Beginners guide to Quality Music tracks

Hello Everyone,

I am a complete Noob here.

I have been watching Zeos for a few months, and got myself a Sennheiser hd 660 and a origen 2 pre amp/dac.

Now I got the tools, but I was Born on the internet, and all my ears have ever known is internet streaming. Spotify and Pandora served me well, but I feel like this is not the best music has to offer.

For those that do local high bitrate and quality tracks, how do you get the music?
What hardware are you using?
What software do you use?
Did you have to change any settings on your PC (if you use a pc)?
How do you choose which music to download?

Thanks in advance to all those that help!

PS. if Zeos wants to Make and publish a playlist that would be awesome!

if this thread fills up with good answers to my question i will compile them and either edit this post or make a new one.

I’m also new to this beacause of zeos. I bought a nice pair of kef ls50w and the first thing i did was scrap the spotify account for a Tidal account. I think this is the first step since it’s so easy and as convenient as spotify. And the good thing about tidal is that you can explore alot and since you got yourself a nice pair of hd 660s you probably won’t ever listen to any Tailor Swift again.

1 Like

Spotify premium is at 320kbps (if you change it in settings), to be honest, that is enough. This will be a can of worms to open, and yes the source matters, but can you TRULY hear a difference between FLAC, WAV and 320kbps? No, you cant. It is all placebo. Spotify premium is enough, but if you really want, you can get Tidal, which is $10 more a month a gives ‘lossless’ playback on a laptop or phone. It will use more storage, oh my god it will use so much more storage, and will you hear a difference? No.


As far as getting a quality listening experience, recording quality is everything (assuming you have a decent set of driver a good DAP/DAC/other). Good sound is almost solely reliant on the mix and production quality (dynamic range, amount of compression; etc) and decoding type/bit rate is irrelevant if the mix is crap.

Personally I have find jazz to have better generally better recording quality than most other genres (especially anything that is popular or on radio) and my current daily driver is a Shanling M2X DAP into a pair of Kanas in case you were wondering.

1 Like

In most cases, I purchase the physical CD (if available) on Amazon and rip it to lossless FLAC using dBpoweramp. In cases where it’s possible to get higher than CD quality or I simply cannot get my hands on a physical disc, I purchase the music through Bandcamp, Onkyo Music, or HDtracks (in that order). On occasion, I have also purchased music via an artist’s Website when they offer high resolution (e.g., Nine Inch Nails and Metallica). Sometimes, there is literally no legal avenue to get a particular album in lossless quality and that’s when I fire up my VPN and qBittorrent.

I wouldn’t say I can hear an actual difference between a 320Kbps MP3 and a lossless FLAC file, but it gives me peace of mind to know that I have my music in the best quality possible. I hate the idea that my music is missing bits and I refuse to pay for any lossy music online because it feels like I am being cheated. Buying lossy music is like buying a sandwich with a few bites taken out of it and arguing that it’s okay because it tastes the same.


Hyp0xia, that was fantastic! Thank you!

Felix, I definitely appreciate your frankness! I like your ideas about the Spotify, and definitely for using it as a daily driver!


1 Like

I would definitely agree with you! I have always felt like there are good sounding tracts and pretty meh sounding tracks. I actually find the fact that some tracks sound like mush to be interesting. How do you record something and turn it onto a musical smoothie?

Thanks for the response and tip about jazz! I do have a question though, while I do like jazz, how do I find good quality tracks for lets say rock/heavy rock, “epic” style music or electronic?

In other words is there a way to find good music without just listening to everything?

Good to see I’m not alone out here! Thanks for the tip! I have heard of tidal, but since I pay only $5 a month for Spotify premium, I will probably stick with that!

How do you like it by the way?

For having tried both i seem to be able to hear a difference in quality. Maybe I’ve been fed some placebo pill but like hypoxia i just wanna know i have the best quality recordings. Tidal is literally spotify but with better quality streaming. The spotify interface is superb and so is tidal’s. Tidal 's selection of music is as good or almost as good as spotify and theres nothin i didn’t find yet. Anyway you can always just try it and compare it’s free for a month on new subcribe then cancel if you don’t care.

Taylor Swift actually does sound pretty good for pop. Then again, I could just be fanboiing.

1 Like

First step to get into music is to just listen to music. The Senn 660 is a good headphone for this and will help greatly. Just close your eyes and allow yourself to listen. Try to set time aside to not be distracted by your computer or phone. Listening to the exclusion of everything else that we could be doing at that moment is what allows us to really appreciate the music.

One point for Tidal and their more expensive subscription, they sometimes will have remastered ‘master’ tracks for songs that should sound slightly different, because they were remastered. I’ve liked more of the the remastered songs than I’ve disliked, but there is a difference. I wouldn’t get too sucked into the numbers because 16bit 44.1 kHz is good enough (and as most tracks are mixed loud with no real dynamic range, there is a diminishing return on having more bit depth).

There are differences between lossless formats and lossy formats in sound. There are videos online that go into detail about this, but the ones that made the most impact on my opinion is hearing only the differences. YouTube is great for exposure and exploring new music, but it (at least last time I checked) does lose parts of the audio.

But, again, the starting point to getting into this hobby is listening to music, and to that extent don’t concern yourself with the source so much as enjoying the music.

1 Like

Software wise most people with a big interest in music use Foobar 2k and there are some people out there that still hold onto winamp.

Settings wise that depends on what hardware you are using. If you are using a device that does not require drivers then all you need to do is make sure Windows (if you are using windows) has been set in the audio device settings to use the max. But in general your device will auto switch to whatever the content is.

Choosing music to get and what format to get it in can be involved sometimes.
What I will usually do is find out if an album or song was mastered in high definition to begin with. Because up-sampling has been a problem. I don’t want to spend extra money or waste extra storage space on a song that is CD (16bit 44.1khz) quality that has been up-sampled to a bigger size. No point there, you aren’t going to magically get back lost detail.
If that is not the case and the song was mastered in DSD or high definition of some kind. Then I will look around for what options there are. I am not stupid so I won’t go out of my way to get DSD256, DSD512 or PCM1024kHz/30xxkHz.
But I will get DSD128, PCM 192kHz, PCM 384kHz.

Some people will say 320Kbs is more than enough data for music. Sometimes that is correct but depending on what you listen to that can be very wrong, especially if you have very clear revealing headphones/IEM’s/etc.
Music with a lot going on at once, very wide frequency spreads at any given moment or very soft background nuances that can be cut away by low bit rates are the areas where high bitrate high quality music really shines.
Yes there is obviously a point where you just aren’t going to get more out of it. But for the right music, the right listening device and the right headphones/IEM’s/speakers, you will hear things you just won’t with lower bitrate.

And some people will say, “oh you are just under the placebo effect” or something of the sort.
To that I will say 2 things.

  1. There is no question about it if you have the same track at 44.1 and 320. You listen to them back and forth and there are noticeable differences in some areas.
  2. I have organized plenty of double blind tests for AMPS, DACS and high bitrate music over the years with the people around me. Because they ask the same questions. Why do you have orchestral music that is 300+ Mb per file? Why do you have this 15gb Smashing Pumpkins folder?
    To the people that ask I say. Well why do you buy a bluray instead of a DVD?

But the best answer will always be your own. My suggestion. Find a song that meets the criteria for maybe needing high definition and that was mastered in high def. Find it in CD quality and then find it in 320kHz or higher. Sit down with your most revealing set of headphones and just listen to it back and forth.
If you don’t hear a difference then that’s fine. You don’t have to and now you know that for you personally it might not matter.

1 Like

what does Foobar offer that makes it such a long lasting program?

It is very customizable and can do pretty much anything with add-ons:

well…if I ever find my music collection (I’ve got so many HDD floating around) I may have to use it…otherwise I’m streaming just from Spotify.

1 Like