Tidal vs Qobuz: Which High-Res Streaming Service Sounds Best?

Which High-Res Streaming Service Sounds Best?

  • Tidal

    Votes: 1 5.6%
  • Qobuz

    Votes: 5 27.8%
  • Both

    Votes: 4 22.2%
  • Huh? What you say?

    Votes: 8 44.4%

  • Total voters
    18
gene

gene

Audioholics Master Chief
Administrator
When it comes to streaming services, we have the big players like Apple, Amazon, and Spotify. Now we can add Qobuz to the list of boutique brands like Tidal that cater to audiophiles. Given that Tidal seems to be struggling, we wondered if there was in fact a need for yet another niche streaming service. We extensively tested the two Hi-Res streaming services for the last SIX MONTHS!

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See what our conclusions were between the two services in our article and which one sounded best.

Read: Tidal vs Qobuz: Battle of the High-Res Streaming Services!
 
adk highlander

adk highlander

pessimistic optimist
I've used Tidal now for almost a year and the kid mostly uses it. I wanted something that integrated with ROON but she could download songs to her phone as well. Tidal hits the mark. I am only using the lossy. If I like something enough I buy it and add it to the library locally.
 
F

fpwdds

Audiophyte
Interesting article. Having been involved with equipment and recordings going back to 78’s, I find the streaming service Qobuz to be a revelation! Give me a High quality current HiRes album (not remastered) a high quality in line DAC and a pair of high quality audiophile headphones and I have sound quality I have never previously experienced with the bonus of portability. No longer tethered to speakers in a room, etc and the ability to take my music anywhere, including cruising while listening to Beethoven and watching the world and sea roll by is the epitome of musical pleasure.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Slumlord
I tried both Tidal and Qobuz and didn't keep either. Now there's Amazon as well at a better price too. I'm fine with Spotify premium service so far and have put a bit of time into creating playlists and a history for suggestions to be based on. I found little of the masters catalog (at least that I was interested in) during my Tidal trial and in general found many things I had on Spotify not available at all (altho someone suggested later it was more the search engine at Tidal, and it has been improved since but I don't know). I thought the interface a bit clunky with Tidal. Qobuz I thought better pretty much on all fronts. I like the ability to buy a download from Qobuz, too, as I've got internet access issues a fair bit. I agree with the comment that Tidal had placed too many offerings in the way that I wasn't interested in (particularly Jayz's own),nor am I interested in anything MQA, who needs another drm issue?

What I would like to see is some testing of provenance of each recording format offered among the services at various subscription levels.
 
F

FunDaddy5000

Audiophyte
Have you had any experience with the recently announced Amazon Music HD? It undercuts the competition at just $13/month for Prime members. Last year I dropped Apple Music for amazon because my then 9 yr old likes using his alexa for music. So I now plan on upgrading to the HD service to attempt to distance myself from the now widely-accepted "compressed streaming music" plague... For fun, we also use youtube music, which adds variety, and is included w youtube red.
 
D

davevdb

Audiophyte
Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I have been beating my head against the wall for months... I have been checking the waveform/files created from VB-cable and audacity (I wasn't aware of MusicScope and just brought the different files into a multi-track editor to compare them) similar to your approach. No matter what service/hi-res sound quality (CD or better from Tidal, Deezer, or Qobuz) the waveforms are visually identical. Since I haven't done an exhaustive search of albums to test, I thought I might just have been unlucky, but I highly doubt I just happened to test 5 albums that represent a tiny fraction of the issue. My theory is that many of the studios are upsampling from CD masters to get the higher quality files (up to the 24bit/192kHZ) and there isn't any real difference in the quality of the underlying music. Unfortunately, creating all of the higher quality files can be easily accomplished with upsampling, while re-mastering from source to create the files may be much more time/resource-consuming. Would love to hear other peoples experience/takes.

To the comparison of services, I have been using Tidal, Deezer and Qobuz for at least 4 months to compare the differences before deciding on which to keep long-term. The easiest decision is that Deezer is the first to go as I don't see any advantages compared to Tidal and Qobuz. I haven't had any technical issues with Qobuz and both Apps (Tidal/Qobuz) work on my DAP (android based) equally well. While they both have large collections, I find that Qobuz has a greater offering of music in my listening genres (Outside of the Beastie boys I am not a Rap listener and some would argue that isn't Rap :) ) and will likely be staying with Qobuz. I am also testing the new Amazon HD service and have noticed a significant improvement in sound quality compared to Amazon SD (standard streaming). I investigated the waveforms and find the same issue with Amazon - they look identical to the other streaming services no matter what stated quality. I can understand why some say they hear no difference between Tidal or Qobuz as in my hands the waveforms are identical. I think those that do detect a quality difference are likely experiencing an ascertainment bias due to knowing which service a specific track is from... Excellent article!
 
A

adioholic

Audiophyte
I believe the author missed a very important aspect of Qobuz service. The curation of music. I switched to Qobuz as soon as I saw the well curated playlists and suggestions. E.g. Search greek music in tidal and qobuz. In Qobuz I was offered a ready made, well curated playlist of a variety of greek music of all styles, contemporary and traditional ; which I enjoyed with my friends over a greek themed dinner. The Album info and artists bios and information about different genres is also the best on Qobuz. It is like Streaming service with a wikipedia attached to it. It makes music exploration quite enjoyable.
 
H

HipSonic

Audioholic Intern
Very interesting take on this topic, and as always, I greatly enjoyed the read. While I haven't compared Tidal to Qobuz, I have compared Tidal, especially the MQA, to everything else, and I must say that I notice a clear sonic difference, and I love the service for everything else that it provides, videos, interviews, etc, and I LOVE Hip-Hop and Jazz!! That said, in terms of the sonics, I defer to you seeing as you actually took measurements. However, your experiment made me think of a question, and that is; how does Qobuz(and Tidal) compare to actual Hi-Rez downloads from services like HDtracks.com and ProStudiomasters.com in your opinion, and how they measure against one another. I would love to get your take on this, and find out in your opinion which you would prefer. For myself, I love Tidal as a service, especially to explore and discover new music, although I still use Amazon to buy the physical media and auto rips of artist that I want to support, if I can not find on HDtracks.com or any other Hi-Rez music store. In closing, I'm here for your feed back, and want to know what you think about comparing the Qobuz 24 bits streams to the 24 bit downloads, maybe we'll see something else interesting. However, sonically nothing beats my DSD downloads.
 
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S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
Nice article, but the most superior streaming service is clearly CB radio transmissions. Once I discovered the superior fidelity of CB Radio, I immediately threw out all of my other streaming devices, because I knew I had discovered my forever format.
 
ryanosaur

ryanosaur

Audioholic Ninja
Nice article, but the most superior streaming service is clearly CB radio transmissions. Once I discovered the superior fidelity of CB Radio, I immediately threw out all of my other streaming devices, because I knew I had discovered my forever format.
Roger that, over. :rolleyes:

:p:cool:
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Slumlord
Nice article, but the most superior streaming service is clearly CB radio transmissions. Once I discovered the superior fidelity of CB Radio, I immediately threw out all of my other streaming devices, because I knew I had discovered my forever format.
So much for the subjective part of your reviews :)
 
B

baronvonellis

Audioholic
Very interesting, I was just thinking of which one is better yesterday as well. I have Tidal and can hear a clear difference from the compressed to lossless audio on my computer speakers.
I just got a Roku Premiere yesterday. When streaming Tidal on Roku to my receiver it seems to be compressed, it doesn't sound as good as on my computer speakers. I don't see any options to tell it to use the Hifi mode in the Roku app, or anyway to confirm if it is using the Hifi stream or the lossy streams. Does anyone know how to get the Tidal Hifi stream for Roku? Or should I use a different streaming device?

I played several albums from direct WAV rips of CDs and compared them to the tidal streams. On my computer they sound identical, but with the Roku they sound compressed and the stereo image is smaller.
 
K

kini

Audioholic
Just an FYI, Amazon recently started streaming in Hi res (HD streaming) probably at a much lower cost.
 
Matthew J Poes

Matthew J Poes

Full Audioholic
Just an FYI, Amazon recently started streaming in Hi res (HD streaming) probably at a much lower cost.
It is $14.99 a month and I plan to review this in the future. We shall see how it stacks up.
 
Matthew J Poes

Matthew J Poes

Full Audioholic
Very interesting take on this topic, and as always, I greatly enjoyed the read. While I haven't compared Tidal to Qobuz, I have compared Tidal, especially the MQA, to everything else, and I must say that I notice a clear sonic difference, and I love the service for everything else that it provides, videos, interviews, etc, and I LOVE Hip-Hop and Jazz!! That said, in terms of the sonics, I defer to you seeing as you actually took measurements. However, your experiment made me think of a question, and that is; how does Qobuz(and Tidal) compare to actual Hi-Rez downloads from services like HDtracks.com and ProStudiomasters.com in your opinion, and how they measure against one another. I would love to get your take on this, and find out in your opinion which you would prefer. For myself, I love Tidal as a service, especially to explore and discover new music, although I still use Amazon to buy the physical media and auto rips of artist that I want to support, if I can not find on HDtracks.com or any other Hi-Rez music store. In closing, I'm here for your feed back, and want to know what you think about comparing the Qobuz 24 bits streams to the 24 bit downloads, maybe we'll see something else interesting. However, sonically nothing beats my DSD downloads.
I tried to do this exact test and planned to include it. I ran into a BIG problem. The only company I could find with tracks available for download, with a known provenance (very critical),and in HD was 2L. But every track I tested DID NOT have actual high frequency musical content. They were not really true HD tracks. That made a comparison pointless. I suppose I could buy the John Williams album download to see. I didn’t think to look for that.

I will look into it some more and report back. The time it takes to analyze a file from start to finish is about an hour so not my most favorite way to sit around.
 
Matthew J Poes

Matthew J Poes

Full Audioholic
I believe the author missed a very important aspect of Qobuz service. The curation of music. I switched to Qobuz as soon as I saw the well curated playlists and suggestions. E.g. Search greek music in tidal and qobuz. In Qobuz I was offered a ready made, well curated playlist of a variety of greek music of all styles, contemporary and traditional ; which I enjoyed with my friends over a greek themed dinner. The Album info and artists bios and information about different genres is also the best on Qobuz. It is like Streaming service with a wikipedia attached to it. It makes music exploration quite enjoyable.
Im confused. Tidal offers curated playlists. They are often curated by pop culture icons and music experts. They also generate playlists using an Ai based algo. I happen to think their curation is great. Better than Qobuz? Maybe no, but certainly not worse. Again, I think they are all competing on equal footing here.

It sounds like you just missed this feature in Tidal or didn’t realize what it is.
 
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