Question LDAC streaming but dull sound

Leon74

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Hello,

I recently bought an Auris Blume Pro Bluetooth Receiver with LDAC. I am streaming from my Samsung phone to the receiver that is connected with an optical link to my Denon Ceol Hifi Set.
I made sure I switched the highest LDAC settings but yet the sound is dull if I don't use the equalizer of my phone and leave its settings flat.
I use Deezer HiFi (FLAC) as a streaming service.
Does anyone have an idea what is going on, what could be the cause?
 

Messiah

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What CEOL unit is it? Pretty sure it will have BT built in. How does that compare?

Again, depending on model, I think you can stream Deezer direct. If so, how does that compare?

My only experience with LDAC was when I connected my Huawei phone to an iFi Zen Blue V2 (and then fed via analogue out into my Kenwood amp) and I found LDAC was the best of the codecs I used.
 

Rodolfo

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First of all, I don't know of LDAC having "high" or other "settings". With any LDAC-equipped device I've had, it's only been a matter/requirement of switching LDAC on on each connected LDAC-equipped device. Are you sure you've turned LDAC on on your Samsung as well?

I don't know your receiver, nor what your Bluetooth and LDAC experience and expectations are. My amp only has aptX, so I have only used LDAC with my Samsung phone and HiBy DAP, each connected to LDAC-equipped head and earphones, and my FLAC-file transmissions sound very nice. Still not quite as good as through my best wired connections, but plenty good for this former/until-last-year must-be-wired snob.

I also volunteer my other bias: there are still limits, a ceiling to Bluetooth/wireless. LDAC allows excellent, the best in my limited experience, wireless connections; yet, it's still only Bluetooth. But, good luck working through your settings and meeting your own expectations.
 

Leon74

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@Messiah @Rodolfo

Thank you very much for your replies, both of you!
I think I now know what causes the problem:

I connected to the Denon's ( CEOL N12DAB) own Bluetooth that unfortunately only has the SBC codec. That is why I bought the LDAC receiver.
Yet streaming to the Denon directly gave a much better sound than playing music via the LDAC receiver.
I found out that while streaming to the Denon directly, I could change the settings of the built-in equalizer of my Samsung's phone, but it had no effect on sound quality.
Yet, when I stream to the LDAC receiver, when the equalizer is set to "normal" (flat), the sound is dull. Only when I change the equalizer settings to my taste, it sounds better. Obviously this should not be the case.
Now the question is: Why is the equalizer of my Samsung phone bypassed when I stream to the Denon directly, and why not when I stream to the Auris Blume Pro Bluetooth Receiver with LDAC? And of course then the next question woud be: How can I prevent it from passing through the phone's equalizer?

( @Rodolfo : Yes I have LDAC turned on, on my phone. With LDAC you can set it e.g. to "best effort", then the phone decides which bitrate is best for a stable connection, or you can set it to "optimised for audio" but with many phones you have to dive into the developer settings. )
 

Messiah

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I am not familiar with Deezer as I use Spotify but I imagine both are similar so will see if this fits.

If I play audio from my phone via Bluetooth to my Marantz amp, the amp is simply passing (amplifying) that signal/sound to the speakers. Therefore, any changes I make on the phone will impact the signal/sound sent to the amp.

If I use Spotify Connect to stream Spotify to the amp, the amp gets that signal direct from the internet and my phone has no influence on that signal. Therefore, any changes made on the phone* will not impact the sound.

*Although I can change the quality of the steam via the Marantz HEOS app.

If you are doing the same then hopefully that explains why.
 

Leon74

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@Messiah

There is something similar to Spotify Connect also built in for Deezer in the Denon HEOS app, but I cannot change the stream from Deezer in the HEOS app: Deezer streemas HiFi (FLAC) but Denon only uses the 320 kbps stream. Sounds good, but the HEOS Deezer implementation is not very good. For example, I cannot like songs from Deezer in the HEOS app.
Therefore I would like to stream from my phone. Obviously the same is happening to you: If you stream directly from your phone, the sound is influenced by the phone's equalizer.
The question now is: Why is the phone's equalizer (or maybe even the phone's dac itself) bypassed when I send Bluetooth to the Denon Ceol and why isn't it bypassed while using the LDAC receiver. I also tested with a Philips compact HiFi set and Sony LDAC headphones - in all of them the sound is (negatively) influenced by the phone. What is the difference with the Denon, why does the Denon seem to be able to receive a bluetooth signal that is not tempered with?
 

Messiah

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You sound like you have checked this thoroughly but I have to ask, are you sure the Denon is using the BT signal from your phone and has not switched over to Deezer (let's call it Connect)? (Easy enough to check. If BT is being used then any others sounds your phone makes, like a message tone, will sound on the Denon (unless you switch on Do Not Disturb or similar on your phone - at least this would be easy to check but switching it off).

If indeed BT is being used fully from your phone to the Denon and from your phone to the DAC, then I am not really sure why one is influenced and one is not.
 
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Leon74

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You sound like you have checked this thoroughly but I have to ask, are you sure the Denon is using the BT signal from your phone and has not switched over to Deezer (let's call it Connect)? (Easy enough to check. If BT is being used then any others sounds your phone makes, like a message tone, will sound on the Denon (unless you switch on Do Not Disturb or similar on your phone - at least this would be easy to check but switching it off).

If indeed BT is being used fully from your phone to the Denon and from your phone to the DAC, then I am not really sure why one is influenced and one is not.
@Messiah

Yes, the Denon was using the BT signal from my phone.
Something in my phone must have gone awry, because last night, when I checked, I could also influence that BT signal with the built-in (that cannot be switched off, just switched to "flat") equalizer of the phone. Yet I am 100% sure that before, this wasn't the case.
I finally ended up installing the poweramp equalizer app. It has a setting for loudspeakers and now I have a sound I am satisfied with.
As a kid of the 90's, I actually hate all this new tech as far as it comes to sound: There are too many variables and when just one thing is off, it can ruin the whole experience. In the analogue era you had just a few knobs and switches and nothing could go wrong. Well, I guess I'm growing old :)

Thanks a lot for your help!
 
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Leon74

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Great to hear. 😀
It even got better, lol: I found an old pair of Wharfdale speakers from the nineties in the attic. I never liked them with my Sony receiver I bought at the same time but now I tried them instead of the Denon speakers that came with the new device and they sound 1000 % better. Just a pity I ordered my Denon Ceol with the speakers... it can be ordered also without the speakers. Would have spared me some money....but I had totally forgotten the Wharfdales were in the attic until my husband was tidying up the attic today.
 

My2Cents

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Now the question is: Why is the equalizer of my Samsung phone bypassed when I stream to the Denon directly, and why not when I stream to the Auris Blume Pro Bluetooth Receiver with LDAC?
1) because the signal is going directly to the Denon and not passing through the phone.

2) Because the signal is passing through the phone.

If you are ever in any doubt as to how the signal is getting to the Denon do this:
Open an app (either the Deezer app. or the Denon HEOS app.) and start playing a song.
Turn off the phone.
If the song continues to play then the signal is not passing through the phone.

IMHO the LDAC reciever is somewhat redundant and is just another piece of gear in the chain of conversion/transmission that leads to degradation of the signal.
In fact, if you were to download Spotify (free) and use Spotify connect to stream to the Denon, you probably won't hear any difference in the sound quality beween doing this and playing the same song on your phone using the Deezer app and streamng it to the Denon using the convoluted Auris LDAC Bluetooth route.
Even though the file may be lower quality to begin with it won't have been reprocessed so many times en-route.
 

Leon74

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Nice!

I have the Denon DM41 but I never ordered the Denon speakers. I paired it with some Monitor Audio Radius 90HD. Nice little kitchen system.
Yeah I can imagine. The Denon DM41 was also on my list. I decided for the CEOL N12 because of the higher wattage (2x 65 Watt) but if the DM41 is enough for those excellent speakers you have hooked up to it, the DM41 would have done also for my Wharfedales.
 
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Leon74

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1) because the signal is going directly to the Denon and not passing through the phone.

2) Because the signal is passing through the phone.

If you are ever in any doubt as to how the signal is getting to the Denon do this:
Open an app (either the Deezer app. or the Denon HEOS app.) and start playing a song.
Turn off the phone.
If the song continues to play then the signal is not passing through the phone.

IMHO the LDAC reciever is somewhat redundant and is just another piece of gear in the chain of conversion/transmission that leads to degradation of the signal.
In fact, if you were to download Spotify (free) and use Spotify connect to stream to the Denon, you probably won't hear any difference in the sound quality beween doing this and playing the same song on your phone using the Deezer app and streamng it to the Denon using the convoluted Auris LDAC Bluetooth route.
Even though the file may be lower quality to begin with it won't have been reprocessed so many times en-route.
No, in both cases the music came from the phone, I can be sure of that as "optical in" was active. My LDAC receiver is connected to the optical in.
I still have no good explanation about what happened which is unsatisfactory but my guess is that it's a combination of the built-in equalizer in my Samsung A32 and its interaction with apps. The built-in equalizer cannot be turned off, unfortunately.

For me the LDAC receiver is not really redundant, I have it for two reasons:

1) Deezer has not well been integrated into the Denon (HEOS) app and therefore I prefer to use the app from Deezer itself on my phone.

2) I like listening to (high quality) internet radio stations and the Tunein radio service built in by Denon is really bad. It lacks a lot of radio stations and there is also no filter so you can select only the radio stations streaming at a high bitrate.

I can clearly hear the difference between 128 kbps streams and 320/Flac streams.
There aren't many good LDAC receivers, I bought a cheaper one before and it produced bad sound, but when the phone doesn't cause problems, the Auris BluMe really delivers and the conversion from the Deezer FLAC stream to LDAC 990 kbps sounds as good as the sound that goes from my computer through a cabled Denon USB-DAC.
 

My2Cents

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I think you may be getting a bit lost in the 'digital weeds'. Preserving the original signal integrity and keeping the signal path routing as short as possible is far more important than LDAC vs SBC BT and bit rate and kbps's (esspecially with budget equipment). Quite often you are not actually getting the quality that you think you are, despite what your equipment's displays may be telling you.
If you were to download Spotify (free) and use Spotify 'connect' to the Denon, I doubt that you will hear any difference between Spotify and Deezer based on the convoluted signal path that you are creating from the Deezer's servers and your Denon's speaker outs.
First off, Bluetooth is a 'convenience' connection and not something to rely on for achieving the highest quality signal, regardless of the codec used.
Streaming through a phone means the signal has to go through the phones circuitry at some point and has to get to the phone either via Wi Fi or via your cellular carrier's service (both of which degrade the quality right off the bat). It then gets sent to the BluMe via BT (using more digital manipulation) and then gets converted again from a BT digital stream to the BluMe's digital 'out' (using a budget $2 Cirrus chip) and then your Denon is having to process that already highly manipulated and compromised stream with more conversion processing before it can amplify it.
That 16bit FLAC file has been pushed through so much digital manipulation before it gets to the Denon's speaker outs that it's probably in much worse shape than a 360kbps mp3 stream from Spotify coming directly from Spotify's servers to your Denon.
You may actually get better results if you use the BluMe's analog outs to the Denon, you would then be using the BluMe's ESS Sabre DAC (which is as good as the Denon's) and by-passing the Denons DAC altogether, which would elliminate at least one step of jitter/timing/information correction.
 

Leon74

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I think you may be getting a bit lost in the 'digital weeds'. Preserving the original signal integrity and keeping the signal path routing as short as possible is far more important than LDAC vs SBC BT and bit rate and kbps's (esspecially with budget equipment). Quite often you are not actually getting the quality that you think you are, despite what your equipment's displays may be telling you.
If you were to download Spotify (free) and use Spotify 'connect' to the Denon, I doubt that you will hear any difference between Spotify and Deezer based on the convoluted signal path that you are creating from the Deezer's servers and your Denon's speaker outs.
First off, Bluetooth is a 'convenience' connection and not something to rely on for achieving the highest quality signal, regardless of the codec used.
Streaming through a phone means the signal has to go through the phones circuitry at some point and has to get to the phone either via Wi Fi or via your cellular carrier's service (both of which degrade the quality right off the bat). It then gets sent to the BluMe via BT (using more digital manipulation) and then gets converted again from a BT digital stream to the BluMe's digital 'out' (using a budget $2 Cirrus chip) and then your Denon is having to process that already highly manipulated and compromised stream with more conversion processing before it can amplify it.
That 16bit FLAC file has been pushed through so much digital manipulation before it gets to the Denon's speaker outs that it's probably in much worse shape than a 360kbps mp3 stream from Spotify coming directly from Spotify's servers to your Denon.
You may actually get better results if you use the BluMe's analog outs to the Denon, you would then be using the BluMe's ESS Sabre DAC (which is as good as the Denon's) and by-passing the Denons DAC altogether, which would elliminate at least one step of jitter/timing/information correction.
Spotify free streams 128 kbps AAC. Deezer HiFi streams FLAC which is a lossles format. When my phone receives the FLAC format and sends it with 990 kbps LDAC to the BluMe receiver, that signal is way better preserved than with the Spotify free 128 kbps AAC.

I listened to the sound sent through the LDAC receiver both with the optical and the analogue connection. With the optical connection the sound is maybe 5% better, there isn't a huge difference.

When you start with CD quality sound (FLAC)The difference between LDAC and SBC is huge. Not just by the numbers of bits sent.
My aim is not "achieving the highest quality signal": With all respect to those who invest a lot of money in it, high-res is BS in my opinion. Why because at least 99% of the people cannot hear the difference, if any. But people can hear the difference between 128 kbps and 990 kbps, no doubt about that.
I wouldn't call LDAC set at 990 kbps a "convenience' connection". Not if sound matters to you: Yes of course one can always aim for "higher quality" and likely pour out more money, but I am sure there are few people who will hear the difference between a CD and LDAC 990 kbps.

The music is not degraded by WiFi or the cellular carrier's service: It will arrive on my phone exactly as it left Deezer's servers: It's all in bits, one's and zero's. WiFi does not change a digital file and the music contained within.

If you compare it with Spotify Premium (320 kbps) "tuned into" with Spotify Connect, the sound will probably the same as the Deezer sound I am listening to with my LDAC. But even about that I am not quite sure: When both streaming services still had only 128 mp3 the sound coming from Spotify was much worse than Deezer's.
 

Stuart83

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Theres a few reasons I like the Ifizen for occasional Bluetooth streaming from a smartphone via a "direct connection" (not to use two DACs)
One reason is having the logo change colour to indicate what format and quality is being received, its a really good feature.

I box shifted through a few of the favourites before choosing the Ifizen which imo sounds very good at what it does.

It negates the need to constantly check settings etc when a bad recording comes on saving one from the urge of checking their settings/devices etc.

I mainly use streaming to browse and find what I like then buy the CD and shove it in the Marantz CD60 to do it justice.
 
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Tinman1952

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I wouldn't call LDAC set at 990 kbps a "convenience' connection"
The trouble is you do not know that you are getting 990kbps...
That is the 'maximum' but it usually drops back to 660kbps (or less...) for stability and you won't know because there is no way to know what the ACTUAL transmission rate is. Bluetooth is definitely a convenience connection...and very difficult to judge sound quality from a lossy compressed codec that is CONSTANTLY changing.....
 

My2Cents

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What the BluMe's display is reporting as kbps in LDAC mode is simply the theoretical max. and NOT what is actually occurring in real time:
You are at the mercy of your phone... many are set to default LDAC at 330kbps.
Changing to 'best efforts' varies wildly depending on the phone make and model.
aptX and SBC can actually outperform LDAC when LDAC streams at 330kbps, which is the default chosen by many phones.
I guess having a Sony phone would be the best bet for best performance of LDAC as it's a Sony proprietary codec.

PhoneLG V30+Samsung Galaxy Note 8Huawei P20 ProHuawei P20Google Pixel 3 XLGoogle Pixel 3
LDAC 'Best Effort' Setting990kbps660kbps660kbps660kbps330kbps330kbps
 
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My2Cents

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Hi. Well basic CD quality is 1411 kbps....so even if you get 990kbps it has still been through lossy compression...just like mp3. 🙂
The interesting thing is that, if one streams an Ogg file at 320 (e.g. from Spotify), although it is lossy to begin with, it doesn't ever need to be altered during it's 'steaming journey' as it passes through various nodes/chips and BT codec conversions and finally gets 'spit out' as an analog signal to the pre/power amp. (it's unaltered from what came from the server).
FLAC files can get mashed up and highly altered along the way depending on what 'road blocks' they may encounter.
That's what Spotify have been trying to tell folks for years... and why, although the Spotify quality is not fantastic, it is a very 'consistent' sound across devices and various streaming methods as it's a very robust package. If the source material was originally well recorded/mastered and digitally converted it can actually sound very good to most peoples ears, unless one has a high end system and pin sharp hearing.
However, if you compare that same file/song to a 24/192 FLAC version that has transferred all the way from the server directly to the back of the amps. network input at 9,216 kbps, the extra detail in the FLAC file will be noticeable to most peoples ears as 'slightly higher quality'.
 
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Leon74

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The trouble is you do not know that you are getting 990kbps...
That is the 'maximum' but it usually drops back to 660kbps (or less...) for stability and you won't know because there is no way to know what the ACTUAL transmission rate is. Bluetooth is definitely a convenience connection...and very difficult to judge sound quality from a lossy compressed codec that is CONSTANTLY changing.....
Sony itself has an app to set it to 990 kbps, but that only works with their own products as far as I know. Like their headphones I have.
But their also is an independent app for android that can make sure you are always streaming at the the highest quality.
And then there are always "developer options" in the phone itself by which you cna make sure youa re streaming at the highest quality.
So it is also not "constantly changing. If you set it to the highest quality, it stays that way.
SBC bluetooth codec and other low quality codecs may be a convenience connection but LDAC is as good as cable. Mind you: if it is about sound quality that matters to you. If you believe in high-res of course you can always argue it's just a "convenience connection"... but then everything is just convenience and the only way to go would be live concerts...
 

Leon74

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Hi Tinman,

is it a lossy codec? 990Kbps to 660Kbps seems rather high. Surely it's a lossless codec, or at least I would think.
It's lossy but LDAC operate on Bluetooth at a bitrate up to 990 kbps 24bit / 96kHz. CD quality is about 1411 kbps... so good enough I would say.
For my husband I bought a receiver that uses aptx HD. It streams at 576 kbit/s. It supports high-definition audio up to 48 kHz sampling rates and sample resolutions up to 24 bits. I just ordered the device on Amazon and still have to listen how it sounds but I bet my husband as a professional musician won't hear the difference, even on his high end hifi set. The device was 44 euros cheaper than the LDAC version and has the convenience that you are always 100% sure it streams at the same bitrate. Many people get obsessed with numers. All that counts is what one hears, if you ask me.
 

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