I have been able to verify that the amplifiers that have a robust PS sound particularly well, among other parameters: the low frequencies, the same ones that sound firm and deep. I do not know the theoretical details why that happens, I have only experienced it with my collection of 31 power amplifiers, that this is so.

    As shown, only 2 buttons, the small gem: Amber Series 70 which for its mere 70 w / ch / 8 Ohm, the transformer has 560 VA and 64,000uf capacitance, and the PSAudio: 250 Delta, Mono pair (I don’t have the figure of its transformer) but the capacitance is 120,000 uF. for its 250 w / 8 Ohm.

    Another button?

    Maybe someone has the explanation of why the manufacturer BAT, markets 2 versions of the same amplifier model, one with a standard PS, and another with a PS, 5 times more robust, the latter being the one that leads the sales of that model.

    Why do amplifiers with robust PS sound better?

    Designers have the last word.

  43. Number of people in the room and that many may have impaired hearing would make agreement as to what sounds good an impossible task.
    But the disagreement can be fun !
    Larry

  44. I my experience a power regenerator, e.g PSA P10, always improves the sound.
    Probably more in Bangladesh than in most European countries and Canada/USA.
    But of course, I have not heard all devices in every part of the world, so….
    And a good powercable can help too (well, not for the naysayers community obviously).
    I have good results with a Shunyata powercable and will try some more in the nearby future.
    Last (and off topic) but not least : Phantom Gold’s very good….?
    Well, I’ve have not heard them yet, but I did listen to all the previous versions, more than once.
    And my ideas of good sound are a little bit different.
    In fact I find the sound awful, an attack on my hearing.
    But for a summer garden party when you need a hard-hitting boombox, they’re just fine.
    The best (for me !) active speakers I heard so far are Grimm (Dutch) and ATC (English). But there are certainly more.
    Always interesting to see how we all have a different opinion/taste (food, audio, religion, politics, cars).
    Where does that come from ? Upbringing, genes ? Remarkable phenomena.
    Anyway, my point : never believe what others say, especially (?) in audio. Just listen for yourself and see what YOU think about it.
    Be it devices, speakers or power conditioners.

  45. Every electronic device in your sound system that generates or processes a signal (not transducers or so called passive preamplifiers) depends on power supplies to operate every active device, tubes, transistors, ICs. Therefore the quality of the performance can be no better than the power supply. I cannot understand why every high end audio product doesn’t come equipped with a laboratory grade regulated power supply. Stable voltage, well filtered, high slew rate, and more than adequate for any conceivable load the equipment is likely to encounter.

    I have designed the installation for thousands of advanced scientific instruments, many state of the art and not a single one of them had the power quality issues audiophiles complain about. IMO the need for power quality improvement products is the result of poor power supply design. Those products have to deal with the consequences of the shortcomings of the power supply. The worst design I can think of is a vacuum tube amplifier without feedback (and without DC indirect heated filaments.) The electron emission of the cathode varies enormously with variations in temperature which changes with voltage. This will cause the tube’s operating point to drift uncontrollably and with no way to compensate for it. BTW what ever happened to tube shields. You never see them anymore.

  46. This is no mystery, not least because in the UK the leading manufacturer has been making separate power supplies for all their components for decades. Over the last 20 years I have used class D or hybrid amplifiers by Primare, Linn and a Devialet, all of whom have patented power supplies as the core of their units. In the last 10 years, the main development in streaming and servers appears to me to have been the improvement in power supply options and the inclusion of mains filters.

    There used to be warnings in some countries “don’t drink the tap water” and one was wise to drink boiled water. These days a lot of audio equipment is designed to run off the tap water, however good or bad it is. The technology is also designed to be relatively cheap to produce, so you can have very good quality sound at an increasingly lower price.

    A lot of this technology seems to flow from other power-critical areas, such as telecoms, medical and aerospace.

  47. You could consider an amp as an elaborate device for allowing current from the PS to flow through the speakers. The most extreme example of that is a class D amp where the PS rail is ‘shorted out’ through the speaker in a series of rapid pulses. Any variation in the supply rail voltage is then mirrored directly through the speaker current to alter what you here. The PSRR (power supply rejection ratio) of the amp is zero and you need the supply to be rock solid. For modern class AB amps the PSRR is much higher, but a variation in power rail voltage will still produce a small change in the sound you hear.

    All power supplies include a capacitor (or several) between the DC rail and ground. In the simplest variant a mains transformer and rectifier supply pulses of current to the capacitor. As soon as your amp starts drawing current then ripple appears on the DC rail (and can potentially be heard through your speakers. You can reduce, but not eliminate, this effect by using more capacitors. A switched mode power supply still provides pulses of current to the capacitor, but the pulses are very rapid (high ultrasonic) and the ripple becomes less, and what there is is less noticeable. An SMPS is also physically smaller because the high frequency means you need a much smaller transformer. In my opinion the best approach is to use a regulated supply. With this you use a primary power supply to generate a higher DC voltage than you need, and then feed this through a power transistor which is controlled by a circuit which compares the output voltage against a reference, and allows through current to keep the output voltage constant. This can give a very stable DC rail voltage whatever demands the amp makes, and it also isolates the DC rail from a lot of mains variations

  48. I have always heard that an amplifier, or preamplifier, only modulates the power supply. Therefore any improvement in the power supply is audible.

    My friend Lawrence designs circuits and only uses LCLC filters and in a tube amp that is coming from a tube rectifier. I am a little less conservative, I use CLC power supplies. Both Lawrence and I prefer film caps in our power supplies.

    I don’t trust amps without a real transformer in it.

  49. As a consumer I don’t pay a lot of attention to power supply design and topology. I leave that up to the design engineers. If an amplifier can reproduce the signal I feed it, into the load I present it, at the levels I want without distortion, and virtually doesn’t add or subtract to the sound then I’m happy.

    Some of my speakers drop down to the one ohm level (or slightly below) , so I prefer, and demand, a design that can handle that. An iron fist when needed with a velvet glove touch – if you will.

  50. More than one manufacturer argues that the sound quality of an amp begins in the power supply.

    I have been able to verify that the amplifiers that have a robust PS sound particularly well, among other parameters: the low frequencies, the same ones that sound firm and deep. I do not know the theoretical details why that happens, I have only experienced it with my collection of 31 power amplifiers, that this is so.

    As shown, only 2 buttons, the small gem: Amber Series 70 which for its mere 70 w / ch / 8 Ohm, the transformer has 560 VA and 64,000uf capacitance, and the PSAudio: 250 Delta, Mono pair (I don’t have the figure of its transformer) but the capacitance is 120,000 uF. for its 250 w / 8 Ohm.

    Another button?

    Maybe someone has the explanation of why the manufacturer BAT, markets 2 versions of the same amplifier model, one with a standard PS, and another with a PS, 5 times more robust, the latter being the one that leads the sales of that model.

    Why do amplifiers with robust PS sound better?

    Designers have the last word.

  51. Number of people in the room and that many may have impaired hearing would make agreement as to what sounds good an impossible task.
    But the disagreement can be fun !
    Larry

  52. I my experience a power regenerator, e.g PSA P10, always improves the sound.
    Probably more in Bangladesh than in most European countries and Canada/USA.
    But of course, I have not heard all devices in every part of the world, so….
    And a good powercable can help too (well, not for the naysayers community obviously).
    I have good results with a Shunyata powercable and will try some more in the nearby future.
    Last (and off topic) but not least : Phantom Gold’s very good….?
    Well, I’ve have not heard them yet, but I did listen to all the previous versions, more than once.
    And my ideas of good sound are a little bit different.
    In fact I find the sound awful, an attack on my hearing.
    But for a summer garden party when you need a hard-hitting boombox, they’re just fine.
    The best (for me !) active speakers I heard so far are Grimm (Dutch) and ATC (English). But there are certainly more.
    Always interesting to see how we all have a different opinion/taste (food, audio, religion, politics, cars).
    Where does that come from ? Upbringing, genes ? Remarkable phenomena.
    Anyway, my point : never believe what others say, especially (?) in audio. Just listen for yourself and see what YOU think about it.
    Be it devices, speakers or power conditioners.

  53. Every electronic device in your sound system that generates or processes a signal (not transducers or so called passive preamplifiers) depends on power supplies to operate every active device, tubes, transistors, ICs. Therefore the quality of the performance can be no better than the power supply. I cannot understand why every high end audio product doesn’t come equipped with a laboratory grade regulated power supply. Stable voltage, well filtered, high slew rate, and more than adequate for any conceivable load the equipment is likely to encounter.

    I have designed the installation for thousands of advanced scientific instruments, many state of the art and not a single one of them had the power quality issues audiophiles complain about. IMO the need for power quality improvement products is the result of poor power supply design. Those products have to deal with the consequences of the shortcomings of the power supply. The worst design I can think of is a vacuum tube amplifier without feedback (and without DC indirect heated filaments.) The electron emission of the cathode varies enormously with variations in temperature which changes with voltage. This will cause the tube’s operating point to drift uncontrollably and with no way to compensate for it. BTW what ever happened to tube shields. You never see them anymore.

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