Hires music downloads

Hi all

Those of you that download hires music, who is the best to download from.
Also is there a preference on what format to go for like FLAC.
I use an NDX.

Many thanks.

I download from whatever source is cheapest, which can vary from tone to time and album by album, while different sources often have different catalogues. I have bought from Qobuz, Primephonic and HDTracks amongst others.

The format is unimportant as long as lossless, so whatever format you want to use - some people prefer .wav on Naim streamers, though I get the impression most store as .flac and convert on the fly while playing. And with lossless files you can readily convert between different formats yourself without any affect on sound quality, should your preferred storage file format either not be available, or be more expensive.

Be aware that downloading in WAV won’t get you much in the way of Metadata…

I bought a download from highres audio last year and it turned out to be a needle drop vinyl rip (snap crackle and pop made their presence as unwelcome backing accompaniment) and when I pointed it out to them they said it was a Hi Res file (well true) and it was mastered for high res at a very reputable German studio!

As always buyer be beware.

I would add 7digital onkyo and boomkat and bleep.com as a source.

If it’s classical music you want then Presto Classical is a site that usually has the latest releases for download, as well as older releases too of course.

Best

David

I would add that it’s worth looking at Qobuz for classical too as they are sometimes cheaper for new and older releases.

I download everything in flac. I get it transferred on the fly to wav before it reaches my ND555.
Like mentioned before I always get the cheapest spot where I can get the album…, given the fact I have sublime it turns out to be quite often Qobuz. If of good price or available only on those sides I also download or downloaded from the following sites:
Highresaudio.com
Hdtracks.com
Eclassical - has good daily deals and introductory discounts
Hyperion records as they have a couple of artist you only find there
7digital
Spirit of Turtle very good quality high res very often up to 24/352
Soundliason.com for also high quality downloads
Prostudiomasters masters in the past can’t get anymore as they don’t accept European customers, credit card…, as such interesting
Bandcamp is also a huge source with mixed qualities
Cdbaby
…and many more at hoc…

1 Like

Flac is my preferred format to store music in my library. So I choose flac. Keep in mind that with a true lossless format, you can inter-convert from one to the other with zero loss of data/quality (flac <> wav <> Apple Lossless). But you may lose meta-data.

1 Like

I download or convert to WAV, I do so because WAV sounds better on my NDX, don’t need to start a discussion on that, it just does. I found that out early on when I originally bought the NDX, I first ripped & downloaded to FLAC & then experimented with FLAC & transcoding, unfortunately Synology’s Media Serve software had issues with transcoding in various areas but mostly with gapless replay. During the experiments I found WAV sounded better, & fed up with klunky transcoding & with only a few CD rips on the Synology, I converted them all to WAV & forgot transcoding. Synology can now load the excellent Asset UPnP & as & when I choose or need to I will get around to converting all the WAV to FLAC & use Asset’s transcode program.

The download vendors I use are a mixed bag
Qobuz - are very much a mixed bag, they sell both high res as well as CD (16/44) albums, they tend to be at the better end of the price range but can do a lousy job with metadata - I don’t use them as first choice, but they do have the largest portfolio.
HighResAudio - excellent normally well priced, only high res PCM & DSD.
HRTracks - excellent, tend to be at the higher end of the price market, sometimes however they have low priced specials. Worth looking at the USA site at HDTracks.com if you are able.
Naim - always good but limited
Linn Records - always good, mostly jazz & classical
Sound Liaison - specialist local (Holland) jazz in DSD or PCM
Blue Coast Records - americana folk & classical, DSD specialists & expensive
I’ve also used Bandcamp & 7digital

I will use whatever vendor has the best price. I’ve lost count of the vendors I have used, the most popular for me are Pro Studio Masters, HD Tracks US, HiRes Audio and Qobuz. From time to time Qobuz do some really wicked deals, particularly in December.

Golden rules for me which may not necessarily apply to you:
Don’t use HD Tracks UK. It’s a rip off.
When something desirable launches, go to a site like DR Database to check the loudness values and if it’s brick walled, avoid.
If still in doubt check out some of the HiRes music forums *Computer Audiophile, Steve Hoffman, etc.) to get a bigger sample of how the material is being received.
Wait until a vendor offers a discount/basket deal because they always do.
Download the format which you like best. I like WAV. Like Mike, I don’t like FLAC. If I can’t get WAV I buy FLAC and convert.
Back up and back up the back up.

WAVs are not hard to tag. I usually strip most (sometimes all) the metadata out and put my own tags in. The reason why WAVs might be considered tricky to tag is because Naim use a propitiatory tagging system which is not universal and platform independent. There is no logical reason for doing this. It does not affect the sound quality. I’ve done the comparisons.

When we got our HDX, we did so because we were convinced that a streamed file sounded superior to the same file being played back through a CDP. CDX2/XPS2 in our case. The convenience of having a music library a tap away, the superiority (sometimes) of HiRes and all the other functional and convenience features that came with networked music were of no interest to us. We wanted the best sound we could afford from our CD collection. So all the other benefits came up on us slowly and we took our time in evaluating them. It would be impossible to go back now.

Further to this post. I bought the excellent double disc John Williams “The Guitar Master” from them a week ago to replace my (borrowed) one disc rip.
I had played it before & noted something was wrong, I’ve since played it with ears & notepad wide open & I’ve sent them the following complaint/error report.

"… … This album has a number of track errors
For example track 01-07 Love_Theme_From_The_Godfather-LLS
The end of this track contains about 5 seconds of the start of the following track 01-08 Schindler_s_List-LLS.
When track 01-08 starts it repeats the the same opening bars correctly.
The start of track 01-07 also has a few seconds missing.
Their are other similar error with other tracks on both disc-1 & disc-2 … "

Metadata errors are one thing as these can be easily edited, but defective tracks of the actual music is not so easy.
I said in my post yesterday they are not my first choice, they have just been relegated to my LAST choice.
I will post whatever the reply from them is.

2 Likes

My understanding is that the record companies supply exactly the same files with the same metadata to all suppliers, so the story goes that the same errors would be found wherever you bought them. The only thing that goes against this is that Qobus has “Classique” or something similar in the genre field, but I suppose that could be from the French supplier to Qobus.

I thought something like the same Chris. It would be interesting to hear from a forum member who has the same album on CD or a CD rip, are these OK ??. But in the meantime I’m waiting to see what the Qobuz response is.
I could edit what I have as I have the tools, but this is more serious than just doing that & saying nothing.

I only download WAV files (if possible) there can be the occasional problem with metadata but if you have or get a tagging program it’s easily fixed.

Agreed Pete, metadata is easily edited. But with Qobuz they are not including metadata on the last few WAV’s I bought & the reply I got to my e-mail was that WAV cannot carry metadata - hmm, I wonder how they managed to attach metadata in the previous years.
I also notice that some other vendors are no longer offering WAV & in that case I just get FLAC & convert.

I buy from HD Tracks, there is always an option for WAV. They always have some sort of tagging even if not prefect.

Think that’s a bit of a cop out on Qobuz part.

Qobuz have replied acknowledging there is a problem with the album
I guess they need to go back to Sony or whoever they get the master from.
As compensation they’ve offer me another album of my choice.

I’m happy to edit (cut or copy into) the defective tracks, something for a wet day.

1 Like

I could have predicted the reply. They never take the effort to solve the problem and always have the same response. Please select another one and we will slip it into your account.
The worst is, the keep selling the same album without fixes to other customers as well, so they don’t take the faulty ones from the site, never.
I just do business as they are the cheapest…, but that’s all.

100% BertBird, I asked that question when I replied
"I am concerned that the defective album John Williams ‘The Guitar Master’ is still available on your web site.
Why is it not withdrawn, when will a defect free copy be available & when & how will we know that the available copy is now defect free"

They remain my last choice vendor

The problem is that they are the only vendor with a comprehensive catalogue. A number of alternatives have been mentioned but they are niche. 7digital is the only one that comes close but they seem to have lost interest and half their catalogue is mp3 quality.

Until Amazon or Apple get into the Hi Res or even 16 bit market we are stuck with Qobuz.