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Does anyone have an alternative source with genuine hirez? I have also been told that Chandos is starting a 24 bit streaming service in the next 3-4 months. What ever happened to "Streaming is the future of music"? No one seems to be making a success of streaming Classics!
It appears their main web page has "gone dark" already.
"ClassicsOnline has been in operation since 2008 and we believe strongly in an online quality service dedicated to classical music. We now plan to develop a new ClassicsOnline, using different technology and listening concepts. We cannot give you an exact timing for its launch, but we will keep you posted."
...........that means they have parted ways with OraStream which has been their platform.
Qobuz has most of the major and minor labels and streams in uncompressed Redbook format.
You must be in Europe to subscribe, but you can overcome that by subscribing via a proxy server such as Tunnel Bear. Web pages will be displayed in the language of the country you subscribe from, so choose UK if you want English.
(Premium subscribers can stream in hi-res only those albums they've purchased as hi-res downloads. Premium subscribers stream other albums in Redbook. I mention this because it's not stated clearly.)
Thanks for the suggestion about Qubuz. I did spend a couple of hours exploring the service and my impression is that it is much to complicated and not a good value. I did manage to sign up despite not being in Europe and finally without a vpn. It had the annoying issue of constantly shifting back from English to French.
It is similar to all the other services that are pop focused in that classical is a poor stepchild. So for $15/ mo you get to download 24 bit hi-rez for the price of a RBCD. Clearly, the service is primarily set up for phone/ear bud listening not a serious hi- rez layout. The advantage to me of a real pure streaming service is you get to listen and explore lots of new music, some you will never listen to again, and some you will enjoy over and over again, all for a reasonable monthly fee.
If you are interested in the future Chandos service, email and ask to be put on the beta testing program in the USA.
I must correct some of the things that you say about Qobuz:
1. It is not at all complicated, no more so than nay other streaming serice I have tried. However there is a new desktop player in Beta developement which is even easier to use. I am now running this as my usual player.
2. It is not in French. If you subscribe to the UK service you get a player and information that is in English. NB: when you download it will be in French but as soon as you login it transforms into English. Customer service is also in English.
3. There are 2 different players for phone and desktop. The desktop version cannot be confused as one for phone use. On the other hand the phone player has far simpler screens suitable for this kind of use. No, it is not perfect as there are deficiencies in certain metadata aspects (mainly with albums featuring more than one classical composer). I agree with you here in regard to pop music having the whip hand on metadata formats. However it is no worse than other streaming services and computer audio players in general.
4. SQ is excellent and classical tracks in 16/44.1 are broadly indistinguishable from the same on CD played via my ( very good) transport (both via the same DAC). Other users with other types of gear have remarked to me on the improved sound quality of Qobuz recently.
I can't comment on value as that can be very subjective. But it costs the same as Tidal. I use it with great success for exactly what you say - finding new music, some of which I won't want to hear again, or not for a long time. Other discoveries I want to replay immediately. I can do the latter with Qobuz as each streamed track is also then held in a cache to be heard offline. These are not, however, permanent free copies. It also means that for phone use I can load up the cache and hear the tracks when outside of a wi-fi environment and where streaming gets too expensive via 4G.
The service provides true audiophile quality through my main audio rig and I know of at least one subscriber for whom the SQ obtainable from 16/44.1 files played vis Qobuz was revelatory. For my part I think it is the best audio item that I have spent money on in the last year.
Naxos Music Library
Tidal (Lots of classical)
Both of these are Low-Fi! According to Naxos, The music is streamed in Flash AAC format.
Tidal is basically CD quality and a few MQA classical and jazz available for 20 bucks a month. I could buy 50 CDs a year for that.
Buy those cds now
At CES it was announced that in 2018 the majors will stop producing cds
"At CES it was announced that in 2018 the majors will stop producing cds"
Alan, have you got a reference or link to that statement? I have not seen anything of this nature and I am sure that if true the mainstream press would be running stories on it.
As far as I am aware although CD sales continue to decline they still represent a large amount of the record industry's turnover and I cannot imagine rthe record companies abandoning these sales as early as next year. Downloads seem to be declining more rapidly so abandoning CDs in 2018 leaves streaming as the only sizeable medium left. I can't give that credence.
How expensive is it to record and maintain a high-res file for downloading?
Although iI am unaware of the business structure of streaming services I do understand that there are two major costs to them, royalties and the cost of bandwidth. In regard to the latter there was a posting to one of my messages from Cookie Marenco of Blue Coast Records over on the Music forum from ( I think) early last year.
In regard to royalties they have to pay two parties, the record companies and the music publishers. One difficluty that they may face with the latter could be a royalty on effectively each title held on their servers as the mechanical right is not a performance right. However only a minority of titles produce revenue. I gather that for most (all?) of the streaming services only a comparatively small percentage of the repertoire held by them is ever accessed. However were they to restrict the titles to only those with a good chance of mass popularity then the service would offer an unattractive proposition to subscribers as they would then be something like a a top 100 albums only service.
How any of this specifically affected Classics Online we don't know but clearly something did. Given what ultinately became a limited offering I suspect that it simply did not attract a sufficient number of subscribers to cover the costs.
Which could never even approach the cost of producing, distributing and maintaining inventories all over the planet.
We just had our audio club meeting and at the meeting was the owner of Direct Audio. They are a major seller of LPS and CDS particularly Mobile fidelity. He was at CES and heard this directly from Sony that 2018 would be the last year they would manufacture CDS. There was no formal announcement but since he is a dealer that is what he was told. He said that Mobile Fidelity confirmed that also.
I have spoken as promised with my contact in Sony Music and he says that as far as he is aware there has been no announcement internally about such a thing as Sony ceasing to manufacture CDs. He wonders if wires may have been crossed and that this is about Sony Electronics (another company).
As your source got the information from the Sony presence at CES this year that would tend to support the idea that this is not about CDs but CD players. Sony Music did not, as far as I can establish, appear at CES (which, I think, would not be a natural event for a record company to be at - I may be wrong). However Sony Electronics was there of course.
I think what this possibly boils down to is that 2018 may be the last year that Sony Electronics makes CD players. They have already more or less withdrawn from producing CD players for the audiophile area of their business but still make them for more mass market sound systems. So dropping CD altogether in 18 - 24 month's time seems a reasonable progression from their current position.
As my Sony Music contact said, CDs may be declining but they still represent a hefty portion of the company's sales. They wouldn't want to give that up.
So, of course, anything may happen in due course. This could, just as an example, include Sony Music per se stopping manufacturing CDs but continuing making them with a partner or as a joint venture (there's nothing to support this idea as having any reality either).
So there doesn't seem any evidence currently that Sony is going to stop manufacturing CDs (as in discs).
I have just sent a message to my contact within Sony Music to see if he knows anyhting about this. I'll let you know what his response is.
If it is true I suspect that it is literally true. That is that Sony is going to pull out of pressing CDs but not the CD market itself. Their discs will maufactured by outsourcing the process. I reckon that there will still be Sony CDs around for a while yet.
As the CD market declines then so does the need for manufacturing capacity across the industry so this could be a completely rational decision. Or it could be the result of that odd (to us) way the Japanese do business where long term plans can be adhered to seemingly irrespective of the actual market conditions. The cessation of CD manufacture in 2018 could have been decided on by them years ago.
Must agree with PAR
First, niche streaming sites (other than Pandora or Apple Music) seem to be dying at a prolific rate. ClassicsOnline is already dead. Another classical one was in admin (but quite good - hope it lasts).
Second, while CD sales may still be in decline, I think they still exceed download revenue, and the age of download sales has already peaked and has been going into serious decline, being wiped out by streaming. The new kiddies with their 5 second attention spans and everything they own crammed into a phone haven't got the space or time to store, sort or collect downloads. They want the streaming service to sort everything for them.
So, with downloads down the gurgler, and streaming not bringing in much revenue, it's looking pretty uncomfortable to be a music industry exec these days. I can't see them throwing out physical formats ... quite the opposite, they seem to be trying to bring back as many physical formats as they can: vinyl is back ... and even tape is making a comeback!
C'est la vie.
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