Quality issues with some recordings via streaming

Overall, Roon + Qobuz work fine in my setup, but there are some recordings that sound bad and/or distorted. I’m wondering if other folks have heard this too. For example: Linger Awhile, Samara Joy’s latest release. Some of the songs sound fine and other seem to have distorted HF.

At first I thought it might be my setup, so I switched to another vocalist’s work that I know well. Sounded great. Scratching my head. Found something similar with Loco Cello - Tangorom. Again, other high resolution files sound fine, so resolution isn’t the cause.

Not all things are mastered well. Common for masters to be compressed as hell and put close to the edge and distort and clip. Not much can be done if the engineers have chosen this route. London Grammar albums are rife with it clipping on the vocals.

Yes, but that album just won a Grammy. Can the original be as bad as I am hearing or is there something amiss with what is streaming from Qobuz?

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Grammy doesn’t imply quality, surely?

McD is popular, but it’s not food :grinning::open_mouth::nauseated_face:

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True, it is an award for the music. But with so many excellent reviews of the album, none say the sound isn’t great.

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Are you clipping?

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on some songs on that album, that is what I hear.

Was just listening to Chet, the Legendary Riverside Albums (192/24). The trumpet is so clear. Goes into the stratosphere without any clipping. You can hear into the decisions the recording engineer made to capture trumpet, drums, etc. It is a compilation, therefore the differences in studios/engineers is apparent from time to time. But nothing is distorted and nothing is less than stellar. There isn’t anything that makes me want to lower the volume (but when the song Alone Together arrives, I do increase the volume :slight_smile: ). When Pepper Adams enters with that luscious baritone sax, it gives me chills.

So, I conclude something is wrong with Linger Awhile. I don’t know whether what I’m hearing is on the original album or the Qobuz version. And that is my query: could the Qobuz version be distorted in a way the original isn’t? Or is that impossible?

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If you go into your DSP settings and go to “Headroom Managment”, switch that on and set it to 0. Play one of your problematic tracks and see if the signal path light turns or flashes red. If it does you have clipping in the digital domain. Adjust the attenuation until it no longer happens.

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Fair point, but I’d hazard that 99.9% of those listeners neither use audiophile gear or listen critically

We are a rather weird niche :nerd_face:

What tracks on what album and where in the tracks do you hear the clipping? Are you using any kind of DSP in Roon or playing just a straight lossless signal. Show a screen grab of your signal path. Roon would clip samples if you are using DSP without adequate headroom but it wont clip on its own.

Recording quality varies dramatically. I listen 99% on headphones so it becomes very apparent.

In every 10 recordings any number may be substandard, its unlikely to you or the streaming service but almost certainly the source. It can be very obvious on older recordings

Sorry but we just have to go with it

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Thanks. Interesting. Mine is set for the default: -3. I’m a bit of a purist and prefer no additional processing, especially when nearly all streaming albums sound very good. But I’ll try the clipping indicator as an experiment.

I don’t use DSP. But will listen again to determine which tracks sound distorted (my term and maybe not a good one).

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Agreed about old recordings. Perhaps that is what caught my attention – this has just been released.

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If you mention track names that sound bad for you, I would be happy to stream them from Qobuz and see if anything jumps out at me.

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Just played that album (Samara Joy) this morning streaming from Tidal (MQA 24/96), and it sounded very fine indeed - no distortion or clipping. Maybe an issue with whatever version Qobuz is serving up?


There is no additional processing when using Headroom Management as a clipping indicator:

It’s not possible to turn on the clipping indicator without enabling headroom management, but if you set the Headroom Adjustment to 0dB, the audio stream will not be modified.


FWIW, I’ve been disappointed in the sound of this album as well, both from Tidal/MQA, and via Qobuz.

I was set to buy the vinyl, but no I think I’ll skip it.

You should try other services or even Youtube to verify it is not your system or whatever copy Qobuz is streaming.

I would expect the recording is distorted. This is not rare these days, more like the norm. I would say a large part of pop music today is produced for earbud listening from a run of the mill source like an iphone. In fact some of those distortions might be intentional and work well in such a listening situation.

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Thank you. Listening to the album again, I can’t tell if I’m reacting to how her higher register sounds to me and/or it is the recording. Perhaps a little of both.

To me, she sounds better on slower songs where she slowly works into the high notes vs. faster songs where she jumps to the higher notes, which sound strained to me. For example, compare the songs “Sweet Pumpkin” and “Misty” listening to her highest notes. Does it sound natural or strained on the faster “Sweet Pumpkin”?

I know something is amiss when I keep lowering the volume. It could just be my own preferences. I don’t think the instruments are particularly captured well (timbre is just OK). And the depth of the recording seems lacking.

Maybe I need to go back to her first album, which I listened to many times and thoroughly enjoyed, in order to understand my reaction to this album.