Capital AudioFest Part 3: Qobuz and the Playlist Trend

David Solomon of Qobuz North America has become a familiar face at domestic audio shows the past few years, and for good reason, he’s one of the friendliest, most enthusiastic and all around fun guys in the industry – even amongst the young-at-heart crowd.

Every time I hear his warm southern drawl, I know I’m in good company, and likely about to hear a good joke, a fascinating story, or both.

Solomon was at CAF with Eric Benoit, a young and talented musician who does marketing for Qobuz North America. Solomon could mostly be found wandering the show floor spreading his signature joviality, but back at the booth, Eric was manning some very nice sounding streaming setups. The Manley Labs Absolute Reference head amp and Pro-Ject Streambox stood out especially.

Qobuz also had a sampler disc of some of the Blue Coast Records Collection, which were recently released on Qobuz. If you like acoustic music that is well recorded, be sure to check out some of the Blue Coast Sampler on Qobuz, there’s a nice mix of different styles from around the world and while I’m only partway through the positively gigantic catalog, everything I’ve heard has been superbly produced.

Qobuz also has a number of other collections from indie record labels for whom sound quality is a focus, so I’d encourage you to take a gander into their playlists, I’m sure you’ll discover something you like, no matter your taste.

Interestingly, for those who participate in social media, a phenomena has started popping up at shows, and seemed to solidify most at CAF 2019; notable personalities in the industry post Qobuz playlists. In a certain sense, the audiophile world has moved into the ‘Spotify Mixtape’ age, and I couldn’t be happier about it. Some of the show playlists were exceptionally good, and I had Shazam out in the majority of rooms I visited. I’m a big fan of this trend, especially because many of the folks who posted playlists on social media were fearless in acknowledging they selected music for the emotional factor first, and the sonic factor second. The result was not only that people had a lot of fun – in fact, I only heard “Take Five” by Dave Brubeck played once – but that we got to hear more sonic diversity.

How a speaker plays pristinely recorded audiophile music is perhaps something we’d like to know, but perhaps even more important is how it plays recordings that actually move us, regardless of sonic quality, and I’m not even talking about records that sound bad. Most of my music collection is what I’d call ‘decent’ in terms of audiophile-level sound quality, and this most certainly factors into what gear I enjoy as well as show impressions.

Again, as I mentioned in a previous post, going room-to-room with mastering engineer Dave McNair was a great example of this, where he played recordings that he’d mastered. They weren’t heavily damped, dry-sounding records, they were lively and rocking, and they sounded simply phenomenal, but were also sonically ‘busier’ and more demanding on speakers than many stripped back, small ensemble audiophile records.

CAF this year seemed squarely focused on the music and I feel everyone benefited from it. I hope we’ll see more of this trend going forward. It places an emphasis on music first and the joy of sharing it. That was part of what made CAF such a friendly and fun show to attend, and after all, that’s what it should be about, at least in my opinion.

Capitol AudioFest

djray's picture

I am new to streaming as I have a gazillion albums, disc and downloads but I thought I would give Qobuz a try as they just went 100% HiRez. While the sound quality is as good as it gets, the Qobuz playlists and "radio" functions are about dead last when compared to the other providers. I want to use streaming mainly to find new music easily and Qobuz does not even get close to this need. For instance, they only list 12 genres. That is beyond a broad brush stroke. There seems to be no, "play more like this" or general learning what I like functions. A real shame given how good it sounds. Maybe I'm missing something?

CHFels's picture

Like djray, I have been thinking that Qobuz is the worst of the major players in terms of interesting playlists, creating playlists based on what I listen to, etc. When I search for anything on Qobuz, very few playlists ever come up in the results, and they're usually uninteresting.
So, for Qobuz adepts out there:

How can I find these interesting playlists that Grover is talking about? Or find playlists created by other users who may be like-minded to me?

Grover Neville's picture

I'm working on compiling a few great show playlists - I'll see about aggregating them into a post so it's all in one easy spot, but straight from David Solomon himself is a playlist:

jond's picture

FYI the Bluecoast samplers Grover mentions are not playlists they are actual releases. Do a search for Bluecoast on Qobuz and you will see them.

CHFels's picture

Grover, thanks for the link, and I will surely listen to the playlist. But I remain perplexed about how I could have found it if you had not put the link for me.

In Qobuz app, if I search either "David Solomon" or "HR Music Evangelist" (the user/creator of the playlist you linked, I get ZERO playlist results. Nada. Just albums and tracks and artists.

Or consider this: I searched "Delta blues" on Qobuz, and I get many tracks and albums, and 3 artists (bands) that have that exact phrase in their names. But again, ZERO playlists. By contrast, I go to Spotify and search "Delta blues" and I get a zillion playlists, including one created by Spotify with precisely that name. That's what I want Qobuz to give me too. Am I missing something obvious?


Grover Neville's picture

A lot of the playlists were posted on Facebook - there's a number of great music sharing and releases happening on a page called 'streaming music matters' where David Solomon has posted a few nice playlists. I would highly recommend checking out the page, but I'll also see if I can get folks together to create a more organized way to curate these come next show.

CHFels's picture

Edit: The title of the playlist Grover linked is "Wow II", and even searching *that exact phrase* in Qobuz turns up not one playlist.