Streaming services and Carplay

I’ve had a look through the existing threads but they all addressed particular problems. Here’s one that doesn’t!

After getting a Uniti based device recently I was looking to swap Spotify for something that supported high resolution data. I got my free trial of Qobuz (I hate that spelling) and to be honest, it integrates fairly badly with the Uniti for lifestyle hardware - this is all on the part of Qobuz which seems generally meh (I know it’s not the greatest description, but it sort of gets round to everything eventually). Things came to a head when I plugged the phone into the car and tried Carplay, whilst it recognises Quobuz does some weird things:

  • it stops playing when Qobuz is not in focus
  • the featureset is severely reduced and the UI is generally poor. Simple things like putting a playlist on Shuffle can’t be achieved
  • search is next to useless - only seen a search that bad on Amazon music!

To be honest, it’s unusable in this state and will not be getting a subscription. That and it doesn’t have quite a few tracks that I’ve been craving this week (notably Stars by Lacuna Coil, in fact a lot of Lacuna Coil isn’t on there at all and that’s ancient stuff).

How does Tidal fare in comparison to Qobuz in the world at large? I can’t get a free trial of Tidal as I’ve already had one five years ago so will have to rely on feedback.

I’ve always favoured spotify because it bothers to engage with the rest of the world. It works brilliantly with the Uniti and Siri can handle it really well too along with having a great Carplay interface. It’s a shame that it only has a low bitrate option.

Well Tidal has 14 Lacuna Coil albums. Think I’ve listened to them all.

Stars is in there :smile:

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So you want to browse and manage playlists, search Qobuz for music to play, etc. in your car? I would have thought a greatly simplified UI which requires little or no interaction would be exactly what you need when concentrating on driving a car?

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That’s a better start! Lacuna Coil CDs seem to be very valuable these days so I treat them carefully!

I don’t follow @ChrisSU. A user interface that operates the software seems to be a good start.

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I use Apple Music for use with Car Play. Reasoning:

High res is really not needed in a car listening environment

It is superbly integrated in to Car Play, as you might expect.

Unless you always drive in an area of good coverage and great 4g bandwidth, then FLAC streaming can be problematic.

Apple Music integrates well over many platforms. I choose music and make playlists for the car from my iPad. I also download some commonly used files/playlists to my phone, which negates any streaming issues.

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Hello @simon,

So you subscribe to a separate service for the car and use Tidal or Qobuz in the home?

Yes, Apple Music for when out and about (not merely in a car), Qobuz via Roon in my main system.

I appreciate the comments, @simon but having two streaming services at the same time seems rather indulgent for me. I can’t even begin to imagine how you deal with synchronising playlists and working out what Siri is going to do next. Especially when I am finding Qobuz to be a half finished piece of work after less than a week of use. At home I can just play my CDs after all.

I don’t understand why you need two streaming services TBH. I would rule out Apple and Spotify straight away as the low resolution file formats won’t do your Naim system justice.

I had a Quobuz trial and the sound quality was really good but the user interface needs a bit of work plus the recommended listening was a bit left field.

Ive settled on a Tidal subscription. It supports high resolution files and recommends a variety of music which is based on the type of music I listen to. If you’re worried about burning through your 5G allowance in the car you can download tracks / albums / playlists to your phone.

Might be country dependent in terms of driving regulations/laws but simplicity and least interaction while driving should be prioritised to avoid distraction.

Admittedly, I’d hate to only be able to select/play something when stopped before starting off but any ‘smart’ displays in cars are distracting.

My main Qobuz Carplay issue is very slow display of content I’ve actually downloaded but there’s probably 100GB + on an older iPhone but I still think it’s slow.

I appreciate that, however Spotify still allows you to navigate fairly comfortably through the interface and works very well with Siri so that you don’t have to anyway. Even from the perspective of getting in the car, plugging in the phone and then choosing a playlist for the journey before I even set off, Qobuz can’t satisfy my mediocre needs. I don’t think selecting a playlist is any worse than controlling the heating controls through the touch panel on the Peugeot 308 and my Golf had a completely touch screen radio which was a right pain - it was actually only saved by Spotify’s well thought out Carplay interface.

Qobuz doesn’t even keep the music playing when it’s not the active app on my vehicle. Dare I say, I’ve found it to be just as rubbish in the native app too and have rejected it because it’s useless (even if it does offer higher quality sound than Spotify). On the home network getting it to connect to Airplay or Chromecast with my phone is an ordeal whereas Spotify “just works”.

@Neil747, what is the carplay interface like on Tidal? Will Siri do something as simple as putting a playlist on shuffle. I suspect it also allows you to lower the bitrate for in the car, not that data is expensive these days.

To be honest, as per my user name, I actually just enjoy listening to music. I felt that the Uniti represents good value for money in terms of services available, wires needed and bull around stupid “audiophile” network switches laughs, mains cables and nonsense like that. But there’s a clear difference between a cheapo Naim mini system box and an expensive Sony system from a number of perspectives including support and musical character. At home I prefer to play CDs but as the stereo never goes off (the TV rarely goes on by comparison) sometimes it just runs with whatever “spotify radio” playlist comes up with which is nice.

I suppose what I’m really saying is that I’d make the move to Tidal or Qobuz and have the benefits of fancy, high resolution audio at a minor premium if it didn’t sidestep the brilliant things that Spotify manages such as good integration with friends’ playlists, now playing, software control and support. I found Qobuz to be so far off that mark with additional problems such as a weak search, poor interaction with the (Naim) hardware and a diabolical/unusable Carplay interface. It also doesn’t have a number of tracks that I regularly listen to (and I’m not into much esoteric stuff - this is common material). I’m unlikely to switch services and sacrifice usability just for the principle that “sound quality is better” (the same reason we all use Windows even though a bit of point and click on Mac for word processing and emails would be easier for some to understand).

I confess I’ve never used Spotify, but there are reasons it’s so popular for so many and sounds as though they just have the user friendly features you like.

I generally cut Qobuz a bit of slack because they are a very small player in the streaming market and may prioritise certain feature over others, but if Qobuz via CarPlay doesn’t do what you want it’s not a suitable solution for you. Maybe send them some feedback?

I have a VW car with touchscreen and I really don’t like the way some Carplay controls are organised - maybe it’s down to Apple in many ways in terms of their ‘look and feel’ guidance, but I haven’t got experience with other cars to know if some implement Carplay better than others or if it’s all pretty generic.

The Tidal interface on CarPlay works for me. I tend to download high bitrate playlists so data usage isn’t a concern. You should give Tidal a listen via one of their free trials, you’ve literally got nothing to lose :slight_smile:

Apple Music not an option? I find that it works the best w CarPlay as it’s the native app…

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@Maury_Finkle - not really. Apple Music is pretty good but I prefer Spotify for “standard” services. I don’t get much value added from it. I had it free for a year with a phone contract but simply constantly wished I had Spotify!

@Alley_Cat - you’re right. It’s good. I’d forgo some of those things to get access to high res audio. I won’t forgo being able to control it in the car where I use it most though! I tried to be patient with Qobuz but I feel that controls are really part of the library functions of whatever backend stuff they’re using. If you’re selling a premium product, it has to be a product which matches with premium interfaces. These days, Apple Carplay is pretty standard. For reference, Carplay is implemented at the Apple end although the quality of integration varies. VW have got it right in that respect but it still baulks these days if you try and send a message with Siri because it won’t return to the radio station you were listening to (things in Carplay are fine though). I now have a Toyota which is worse! Navigating with Carplay and sending messages whilst listening to the DAB radio is not smooth!

@Neil747 - I have no free trials left so I can’t do that. I tried Tidal about 5 years ago and it was rubbish. Struggled to find tracks on it mostly. I suspect they’re over that hurdle these days. If you use Carplay and Tidal you can tell me if you can do things like “Hey Siri, play {name of playlist} on shuffle please.” and you can navigate playlists through carplay so you can play them (and then somehow, shuffle them). Qobuz doesn’t!

I use Qobuz from my iPhone and using the Carplay interface without serious problems. Sound is really good and while the process of finding albums could be better, the SQ is excellent.

I chose not to stream Qobuz via my phone in the car and so I download to the phone and use it as local storage. This has advantages when the mobile signal drops out but it handles saved playlists etc and obviously integrates with the Sat Nav well.

I also have the phone hard wired, rather than BT, and while this provides a reliable connection, it introduces some wear and tear in the cable, near the iPhone end. I’ve replaced two cables in 4 years.

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I’ve used Qobuz with CarPlay without issues, seems very good. Now I mostly use Roon Arc with CarPlay. That way I can access all my playlists and albums from my NAS & Streaming services connected to the Roon Server.