Tag Archives: QoBuz

Listening Report: 1975 Bill Evans Trio Concert, On A Friday Evening, 180-Gram Vinyl, Qobuz / Tidal Streams

There is often a great divide between “audiophiles” and “fans” when it comes to archival releases. The former want their music to sound as good as possible with the performance often being only of secondary importance while the latter appreciate the full performances delivered in any format possible, warts ’n all…

I really first came to understand this notion back in my days as active Dead Head and collector of their live concerts. It was always a joy to get new shows but when you got a tape of a great performance that also sounded amazing, well that was the heavenly crossroads everyone dreamed about.  

In recent years there have been some wonderful archival releases issued as producers and archival sleuths like Zev Feldman dig deep into the recesses  of private collections and other previously unknown or long-rumored archival treasures which have presented themselves to the universe. 

I’ve reviewed a number of them by no less than Stan Getz & Joao Gilberto, Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus and Bill Evans. To read some of those reviews, click on the artists names to jump to the reviews I’ve done over the years.

Regarding the last name on that list, there happily seems to be a well spring of great recordings surfacing of late. Last year I wrote about the fabulous and rare 1968 set from Ronnie Scott’s club in London (click here for that) and there have been numerous others over the years.  In May, my associate Ken Micallef wrote about the new Bill Evans CD boxed set — Everybody Still Digs Bill Evans: A Career Retrospective (1956-1980) — which includes a 1975 live set of very high quality.  You can click here to read Ken’s review of the set but in short I concur with his perspective on the recording and performance. 

The good folks at Craft Recordings kindly sent me the new two-LP 180-gram vinyl version of that concert — recorded at Oil Can Harry’s in Vancouver, B.C. — which has been released separately, titled On A Friday Evening.  It is a wonderful recording which sounds to my ear like it was professionally engineered through a mixing board and onto analog tape (this was years before digital tape, folks). I can tell its not an audience recording because there is stereo panning on Evans’ piano apparent at times.  

However, part of the reason On A Friday Evening sounds as good as it does is because of a restoration step the producers wisely used from Plangent Processes.  This is a terrific technology and service that has been used by no less than Bruce Springsteen, The Grateful Dead and many others to correct issues — often significant issues — with the original tape due to motor speed fluctuations in the original recording, electrical variances (which can, again, affect motor speed) and other anomalies inherent to the tape and specific machines on which it was recorded. 

The result is a very tight sounding and in-tune recording that effectively brings the listener that much closer to what the original performance sounded like.  I have written about Plangent Processes before but if you want a fairly technical dive into it click here to read an article our former Editor Steven Stone wrote several years ago.

Kudos to Jamie Howarth at Plangent Processes for his work and to mastering engineer Paul Blakemore who clearly did an exemplary job on this nearly 50 year old recording. 

The whole set here is excellent but I particularly like “Saren Jurer,” “T.T.T. (Twelve Tone Tune)” and Miles Davis’ “Nardis” (Eddie Gomez’ bowed bass solo is wonderful!)

The 180-gram vinyl pressing made at RTI is dark, well centered and quiet, so no problems on that front either.

If you don’t have a turntable but are into the high resolution streaming experience and have both a DAC plus certain subscriptions, you can find On A Friday Evening streaming on Tidal in MQA format and on Qobuz Hi Res (both stream at 192 kHz, 24-bits). The music sounds exemplary there and very warm as digital streams go (click here to jump to it on Tidal and here for Qobuz).  

Both the streams and vinyl versions have their pluses and minuses so I’m not going to rank one over the other. But for a couple quick examples, on the streams the stereo separation seemed more distinct to where it becomes very apparent that Evans’ piano was likely mic’d in Stereo, allowing you to hear the pan of his playing across the keyboard (left to right across your speakers). However, I preferred how the drums sounded on the vinyl version, particularly how the cymbals decayed.  So, not surprisingly there is a give and take on different platforms and services. Use your ears and go with what ultimately feels best to you. 

All that said, On A Friday Evening  should be high on your must get list if you are fan of Evans’ music or if you are simply an audiophile seeking high quality live recordings to show off your system.  This one is a keeper. 

Original Resource is Audiophile Review

Trying To Decide on a Streaming Service

I suppose, technically, streaming might be traced back as far as 1999 when the service Napster first arrived as a peer-to-peer service. History recalls Napster almost immediately being consumed in legal troubles over copyright infringement. Shortly after their inception, they were forced to suspend their services and were ultimately acquired by Rhapsody – although the service is now called Napster. Streaming hardly stopped there, however. 

It might be at least partially true that young kids with earbuds helped make streaming what it is today. With services like Pandora and Spotify, services who grew exponentially at the hands of mostly younger-ish, non-audiophile listeners, streaming became firmly entrenched as a means to listen to a song. 

Audiophiles, however, in the early days remained circumspect. We still used physical media. Then came Tidal

Now, suddenly, we had a way to stream a CD quality song from the Internet. We marveled at the availability of, what, an entire world of music right at our fingertips. Perhaps best of all, we could enjoy all this music each month for the cost of a standard CD purchased at a music store. As Tidal gained popularity, audiophiles signed on in droves. Suffice it to say today, streaming is the predominate method audiophiles employ for digital music. 

Tidal, for a while anyway, was about the only choice. While CD quality, presumably at a bitrate of 1411 kbps and the familiar 44.1 / 16, was initially offered, Tidal soon enough teamed up with the highly controversial format called MQA

Not long after Tidal and MQA partnered, the audiophile world suddenly heard about a new game, one from France called Qobuz. For US based audiophiles, we heard how marvelous this new European service was and our big question was simple – when would it find its way to the US?

From day one, the very instant Qobuz hit US shores, it made an impact in the choices audiophiles made for streaming services. And here is where it gets really fun, Qobuz has actual high-resolution music, all the way up to 192 / 24 or 9216 kbps. And Tidal? Remember MQA? Audiophiles suddenly had two platforms about which they could disagree. 

For my purposes, I signed on to Tidal at some point before the availability of Qobuz in the US. Here’s the rub, however – I am not especially a fan of streaming. I prefer a physical CD copied to my server. Why? Simple. On my system it sounds better than streaming. Noticeably better. Dramatically better. And to a point, I like owning my music. For whatever that’s worth these days. 

I was very content to continue to buy CDs, copy and enjoy them. I used Tidal for really one purpose, discovering new music I could then purchase. Peripherally, I could also play a song I did not have in my library if a visitor was in the audio room and made a specific request. 

I started thinking about streaming recently because of something I usually don’t even notice – the cost of Tidal. I have seen the monthly $19.99 charge to my account for who knows how long. It is just something to which I typically pay very little attention. When the July charge showed up in my financial information, I became curious about what the other services offered and their associated fees. I decided to start looking at alternatives. 

While I realize Amazon and now even Spotify offer higher than 320 kbps bitrates (Amazon even offers HD), I never really considered using either of them, or the other similar services. There’s also compatibility with my equipment issues. For my purposes, the decision was singular – Tidal or Qobuz?

For most listeners who plan to use streaming as their predominate way to play a song, having a variety of packages makes sense. Want to download music? Qobuz fully supports downloads. Tidal does as well but my sense is they are a little less convenient in the effort. 

Considering cost, Qobuz has multiple packages where Tidal has two main offerings – less than CD quality and CD Quality. As previously mentioned, Qobuz offers hi-rez up to 192 / 24 and Tidal has MQA. 

I’m not one to place a huge emphasis on two music plans that have, at their lowest common denominator, a difference of about $5.00 but that’s pretty much the bottom line. A monthly basic cost for Qobuz is $14.99 per month. That can be brought down to $12.49 if you pay yearly. Tidal is steadfastly $19.99 per month for CD quality. Qobuz offers other packages at higher yearly costs with increased features. Tidal has two plans however, they do have videos for those interested in a video aspect. Personally, I’m only concerned about music. 

So far, I see both services as pretty much even. Here is where we reach the fork in the road – deciding on a format. 

There are those who will champion MQA. They feel it is a superior format in every way, at least as compared to standard CD quality. I’m sorry but I’m not one of those believers. I have heard music played in MQA that sounded amazing. I’ve heard MQA sound okay, nothing to get really excited about. I’ve heard MQA sound positively dreadful. 

I can also say the exact same thing about CD quality and high-resolution quality. Face it, some recordings sound better than others regardless of the format. I said the exact same thing in the 1970’s when I first started buying albums. My guess is recording quality will always be variable. 

Because, however, I have always been leery of MQA, I decided full-fledged, if there is such a thing, high resolution recordings are a better mousetrap. So, the scales tip towards Qobuz. However, my DAC is not MQA capable so I’m not getting “Master Quality Authenticated” anyway. Theoretically, at best I’ll get 192 / 24 from Tidal but my guess is most often it will be at 96 / 24. Either way, still better than Red Book CD. 

As it stands, I am still riding the fence. I have subscribed to Qobuz and like Tidal, more or less struggle with making the app work seamlessly. Chalk that up to inexperience. It is also fair to say that manifestly, this has only succeeded in me spending an extra $15.00 per month with a not as yet declarative outcome. Here again, that is not a concern to me. 

What is a concern is sonic quality. While I find Tidal and Qobuz to be mostly equal in that regard (my opinion varies), here again, neither of them measures up to a CD copied to my server. Basically, I am right back where I started, just fifteen bucks a month poorer. 

Original Resource is Audiophile Review

Charney Audio Maestro Loudspeakers | REVIEW

  From my first exposure to Charney Audio speakers at a Capital Audiofest a few years back, I’ve remained somewhat smitten with the possibilities that exist in the world of well-designed single-driver speakers. The single-driver [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

10 Gratis-Alben bei Qobuz

Es handelt sich meist um Frühwerke der Künstler, so etwa die ersten vier Alben von Joan Baez, 44 frühe Titel von Johnny Cash, Louis Armstrongs Schaffen von 1945 bis 1955, Aufnahmen von Quincy Jones aus den Jahren 1951-1959, Stan Getz‘ Doppelalbum „Jérémy Soudant“ sowie Aufnahmen von Sarah Vaughan, Oscar Peterson, Duke Ellington, Eartha Kitt und anderen. Die Downloads stehen in Lossless-Qualität mit CD-Auflösung zur Verfügung. Sie kosten regulär je 10 Euro. Zum Herunterladen muss man sich mit einem vorhandenen Qobuz-Konto anmelden oder sich neu registrieren. Auf dem Rechner erscheinen die Alben im gepackten „tar“-Format, das mit Anwendungen wie „7-zip“ entpackt werden kann. Alternativ können sie aus der Qobuz-Anwendung für Android / iOS oder PC im Abschnitt „Meine Einkäufe“ abgespielt werden.

Zum Angebot

Original Resource is STEREO-Newsticker RSS-Feed

Merason Frerot DAC with Pow1 LPSU | REVIEW

My review of the Merason Frerot DAC is the first time I’ve ever done a formal review of a stand-alone digital-to-analog converter. I do have plenty of experience with DACs over the last few years, [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

The Best Audio Accessories | Buyers Guide Summer 2021

[Editor’s note: Welcome to the Part-Time Audiophile Buyers Guide for Summer 2021! These are the best audio accessories and assorted “tweaks” that we, the PTA team, have used.] The Best Vinyl Accessories AnalogMagik All In [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

Qobuz und ACT kooperieren für exklusives “Scandi Jazz”-Album

Das Album "Scandi Jazz", das vom deutschen Label ACT exklusiv für Qobuz zusammengestellt wurde, bildet das breite Spektrum skandinavischen Jazz´ in all seiner Vielfalt, von traditioneller Volksmusik, über Post-Bop und Fusion-Jazz bis hin zu Neo-Klassik, ab. Neben Stücken internationaler Stars wie dem Esbjörn Svensson Trio, Bugge Wesseltoft oder Lars Danielsson und begnadeter Musiker wie Iiro Rantala, kommen auch Sängerinnen wie Solveig Slettahjell, Janne Mark, Caecilie Norby, Ida Sand und Viktoria Tolstoy zu Wort.

Hier geht's zum Album "Scandi Jazz" bei Qobuz: https://open.qobuz.com/album/tb40qc1nj0agbtps://open.qobuz.com/album/tb40qc1nj0agbopen.qobuz.com/album/tb40qc1nj0agb

Original Resource is STEREO-Newsticker RSS-Feed

Innuos Zen Mini Mk.3 Music Server with LPSU Power Supply | REVIEW

Do I really need a music server like the Innuos Zen Mini Mk. 3 at this point in my life? I’m still pretty old school when it comes to physical media. I have large CD and LP collections, and I’ve envisioned keeping them until the day I die—at least the LPs, anyway. The CD collection is starting to lose its charm because it has doubled or even tripled in size over the last few years thanks to my chores as a jazz reviewer. They’re all over the place. There is something incredibly appealing about putting my entire collection of digital music on a hard drive and accessing everything through an app on my iPhone. I think about it all the time, in fact. It goes back to my days as an import and distributor, when I’d see other exhibitors running the entire show from a seat in a corner in the back of the room. I was always the guy who had to float near the front of the room, next to the system and yet somehow out of the sound field to avoid distraction, swapping out CDs and LPs after nearly every track. No wonder my feet hurt so [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

Qobuz Launches High-Resolution Streaming and Download Platform in Australia, New Zealand, and Northern Europe

The following is a press release issued by Qobuz.

Paris, April 16, 2021 – Qobuz, the French platform for streaming and downloading high-quality music, confirms its international ambitions and announces that it will be opening in six new countries: Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland. Now, millions more music fans and audiophiles will have access to Qobuz’s unique offerings: unparalleled sound quality combined with expert curation and editorial content.

Qobuz, the premium Hi-Res music streaming and download service

A pioneer of high-quality sound, Qobuz was available in 12 countries and is now available in 18. Started in France, Qobuz can be enjoyed in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and the United States since 2019.

 

Over 70 million tracks and half a million articles

Qobuz was founded in 2007 with a mission to provide all music lovers and audiophiles with a musical experience based on excellent audio quality and content of unparalleled richness. Qobuz’s music library currently contains over 70 million tracks. Qobuz also features half a million of articles created and selected by a team of experts, consisting of biographies, musical booklets, album reviews, and interviews. A true cultural resource, Qobuz offers a unique and cutting-edge offer to (re)discover iconic artists or young talents with varied musical styles, both local and international. As a part of Qobuz’s announced expansion today, the editorial team has introduced more than 100 new playlists featuring local artists from each new country that are available to subscribers around the world.

 

“Our ambition is to make Qobuz THE global benchmark for high-quality music streaming and download platforms. Today we are pleased to bring our offering to markets where the expectation for a premium service such as ours exists and is growing. Far from a simple streaming service that gives music to consume, Qobuz aims to bring music back to its true value by offering its subscribers the best of music. In mature markets such as Australia, New Zealand, and Northern Europe, these new locations are highly strategic for Qobuz in the context of our international expansion.” – Georges Fornay, Deputy CEO of Qobuz.

The post Qobuz Launches High-Resolution Streaming and Download Platform in Australia, New Zealand, and Northern Europe appeared first on The Absolute Sound.

Original Resource is Articles – The Absolute Sound

Qobuz, UMe and Zappa Records to Offer Iconic Frank Zappa Albums in Hi-Res for the First Time

March 31, 2021 – Qobuz, the music lovers’ Hi-Res streaming and download provider, has partnered with UMe and Zappa Records to provide dozens of Frank Zappa albums for the first time in Hi-Res Audio.
UMe, the global catalog company of Universal Music Group, and Zappa Records are launching today a Hi-Res reissue campaign on Qobuz totaling 29 albums spanning all phases of Zappa’s groundbreaking career. The five-week campaign will span a series of drops between now and May 7th, with classic and influential albums released for download and streaming in Hi-Res audio quality for the first time.
“Frank Zappa was passionate about making his music sound as good as possible and we are excited to continue that legacy by releasing several of his albums in Hi-Res Audio with Qobuz,” said Bruce Resnikoff, President & CEO of UMe. “Fans on Qobuz can experience Frank’s genius in the way he would have wanted his music to sound.”
Beginning April 2, fans will be able to stream and download nine albums exclusively on Qobuz. The albums will be available in native 24-bit Hi-Res FLAC format. Each will include an extensive PDF digital booklet, a feature only available on Qobuz’s streaming apps. The assortment includes the second album from the original Mothers of Invention, Absolutely Free, first released in 1967, and Halloween 81, documenting Zappa’s famed holiday residency at New York City’s Palladium, in both full box set and edited ‘highlights’ versions.
On April 1, Ahmet Zappa and Joe Travers, the Zappa “Vaultmeister,” will join Qobuz Chief Hi-Res Evangelist, David Solomon, and the Qobuz team for a livestream discussion. This upcoming event is part of Qobuz’s weekly Qobuz Live series that features hot topics, brands and personalities in the music-lover and audiophile worlds. The livestream will cover the story of Zappa Hi-Res archives, the importance of audio quality, and the upcoming Zappa Hi-Res catalog releases. Additionally, Travers is curating an exclusive annotated Zappa playlist for Qobuz, which will be released later in April.
According to Qobuz USA Managing Director Dan Mackta, “Presenting the work of iconic artists in the best possible quality is our reason for existence. Frank Zappa’s music continues to inspire listeners all over the world and Qobuz is honored to be able to promote his artistic vision.”
See the list of Hi-Res Frank Zappa albums to be released exclusively on Qobuz April 2, and listen to Frank Zappa on Qobuz HERE.
Absolutely Free
Burnt Weeny Sandwich
Bongo Fury
Chicago ’78
Zappa In New York (40th Anniversary Deluxe)
Orchestral Favorites (40th Anniversary)
Halloween 81
Halloween 81 Highlights
The Mothers 1970 Box Set

The post Qobuz, UMe and Zappa Records to Offer Iconic Frank Zappa Albums in Hi-Res for the First Time appeared first on The Absolute Sound.

Original Resource is Articles – The Absolute Sound