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Physical Audio Media Geek? or Westy Aurals!

Dave (OnliestSmeg) -  Manchester AO


( Edit: Warning - a lengthy prose ensues )

A bit of a deviation from my usual blogs this time: (apologies if you opened for a new musical alternative selection)


I have been into music since the mid 70's. Initially I had Cassettes and Vinyl, then just Vinyl with an eventual movement to mainly CD's with some of my favourites also purchased on Vinyl. I had several years without a working turntable, and I became purely a CD junky for a while. On replacement with my current turntable I started buying again on vinyl the albums I really liked a lot. I was still a CD fiend, but gradually I found I was buying cd's I would never play again.


Historically, my 'new' to me music has been through recommendations and magazines. The magazine reviews have been deteriorating imo and covering a much narrower genre range. I used to be able to read a review and understand my likelyness to like an album, whereas it has been becoming more and more hit and miss.

A few friends over recent years were streaming and passing on some good recommendations, so I decided to sign up. I had used Spotify free briefly, but thought I'd put some thought into researching all the options. If I was going to play through my HiFi I needed a high fidelity streaming service. I eventually went for TIDAL, as they did one of the highest quality streaming options & had an offer of just £4/month.


So duly downloaded onto my phone some testing began. I was fairly impressed but, even streaming HiFi quality played via Headphones or a phono input into my pre amp, I didn't think the sound was quite right - a bit woolly, lacking detail, emotionally flat. It was still good enough to eliminate several CD purchases from my 'to purchase' list, so will easily pay for itself when it jumps back up to full subscription.


On to the next leap of faith using specifications and reviews I bought the streamer ( I am usually a 'physically audition' the hell out of all the options geek ).

My new Streamer arrived yesterday (Denon HEOS Link HR2) to feed into my HiFi.

I also purchased a 'Denon Home 150' WiFi speaker. With 2 of us working from home (me in my home office and my wife Wendy on lounge dining room table) I am unable to just turn the HiFi volume up to 11! Now I will be able to stream or play any HiFi source such as Vinyl or CD wherever I take new speaker.

All with the funds from Covid-19 lockdown - not going out at all and cancelled holiday money savings.

After a lengthy set up session sorting cables, sockets and cleaning away the pile of accumulated dust behind the hifi and video units I got to some listening to music.


Now I'm impressed! Playing back to back the same versions of same albums on CD's and TIDAL they are so near to each other. Whether it's psychological or aural, I couldn't say (probably mainly aural with some psychological impact thrown in). But I definitely felt that CD is still the better source, with it having the slight edge on detail, dynamic range and impact.


Would be interesting to hear the streamer through a decent DAC, as I suspect the inbuilt one will be fairly basic and my Meridian CD player was not entry level. But that will have to wait until funds build up and full physical auditioning more practical again.

I can foresee this set up ultimately saving me buying a lot of unappreciated CD's, but maybe a slippery slope to DAC, CD transport :devil: :laugh:


Now to my weekend's listening session. There are several albums I have on Vinyl, CD and can now stream in HiFi quality.

Therefore it's going to be audition central round here:

Joy Division, Unknown Pleasures - original Album / CD / 40th remastered album / stream

Siouxsie... , The Scream - original album / 2015 remastered CD / album /stream

Ist Ist, Architecture - 2020 album / cd / stream

Kauan, Sorni Nai - 2015 album / cd / stream

That could be a lot of hours of listening involved, so cannot predict how much I'll actually get through.


I will always have an affinity for Vinyl :love: as that was the sound I grew up on and will never tire of or stop physical music media collection. I like having the tangible entity, with art work.

I would also have concerns over 'losing' a streaming service and losing all the amassed music within.


Anyway - whether you be Muso and/or Westy Aural stimulated....

Have a Vinylous / CDite / Streamfull / Westily (delete as appropriate) weekend ALL !Kauan_Sorni_Nai_White_Ltd_Ed_Vinyl.thumb.jpg.c12119c6b888e3e609078b392c32f458.jpg683109963_RedPleasure.thumb.jpg.f6a6ef9615567c9b588e9299ad24df07.jpgClearIst_Ist.thumb.jpg.43b961ebed7afca7ed74353fdfcbcafe.jpg829931155_ScreamingBlue.thumb.jpg.51e8a5fc9304e83a212cc6c87f9d5213.jpg


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I started in the 60s with vinyl Dave and still have them all. Then to CD and also Minidisc. Minidisc was a brilliant format but was shut down by recordable CD which was, and still is, crap.


But 10 years or so ago I moved everything to FLAC lossless digital and have never looked back. Ripped all my CDs and recorded my vinyl in real time. Use Squeezebox Touch (long defunct) wireless DACs to receive from a NAS. 4 of them around the house with varying levels of amps and speakers attached.


Control it all from my phone. Can also play anything from home via my phone anywhere I am. I still have 2 turntables and a reel to reel tape recorder but they rarely get used.


I do miss vinyl album sleeves but not enough to become a vinyl junkie again.

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Dave (OnliestSmeg) -  Manchester AO


So, are you using Roon @Stuart?


Flac'ing my physical media has crossed my mind.

But worked out it would take around 200 + hours plus just to RIP, then many more hours to ensure they have correct metta data as a lot are fairly obscure and my current experience of ripping ended with plenty coming up as unknown.


Did start as have a Synology NAS, and can access what I have stored remotely. But this has mainly been used for photos.


When I retire, might have time to progress with getting all my music onto a drive.

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Don't know Roon Dave. For CDs I use DbPoweramp which can usually find the meta data for you. For vinyl I used JetAudio but there's probably something better out there now. It's very easy to tag with mp3tag which works on other formats too. I'm pretty OCD about it and everything has the right tags and artwork

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Looks interesting but not sure it's needed.  Laptops, Squeezebox WiFi DACs, all TVs, tablets and phones are all linked to the NAS already.  Can't see why you'd pay a subscription to someone else to do that.  I don't use any streaming services though

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Dave (OnliestSmeg) -  Manchester AO


Well - found some own time to do a bit of 'auditioning' on Saturday.


AND I bet you're 'ALL' waiting with bated breath on what is best!




No chance.......


I selected Unknown Pleasures, in part due to my familiarity with it and that it had been a while since listening to it. To shorten the time impact I just played with the 1st 3 tracks - Disorder / Day of the Lords / Candidate

  1. Streaming - back to back Spotify/Tidal = Both very detailed and great depth to soundstage and tone. I enjoyed Tidal better, to me it had a fraction more detail, depth and impact.
  2. CD - one of my first CDs bought = A sense of slight lack of precision a little like listening through a layer of foam. (a new 2017 remaster CD is on the way, as I suspect the original CD is of lower quality or knackered)
  3. Vinyl - 2019 40th Anniversary / old original album= possibly a little more depth to the sound of the newer pressing


Conclusion or Confusion - at the end of the day,

#1 I enjoyed the music - all sources great & the differences subtle (or imagined?).

#2 newer mastered / later releases tend to improve on quality of reproduction.

#3 vinyl will always have a slightly warmer/organic sound

#4 maybe preconceptions impact and the only real auditions are those done blind.


When also taking into account prior side by side listening sessions -

I have been very impressed with the dedicated streamer when my initial expectation was low following my early streaming via mobile app. Better than other sources?

They all differ! But I do know for me that high quality reproduction source and output, of whichever media is used, does improve musical enjoyment immensely. So I would recommend everyone who has a little bit of interest in music to listen through good equipment. Good equipment can really bring the music alive.

It's easy to introduced too many variables into an audition.


If the music is enjoyed, does anything else matter!


19801938_UnknownPleasures.thumb.jpg.7c803556f1509393bb5d1235286ee70c.jpg1354805555_UnknownPleasuresCD.thumb.jpg.ddc58561f091945c61c9c212ff6fb90e.jpg740743498_UPTidal.thumb.jpg.7ee63ff03ecc806f5a08ce5650c2949d.jpg TIDAL App

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I know I have some Joy Division somewhere but couldn't find it, found this lot though, so close but not quite!



I had a friend back home in the '90's who was a true audiophile (works as a sound engineer for Radio New Zealand) and had a huge, expensive system at home that was ever evolving.  Had some interesting weekends at that place listening to his vast collection of music, while dating his flatmate! His lounge was set like a short but wide cinema so the stereo effect was massive, and behind the wide seating arrangement was a plate glass single sheet window about three metres wide and two metres high that used to move with the wall of sound from a huge (from memory) Plinius amp - luckily the way the house was orientated on a hillside with a big view, the neighbours didn't cop to much.The bass was epic - the bassline on Caroline Lavelle's 'Dream of Picasso' would turn everyone's kidneys to custard!

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Dave (OnliestSmeg) -  Manchester AO


Familiar with Plinius brand, but not heard any though. I went with Chord Electronics.

1 hour ago, BigSkyBrad said:

bassline on Caroline Lavelle's 'Dream of Picasso

I'll have to look that up! (or should I say 'hear' that up 😅 )

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I read a theory recently that the reason vinyl sounds warmer is that they limit the bass frequencies. Because proper bass would rattle the needle out of the groove.

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Man On The Clapham Omnibus


A profile is added to a cartridge output to compensate for lack of bass if I remember rightly. I've forgotten exactly what it's called but there's a string of initials that refer. More later...


RIAA equalisation curve. It reduces bass when recording to reduce groove width and thereby allow longer recording times, and the pre-amp corrects this bass reduction by applying the inverse curve. I have an LP of Richard Strauss's Also Sprach Zarathustra (the well known opening music from 2001, a Space Odyssey comes from this tone poem) on the Decca Phase Four label and there's such a level of distortion at one point that I seriously thought that my (quite pricey) deck was to blame. It turns out that any deck it's played on does the same. 

I still have both the deck and the LP but neither has seen action for some years.

Edited to clarify the groove width section.

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Dave (OnliestSmeg) -  Manchester AO


On 08/07/2020 at 18:01, BigSkyBrad said:

the bassline on Caroline Lavelle's 'Dream of Picasso' would turn everyone's kidneys to custard!

CD arrived -

Great vocals, & WoW

..... definitely a bass to 'feel' as much as hear.


Speakers that can shift plenty of air reqiured!



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That drop down to the lowest bass note (at about 0:40) is quite disturbing, eh!

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