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"Testing" Qobuz vs Amazon Music HD vs Spotify Premium vs Youtube Music Premium vs Youtube video vs CD

Brian Hall

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I picked a song that is on all 5 services and that I also own on CD. "The Last Home" on the album "The Deep and the Dark" by "Visions of Atlantis". The song has a female vocalist with piano, strings and percussion. (Percussion is only in the last 1/4 of the song).

Qobuz version - 24/44.1 khz
Amazon version - Ultra HD (probably the same as Qobuz)
Spotify version - 320 kbps Ogg vorbis
YouTube music version - 256 kbps Opus
YouTube video - 256 kbps Opus
CD - 16/44.1 khz.

3 source devices:

Asus Chromebox using Android apps for all output to USB
Wiim Pro Plus using the Wiim app for Qobuz and Amazon, Spotify Connect and the cast option for YouTube, output to coax
Onkyo C-7030 CD player using optical output

All outputs to Schiit Modius E dac -> Schiit Lokius (with bypass on) -> Schiit Midguard -> Sennheiser HD800 S.

No A/B testing or blind testing. Just played the same song halfway on each, then switched to the next service. Started over for the last half of the song on each.

I understand that all Android apps on the Chromebox "normalize" audio output to 48 khz.

I have that song memorized now. :)

All sounded great to me and identical other than very slight volume differences. I don't see any advantage to "HiRes" on Qobuz or Amazon over even Youtube's 256 kbps Opus which most would say is the worst.

I was slightly surprised at not being able to tell any difference at all between YouTube Music and Qobuz. I could hear the singer's breath intakes equally on all. The same for the piano notes.

No "Golden Ears" Trophy for me. The main outcome is that I am more impressed with Youtube music's sound quality. Maybe I'm just lucky that my setup isn't "sufficiently resolving" to subjectively hear the supposedly massive superiority of "HiRes" music.
 
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