Classical Music Streaming

Here is a link to a recent report in The Guardian on the increase of the streaming of Classical music

I would be interested to hear about Naim users and Classical music streaming.
About the streamer platforms we use; what we think of them; the music we find; how we use Naim to stream.
It seems to me Classical music is very alive right now. There are many amazing young musicians to discover, and overwhelming amounts of music performances available online, old and new.
Any one up for a discussion?

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Nice thread! I listen almost exclusively to classical, and only digital streaming. Started with an Apple TV into a Wyred4Sound DAC, moved to a McIntosh integrated, then a Classé, and am taking delivery of my NDX 2 tomorrow!!! Can’t wait. Honestly, the DAC didn’t improve much through the first few iterations, though I could swear the higher bitrate helped. Once I got rid of the Apple TV and started using UPnP via Raspberry Pi into the McIntosh and then Classé. Very excited to see how the NDX 2 compares with a direct ethernet feed.

As for software, I’ve worked my way through hating iTunes, and a host of iOS apps, until I discovered Roon which I love love love.

Couldn’t agree more about the extraordinary young musicians about, particularly from the UK. Steven Isserlis comes to mind as one of my favorites. The Takacs Quartet is mostly British these days (I think) and fabulous. Both are incredible on Hyperion. Again, British. What is it with you people and wonderful music performers and music reproduction?
Best,
—Pedro

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Thanks Pedro,

When we were young, I once saw isserlis performing in a concert with Janos Sarker. They shared the Bach suites. Starker said the six suites were too much for him in one evening and so he had brought a young friend along to help him out. Long time ago.
A long time vinyl and CD buyer it has only been the past year or so that I have consistently streamed music - the vinyl and turntable now gone. I can remember several years ago beginning to investigate downloading high resolution files and I had help from Basically Sound in setting up DACs and so on to allow me to do it. It was all very tentative at the time I struggled to understand what sites like High Res Audio and Qobuz actually did.
I have quite a few downloads bought over the years and I have had a streaming account with Qobuz for two or three years but it was only last year I streamed with any consistency. I have subscribed to HRA Streaming as well now and I am intrigued by Classical only Primephonic which I need to investigate further. Tidal’s Classic is too well hidden to bother with.
I have Roon but at I have used Audirvana+ for along time and I appreciate its integration with Qobuz and HRA, I wish it would implement the long promised Mac OS upgrade, though.
I have one of the new Naim streamers and I am currently mainly making use of the USB input in the Naim app. I have downloads and ripped CDs on a couple of attached USB SSDs. This very moment, though, I am streaming Qobuz UPnP from Audirvana+ and control is lightening fast in the Naim app.
Streaming is an exciting journey and so much music is available. Late each Thursday evening the highlight is to see what the new releases are over at Qobuz. The album below was my first choice, streaming weeks ahead of its CD release.

Apart from checking out new music I stream exclusively from my own music store, where I cave a combined store and renderer (Mac Mini running Audirvana) feedind Chord Dave DAC. See my profile for more details.

Only about acquarter of my collection is classical. It sounds great, but Audirvana’s file handling is irritating at times, not always finding everything (a perennial metadata issue with which classical tends to be by far the worst, due to missing or inconsistent tags. My solution is to apply a workaround, using VNC to remotely access the Mac and copy files from the Finder into Audirvana’s play queue. One day I’ll find another renderer, that sounds as good (and doesn’t cost the earth!), but it’ll wait…

For sampling music unknown to me I use Spotify, also uTube, and some selling sites like Qobuz have a preview capability: they’re free, and sound quality is good enough to decide if I like the music.

Isserlis is, I think, 60. So does that make me (only a few years older) a young listener? :grinning:

Roger

For a classical music listener, certainly :grimacing:

Alina Ibragimova is a bit younger, and wonderful. David Fray as well. Though neither are from the UK.

Vilde Frang is another brilliant young violin player. Her recent recording of the Enescu octet for strings, a work I didn’t know at all, gathered some very enthusiastic reviews so I downloaded it and the playing is, quite frankly, stunning. The music is astonishing too even though Enescu was only 19, I think, when he wrote it. So perhaps young composers are worth looking out for as well.

Oh, and as for British musicians, how about Alison Balsom on her recording of Handel and Purcell: “Sound the Trumpet”? In her mid 30s when the disc was recorded, she manages to achieve such a singing tone from the baroque trumpet that when she duets with countertenor Iestyn Davies (also mid 30s) it sounds more like two contrasting voices. At and rate it sends shivers down my spine
.

Roger

Firstly, I enjoy all genres and would not regard myself as particularly knowledgable about classical music but have many favourite works.

If we look at streaming platforms and services I’ll just comment on annoyances.

Bought a Uniti Atom about 18 months ago which had a display fault and was RMA’d and replaced by a Nova when they became available.

I have a Qobuz Sublime subscription and am very disappointed that gapless playback to the Nova does not work via Chromecast built-in from the Qobuz app - imagine playing Wagner and having 2 second gaps between ‘tracks’ which should be seamless. Same goes (primarily) for many Prog Rock albums and the occasional electronic/esoteric album which just doesn’t work with gaps.

Ultimately, I like Qobuz very much and find their rich Classical repertoire very inspiring - whenever they have sales my purchases are generally Classical.

To Echo Pedro above, Roon is excellent - my only gripe with Roon is that I multi-boot my Mac and play with various OS versions - I do wish we could have more than one Core installation even if their system only allowed one to be used at a time.

Well said! I travel, and need my core with me on my laptop, leaving my family without roon. It’s a pain. You should be able to have at least two installs mirrored off each other.

When I mentioned young musicians I was thinking of this young -

image


Maybe we need to get over to the Roon forum and request dual core access. Amarra Luxe and Audirvana can operate across two units simultaneous, I believe, such that if one leaves the house, the library on the remaining unit keeps functioning.

Peakman, thanks for the reminder about the Vilde Frang recording of Enescu. I put it in my Qobuz favourites a while ago but have still to get back to it.

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Streaming this tonight. From a few years back, have it on CD but it sounds superb now streaming in Roon from Qobuz.

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I use the Qobuz “new releases” classic section to browse new music and when I like something I mark it as favorite in Tidal (too bad that Tidal does not allow this type of browsing🧐). If very good I buy it either as hi Rez using my sublime Qobuz subscription discount or as CD

This is an interesting thread. I have a large classical CD collection and a rapidly growing classical downloads folder in my Core. I find the sound quality of the many high res downloads superb. I scan the “new releases” section of Qobuz as well, and also find Presto Classical a very informative website - they are nice people to deal with. You can buy high res downloads from Presto as well as CDs and their service is excellent. Incidentally, I have no connection with Presto, other than as a customer. I also buy from High Res Audio, Qobuz and Chandos, as well as sometimes e-classical but the latter’s prices in £sterling seem a little high. Linn is also an excellent source for classical downloads.

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I concur with that. It’s the place I buy the vast majority of my classical downloads. One other site I use for high quality recordings (and some excellent performances) is Channel Classics. There are some stunning performances/recordings by the Budapest Festival Orchestra conducted by Iván Fischer (e.g., Mahler’s 3rd, Beethoven’s 6th, Dvorak’s 7th, Schubert’s 9th): highly recommended!

The Linn site has, of course, the wonderful recordings of the later Mozart symphonies with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra conducted by Sir Charles Mackerras.

Stephen

I stream classical music predominantly from the Naxos Music Library. The catalogue is enormous (over 140,000 albums or 2 million tracks), covering all the major labels (not just Naxos). I’m fortunate in being able to access it via an academic institute licence - without charge. Although the bitrate is rate low AAC 128kps on this licence, it’s a fantastic way of discovering new music and recordings.

For people who work in the education or academic sectors, it’s worth checking out if your institute provides access.

Hi Stephen_C: yes, I have used Channel Classics, though not recently. The Ivan Fischer recordings you mention are superb! Linn’s MacKerras Mozart symphonies are also great, as are more recent Robin Ticciati recordings, eg his Brahms symphonies, also on Linn. I think we’re both on the same wavelength!

Until recently I had neglected Naxos streaming but then I discovered Naxos provided Qobuz, HRA, etc, with many of their downloads. I now receive updates from Naxos including one that occasional offers a free flac download. I need to look at the Naxos website in more detail though and see what else is on offer. I’ve retired from academia, so no download options there.
I agree on Presto, excellent service. MDT is very good too but does not have the editorial attractions. I buy new CDs from one or the other. For used CDs I go to Discogs or Marketplace retailers on that big site that seems to sell the world.
I am in a bit of a quandary with buying high resolutions downloads as streaming high res now appears to be very close in sound quality to playback from the files stored locally.
As Classical music listeners I don’t think we have ever had it so good in terms of audio quality and supply.

I am currently streaming this from Qobuz through Roon.
I don’t know if it is my ears but recordings of the Bach solo violin works often sound more harsh and aggressive than I expect. I am working through a batch I have in my Qobuz favourites and two recordings seem less hard on the ear; the Yokoyama recording takes places in a large reverberant acoustic which softens the sound a little; Christian Tetzlaff 's recent sensitive recording also avoids harsher sounds. Many more to go.

It’s so good to have a thread here about classical music. Although I contributed earlier in the thread on the subject of download sites I’ve realised I said nothing about my streaming habits. In fact, all of my music is either ripped CDs or downloaded works and I don’t subscribe to Tidal, Qobuz or any other streaming website. I take a lot of care researching performances of works I enjoy before buying and downloading them (“The Gramophone” is my first port of call). Very occasionally I’ll buy a newer (“better”) version of something I already have if an amazing new performance is released, but that is quite rare.

I appreciate not subscribing to a streaminh service denies me the discovery of other works I might enjoy (fed through things like Roon Radio—which substantially relies on streaming services) but I explore gently on my own :smile: sometimes harking back to half-forgotten works from years ago. That recently led me to discover a wonderful download of Shostakovich’s 1st and 2nd piano concertoes with Currentzis and Alexander Melnikov. It probably also explains why my collection is only 304 works. (I marvel at those who have libraries of thousands of works and always wonder how they get time to listen to all of them.)

Classical music streamed from my NAS through my Nova (and sometimes played on my Mu-so from a USB stick before sleeping!) is an unending source of pure pleasure and comfort.

Stephen

Hi Stephen,

Thank you for the pointer to the Shostakovich Currentzis/Melnikov, I had missed that one. A couple of nights ago I played the CD of Currentzis conducting Shostakovitch 14th symphony. Excellent recording. I note the piano concerto CD has the sonata with Faust and Melnikov. Looking forward to hearing it. Their Debussy sonata has been one of my favourite recent recordings.