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How does an old-style guy with big speakers and an accurate amplifier use Deezer as his sound source?

  • 4 May 2019
  • 9 replies
  • 130 views

I think I need a message from a Deezer sales person. But maybe not.

I know nothing about this streaming and devices world. Although I'm a computer programmer full time.

I'm used to plugging a CD into my Oppo and blissing out. I would like to replace the Oppo with Deezer.

1) Which of these devices will plug into that spot in my sound system? Google, Amazon, other, it doesn't matter to me.

2) How would I select my song? a) I'm sure I can put the Deezer app on my laptop (I have a MacBook) and have the laptop communicate with Deezer device (I'll call it Device X for now) by bluetooth or by wifi. Am I right? Can I control Device X from my laptop? b) I'd like to also be able to say to some device "Play St. Teresa by Joan Osborne" and have it play, uncompressed. Or perhaps Device X has its own interface. I walk up and find a keyboard or a touch screen?

I hope I'm not touching off a flame war. I don't know which of these devices (or which eco-system) is appropriate. It took me a long time just to figure out that Deezer is what I want, and not Tidal, or Spotify, or Apple Music.

I'm very willing to be directed to an article, rather than have you type in a bunch of information.
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Best answer by V_Shaft 8 May 2019, 12:34

@cubsno1

Reading your post, I think you may be misinterpreting some information, and consequently over-complicating things. Right now you have your OPPO CD player connected to your speakers (or headphones), right?

The thing is: you can substitute the CD player with basically any electronic device that has an OS which Deezer supports, i.e. where you can install the Deezer app or access it via the web browser. That is literally all you need.

You can connect your MacBook (with Deezer installed) to your sound reproduction device (speakers or headhpones). You don't need a special "Deezer device" aka Device X. You basically only need: computer --> speakers/headphones. The Deezer app will access the music from the Deezer servers (i.e stream it) and reproduce it via your speakers/headphones.

If you really care about sound quality, you might want to put an external DAC/amp between the computer and the headphones/speakers. So the chain would look like: computer --> external DAC/amp --> speakers/headphones. Note that today's computers have very capable DACs and even amplifier circuits already built-in (the Mac is particularly good in this aspect, people say), so any external components maybe aren't even needed (i.e. you will not notice and increase in sound quality with external DACs/amps). You can really, really save yourself some serious money in that regard.

If you really care about the sound quality, you should not be looking at any wireless devices, such as Chromecasts, or Node2i's or Bluetooth solutions. Any wireless component between the computer and the headphones/speakers in the audio chain will introduce some form of audio compression and quality loss. Or, in simple terms, nothing beats a plain old wire when quality is concerned.
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I just realized. "Device X" (the Receiver) will receive information in digital form (from Deezer) and output it in analog form (to my amplifier). Its DAC is very important.

Which of the Device X's has a very good DAC?
Okay, as I continue to explore, I've found this device Cambridge Audio Cxn ( https://www.whathifi.com/reviews/cambridge-audio-cxn-v2 ) It looks pretty good, but it seems to be aimed at Tidal more than Deezer.

I asked them what they had for Deezer, and they said this:

  • There are no built-in connections to Deezer, however, this can connect to the unit at the highest quality via Google Cast which is built in.
Has anybody used Deezer through "Google Cast"? Does it work well?
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Hi there @cubsno1

That's right, you can use Chromecast as an alternative. But I'll be honest with you, it doesn't work as well as it should be - it's been on our desks for improvements for quite some time now.
Okay. Maybe this Bluesound Node2i would be a better choice? It seems to be Deezer-positive.
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@cubsno1

Reading your post, I think you may be misinterpreting some information, and consequently over-complicating things. Right now you have your OPPO CD player connected to your speakers (or headphones), right?

The thing is: you can substitute the CD player with basically any electronic device that has an OS which Deezer supports, i.e. where you can install the Deezer app or access it via the web browser. That is literally all you need.

You can connect your MacBook (with Deezer installed) to your sound reproduction device (speakers or headhpones). You don't need a special "Deezer device" aka Device X. You basically only need: computer --> speakers/headphones. The Deezer app will access the music from the Deezer servers (i.e stream it) and reproduce it via your speakers/headphones.

If you really care about sound quality, you might want to put an external DAC/amp between the computer and the headphones/speakers. So the chain would look like: computer --> external DAC/amp --> speakers/headphones. Note that today's computers have very capable DACs and even amplifier circuits already built-in (the Mac is particularly good in this aspect, people say), so any external components maybe aren't even needed (i.e. you will not notice and increase in sound quality with external DACs/amps). You can really, really save yourself some serious money in that regard.

If you really care about the sound quality, you should not be looking at any wireless devices, such as Chromecasts, or Node2i's or Bluetooth solutions. Any wireless component between the computer and the headphones/speakers in the audio chain will introduce some form of audio compression and quality loss. Or, in simple terms, nothing beats a plain old wire when quality is concerned.
Hi, V_Shaft. Thanks for the info.

In particular, thanks for the wireless heads up. So, Bluetooth is a lossy protocol? Are there any wireless protocols that are loss-less?

I'm suddenly looking at my Sennheiser Momentum headphones differently. First of all, the signal must be transmitted to my (bluetooth) headphones in a digital format. Therefore it's the DAC in the headphones that dictates the sound. If I have a nice DAC earlier in the chain, it does me no good. Secondly, the signal is transmitted in a lossy format (bluetooth) so I'm losing information.

I've always thought my Sennheisers sound good, but maybe there's better sound available.


Rick
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@cubsno1

For more info on supported devices, please see here ;)

@V_Shaft very complete response!
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@cubsno1

In truth, the intricacies of the audio chain are numerous, and so convoluted I'd get lost if I tried to explain it all (that is, if I knew it all myself haha!) So, the short version is: no, there are no lossless wireless audio protocols.

In particular, Bluetooth uses on-the-fly audio conversion when transmitting. Example: even if you opt for Deezer's lossless streaming plan (Deezer HI-FI), once you go wireless your Momenzum headphones would not be playing you that music in lossless format. Instead, on-the-fly audio conversion would be happening between your Mac (the audio source) and the Momentum (the end of your audio chain) - and the latter would be reproducing a lossy-compressed version of the song. This is really happening "behind the scenes" and users are not made aware of it. Most don't even know about bluetooth codecs.

And the bluetooth audio codecs are several. Consider this:

Deezer HI-FI streaming is 1411 kbps (lossless standard CD quality, aka Red Book standard)
SBC a standard bluetooth codec supports max. up to 320 kbps.
aptX, a more advanced codec, allows up to 352 kbps.
aptX-HD, the "HD" version of aptX, allows up to 576 kbps.
LDAC, currently the most advanced codec, goes up to 990 kbps.

So, even LDAC - the best there is - falls short of standard CD audio quality. And also, those listed are maximum declared bitrates, and in reality most device use what is known as best effort bitrates - that is to say, they'll be lower than than the maximum. To top it all off, you must make sure that all of your audio components support LDAC to actually get LDAC bitrates.

The Momentums, as it seems, do not support LDAC (source: https://www.bluetoothcheck.com/a/sennheiser-momentum-true-wireless); aptX is is a far as they go so your are definitely getting lossy audio over them. Keep in mind, wireless audio was built for convenience, and not high-fidelity reproduction.

Lastly, it must be said: some of these lossy codecs are very, very good and most casual users (and many audiophiles) will not notice the difference. But in a nutshell: to ensure you get lossless audio, all parts of your audio chain should be connected by wires. That's really what it boils down to.
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If, like me, you're in your forties or fifties there's a very good chance that you won't hear any difference between a CD and a high bitrate MP3 because of age related hearing loss. Don't get too hung up on achieving the ultimate sound quality because you'll probably not notice! Just track down a Chromecast audio (they don't make them any more) and enjoy the music rather than getting worked up about whether it sounds perfect

And while you're thinking about that, watch this video and take the test it links to and see if your hearing can get 6/6!

https://youtu.be/YgEjI5PZa78

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