Hi Gordon,

In your interview with Rob Darling of Roon Labs, you say that Roon gives users access to liner notes. I’ve read that claim many times, but I’ve never found liner notes in Roon, and I’m beginning to think it’s BS.

Thanks,
Charles Coutret
United States


Hi Charles,

Depending on the contents in your music library, you may never have come across this feature, so I can understand your skepticism. Roon doesn’t provide liner notes for albums if they’re not made available by the label. But if they’re offered for the recording you’re playing, you can definitely access them from Roon, both for streamed and locally stored content. I have many downloaded albums that I’ve bought from Channel Classics, HDtracks, Hyperion, Nonesuch, and ProStudioMasters that include PDF files with liner notes in the folders containing the music. When these are present, you’ll see a little document icon, with a caption like “1 PDF," in the Roon playback window. If you click the icon, the PDF file opens in your Web browser. Qobuz includes liner notes with many albums, and when they are present, you can access them from Roon in the same way as you can with locally stored music. Tidal doesn’t have this feature.

Bottom line: if you stream from Tidal but not Qobuz, and if you don’t have locally stored music that includes liner notes, you’ll never have experienced Roon’s ability to display liner notes. The button that offers the option will not be present in the Roon window. In my article, I should have made this point more clearly, and your letter is an opportunity to add this detail. Thanks for writing.

All the best,
Gordon

Hi Gordon,

I just discovered your website. Yours is by far the best review of the Bowers & Wilkins Formation Duo speakers I have read or seen. I look forward to following your work. For what it’s worth, I’m a consumer of midrange equipment, both analog and digital. I’m probably just a few years away from downsizing, so more consolidated systems are in my future.

Best,
Charles Coutret
United States


Hi Charles,

Thank you so much for your kind (and flattering!) note. I’m glad you enjoyed the review. I certainly enjoyed writing it.

Kindest regards,
Gordon Brockhouse

Hi Gordon,

Thanks for the promised review of the Yamaha WXA-50. You answered my main question -- how does the WXA-50 amplifier sound to someone with more experience than myself evaluating hi-fi equipment? I have looked with interest at the NAD D 3020 V2 and the D 3045, but the WXA-50 has some features that swing the score in its favor for me.

These include Wi-Fi streaming with the MusicCast App, tone controls (why are so many audiophiles against these?), and the DSP functions for volume-adaptive EQ and bass extension. My 30-year-old Yamaha receiver has a continuously variable “loudness” control, which I find very useful when listening to music at lower volume levels. I like the weight it adds at lower volume settings. To use the loudness control properly, I have to set it to flat and increase the volume control to my highest listening level. After that, I use the receiver’s rotary loudness control to reduce the volume -- at the same time, the receiver boosts bass output. Unfortunately, Yamaha did not include control for loudness on the remote, so I have to get up from my listening position to adjust the listening level. To have this controlled by DSP is a dream come true. If for any reason I don’t like the effect, I can switch the amp to Direct mode, bypassing any DSP.

Another feature that has me seriously considering the WXA-50 amp (along with its diminutive size) is the preset function. I can program six presets that can be accessed via the remote or the front panel. This is really helpful for my wife, because her favorite radio stations are accessible at the push of a button. To my wife, Simplifi’d hi-fi means not having to use an app on her phone to listen to music.

Thanks again.
Joe Pop
United States

Hi Gordon,

I was reading your article, “How I Simplifi’d My Hi-Fi,” and the following excerpt caught my eye: “Flanking the living room’s faux fireplace is a pair of stand-mounted Dynaudio Focus 200 XD powered speakers finished in satin black, with a firmware update that makes them sonically and functionally identical to the newer Focus 20 XD.” Can you please confirm how you determined that the Focus 200 XD is sonically identical to the Focus 20 XD following the upgrade? The reason I’m asking is that I’m about to pull the trigger on a pair of Focus 200 XDs on a run-out sale.

Thanks in advance,
Raj
Australia


Hi Raj,

Thanks for your inquiry. I didn’t do any formal testing to confirm that my Focus 200 XDs are “sonically and functionally identical” to the Focus 20 XDs following the upgrade. But that’s what Dynaudio promised when the firmware update was rolled out in the spring of 2017, and I have no reason whatsoever to question that claim. You can find more information about the upgrade on their “How to Upgrade Your System Without Upgrading Your System” and at “New Focus XD Firmware” pages. You’ll find a link for the firmware update for the Focus 200 XDs on the support page on their website. Click the “Firmware update” link to download a folder that contains the update itself, plus release notes and instructions for performing the update. The process is not difficult. Hope this helps.

Best regards,
Gordon


Hi Gordon,

Thanks for your prompt response. Those links confirm what you stated in your article. I just placed an order for the Focus 200 XDs.

Thanks again,
Raj
Australia

Hi Gordon,

I just read your review of Tidal vs. Qobuz and enjoyed it very much, thank you.

I have a small update that you may or may not want to post as a P.S. to that article.

Following the release of version 1.6, Roon now offers Qobuz integration. I just started testing Roon yesterday and up till now, am pretty excited about it. It even continues playback of the song I just played from my drive, with similar music from Qobuz.

Thanks for your review,
Florian
Germany


Hello Florian,

Thanks for your note, and I’m glad you enjoyed my article. I’m definitely aware that Roon 1.6 offers Qobuz integration, and use this feature frequently. I covered that new feature in an article on customizing Roon that appeared on Simplifi on February 1. I didn’t mention the new Roon Radio feature that you mention, but I know a lot of people really like it. Personally, I leave the feature turned off, because I prefer to choose the music I want rather than having Roon choose it for me. And often, I want a little silence after an album so I can have time to absorb the music I’ve just heard. But I think I’m in the minority in this respect.

All the best,
Gordon Brockhouse

Hello Gordon,

I recently bumped into your comparative review of Tidal vs. Qobuz.

Something that caught my interest was that you mentioned Jordi Savall, and that Qobuz has a larger selection of his albums than Tidal. Since I really like early music, I wanted to note that I am unable to find Savall’s album The Forgotten Kingdom on Qobuz, but it is offered on Tidal.

Even so, I think Qobuz is the better option than Tidal, but as my example shows, not all Savall’s music is available on Qobuz.

Thanks for reading,
Sali
Italy


Hello Sali,

Thanks for your inquiry. There have been some major developments since we published that feature in November, the main one being Qobuz’s US launch in February. When I wrote the article, I was using a demo account for Qobuz’s European service. As I noted at the time, streaming services have to negotiate agreements with rights-holders for different regions, so the selection of music available through Qobuz US would likely be different from what I was then experiencing. That has proven to be the case, at least in the genres I listen to most -- classical and jazz.

When I was writing my feature, my European demo account showed 153 albums by Jordi Savall, 38 of them in high-rez. Like you, I’m a big fan of Savall’s incredible recreations of early music. Unfortunately, only a few of these albums are available through Qobuz in the US. As of March 10, Qobuz USA had six albums by Savall, none of them in high-rez.

A couple of weeks ago, I asked Qobuz about the discrepancy between its European and US services, citing this very example. Dan Mackta, Marketing Director of Qobuz USA, said that most of the music I could access when I had a demo European account will be loaded onto the US service “over the next weeks and months,” but added that for some music, Qobuz has been unable to obtain US rights.

I also asked about the number of albums and tracks -- CD resolution and high-rez -- available through Qobuz US. Last fall, Qobuz claimed to have 40 million tracks, with two million in high-rez, on its European service. Regarding the number available in the US, Mackta said he didn’t have a number, and that the total count “is still being sorted out.”

Another development is the release of Roon 1.6, which now integrates Qobuz as well as Tidal. I wrote about that capability in my feature on customizing Roon, published on January 1.

Finally, Tidal has released new Android and iOS apps that perform MQA decoding in software, so that users can get high-rez playback on mobile devices. As I wrote in my feature, Qobuz’s mobile apps also support high-rez.

Hope this information helps.

Best regards,
Gordon


Hello Gordon,

Thanks for your reply. I live in Italy and subscribe to the Studio version of Qobuz. Currently, Qobuz shows 158 albums by Jordi Savall, including the newest one, Ibn Battuta.

All the best,
Sali
Italy