Apple Acquires Primephonic

“Apple Music plans to launch a dedicated classical music app next year combining Primephonic’s classical user interface that fans have grown to love with more added features.”

That really made me smile. Game changing for me. I absolutely loved Primephonic’s classical browsing experience. With an Apple developed & supported app, which will be a killer experience with CarPlay, I will consider moving off of Spotify and settling on Apple Music.

To seal the deal, however, I need a convenient and technically decent method to get Apple Music to play on my 2-channel system. Really hoping for an improvement in this area with the upcoming iOS update and Airplay (i.e. bit perfect - at least for Redbook).


true CarPlay integration is really a game changer. and by “true” i mean integration with Siri, auto start/restart when calls come in, or you’re speaking to text, and radio functionality, ie, more like this (MLT) when a track ends.

Spotify offers this, but Tidal and Qobuz do not. Tidal has a MLT, but the Qobuz app is useless in the car.

I am a very longtime Qobuz subscriber, and fan because of some of the unique aspects of their catalog. but the charm is fading.

i too am classical music fan, and somewhat excited by this news… however, i wish apple would relent and let roon in. i am apple music sub and hardly use it cause what i want is roon - (with bugaboos fixed :smiley: ) - and apple in it. like tidal and qobuz. i know they fear it will eat into their apple music base, but i bet… i bet, it would actually increase their overall usership.

what do i know. i just want what i want. :smiley: one app to roon them all. roon could be the audiophile transport and db manager and the rest could be media subs. seems symbiotic to me… although i’m sure apple will eat up whatever they can buy and copy whatever refuses to sell out. so. just a matter of time.


That I think is the most important aspect. A good user interface based on Primephonic’s work and integration with the rest of Apple’s catalogue are not good enough if the ways to get a bit perfect stream into our DACs are too constrained. This is the part where Roon with its Bridge component is very flexible and good at.


I would not use Apple Music, Amazon HD, or Spotify or whatever without Roon integration.

OK, Roon search is not perfect, Qobuz miss so many albums, right now Qobuz+Roon is not perfect, but good enough for me.


and the potential is huge and worth supporting. imo.

The Primephonic app is quickly disappearing from the stores and can only be used until September 7, 2021, after that, the servers of the music streaming service will be shut down. The friends of classical music are fobbed off with what Apple has to offer today. This led to a large loss of customers and, again, they only want to compensate with six free months of Apple Music until Apple can hopefully release its own (improved?) app for the consumption of classical music. With the beginning of 2022, the date is inaccurately named. The free period ends at the end of February 2021, so Apple Music Classical may be released by then.

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I personally can’t see Apple launching a ‘stand-alone’ classical app/service?

Apple’s classical offering/service will more-than-likely be incorporated into the existing Apple Music app IMO, no matter what they say right now.

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When acquisitions are made, people often talk about how everything will be better now. Apple had developed its own service for many years, then failed to make any progress and bought Beats in desperation.

The promise was that both would continue to run separately. Then Beats was simply renamed, which was really just a MOG. I do think that it could run a little better this time, because everyone learns.

If you want to do a lot for your customers, let it run for another 6 months and then bring something new as a better alternative. Here, servers and thus better technology will probably just be switched off until February 2022. That will still generate a lot of frustration.

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I’m in the same boat, but I worry that Qobuz will find it harder to survive if there is a stronger Apple offering. And with magazines like the Gramophone now offering direct links from some of their reviews to the music in Apple Music things seem to be swinging away from Qobuz. I hope they survive. They’ve not developed their software significantly for years, which doesn’t bode well. Roon is of no interest to me without Qobuz or a comparable service.

  1. Apple has stated that they will develop an app for classical music. Some more Apple trashing going on. Interestingly, on French and German classical music forums, people are very excited about Apple’s acquisition of Primephonic. I suspect that here on the Roon forum some people are running scared as the special appeal of Roon might be dwindling fast. Qobuz might be the weak link - AM Primephonic will outperform Qobuz by a large margin. Throw in carplay and it’s a no-brainer.
  2. Would it matter — standalone app vs AM extension?

Not sure about Apple trashing but there sure are some Apple lovers.
Which really goes against all reason when you actually look at Apple track record.


Option 1) Read a review in the Gramophone, attempt to find the recording through Roon, get screenfulls of wrong matches, give up, go to Qobuz, repeat the search, favourite it, go back to Roon and play.

Option 2) Read a review in the Gramophone, click on it and it plays through Apple Music.

Primephonics search was very good for classical music, if Apple equal or surpass it they will have a very tempting proposition.


There is one possibility for this behavior with Roon. Gramophone reviews are usually of new recordings, and it takes a little while for new recordings to be integrated from the Tidal and Qobuz data bases into the Roon data base. Since they appear first in Qobuz or Tidal, it’s always been easier to favorite a search in those apps so that Roon sees it. Roon software must prioritize picking up favorites even if the titles aren’t yet in Roon’s own data base. If the behavior persists long term, it’s a different situation.

I’ve been doing this for years, though I find Roon, Tidal and Qobuz all a bit idiosyncratic. Tidal, recently for me, has been diabolical when it comes to search, and if I hadn’t favourited certain recordings before, I really don’t know how I would find them. It seems searching for the work and then looking for conductor/artists seems to work best for me, but it is not consistent.

Haven’t tried Apple Music in an App, but my test of trying to find Knappertsbusch 1950 Bayreuth recordings wasn’t terribly promising, but that may be too niche?

typically, i search for a work, then click on discography, and focus by performer, conductor, MQA, etc.

but last night i was looking for a recording of Lucia with Renata Scotto, that i’d seen before, and i knew was in Roon. it was originally release on DGG, with Bastianini and DiStefano, La Scala forces.

the above approach failed to surface it however, so i tried searching for Scotto–Discography–>Donizetti…and voila, there it was. now on Urania.


My point was that if I’m reading the digital version of Gramophone there is a link that takes me straight from the review to the recording in Apple Music. No typing required. Let alone having to guess which combination of search terms and search path will get a result in Roon. Just a click. Splendid.

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I think the acquisition is a very positive sign that Apple is going to get serious about their music business .

Anyway that’s how I optimistically read it.


If I only listened to music in my ‘listening room’, that would work for me (except I am partial to TIDAL over Qobuz).

But Roon can’t help me where I listen most of the time: my office and my car.

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Well, I guess it depends…

In my case, I stopped using iTunes over 5 years ago for going to Qobuz and Roon. But now I am using Apple Music again, on my iPhones, and I enjoy it.

The reason is, I recently tried Apple Music with Dolby Atmos, on simple Earpad Pros, and well… What took me back into Apple Music is specifically Dolby Atmos recordings ( or remastered ones). That new audio format recreates a more spacious sound with air and separation between instruments and interprets, definately better than our usual formats. It can (as of today) come out in two forms:

  • for binaural listening on earphones or headphones,
  • for multichannel systems compatible with Dolby Atmos.

But NOT for stereo systems, and ONLY for large manufacturers of audio products.

Why ? Because the licensing rights for using that new format, are at a cost that only equipment vendors that sell tens of thousands of machines can make good business of.

This is silly because small companies manufacturing high quality audio equipment and sell perhaps 1% of that volume, simply cannot afford it while it would really be fun to listen to Dolby Atmos encoded audio spatial with REALLY good equipment.

There would be a simple solution though, that would be for Dolby Atmos to charge the client for the better music format, rather than charge the manufacturer. I would accept to pay for a slightly higher fee for undoubtedly superior audio formal (which I consider Dolby Atmos really is given that it addresses aspects inaccessible to two-channel audio in general, with a suitable bandwidth and dynamic range), and I bet I would not be the only one.

Could both business models cohabit ? It would mean that if you listen for the same music on mass-produced consumer hifi, you would pay less for its streaming than on more sophisticated equipment.

But it would completely open this new format to the whole of the audio community, not only to a few big names. And Roon, not only Apple or Amazon, could stream in Dolby Atmos. And some clever guys would devise ways to remap multichannel Dolby Atmos into 2-channel stereo systems - a task indeed more difficult than for headphones that avoid crosstalk.

Food for thought ?