My 8th subscription streamer… Amazon HD

tl;dr: maybe I should just start another blog… ‘spillover content’ originally posted on Gearslutz…


Originally Posted by drockfresh

I love the Amazon HD GUI
But hated iTunes and like Spotify
And you can click and it shows you the sample/rate etc.

Inspired by your enthusiasm, I downloaded the Amazon music streaming app (unlike GPM, it’s got a dedicated desktop app) and — I have to say, at very first blush, I think I could stand this.

In particular, the queue is very much to my liking! You can bloc-select multiple items and move them around in bloc, there’s a play-next option in lookups, and add to faves/playlist options right there in the queue.

Since Google Play Music is threatened with imminent extinction (to make more room for YT Music), Amazon should consider creating an IMPORT tool for favorites library and playlists. I’ve spent five years building a library of 40,000 favorite tracks… leaving that behind is going to be like starting fresh… something I’ve done before (I’ve been on seven subscription stream platforms) and I really hate it… I always ‘lose’ (forget) some obscure favorites… since I use my faves/library to spur my memory for listening (like flipping through LPs), that’s kind of a big deal.

Anyhow, while the music included in basic Prime is pretty limited (only ONE blues album by Fleetwood Mac  — and that was a multi-artist collection), I imagine the premium Prime music services have most of what everyone else has. (I did see one of my songs, lonely, locked up behind the ‘Music Unlimited’ barrier. Waiting to make me money, I suppose, I should look at it… )

Anyhow, yeah… I think I will probably start preparing for that life-altering event of changing streamers — right up there with moving residences, changing jobs, divorcing, I figure.

I was wondering where I’d go (I mean, every time I check YouTube Music, it seems more disappointing; it’s included in my monthly fee but… who cares?)… now I have a landing place — and it don’t look too bad at all. And the ‘upgrade’ to lossless will only cost me an extra three clams a month.

[EDIT: Went with the free 90 day trial. One minor bit about the queue — I’m really used to the convention of clicking an artist or album name in the queue and being taken to the artist or album page — and though that doesn’t work in Amazon’s player, I’d at least expected those options on the right-click/context menu. =( Minor-ish point, but… [b]UPDATE: OK, weird: after not functioning in that fashion for my first two or three loads of the app, NOW clicking on the artist or album title DOES take you to the appropriate place. Just plain weird.]

[EDIT 2: I was feeling like the audio quality wasn’t up to snuff — and then I noticed that the player’s volume control defaults to only ‘halfway’ up. I turned it up and now things seem a bit better.]

[EDIT 3: It’s weird; when I first used it, I swear there was an ‘add to my music’ option on the three dot menus from songs or albums — but now, all I can do is ‘add to my music’ ONE BLINKIN SONG AT A TIME from the play bar menu, which now appears to be the only place that option exists… WTF??? That seems really weird. Why wouldn’t you let people add an album at a time to ‘their music’ faves? SERIOUS WTF?]

[EDIT 4: Now the link/buttons on the left sidebar have stopped working. Two of them are ‘lit up’ but when I click on any of the options, nothing happens. This app is the bunk.]

[EDIT 5: Ah! The ‘plus‘ sign I originally thought added something to the queue is actually an add to library button! I started realizing that I must be misunderstanding at least some aspects of this thing — but have been unable to find any meaningful help or how to for the thing at all. I probably should have explored the ‘plus’ thing more. A basic explainer for the UI functions would have been nice, though. I mean, I kind of have a feel for subscription streamers after having been on 8 of them now (as well as a brief, informal trial of Tidal)… perhaps that made me ‘arrogant’ about assuming I could figure this mess out. UPDATE: LOL, all the albums I THOUGHT I just added apparently didn’t get added because of an unspecified system error. LOFL2KFC]

To sum up [for now]: Maybe it’s all just roll-out blues? Whatever, it DOES sound good and I seem to be getting things to a usable point. Now all I gotta do is recreate my faves library from GPM… only about 2600 more albums to go. 


tl;dr: maybe I should just start another blog…  (Well… not exactly, but I moved the mess that was here because… it was a mess. I have a lot of thoughts about streamers — this will be the eighth I’ve subscribed to — and, while the sound is mostly great (not everything’s HD — some of it is apparently ‘up to 320’ [!]), and there’s a lot I like about the user interface — there are some things that strike me as really nutty in the design/function.)

They mostly get the queue right (or my idea of right) but, bizarrely, when a queue is done playing — the player doesn’t clear the queue or leave the playhead at the end — [I]it repositions the play head back to the top of the songs [/I]– so if you try to play more with play-next, the new track is added right below the first track IN THE OLD QUEUE LIST and plays the previously played tracks after the new stuff!!! If you try to add-to-queue and hit play — it just plays the ENTIRE OLD QUEUE before it gets to the new tracks.

That and a few other behaviors are just so perversely bizarre that I feel like I must be missing or misunderstanding something. So I’m going to keep playing with it and try to figure out WTF these guys were thinking…

UPDATE: I just spent almost an hour on chat with a nice fella (I think) from SE Asia trying to figure out how the heck one is supposed to play a specific song or set of songs next after a queue has ended without first manually clearing the queue. He had to consult his leadership team a couple times and he ended up agreeing with me that the behavior makes no sense and said he’d send my concerns to the dev team. Maybe if the dev team had ever used a music player before? :heh:

But… the sound. After a day with the service, it would feel dark and dim going back to Google’s rather dull (even for 320s) 320s. When I tried Tidal, I couldn’t get over the very limited user interface (good for playing an album or playlist at a time and not much else). The sound was enticing — but it was such a pain to use. A few quirks (and the gamer-dark looks) notwithstanding, I’m pretty sure I can live with Amazon HD.

[I]One last thing I miss: the ability to upload my own files[/I] or play files off my local machine/device — there are just a few (for me) significant things missing (to be fair, some are missing from GPM and Spot, too, though some, like Trio Mandili, are just plain azz not on Amazon (except in remix!) though they’re on the others.


What I had written on over two long posts (one replacing the other) was a mess, a jumble of first, second, and third impressions, a lot of minor kvetches, but probably not enough praise for the new service.

I have to say, since this is my 8th subscriptions stream service since around 2005/6, Amazon HD’s lossless service would be pretty much impossible for abandon at this point.

I guess I’d done a pretty good job of convincing myself I could live with my soon-to-be-former service (Google Play Music) and its not very competitive fidelity (their 320s — presumably Fraunhofer codec in super-fast mode — are noticeably inferior to properly made 320s using LAME, including the content on the old, lamented MOG service).

I still prefer Google’s overall service — but it’s on the gangplank to make way for the eventual ‘flagship’ YouTube Music [which has so far completely failed to engage me on any level except maybe a marginally better integration between streamed audio and videos than in GPM. And I really don’t care much about videos. (Good ones are great, but…)

But… the sound is so noticeably better than Google Play content (no ABX testing required here — even though I HAVE been unable to differentiate quality 320 rips I’ve done with LAME from full lossless — so good 320s ARE possible) that, really, even if I wasn’t a Prime subscriber already, I’d almost certainly go from the $10/mo GPM to the full $15/mo for Amazon HD for non-Prime subscribers. I’d rolled around a move to Tidal — and it’s $20/mo and I HATE the user interface. So, you know… sound.