Spotify Connect quality = to Airplay? Quobuz on Mcintosh MX122 - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 14 Old 05-15-2019, 07:34 AM - Thread Starter
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Spotify Connect quality = to Airplay? Quobuz on Mcintosh MX122

I have a Mcintosh MX122 that has Spotify Connect.  I am/was under the impression that means my Spotify signal is NOT being compressed like Airplay or bluetooth.  Basically, the unit is streaming directly from Spotify so I'm getting the highest quality possible that Spotify offers.

I was just told that was not correct by McIntosh Tech Support.  They said that Spotify Connect is a fancy term for Airplay basically and that the signal is being compressed in my MX122.  

How the crap am I supposed to know when I'm getting a crappy compressed signal vs the highest quality the service offers?  Don't say by listening haha.Also,

I downloaded Qobuz and Tidal in search of higher quality streams only to find out my MX122 will not natively stream them.  So is it worthless to use those since I can only stream over Airplay or bluetooth?  Doesn't that totally defeat the purpose of Hi Res, FLAC, or MQA?Maybe I should take my CXN v2 off Craigslist and use it again idk!
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post #2 of 14 Old 05-15-2019, 06:39 PM
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Keep in mind all of Spotify's music is compressed. They do not offer lossless audio. Spotify Connect is NOT the same thing as Airplay. Whether an additional step of audio degradation is done with Spotify Connect, I'm not sure. If you were really concerned about getting the best quality audio, then I would get a network transport device that supports Roon, and use it in conjunction with Qobuz or Tidal. That being said, there's a good chance you could go through all that trouble and then not notice an audible difference.
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post #3 of 14 Old 05-16-2019, 02:28 AM
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Originally Posted by lockdown571 View Post
If you were really concerned about getting the best quality audio, then I would get a network transport device that supports Roon, and use it in conjunction with Qobuz or Tidal. That being said, there's a good chance you could go through all that trouble and then not notice an audible difference.
The proprietary Roon Advanced Audio Transport (RAAT) audio network streaming mechanism most certainly has not got the monopoly on bit perfect network streaming of hi-res audio from the likes of Qobuz & TIDAL for 'best quality audio'. You can achieve the same far cheaper than buying into Roon, if not for free, with industry standard UPnP/DLNA streaming - even Google Cast streaming supports hi-res up to 24bit/96kHz.


All you need to do is make sure your streamer/network audio file player is capable of playing hi-res audio contained in lossless audio formats such as bog standard FLAC (used by both Qobuz and TIDAL) and if you really must have TIDAL's lossy MQA hi-res, make sure your streamer is also either capable of decoding MQA or that you can attach a full MQA decoding DAC to the streamer.


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Originally Posted by lockdown571 View Post
Keep in mind all of Spotify's music is compressed. They do not offer lossless audio
BTW, be careful not to imply compressed equals lossy/not lossless - eg, the FLAC audio format is compressed but is still lossless.

Also, in contrast to TIDAL, Qobuz does not use lossy MQA for its hi-res FLAC tracks and as a consecqence its hi-res is truely lossless.

Last edited by Cebolla; 05-16-2019 at 04:08 AM.
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post #4 of 14 Old 05-16-2019, 03:12 AM
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Originally Posted by dtximages View Post
I have a Mcintosh MX122 that has Spotify Connect. I am/was under the impression that means my Spotify signal is NOT being compressed like Airplay or bluetooth.
Not sure where you got the idea that Spotify don't use compressed audio.


BTW, don't confuse compressed audio with lossy audio. You can get both compressed lossless audio formats, such as the Free Lossless Audio Codec (FLAC) or the Apple Lossless Audio Codec (ALAC), as well as compressed lossy audio formats which I believe you were actually thinking of, eg: MP3, AAC, Ogg Vorbis, etc.

Spotify uses its highest quality but still compressed lossy Ogg Vorbis audio format at 320kbps for Spotify Connect.

AirPlay actually uses compressed lossless ALAC for its audio streaming, fixed at the CD quality resolution of 16bits/44.1kHz. If you've experienced poor quality audio when using AirPlay, then its highly likely that the app supplying the audio is at fault - the phrases "Crap in, crap out" and "Don't blame the messenger" definitely apply.

Bluetooth can use several compressed lossy audio formats of varying audio quality, ranging from the lower quality SDC, to the 'near CD' quality aptX and even the up to 990kbps hi-res supporting (but still lossy) LDAC.




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Originally Posted by dtximages View Post
I downloaded Qobuz and Tidal in search of higher quality streams only to find out my MX122 will not natively stream them. So is it worthless to use those since I can only stream over Airplay or bluetooth? Doesn't that totally defeat the purpose of Hi Res, FLAC, or MQA?Maybe I should take my CXN v2 off Craigslist and use it again idk!
Your MX122's AirPlay support should by ok for Qobuz & TIDAL's lossless CD quality tracks, but will downsample hi-res (to CD quality).


Question is - do you trust the official Qobuz & TIDAL iOS apps to actually supply the lossless CD quality tracks for AirPlay in the first place? A better choice might be to use a reputable third party Qobuz & TIDAL supporting app, such as mconnect Player (free Lite version available).

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post #5 of 14 Old 05-16-2019, 11:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Cebolla View Post
The proprietary Roon Advanced Audio Transport (RAAT) audio network streaming mechanism most certainly has not got the monopoly on bit perfect network streaming of hi-res audio from the likes of Qobuz & TIDAL for 'best quality audio'. You can achieve the same far cheaper than buying into Roon, if not for free, with industry standard UPnP/DLNA streaming - even Google Cast streaming supports hi-res up to 24bit/96kHz.


All you need to do is make sure your streamer/network audio file player is capable of playing hi-res audio contained in lossless audio formats such as bog standard FLAC (used by both Qobuz and TIDAL) and if you really must have TIDAL's lossy MQA hi-res, make sure your streamer is also either capable of decoding MQA or that you can attach a full MQA decoding DAC to the streamer.


BTW, be careful not to imply compressed equals lossy/not lossless - eg, the FLAC audio format is compressed but is still lossless.

Also, in contrast to TIDAL, Qobuz does not use lossy MQA for its hi-res FLAC tracks and as a consecqence its hi-res is truely lossless.
Yes, I should have clarified that compressed does not necessarily mean lossy. Also didn't mean to imply that Roon was the only option, just the one I would take if I were very concerned about the pathway of the audio stream to my speakers. One thing I really liked about Roon is that it explicitly tells you every step of the audio conversion process and whether any additional processing or compression is happening.
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post #6 of 14 Old 05-20-2019, 07:47 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by lockdown571 View Post
Yes, I should have clarified that compressed does not necessarily mean lossy. Also didn't mean to imply that Roon was the only option, just the one I would take if I were very concerned about the pathway of the audio stream to my speakers. One thing I really liked about Roon is that it explicitly tells you every step of the audio conversion process and whether any additional processing or compression is happening.
I spent a little time researching Roon and it appears that it's only good if I have high-res files downloaded onto a hard drive. Roon is not a streaming app from the net, it's streaming from my NAS right? My problem is I have zero files downloaded as I have always refused to pay for each song individually and I like discovering new music by streaming.

Also, I know that Spotify is compressed at its source, what I was asking is if Spotify Connect further compresses the signal like bluetooth to send over the air.. I don't think it does as my MX122 taps directly into the Spotify server, it does NOT go through my phone like bluetooth does.


As such, if Spotify (through Spotify connect) is streaming at 320kbs and Airplay is compressing down to CD quality, it stands to reason that Spotify Connect is better than Tidal/Qubuz being streamed through Airplay right?
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post #7 of 14 Old 05-20-2019, 08:24 AM
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Originally Posted by dtximages View Post
I spent a little time researching Roon and it appears that it's only good if I have high-res files downloaded onto a hard drive. Roon is not a streaming app from the net, it's streaming from my NAS right? My problem is I have zero files downloaded as I have always refused to pay for each song individually and I like discovering new music by streaming.
Basically Roon supports local files as well as Tidal and Qobuz. I don't think any other streaming services are supported currently.
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post #8 of 14 Old 05-20-2019, 08:33 AM - Thread Starter
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Basically Roon supports local files as well as Tidal and Qobuz. I don't think any other streaming services are supported currently.
So i can stream Tiday / Qobuz through Roon to my mx122 at their highest playback quality? I'm not losing anything? Like Airplay degrades quality down to CD quality.

Do I use the Roon app to access Tidal / Qobuz?
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post #9 of 14 Old 05-20-2019, 08:41 AM
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Yes you use the Roon app. Keep in mind the Roon 'server' has to be constantly running on a device on your network. Also, I don't think your mx122 supports Roon natively. I built a roon endpoint fairly cheaply using a raspberry pi.
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post #10 of 14 Old 05-20-2019, 12:13 PM - Thread Starter
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Yes you use the Roon app. Keep in mind the Roon 'server' has to be constantly running on a device on your network. Also, I don't think your mx122 supports Roon natively. I built a roon endpoint fairly cheaply using a raspberry pi.
That sounds like a lot more trouble than Spotify Connect since I don't have any music downloaded.

I really really wish Qobuz had the top songs by artist like Spotify. I use that feature all the time. With Qobuz, I have to either search the specific song or know which album it's on.
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post #11 of 14 Old 05-20-2019, 12:24 PM
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Originally Posted by dtximages View Post
That sounds like a lot more trouble than Spotify Connect since I don't have any music downloaded.

I really really wish Qobuz had the top songs by artist like Spotify. I use that feature all the time. With Qobuz, I have to either search the specific song or know which album it's on.

These are basically the reasons I went back to Spotify from Roon.
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post #12 of 14 Old 05-24-2019, 03:23 PM
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Originally Posted by dtximages View Post
I spent a little time researching Roon and it appears that it's only good if I have high-res files downloaded onto a hard drive. Roon is not a streaming app from the net, it's streaming from my NAS right? My problem is I have zero files downloaded as I have always refused to pay for each song individually and I like discovering new music by streaming.
I don't think this is accurate for two reasons:
1) The local files don't have to be "hi-rez" (24-bit depth). Roon supports lossless CD rips (16-bit) too, which is something a lot of people have access to/can rip to an appropriate lossless codec, if they haven't already.
2) Roon's integration with Tidal/Qobuz is better than anything else I'd personally tried and know about. In Roon you can build playlists that mix-and-match your own FLAC files with your own MP3s with QOBUZ 24-bit tracks with Tidal tracks all in one playlist... and they'll all just play and apear is if they were in one unified playlist. Pretty cool IMO.

Roon does a whole bunch of things that I like and could go on-and-on about (it's easier to to fix a bad "scrape" than others I've tried, it has great artwork and info, it has both parametric EQ and whole-home-audio capabilities (the combo of which is rare, IMO), it shows lyrics and waveforms and is very transparent about what's happening with your signal chain, etc etc etc.


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Originally Posted by dtximages View Post
As such, if Spotify (through Spotify connect) is streaming at 320kbs and Airplay is compressing down to CD quality, it stands to reason that Spotify Connect is better than Tidal/Qubuz being streamed through Airplay right?
I know what I'm about to say is considered "controversial" by some (the kinds of people who don't buy/use Roon, mostly), but it's not "CD Quality" if it's 320 kbps. That's a high-bitrate lossy compressed file. Most of my lossless flac files run around 800ish kbps. The difference? Sometimes, with some types of music (real instruments that resonate in a real room, for the most part), and on some of my gear, I can sometimes hear a difference and pick out the lossless track in a blind a-b comparison. With some types of music (modern/distorted hard rock, hip-hop, etc) I rarely can no matter what gear I'm using. With some gear I own, I can never hear any difference no matter what music I'm playing. But just wanted to make the quick note that I feel strongly that 320 kbps is not CD quality.


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Originally Posted by dtximages View Post
I really really wish Qobuz had the top songs by artist like Spotify. I use that feature all the time. With Qobuz, I have to either search the specific song or know which album it's on.
+1. Easily my biggest gripe with the service. I still have Google Play Music, despite paying for Qobuz, mostly because my wife and kids like commercial-free-youtube so much they'd kill me if I got rid of it. But a nice little side effect is that I still have access to that sort of information through app. Seems like a basic feature that should be included in such an expensive service....
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post #13 of 14 Old 05-24-2019, 04:01 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks psuKinger!



So, I have an extra laptop.. Should I install Roon and stream through that? Hook laptop up to Mac mx122 via usb? Is that a digital signal that my computer is NOT degrading the signal?


Also, if I hook up a laptop to stream through Roon, can I control it from my phone? Or does that require like a remote desktop connection or something?


Sorry for the elementary questions.
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post #14 of 14 Old 05-24-2019, 05:26 PM
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So, I have an extra laptop.. Should I install Roon and stream through that? Hook laptop up to Mac mx122 via usb? Is that a digital signal that my computer is NOT degrading the signal?
Short answer: I don't know.... But with Roon, once you have it (even the free trial), you'll find out. Roon will be very transparent about what it's doing to the signal chain.

Long(er) answer: I don't know what an mx122 is or if it can even be used as a Roon endpoint. I have one AppleTV4k because it has some capabilities I wanted to have, but I'm otherwise very much a Windows+Android guy. Android phone. Android tablet. Win10 laptop. Win10 desktop/server running Roon core. Android TV boxes on every TV in the house. I just don't have a lot of working knowledge or recent/relevant experience in the Apple/Mac/iOS ecosystem.




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Originally Posted by dtximages View Post
Also, if I hook up a laptop to stream through Roon, can I control it from my phone? Or does that require like a remote desktop connection or something?
Yes. There's a Roon remote app for apple and Android phones and tablets. You'll be able to seamlessly pick one up after the other and pick right up/resume control. It works very well!!
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