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.
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 ). 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?
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.