Streaming – A Personal View, by Jim Forte
Streaming – A Brave New World
Audio Streaming is taking the world by storm. This will be much bigger than the move from vinyl to CDs. It will be much bigger than the move from physical media to downloading. It will make all MUSIC lovers reflect deeply into what is most important to them.
So I will try to divide this behemoth of a “thing” into two parts; one is Why, the other is How.
In my mind the “Why” is rather simple. It gives all of us music lovers easy access to the World of Music. It does so in a way that if done right, is very pleasing, relatively inexpensive and convenient.
When I think of all the years I spent trying to tweak the sonic purity and pleasure of my sound system at the expense of actually exploring and listening to music, I shake my head. So rather than wallow in regret, I would rather be grateful for this wonderful new method of embracing the awesome abundance of music and genres that are now available to us, including of course the music that filled our hearts over the decades of our lives.
After reviewing David Snyder’s entire presentation via YouTube, my head was spinning. I considered all the various pieces of gear and wiring that needed to be connected and that it was “best” separated into different rooms. This hearkened back to a day gone by when everything was considered to add noise to your system and therefore detracted from true sonic bliss.
This has not been my experience at all when I delved into digital and now streaming. I purchased an all-in-one box that exhibited none of the noise problems David spoke of and played back both my stored and streamed music with sonic ecstasy. It rips and stores CDs and also allows me to rip vinyl records if I so desire. It does Not use proprietary software that turns my investment into a “door stop” once it was no longer supported. Most relevant here is that it also allowed me to stream to my heart’s content using Roon Labs software. Roon provides an abundance of “meta-data”, and as we learned from David, Roon was our best choice. Roon is set up to work well with Tidal (Premium $9.99 and HiFi $19.99 per month) or Qobuz ($14.99 per month).
Not having a background in electronic engineering, I will try and explain this in a basic way that will be helpful to all those considering employing the new medium.
Clearly, for audiophiles, the now widely available content in high bandwidth is a game changer. Perhaps some will prefer seeking audio nirvana in the tried and true traditions of analog and vinyl. I have two vinyl cleaners, one costing about $4k. However, as a long time music lover, I can now access an abundance of heart warming grooves, and the accompanying liner notes (meta-data) with ease and low cost. Perhaps, I am guilty of audiophile sacrilege, but I’ll trade the time spent seeking an additional tidbit of sonic perfection (whatever that is), so I can spend more time with my beloved, i.e. music. BTW, I have discriminating listening skills and know a great recording when I hear one.
Entering the world of music streaming, requires a high speed ISP, a source for streaming such as Qobuz or Tidal, and a distribution node (network) to allow playback in whatever room or rooms you wish. It will also require a DAC that will convert digital signals into analog and then played back through your amp and speakers.
David emphasized using wired rather than wireless connectivity. He also emphasized his preference for Roon software in his set-up. The set-up that David showed us employed very inexpensive gear. For those having the talent and patience needed, it may be a good solution. However, there are many “turn-key” solutions that I think will deliver the goods with sonic excellence and many fewer challenges. Given what many of us spend on this endeavor, there is a wide range of choices available to us. The last link I offer you below will connect you with the very versatile one box solution I have chosen. I have been very satisfied with what it delivers.
I submit to you here a host of links that will facilitate your journey into the world of music through streaming.