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

Which High-Res Streaming Service Sounds Best?

  • Tidal

    Votes: 1 4.8%
  • Qobuz

    Votes: 6 28.6%
  • Both

    Votes: 5 23.8%
  • Huh? What you say?

    Votes: 9 42.9%

  • Total voters
    21
allegro

allegro

Enthusiast
Do you think the problems you heard were inherent in the streaming itself, or could it have been Direct Sound? Like I said, direct sound, when it is upsampling, is audibly changing the sound. But when I was able to stream things correctly, I couldn't measure a big difference (I did measure a difference though, so I want to be fair about this).

I haven't had enough time to really dig in myself, I've only listened a little bit. Some on speakers (The Revel's that James reviewed) and some on headphones (various good headphones) through either the MOTU interface or my Cherry setup. Sometimes the sound was good and sometimes not so much, and that was what lead me to realize just how serious this directsound issue is.

I'll work with Gene to see if we can get anywhere, but companies like Google, Amazon, and Apple have not been easy to work with. They usually ignore me.

Matt
I assume Amazon is getting the same files as the other streaming companies and aren't intentionally changing anything, so sound degradation I hear is due to Direct Sound.

How exactly were you able to stream bit perfect correctly avoiding resampling in Windows mixer? I have thought about using the WDM workaround in JRiver but have not had the time. It is frustrating because it should not have been that difficult for Amazon to enable Wasapi exclusive mode. It could be turned off by default for customers who do not have an external DAC.
 
Matthew J Poes

Matthew J Poes

Senior Audioholic
I assume Amazon is getting the same files as the other streaming companies and aren't intentionally changing anything, so sound degradation I hear is due to Direct Sound.

How exactly were you able to stream bit perfect correctly avoiding resampling in Windows mixer? I have thought about using the WDM workaround in JRiver but have not had the time. It is frustrating because it should not have been that difficult for Amazon to enable Wasapi exclusive mode. It could be turned off by default for customers who do not have an external DAC.
make sure I knew what the native stream should be and adjusting settings to match. The effect is obvious. The aliasing artifacts are horrific and go away completely when you match it up.

what I did is completely impractical for a listener. It was for testing purposes.
 
allegro

allegro

Enthusiast
make sure I knew what the native stream should be and adjusting settings to match. The effect is obvious. The aliasing artifacts are horrific and go away completely when you match it up.

what I did is completely impractical for a listener. It was for testing purposes.
OK Matt I was able to replicate your results by the following steps:
  • Turn off System sounds in Windows
  • Turn volume all the way up in the Amazon Music HD app using the volume slider
  • Turn volume all the way up in Windows Sounds for my default device (my outboard DAC)
  • Adjust playback volume using the volume pot on my tube amp, you may have a preamp
  • For each song I play in Amazon Music HD note the sample rate and bit depth, go to the Advanced Tab of Speaker/Headphones Properties and select the same sample rate and bit depth to be used when running in shared mode
Using these steps I was able to get excellent sound, hard to tell the difference from streaming Qobuz in Audirvana using Wasapi exclusive mode. I imagine Windows mixer still degrades the sound slightly but I was not really able to hear it. Matching sample rate and bit depth got rid of the aliasing artifacts.

Of course this is completely impractical, no one is going to do it but it does point out the need for ASIO or Wasapi exclusive mode in the Amazon Music HD app. And sooner rather than later Amazon please.
 
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Matthew J Poes

Matthew J Poes

Senior Audioholic
OK Matt I was able to replicate your results by the following steps:
  • Turn off System sounds in Windows
  • Turn volume all the way up in the Amazon Music HD app using the volume slider
  • Turn volume all the way up in Windows Sounds for my default device (my outboard DAC)
  • Adjust playback volume using the volume pot on my tube amp, you may have a preamp
  • For each song I play in Amazon Music HD note the sample rate and bit depth, go to the Advanced Tab of Speaker/Headphones Properties and select the same sample rate and bit depth to be used when running in shared mode
Using these steps I was able to get excellent sound, hard to tell the difference from streaming Qobuz in Audirvana using Wasapi exclusive mode. I imagine Windows mixer still degrades the sound slightly but I was not really able to hear it. Matching sample rate and bit depth got rid of the aliasing artifacts.

Of course this is completely impractical, no one is going to do it but it does point out the need for ASIO or Wasapi exclusive mode in the Amazon Music HD app. And sooner rather than later Amazon please.
that’s good news. I’m glad to hear that it better. That suggests there is nothing wrong with the service itself. It also probably means that streaming devices will get good sound, since they won’t use Windows.

I will see if I can reach someone at Amazon to share the review and concerns. Maybe they will listen (probably not).
 
allegro

allegro

Enthusiast
you ruined the surprise!

yeah i sent the update to Gene.
Sorry about that:) To clarify you do get up to 24/192 with Studio Premier for $14.99. The website is sort of vague. It appears that pricing is only for US customers, not those living in Europe.
 
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J

JStewart

Enthusiast
Was able to change my plan today. Actually same plan. $10 less per mo. :)
Website banner says for 1st 100,000 subscribers. Wonder what happens after?
 
allegro

allegro

Enthusiast
Qobuz only sent the email with the new Studio Premier pricing out to US customers. If you log in to your Qobuz account you will see a country of origin associated with your account. Even though I am in the US and signed up for the beta test from the US for some reason Qobuz assigned me to the Great Britain shop, and others are also complaining about this on other forums. Check your country of origin and contact customer service if you are assigned to the wrong country so you can get the lower pricing.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Slumlord
Qobuz only sent the email with the new Studio Premier pricing out to US customers. If you log in to your Qobuz account you will see a country of origin associated with your account. Even though I am in the US and signed up for the beta test from the US for some reason Qobuz assigned me to the Great Britain shop, and others are also complaining about this on other forums. Check your country of origin and contact customer service if you are assigned to the wrong country so you can get the lower pricing.
That was without using a VPN?
 
allegro

allegro

Enthusiast
Correct signed up for US beta test of Qobuz by invitation using link supplied by Qobuz at that time no proxy. Others have reported the same problem. At the time I assumed they directed me to the Great Britain store because they had not yet set up a dedicated shop in dollars for the US, after all it was a limited beta test.
 
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DigitalDawn

DigitalDawn

Full Audioholic
With Qobuz can you select several stations (not playlists) and shuffle songs between them? I'm looking for a high-rez replacement for the Sirius Blend channel.
 
allegro

allegro

Enthusiast
Qobuz isn't internet radio or a replacement for Sirius. You stream FLAC files from albums.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Slumlord
With Qobuz can you select several stations (not playlists) and shuffle songs between them? I'm looking for a high-rez replacement for the Sirius Blend channel.
The term "stations" as used by Pandora or Spotify? Like choosing multiple stations on Pandora and let them inter-mix?
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Slumlord
I used qobuz only briefly and don't really know the answer, but have to lean towards no. I don't know how to do it in spotify either, but their daily mixes are pretty good variety in several different flavors depending on my mood. I generally do that with my own rips more than rely on a streaming service....
 
R

RichW

Audioholic Intern
Signed up for Qobuz so I could compare to Amazon HD myself since everyone is saying it's better. After a few hours listening, I do think it may be a little more detailed, and definitely plays louder at same volume levels and settings. However, it does seem much more sluggish in starting or switching songs. Also seems to glitch quite easily when doing other thing online at the same time, whereas Amazon seems to just happily play along regardless of what else I'm doing online or on the computer. Also seems like Amazon has more Hi-Res listings, but could be I'm just not use to the Qobuz app yet. You can get 30 day free trial of Qobuz now to try it out.
 
S

sterling shoote

Audioholic General
Hey Amazon, your streaming 5.1? No? Next!
 
allegro

allegro

Enthusiast
Will we be seeing a follow up article on Amazon Music HD compared to Qobuz and Tidal? Amazon's lack of customer service, Roon and Audirvana integration and exclusive mode would seem to merit one. Their own forum is not useful. At least the US manager for Qobuz is active at Audiophile Style and very responsive to feedback.
 
catom

catom

Audiophyte
I'm definitely looking to see if I should change services (again). Thanks for this article! I switched from Spotify -> Tidal -> Deezer. I thought Tidal didn't always have MQA and used to have a smaller library, no? Like way smaller. That's what pushed me over to Deezer. Quboz sounds interesting though now too.

I think I'm deciding on giving Qobuz a shot because I don't want to buy into this nearly criminal scheme going on with MQA. I liked Tidal because I felt it truly supported the artists...But really, it's supporting con artists if money is going back to MQA. Can't wait for this MQA stuff to be over.

Edit: Uh oh. Bummer. Qobuz may be out. Their app is horrible and the audio skips even when just scrolling a web page in my web browser here while listening to music through their desktop app sitting in the background. You weren't kidding it was a resource hog. It's more than that, it's bad code. If they can't fix their desktop app, I don't think I can use it sadly. I'm not on a super beefy machine, but a mid level Surface Pro should be perfectly fine.

However, switching to their web player through my web browser quickly here...So far seems to be an improvement. Perhaps fixed the issue. Though I'd rather use a desktop app instead of having another web browser tab open (yes, their desktop app likely uses a web browser underneath anyway - it's still a separate instance which helps in other ways). Still may be a deal breaker...But at least this all made me realize I'm paying Deezer $20/mo for lower quality than what $20/mo should be getting me!

Edit 2: I'm also beginning to realize a lot of what I listen to anyway isn't in their higher resolution format, so Deezer might not be "worse" in most cases. Just for more of the popular tracks. You also need to consider Deezer's discovery (and sure, why not include Spotify's radio stations/discovery here too). Just doesn't seem to be a thing with Qobuz. So if you want to be lazy and not choose what you listen to, you're at a bit of a loss.
 
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