Qobuz Sublime+ Streaming Service Review & Comments

Discussion in 'Music & Music Streaming Services' started by Phil Hinton, Mar 29, 2018.


    1. Ed Selley

      Ed Selley
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    2. ashenfie

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      @Ed great review.

      I have been using Qobuz for a few years now and its consistently good. Ive purchase from them and it easy to download and store on your Nas. I have also been downloading Alac and adding the lossless music on to my apple itunes. I then use the Onkyo player on my iPhone to listen to Hires music.

      Only slight pain in B*tt is that Arcam (my avr) does not support ALAC. So my master plan has a slight hicup for using the iTunes library for everything, but hopefully Arcam will get there act together soon.

      Of course you can just listen on tidal (often free subscription with vodafone etc) and the purchase & down tracks you like from Qobuz. Best of both worlds
       
    3. Codexy054

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      Quobuz does offer monthly subs at £19.99 per month, but that only includes Hi Res streaming of purachsed content. For me 16 bit flac is perfectly fine :)
       
    4. Soundizer

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      Excellent review.
       
    5. tele1962

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      I think I might have asked this before, but why not just purchase the physical copy (LP/CD)....job done.
       
    6. Soundizer

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      My issue with QOBUZZ is the ridiculous pricing. They have given TIDAL and other CD QUALITY Streaming Services a comfortable reason to leave pricing at £20 a month. Where as most believe a £5 premium [£15 a m0nth] is the sweet spot that would entice mass users to premium quality.

      I was hoping Spotify would release a £15 CD Quality Service, but that has not happened.

      Been a subscriber to many of the services and have listed below my order of Sound Quality [listened via premium headphones + chord dac]:

      1. Best Quality = TIDAL HI FI.
      This is significantly better than those listed below. Can easily hear the benefits. Tried blind test many times. Tidal sounds incredible.
      On my iMac Computer using TIDAL Software it sounds better than my [CD’s played via iTUNES]. I am guessing the TIDAL Software on a Mac has allot to do with this.


      2. Apple Music. Some of the MFI Albums sound better than my CD’s ripped. Strange, but probably because there are issues in CD production quality.

      3. Spotify.
      Sounds artificial and like there is tampering with sound to give extended V shape. I only realised this after I tried Apple Music which sounded better.

      4. Amazon Music.
      Loss of dynamic range and detail. Major compromise.



      I CURRENTLY HAVE 3 SUBSCRIPTIONS [TIDAL HI FI, APPLE MUSIC AND AMAZON MUSIC].
      I KNOW THIS MAKES NO SENSE, BUT MY MULTIPLE PERSONALITIES RESULT IN SUCH INSANE INDECISION]



      2C488B24-60EB-48CA-A629-B84ECFB1B806.jpeg
       
      Last edited: Mar 30, 2018
    7. Gordon2147

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      Hi Ed

      I find that streaming isn't for me, despite a trial run with Tidal masters, which sounded very good.

      Having access to Hi Res does interest me but there isn't enough content that I like to warrant the expense. Not the streaming companies fault for that, very little Kraftwerk/Vangelis/Tangerine Dream/ 80's electronic music exists in 24 bit nor much in the way of ambient either ( A winged victory for the Sullen/Stars of the lid).

      The Qobuz pricing is also a little off putting, to get back the sub you would have to spend plenty, which kind of defeats the object, and bearing in mind my taste in music renders it pointless.

      Streaming as a point of reference in hearing music that I find out about over the internet is cool, such as using Spotify to decide whether I want to investigate a band/album further and able to do so for free is really great.

      Coupled with the fact that I am still a "I want to own it" type, a service however good it is, such as the Qobuz one isn't going to work for me.

      However I do consider myself to be the sort of person a service like this should be aiming at, enough disposal income to afford it, an interest in Hi Res quality listening and kit to play it back on that would do it justice. But I have to admit that my taste in music is not something they could overcome.

      I agree with your statement about having a hybrid tier for this set of functionality/options so that if I was not a "own it" type I would see a greater temptation at a lower price point for Hi Res streaming.

      If I were to put a point across, both the record companies and artists should make far more content available in Hi Res, I believe a lot of Vangelis and Tangerine Dream albums would benefit from being mastered for that format ( The SACD's released for TD a while back, showed significant improvement in quality even though they were 70's recordings and not "Hi Res" per se originally and the Blade Runner SACD is sublime (sic) to say the least)

      There are of course many other genres that could come to the party of which I would enjoy having available to stream as a casual listen and be happy paying for the privilege, alas that is not the case in terms of Hi Res versions.

      Still, I am grateful to see that Hi Res is getting support and being made available, but as is the case, it is being priced as super premium (CD quality I do not consider to be something that should be classed as premium, but that is my opinion) and so my expectation should be muted for the time being as many of my peers chuckle at me when I talk about high quality audio, that confirms that the mass market will never be into Hi Res, but CD quality should become the norm as it is a term of reference many can relate to in terms of their own experience, and is a quality level I would consider paying a sub for once Bluetooth can transmit the full bandwidth for it.

      It would then only require a decent wireless internet connection to get access and a couple of devices, to be able to be mobile with a great sounding package of software and hardware and breadth of content I am interested in.
       
    8. ashenfie

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      What is an LP? You need a CD player and physical storage. A flac is hi-res and play in the car train home without issue at hi-res quality .
       
    9. ashenfie

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      I don’t think you have read that correctly. Its streaming of the entire library at hi-res. Then discount downloads of flac etc if you want you own copies.
       
    10. tele1962

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      OK for portability but nothing beats a well mastered LP on a good HiFi IMO and no issues of ownership or losing an entire collection.
       
    11. ashenfie

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      I think a well master anything is good.

      Qobuz often try not to simply copy the do try and remaster if they can. LPs are for sure the best option for Analog recorded, but ultimately a well master 96/24 is simply stunning. As many will point out there is some over kill in there but who cares, I rather have too much than too little
       
    12. JGM

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      The topic of this review, Sublime+, gives you access to their hi-res catalogue. That costs £350 a year. The next option down, Sublime, gives you CD quality plus the ability to buy hi-res titles at a discount. For £219 a year.

      The monthly sub of £19.99 gets you CD quality only and that is what Codexy054 is referring to.
       
    13. rosscouk

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      A good read Ed - I have moved around the various music services trying quite a few (Google, spotify and lately Tidal). I am currently with Tidal due to the quality of the streaming on offer. I was thinking of looking at Qobuz but the price seems a bit too much really. I also subscribe to Roon, which I find is an ideal partner to Tidal.

      Roon manages all my local content (stored on a dedicated Nuc i7) making connections and allowing multi-room management and up-scaling possibilities (it does tons of stuff). It also links to tidal so when you find a new music (it has to be on Tidal), which Roon is throwing up all the time, you can bring the album (for example) down from tidal and it looks like its in your collection, its brilliant. Its just a shame that it only links with Tidal and there is not a bit more choice for everyone. Maybe in the future Roon will link with Qobuz or indeed Spotify.
       
    14. Codexy054

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      You're right...I thought I could stream my 24 bit purchased albums from them on the monthly subs.....but not a problem, as I stream my purchased material over my NAS anyway.....I still think Qobuz sounds better than Tidal....so while the library is much smaller than Tidal, I would go to Qobuz first. I have Tidal as well, and so I get best from both :)
       
    15. tele1962

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      Don't you feel you are in the hands of the provider though, if they go belly up or if your hard drive?
      I always feel music is a tactile thing that most are missing out on with download and streaming. Especially those who only listen on portable devices?
       
    16. dollag

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      I agree, there is no way that commuting & car journeys really benefit the hi res content. I only benefit to hi res files from tidal when i am either at my desk working or at home.
       
    17. oldfart

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      Have been trying Qobuz for nearly 4 weeks and I have been happy with the service so far and have four days to decide whether to sign up or cancel the trial period. For me the Sublime service would fit my needs as I am looking to be more eclectic in my music listening. The £219.99 ( £18.33Pm ) is in my opinion good value as it would allow me to discover new music and artists with the option of purchasing the Hi-Res albums with a good discount which is a lot cheaper than other download services. I suppose the other option would be something like Amazon prime then if I like a particular album buy the CD then rip it to a Flac file but to be honest life is to short and would rather just download.
       
    18. Dodgexander

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      I've used all the streaming services and I have to say I didn't have the best experience with Qobuz. I found the servers slow, music took a while to play and seek and something that annoyed me, perhaps because of licensing was that I was prevented to use the service without a vpn whilst traveling.

      Before you think well it must have been my connection, well no. Always have fast internet and I never received those problems with tidal MQA.

      I do think though it was problems with the application/website, most of which they hopefully will sort out.

      The quality when it was playing is of course fantastic and whilst I don't think there's any benefit there's some strange satisfaction in being able to play back certain music at 192khz 24bit.

      What I do like is mentioned in the review and that's that there's no proprietary MQA like tidal so you aren't limited to using specific equipment. Tidal's app is decent and the software decoding is decent but by the very nature of tidal masters the quality is usually limited to 48khz. I found 96khz masters rare, including albums that are available elsewhere at a higher frequency.

      So if they can sort out not being able to stream internationally which may well come when they enter the US market it will be very tempting to not try it again.

      Sadly though they don't offer monthly plans for the premium services and I don't really understand why. Why if someone values quality and wants lossless streaming would you not want the best quality you can get? I know they want to compete with tidal but if you want to pay per month tidal is still much better value as you get better quality masters for less per month than standard 44.1khz, 16 bit qobuz.
       
    19. leonccyiu

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      The performance of Qobuz- and every other streaming service is more dependent on supporting hardware than almost anything that has been submitted for review on AVForums. Put simply, if you have a Chord Hugo 2 and a pair of Sennheiser IE800S earphones, Spotify will sound better through that than Qobuz Sublime + does through a pair of Shure SE112 earphones connected directly to a laptop. I know this because I tried it and tried it on my wife too. In this instance, all that can be practically done is to compare Sublime+ with rivals over the same hardware.

      I find this difficult to believe, at least for all cases, the Shure SE112 either have to be an exceptionally poor pair of headphones, the amp/dac in your laptop is exceptionally poor or blighted by interference, you've set the windows audio mixer to 44.1/48khz instead of Wasapi, or the Qobuz tracks are sourced from a bad master. I would have thought that the Hugo 2 would expose the distortions from the lossy compression from Spotify premium despite it's more adequate bitrate. The Chord Hugo 2 does have exceptional PCM filtering and a really good amplifier, but the brickwall filtering required for PCM that is hard-coded along with the lossy compression is very difficult to correct for.

      I believe that the format for many people is probably the most important aspect of sound quality, many budget headphones are really good although over-ears would be preferable, and contrary to popular opinion, higher sample rates produce more of a difference on lower end hardware as the reconstruction filtering is gentler.
       
    20. Blues Rock

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      HI-Res is just a Scam.
      People should of worked that out by now, its just upsampled music.
      Not mastered in 24bit 96khz
      CD quality frequencies is enough for the human ears to take in
      Digital Audio: The Line Between Audiophiles...
       
      Last edited: Apr 1, 2018
    21. dollag

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      I agree about the redbook standards and that we do not benefit from higher res music etc; however there has been some argument that more care and consideration has been made when remastering the higher res files.

      That is still debatable but does make sense imo.
       
    22. leonccyiu

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      Sampling the sampling theorem: a little knowledge is a dangerous thing

      The Nyquist Shannon Sampling theorem does not perfectly reproduce all frequencies below half the sample rate, because the conditions required are never met in the real world.

      1. There is no such thing as a perfectly band-limited signal
      2. There is no such thing as a perfect reconstruction filter, this is required because mirror aliases are produced on reconstruction.

      The above article from a professor at Queen Mary university shows that despite using a very good quality digital filter, the signal is still significantly smeared in time.

      AES E-Library » A Meta-Analysis of High Resolution Audio Perceptual Evaluation

      A meta-analysis of the existing studies of high resolution audio found a statistically significant preference for beyond CD quality.

      CD quality is the real bottleneck in digital audio, most other parts of the playback chain are of a very high quality nowadays.
       
    23. dollag

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      That is a very interesting read; however to say redbook quality is the bottleneck is imo incorrect. The main bottleneck when it comes to digital audio these days is it's mastering, regardless of its resolution.

      Yes there are files that have been mastered good and we may benefit from the higher res; however there are many redbook cd's that sound horrendous and this is not due to their limits but their masterings.
       
    24. Blues Rock

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      Yes there are files that have been mastered good and we may benefit from the higher res; however there are many redbook cd's that sound horrendous and this is not due to their limits but their masterings.[/QUOTE]

      Yeah Badly Digitally Remastered CD Albums, sounding Overly Loud, are a Nightmare.
      Remasters I have recently got, sound ok like my Led Zeppelin 2014 Remasters, Black Sabbath CD Albums Remastered in 2009 and Pink Floyd The Wall Remastered in 2016.
      The Worst Remaster I have heard is The Who Ultimate Collection, it's so Loud and Distorted, Terrible Remaster
      https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ultimate-C...pID=51DHJqjn-uL&preST=_SY300_QL70_&dpSrc=srch
      Hopefully they are Remastering CDs better these days
       
      Last edited: Apr 2, 2018
    25. Tacitus

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      On the basis of the review, which was very helpful to me, I decided to go ahead and push the button on the Sublime+ subscription. I have to say so far I have been very pleased. I found that the majority of the playlists I have developed on Spotify over the last few years, have transferred over quite well. Not perfect, as some music is not covered by Qobuz. On the other hand the classical music collection on Qobuz is quite extensive.

      I have an Aurender music streamer (feeding a pretty decent system including the Chord QuTest) and it integrates with Qobuz really well. I particularly like that I can access all of the highrez stuff without having to upgrade to an MQA enabled streamer. It is hard to tell where my collection of music ends and Qobuz's starts ... the integration is that good. As I see it I am spending the £350 to be able to 1.) stream music at its best quality for a year - and get that enjoyment 2.) access what is available, and see whether its justifies buying it in the highrez format and 3.) take advantage of the cheaper pricing. I must admit I am tired of buying highrez music on spec, only to find it is not much better than the cd quality flac files in my collection. I have already found a few pieces of music that I feel like justify the investment (I will let others argue whether this is actually so or not). So I really like this business model. I tried Tidal and really struggled to get on with it - kept getting dropouts - not happening with Qobuz - so far. I have also found that when I cast it onto my Naim Muso (for use in my bedroom) , the quality is much better than Spotify (which of course it would be, but also better than I remember from Tidal).

      Therefore you can call me a fanboy on this one ... thanks for bringing to my attention Ed, much appreciated!
       
    26. ashenfie

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      TBH - many areas of nonsense for example.

      "We can’t hear above 20 kHz. The sampling theorem says that we need to sample at twice the bandwidth to fully recover the signal. So a bit beyond 40 kHz should be fully sufficient to render audio with no perceptible difference from the original signal."

      Sampling a sign wave of 20hz converted to digital and then back to analog(i.e to drive a speaker) would not result in a sine wave out at the speaker end. 2x sampling would enable you simply to detect the max value and the min values of the signal. Great for the intended purpose of that theory, but not music. Infact the output would look like a saw tooth. You need to sample at much higher rates to get a smooth sine wave back.

      The good news is no normal musical instruments output at that frequency and few people can hear that high. So normally CD sounds ok, I just find 48/24 upwards, less hash and great if remastered for the Hifi community rather than the radio.
       
    27. sitjahjo

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      I like their Hires selection, but unfortunately they shut me out because I am from Singapore I understand the complexity of copyright laws and recording companies distribution.but the companies are short sighted when most of the titles aren't distributed here..Qobuz hands are tied of course, but the ultimate rights owners need to be more open minded.
       
    28. Dodgexander

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      Had the same problem in the USA. Use a UK vpn?
       

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