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Streaming advice

Discussion in 'audio' started by bourney, May 23, 2019.

  1. bourney

    bourney pfm Member

    Streaming advice.

    Looking for some advice please. At the moment I stream Spotify premium through my iPad that wirelessly connects to my Apple tv with a digital cable connecting to my DAC.
    Could a clever digital bod tell me if I'm limiting quality doing it in this way? Ie is the apple tv a bottleneck or the way I have it set up not getting the best out of it?
    Would I get better quality using a dedicated streamer and if so, where do I need to start looking and is it worth spending extra money on these?
    Is there one that would act as a CD transport also?
    Any help greatly appreciated.
  2. andrewd

    andrewd pfm Member

    If you want to keep things inexpensive, a far more elegant solution would be to get a Sonos connect and use the sonos ipad app to play from spotify.

    Countless other streaming solutions are available depending on how deep your pockets are and the quality of the rest of your system.

    If going further upmarket from Sonos I would consider ditching Spotify in favour of lossless services like Tidal or Qobuz.
    duckworp likes this.
  3. miles_b

    miles_b pfm Member

    Spotify is going to be your limiting factor there. It uses lossy compression, so you'll never get CD-quality out of it. One of the big audiophile magazines did a test of the AirPort Express when it came out, and found that the optical output was 100% bit-perfect to the input, and I see no reason to believe that an Apple TV would be any different. That and the iPad aren't going to drop or flip bits. Your road to better sound quality is, as @andrewd suggested, Tidal or Qobuz, or look at upgrading your DAC or other stereo components. There are a few expensive streamers with CD built-in, including the Marantz ND8006, McIntosh MS500, and Naim Uniti Star. The Arcam CDS50 would probably do what you want, but it's more of a CD player that has streaming capabilities than the other way around. It looks like Yamaha also makes an inexpensive CD player that can stream Spotify and Pandora, but no lossless services, and it probably won't offer any substantive improvements over your current setup.
  4. Yomanze

    Yomanze pfm Member

    Lossless playback is worthwhile in a HiFi system, so this is an obvious bottleneck due to Spotify file compression. Tidal, Qobux etc. offer a lossless streaming service.

    Is that Apple TV using TOSLINK? What inputs does your DAC have?

    Personally I would use a separate streamer and CD transport...
  5. Rug Doc

    Rug Doc pfm Member

    The ATV only has Optical out yes.

    Your doing the right thing. I use the same setup, but tidal not Spotify.
  6. hifi-dog

    hifi-dog pfm Member

    for a really cheap and decent sounding cdp/ streamer look at yamaha cdn301 - £300 with digital out for your dac and spotify connect
  7. Tigerjones

    Tigerjones Bagpuss

    You going all modern, Steve Hifi?

    You well?
  8. Linds

    Linds pfm Member

    Sign up to Qobuz studio free for a month and then use that month to try a couple of different options (like borrow a streamer and or different DAC to see how things could improve). Qobuz is hugely more engaging than Spotify, so if you like the latter you’ll love the former.
    AndyU likes this.
  9. SteveG

    SteveG pfm Member

    I'm using Chromecast Audio's to stream Spotify Premium into various DAC's around the house using it's optical output. For Spotify that seems decent enough. I do have an Apple TV somewhere that I used to stream with in a similar way (although not at that time with Spotify) but I haven't compared that to the CCA's. With the CCA's the output is pretty decent when streaming into a good DAC.

    I haven't tried any of the higher quality streaming services as yet, but I am also getting decent results streaming my lossless audio files from a NAS via the CCA. Good enough that most of the time I'm happy using that instead of CD's (which are played via the same DAC).
  10. AndyU

    AndyU pfm Member

    I think the Apple TV up/downscales everything to 48kHz, so once you’ve fixed your source, that would probably be the next bottleneck.
  11. Heckyman

    Heckyman pfm Member

    Playing from an iPad, I've found Apple Music (supposedly compressed as 256kbps AAC) to be better sounding than Spotify premium (320kbps ogg). Tidal hi-fi (16/44) sounds different to Apple Music but it's hard to say it's better, which is surprising. Local CD rips played with the iPad in airplane mode are the best quality of all (disregarding hi-res).

    If your DAC has a good USB input you could try the iPad camera connection kit. Which connection method will sound better will depend on the your DAC's implementation.
  12. Strictly Stereo

    Strictly Stereo Trade: Strictly Stereo

    Are you using AirPlay to get the audio from the iPad to the Apple TV? That part should be fine as long as you do not need to go beyond AirPlay's 16 bit/44.1kHz limit. Once upon a time, the Apple TV resampled all of its audio to 48kHz, regardless of the input sample rate. So far as I am aware, this has not changed. This is not really necessary or helpful and will theoretically degrade sound quality to some extent. It is probably best to have the streamer passthrough the audio unmolested. Some people deliberately have their streamer upsample audio before passing it to their DAC, but they will normally be upsampling to a multiple of the original sample rate and using a device or software which is specifically designed for that job.

    Whether the unnecessary upsampling step in the Apple TV makes an appreciable difference depends on the rest of your system, but it certainly won't help.
  13. Stunsworth

    Stunsworth pfm Member

    The latest Apple TV only had digital out over HDMI, there's no optical out.
  14. Strictly Stereo

    Strictly Stereo Trade: Strictly Stereo

    If you would like to compare your Apple TV with a purpose-built streamer, perhaps one that also supports Spotify's own Spotify Connect integration option, call or email and I will send you something to try.

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