I don’t think that’s fair - the reason non-audiophiles use Spotify/Apple/Amazon is that they all offer perfectly good SQ (I struggle to tell the difference between 320kps vs CD or Hi-res) and are generally better interfaces and curators of music than the audiophile specialist streaming companies. It’s not because they are free/cheap, it’s because they provide a better service for non-audiophiles.
As audiophiles we’re in a very small minority that value the marginal SQ benefits of CD/Hi-res and are willing to accept smaller libraries, generally worse interfaces and poorer music curation. The average person would think, with some justification, that we’re a bunch of audio snobs paying more for something that we can’t actually hear.
Based on Naim went through the pain of updating a 10yrs old platform to ensure Tidal et all would keep on working, so kit doesn’t go to the grave early, here are some of the issues we hit:
The chip manufacturer was out of business, so no new software stacks or support.
The module supplier no longer supported it.
The compiler ARM licence had expired and needed negotiation with ARM UK to make it work again. All automated systems were dead.
Nearly all engineers from that platform had moved on - luckily there was one key guy left.
The TLS https stack provider had gone out of business. We had to cut the old stack out and replace with WolfSSL and paid suitable fees. This was so TLS1.3 and latest cyphers will work when doing OAuth2.
Implement an OAuth2 stack on a codebase that has no concept of such things
Extend control API’s designed in 2009.
Update all the control apps.
Have to update Airplay2 to latest standard - not easy.
Soak up misc bugs and ensure we fix more than we break!
Full platform retest - about 22 product variants
rebuild jenkins build server (misc java components were failing on newer java versions), plus new signing certificates needed for installers
Overall, its tough stuff and the tech industry doesn’t last that long. Companies get brought, go out of business, software stacks go unsupported, tool chains stop working and so on.
Naim has built up a strong software team over the last 15yrs + have a lot of contacts in the industry to make the above happen.
Sorry, but you won’t dissuade me from my view however well they curate things.
The average consumer will put value for money ahead of other considerations and the services I mentioned provide that to a greater or lesser extent. It’s not an issue to argue about just a comment I believe to be true.
Convenience is king every time. Spotify preimium comes bundled with a
Significant proportion of the cell lilac plans here NZ. Almost everyone I know used Spotify, even my pro musician friends for the most part. Audiophiles are a niche of a niche of a niche market…
Firstly and most significantly, streaming from one’s own music store is easy, secure, stable, not reliant upon software updates - and, significantly, not reliant upon a subscription, nor on a good internet connection, nor on an online streaming provider maintaining a catalogue that includes one’s favourite music, nor indeed on said online provider remaining in business.
Secondly, there are other online streaming providers, and, regardless of your streamer software, any online streaming service can drop the music you like without warning, or even cease to provide a service.
Thanks to @Stevesky for lifting the lid for us on the can of worms that is software development and maintenance. It’s pretty to use, but a really tough job to keep things elegant on the inside. And what’s happened lately is that High End SQ and Mass Market Convenience have become tied together. As @Oxbow says, both customer sets have valid requirements, though different.
But they are tied together because if you can make successful £500 products, as well as £5,000 and £50,000 products, you might stand a better chance of funding the S/W development - which is the same software across all products. So I have this notion that the biggest will survive and the smallest won’t be able to play in this space as the costs become ever more dominated by the S/W.
As a Venn diagram, I’d say the Mass Market requirement is a subset of the High End. SQ lovers will mostly get hooked on the convenience and if they are music lovers (not just SQ junkies) they will love the way streaming helps you explore the vast world of music. And over time, Low End users will buy better systems, just like they want 4K TVs, because it’s there.
Hey, it was Cyrus who suddenly and sadly disabled Tidal on their own App.
Let’s wish all HiFi makers well in this, especially the Naim we love, as they negotiate a difficult change in the business model.
Just use Qobuz. It’s literally the same as Tidal in terms of catalogue and SQ.
Failing that, use Roon where your Tidal subscription can be integrated to feed your streaming device, which should be Roon compatible.
‘due to an ongoing problem of piracy via streaming services, the record industry has forced through a fundamental change to the protocol that Tidal uses to authorise logins to their service’
I find that quite interesting, I’d have thought that streaming for the average consumer would have virtually eliminated any attempts or tempation to copy the audio - surely it’s just not worth the time/effort/storage involved? Maybe it’s organised groups in certain countries doing it then selling pirated copies???
The problem with the 4k TV analogy is that the features in demand become standard expectations, and while it’s good that people can enjoy more features on progressively cheaper hardware I think many will be happy and won’t really aspire to high-end equipment any more which may make it less viable overall to produce and sell.
I was in Tesco the other day and they had a 70" 4k TV for under £600 as one of their offers - might be a fine set, who knows?
I was going to mention just as their support page describes that there will be workarounds such as other apps (mConnect etc) that can get Tidal to their devices albeit more cumbersome than native support, and similar to how certain services can be used on older Naim streamers which don’t support some services natively due I believe due to hardware constraints.
mconnect is an interesting example of the problem of SW development cost.
The Chord streamer, “2go” does not have its own control App.
Chord recommends mconnect, and have to hope that mconnect keeps working.
Perhaps in future the smaller (or niche) HIFi vendors will get together and create a single shared App and one streaming SW Stack that they can all share? thus sharing the cost,…
We accept this in hardware components like DAC chips, but I wonder if a shared software platform (even if branded) would spoil the “mystique” of the brand names, revered as they are by audiophile?
That sort of already happens. Naim use StreamUnlimited, as do a bunch of other manufacturers. Albeit, I assume, as a subsystem, integrated and optimised into the broader Naim NP800 streaming software ‘product’
See links below, and if I understand correctly!!
[edit, sadly their GitHub repo doesn’t have much in it ]