Letters to the editor – Week #8, 2021

  • David writes…


    I have watched many of your videos on YouTube. They are very informative and entertaining. You are an excellent presenter. I just watched your latest on Spotify and the news that they will stream lossless later this year to CD quality. That’s great. I have been a Spotify user for a few years and pay for family access. I noticed your video on Spotify made no mention of Amazon HD. You did mention Qobuz and Tidal. I have tried these via a Bluesound Node 2i into a Hegel HD11 DAC then into an old Naim amp system out to a pair of ATC SCM 19 using good cables. They weren’t convincing at the price so I reverted to Spotify. Several weeks ago I took Amazon up on a free trial of Amazon HD which is capable of HR streaming. They have a large library of music available at CD and higher. With the same system, the sound is significantly better. So much so that I haven’t listened to Spotify since. Very detailed and expanded sound stage. The application is not as good as Spotify as you have to keep going back to the Amazon music app to save music to a library. I can’t find a way to play directly from Amazon Music HD as it’s via AirPlay which defeats the purpose. Instead, I save to the library then play from the Bluesound app which recognises Amazon Music. Unfortunately, you can’t save Amazon tracks in the Bluesound app. You can search and play, but not save.

    In summary, whilst the app and integration with Bluesound need work, my results with the quality of sound place Amazon Music HD far ahead of Spotify. Either Tidal or Qobuz we’re convincing. Personally, I do not like the hegemony that Amazon is becoming. I would much prefer Spotify to succeed provided they treat the artists fairly. If only they can stream at a minimum of CD quality. It would be interesting to get your opinion.

    By the way, our taste in music is similar. You recently put me on to Monolake.

    Me: Monolake’s work is indeed awesome but alas I have zero experience with Amazon’s music streaming. Sorry.

    Will writes…

    Hey John,

    Thanks for what you do. I appreciate your analytical and no-bullshite approach to HiFi and am grateful for the introduction to electronic music. Hopefully one day YouTube trolls will find a home elsewhere and comments can return to your page, as I have found value in some of the comments as well.

    Last words as not to eat any more time, even my fiance enjoys geeking with me on your channel.

    Cheers, WB

    Me: Hi Will. As I’ve said many times, comments being off is not (just) a troll issue but a time management issue. If I can find the right person to manage the comments section on my behalf, I *might* consider turning them back on.

    Richard writes…

    John, thanks for commenting on the latest Spotify Hifi news. I think it is mutually important for both Roon and Spotify to work together. I have subscriptions to Qobuz and Tidal as well as a family subscription to Spotify. But I would like to drop the Spotify plan because it is not integrated into Roon. I am a Roon devotee. If it is not in Roon then I don’t need it. However, if Spotify were to work within Roon I may keep Spotify because my non-audiophile family likes it. I think it would be important for Roon to make a deal with Spotify happen as it opens a 300M user market to them. For Spotify the optics are important because it becomes a service considered serious to both musicians and audiophiles because now it is included with the likes of Tidal which was originally created with a similar attitude behind it. As for Spotify’s app as compared to Roon. Seriously, there is no comparison. Spotify would enjoy a serious UI upgrade through Roon. I hope Roon and Spotify work together. It would be great for both. A win-win. Your thoughts? Thanks. Regards from Chicago, Richard

    Me: If you’ve seen my video (or read my article) on this matter, you already have my thoughts. Miami Beach, baby!

    Jimmy writes…

    I just watched your video comparing Android and iPhones for music playback. I recently purchased both a Dragonfly Cobalt and Campfire Audio IEMs. I agree that the dongle tangle associated with iPhones is less than elegant but I’ve had good luck with the ddhifi tc28i USB-C to lightning adapter. It’s tiny (very tiny) and lets me use the more robust dragontail A to C cable supplied with the new Dragonfly. Cheers!

    P.S.- I was glad to see your mention of Purple Mountains recently. I’m a big David Berman fan!

    Jon writes…

    Hi John

    Big fan of the channel. You’ve really helped influence me over the last couple of years. I’m now sat in my study with a pair of Kef LSX on the wall power by a RPi with a hifiberry Digi hat running Moode. Works great with a HDD of FLACs hooked up to it and then to the speakers through Toslink!

    I’ve been a bit disappointed that Tidal Connect hasn’t made its way into the Kef as yet. So was looking for an option to do this onto the pi itself. I’ve found this solution and happy to confirm it’s working well after a week of testing. The only downside is there’s no volume control, so I have to use that pesky Kef remote to control it. Still, it sounds great and is a really simple solution.

    Keep up the good work anyway. I’m about to pull the trigger on a Rega Planar 1.


    Manchester, UK

    Me: Yeah, the ‘developer’ of that Tidal Connect for RPi code wrote to me about it several weeks ago but I couldn’t get it to work. Maybe I should give it another shot?

    Alan writes…

    Hi John. An audiophile old fart here with well over forty years in the hobby. I really enjoy your style, presentation and the obvious care with which you communicate with and educate your readers and viewers. I have an engineering background and as such have always enjoyed the science and technology behind Hi-Fi. I’ve fully embraced digital in my listening, although I retain a personal preference for vinyl, I thought I understood digital but I have to say you have greatly increased my knowledge of streaming through your excellent articles.

    You made me smile with your reaction to the Tune Tots. Welcome to the, frankly crazy world of high-end Hi-Fi. At first glance, the Tune Tots look ridiculously expensive and, let’s face it, also at second glance. I’m sure they would be a lot cheaper with Chinese manufacturers, but that’s not really the point of them. Whilst not excusing some of the stratospheric pricing in our hobby, it does illustrate that there are benefits from choosing a highly specialised, quality manufacturer if you have the option. Whilst I’m not a Wilson owner (I use Blade 2’s) I appreciate the, dare I say it, musicality, of their recent designs. They were clearly designed by a team that understands what real live instruments sound like, not a given in many designs. And you hit the nail on the head with comments about bass. Of course, we all love a bit of deep bass but quality rather than quantity is the watchword. It’s surprising how little really low bass information is present on most recordings. Those of your readers with Roon might want to try an experiment with the Roon DSD parametric equalisers. Use the feature to insert a 40 or 50 Hz high pass filter and then listen. Conversely, put in a low pass filter and vary the frequency to see how much bass you really need and of course, those last few hertz cost a disproportionately large amount of money.

    I note your enthusiasm for active speakers. I have to say, if I was starting all over again and was interested purely in digital, the KEF LS50 wireless II, mated with the soon-to-be-released compact sub would be a tempting proposition – even for bass heads.

    Keep up the great work


    Chris writes…


    I am new to the audiophile world and you are really helping open it up for me.

    One thing I am interested to know is how you, or others, listen to music. Not in a technical/critical way but in a more general sense.

    Do you typically sit in the sweet spot between the speakers of a high-end system for dedicated focussed listening; listen “off-axis” to a lower end system i
    while doing stuff around the house and the high-end system is mainly for show.

    For me, kids work and life mean I get to listen to my decent system a couple of times a year. Doesn’t stop me from wanting to upgrade it though!

    Thanks and keep up the great work.

    Me: Thanks, Chris. I might tackle this topic in a future video.

    Matthew writes…

    My wife is German. She was watching the intro cartoon of your video and was wondering if you got the idea for the double blink from the German children’s cartoon “Die Sendung mit der Maus”? Danke!

    Me: Nope, it was made for me by Darko.Audio YouTube consultant Jana Dagdagan and, like me, I doubt she’s seen that cartoon before now. 😉

    Trent writes…

    Hey John, loved the TuneTot video. I had to check out the Mclusky album on your strong recommendation. Enjoyed that too.

    Tom writes…

    Hi John

    I just wrote to say that really enjoy the blend of information, analysis and entertainment you bring to the topic of audio. I’m an older guy who finally has the time and money to pick up on my interest in audio that I put aside while raising a family. Your podcasts especially have been a favorite source of information. Keep up the good work.


    Darren writes…

    Dear John,

    Can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched Electronica for Audiophiles. And with Monolake’s sublime record Silence you’ve introduced me to a brand of electronic music that I’ve not really heard of until now.

    Always enjoy your videos. Keep up the good work.

    Darren G

    P.S. I was wondering if you have heard the album Damn Fine Coffee by mtbrd. You might get a kick out of the 2nd track on the album.

    Adam writes…

    It’s a nice game to play, looking at the current market and figuring out what the next big thing will be, or even just what might be possible. The KEF LS50 Wireless provide an obvious thought. The play approach technology in these speakers is really as interesting as the speakers themselves. I am sure we will see someone provide a ‘same’ capability product but in smaller boxes and without the drive units. These will be super for anyone wanting to use vintage (or any regular speaker) in the same manner as the LS50 wireless. Would be great to have small boxes designed specifically for some older loved models as well. The LS3/5a for example could have two small (not deep) boxes designed to mount to the rear, so speakers like this could be kept on bookshelves and fed wireless direct.

    Might even be KEF who produces this item (they did do a not dissimilar ‘Universal Wireless System’ but it was not up to the LS50 level of tech.

    Love the show – keep it up!

    Ben writes…

    Hi. Just dropping by to say how much I enjoy your no BS YouTube channel. I’ve learned a lot in the last year and you demystify a lot of the b****cks. Also really enjoy the grade on your videos. Great job, Olaf.

    Thanks for the UK.

    Michael writes…

    Hi John,

    Long term follower from back in the day when you were still here in Oz, wanted to thank you for this podcast which has been one of your most valuable/informative for me, up there with the founder of Innuos on ones and zeros and the acoustic engineer on why your room is the problem. You’ve been such a part of my audiophile journey, thank you. As a 66yo I found Jules’ take on DSP room correction as a possible hearing compensator as opposed to the ‘flat’ as the ideal, revelatory, hadn’t thought of it in that way previously. Love your openness to the leading edge, keep it up

    Gratefully Yours


    Written by John

    John currently lives in Berlin where he creates videos and podcasts for Darko.Audio. He has previously contributed to 6moons, TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile.

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

    Follow John on YouTube or Instagram

    Future-Fi Now! Q Acoustics, NAD, Innuos & Peachtree

    Thinking more about Spotify HiFi