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
Matthew J Poes

Matthew J Poes

Full Audioholic
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.
It seems everyone is claiming to have more songs than everyone else and I have no way to verify numbers. Deezer claims around 53 million. Tidal claims about 60 million. How many are encoded with MQA? I am not sure. Qobuz claims to have more HD songs and when I started the review, that seemed to be true. However it seems the two have reached parity. I have not used Deezer.

Qobuz lowered their price to $14.99 a month which makes it very affordable for FLAC 24/192khz quality (though keep in mind, much of the HD catalog is 24 bit but either 48khz or 96khz, very little is higher than that). I consider Qobuz to be a very good value right now.

Amazon HD is also a FLAC based format and can be had as low as 12.99 a month for that quality tier. However, I am not happy about their computer app. It is fine on phones and integrated into streaming devices.
If you are happy with Deezer, keep deezer, I don't imagine a large difference.
 
catom

catom

Audiophyte
Good points. I do like Deezers library, though if I can save $5/mo. I will. I now have a month of Qobuz and Tidal again to see how their catalog has changed over the past year or so.

I feel like it may be an annual check up here between the services since things constantly change.

Deezer used to be the hifi go to...I didn't even realize these other services have even higher quality in a limited capacity.

Sent from my Pixel 3 using Tapatalk
 
catom

catom

Audiophyte
I still have more testing to do and I need to compare libraries still, but 40 seconds into Fleetwood Mac - The Chain (2001 Remaster) on Tidal Master or Qobuz 24bit/96Khz quality and I can tell already. Actually I knew the first 15 seconds based on what I was hearing in the background... It's immediately apparent that Qobuz has higher quality here.

Obviously the files each streaming service receives are so subjective. It may just be in terms of "who got the better copy" and in this case Qobuz hands down.

The detail in the strings and the background noise alone are just enough indication. I didn't even need to play the whole song out to make up my mind (though I will of course continue to listen to more material). I was honestly shocked to be able to see that kinda difference immediately. I'm not convinced it's with the streaming quality, it could simply be that Qobuz has a better source file, but wow.

Also, Deezer (2004 Remaster btw, different track) doesn't fall far behind at all. It's at 16-Bit/44.1 kHz compared to 24-Bit/96Khz. You can hear the difference, but I still think it's pretty good quality. Though Qobuz is cheaper than Deezer.

Edit: Next song. Guns N' Roses - Paradise City 24-Bit/192Khz on Qobuz (for which Qobuz does not have many at 192Khz btw, you can search with the search term: 192).

Ok. Hold the phone. WHAT?! This just blew my mind. The sound stage and detail is OFF THE CHAIN. Now, to be fair, Tidal's Master doesn't fall too far behind, but ... well it kinda does. The difference here is a much larger gap than apples to apples 24bit/96Khz between the services. I guess it should be. The question is, does it really matter? Can we really tell the difference between 192Khz and 96Khz? Um, yea. I believe so. Again, could be the source file too, but this is pretty awesome. I'm very sad that I don't see November Rain at 192Khz (there's an acoustic and piano version, but no original?? I mean if the Super Deluxe didn't include it, it didn't include it, nothing Qobuz can do...but I wonder why). But there's a darn good chunk of Guns N' Roses here at ridiculous quality.
 
Last edited:
panteragstk

panteragstk

Audioholic Ninja
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.
Once Google Play Music finally dies, Deezer is what I'll be switching to. I've used it, Amazon Music, Tidal, Spotify, and YouTube Music and Deezer is the best one IMHO. Their Artist Radio isn't as good as Google Play Music, but it's close. Flow is neat.
 
H

henkeli

Audioholic Intern
it's just nearly impossible to not use apple music if you prefer using an iphone and have carplay in your vehicle. i can't even try anything else, as apple has integrated their service so perfectly into the daily routine. with unlimited data plans becoming the norm, it's only a matter of time before the format expands to a larger bitrate. for now, it absolutely is satisfactory for the trade-off in convenience (and value - my whole family can have access for $15/month).
 
R

RichW

Audioholic Intern
It seems everyone is claiming to have more songs than everyone else and I have no way to verify numbers. Deezer claims around 53 million. Tidal claims about 60 million. How many are encoded with MQA? I am not sure. Qobuz claims to have more HD songs and when I started the review, that seemed to be true. However it seems the two have reached parity. I have not used Deezer.

Qobuz lowered their price to $14.99 a month which makes it very affordable for FLAC 24/192khz quality (though keep in mind, much of the HD catalog is 24 bit but either 48khz or 96khz, very little is higher than that). I consider Qobuz to be a very good value right now.

Amazon HD is also a FLAC based format and can be had as low as 12.99 a month for that quality tier. However, I am not happy about their computer app. It is fine on phones and integrated into streaming devices.
If you are happy with Deezer, keep deezer, I don't imagine a large difference.
I'm currently using Deezer on their 3 month trial. Also have Amazon HD, Apple, & tried Qobuz. Deezer sounds OK, but found several things about it making it not as good. First, only 16/44.1 playback or less. And it doesn't default to the best quality stream, so if you don't know to go into audio setting in the app, you'll only be getting 320 or 128 kbits. No Stations. Same as Amazon with their app, no exclusive. Doesn't seem to have as much content. Their phone app tends to be qlitchy sometimes and not play when using it on Apple Carplay. Costs just as much as others. So for me, Amazon HD is far & away the better bang for the buck. Another thing good about Amazon is the fact it tells you the playback quality of every track if you click on the HD/UHD symbol, and what your equipment is currently capable of playing back based on setting or hardware. This is useful in alerting you that you either need to go into your sound settings and change setting to enable 24/192 because it is not the default windows setting, or upgrade your sound card if you see your computer can't play the stream at max quality. I found Windows tends to switch back to 16/44.1 once in a while, so this alerts you to go back and reset it to 24/192.
 
R

RichW

Audioholic Intern
Qobuz isn't internet radio or a replacement for Sirius. You stream FLAC files from albums.
Actually, Amazon has many channels that are similar format as some of the Sirius channels like the 60's, 70's, 80's, 90's channels on Sirius, as well as some mixed channels, and some artist specific channels. And no DJ's putting their 2 cents in before every song like the Sirius 80's channel. Probably just big play lists playing in a loop, but that's what a lot of the Sirius channels are doing too. So if your not into the news, sports, or live podcast channels, Amazon's channels are far better playback quality than than Sirius with similar content.
 
H

henkeli

Audioholic Intern
or the same price or less and have just as much content.
that is an objectively false statement as apple music has more than 60 million songs + exclusive extras. amazon is also more expensive.
 
R

RichW

Audioholic Intern
that is an objectively false statement as apple music has more than 60 million songs + exclusive extras. amazon is also more expensive
Everyone has exclusive extras. Standard Amazon unlimited, which is still higher bitrate than Apple, is same price as Apple. $9.95. Amazon is actually 2 dollars cheaper if you have Prime. It's only more if you want Hi-Res music files which is one Exclusive you can't get from Apple no mater how much you pay! And everyone claims they have more songs than the other guy. Fact is I never found anything on Apple that I couldn't also find on Amazon. And you can only log into Apple on a Apple device under your name, where as I can log into Amazon or Deezer on my wife's or anyone else's Apple device. But hey...if you like low kbit instead of Hi-Res music files and restricted usage, have at it. I have Amazon, Apple, & Deezer currently, and Apple is the poorest quality of them all and will be gone when my free 4 months I got free with a MacBook purchase expires.
 
H

henkeli

Audioholic Intern
Standard Amazon unlimited, which is still higher bitrate than Apple
amazon uses 256kb MP3 vs. apple music 256kb AAC
AAC is the superior lossy codec for sound quality: more sample frequencies, higher coding efficiencies & accuracy

It's only more if you want Hi-Res music files
exactly my point. lossless content is more expensive and impacts the value proposition.

And everyone claims they have more songs than the other guy. Fact is I never found anything on Apple that I couldn't also find on Amazon.
60 > 50 despite anecdotes. it may not matter in practice, but to be fair apple music has more.

And you can only log into Apple on a Apple device under your name
apple music can be used on android phones and PC's.
you must logon using a valid account for any paid streaming service.

But hey...if you like low kbit instead of Hi-Res music files and restricted usage, have at it. I have Amazon, Apple, & Deezer currently, and Apple is the poorest quality of them all
AAC is of perfectly acceptable sound quality for headphones, car, and wireless streaming use. together with the tight integration of carplay and airplay i simply have no motivation to sign up for another service. i do feel it's a matter of short time before lossless will be standard and for the current lossy prices.
 
R

RichW

Audioholic Intern
amazon uses 256kb MP3 vs. apple music 256kb AAC
AAC is the superior lossy codec for sound quality: more sample frequencies, higher coding efficiencies & accuracy



exactly my point. lossless content is more expensive and impacts the value proposition.



60 > 50 despite anecdotes. it may not matter in practice, but to be fair apple music has more.



apple music can be used on android phones and PC's.
you must logon using a valid account for any paid streaming service.



AAC is of perfectly acceptable sound quality for headphones, car, and wireless streaming use. together with the tight integration of carplay and airplay i simply have no motivation to sign up for another service. i do feel it's a matter of short time before lossless will be standard and for the current lossy prices.
 
R

RichW

Audioholic Intern
Deezer is 16/44.1 CD quality for the SAME price as Apple music. A far superior quality than Apples outdated AAC standard. You even admitted Apple would eventually replace it's AAC, which proves it's inferior quality. Amazon Unlimited is 20% less than Apple for Prime members at same or higher bitrate. And only 3 dollars more for FAR SUPERIOR Amazon HD 24/192 HI-Res that you can access from ANY device without first having to log someone out of their Apple device, and then you log in with your Apple ID just so you you can then log into Apple music so you can play music on it. And there's so little difference in the bitrates of Apple & Amazon standard unlimited that hardly no one can hear a difference as blind tests have shown. Any you can be sure Apple will jack up their rates once they decide to catch up to the quality of all the other services. And you CAN NOT log into Apple Music on an Apple device that is not logged into YOUR Apple ID user account. You would first have to log the owner of that device out of their Apple account (Apple ID) and then log that device in using your Apple ID BEFORE you can log into Apple music. Deezer allows ANY 3 devices to be authorized, plus PC's. Don't think there's any limit of devices on Amazon, but both only one stream at a time unless you get family plan. So my wife can stream Amazon or Deezer through my account on her IPhone, but not Apple music because her IPhone has a different Apple ID than the Apple ID of my Apple Music account. Plus, there is no proof of how many songs any service really has, and their all boosting their claims all the time, so none are to be believed. And most of the additional songs I've found are useless outtakes and such that were originally never even good enough for sale or release. I have never been unable to not find what I was looking for on any of the services, so who claims to have the most is a worthless argument. Also Deezer has an additional App for all non PC devices called Deezer 360 developed by Sony, which gives a superior Surround Sound experience with headphones than anything Apple has. You originally stated you can only use Apple music with CarPlay in you vehicle, and that was a lie! I have both Deezer & Amazon carplay apps in my vehicles, and I can also Bluetooth any streaming service to my vehicle which again proves your statement of only being able to stream Apple music in a carplay equipped vehicle untrue! You say Apple is acceptable for all your uses. Well, everyone here in this thread are looking for who gives Superior Quality, not just acceptable, and that's why Apple isn't even in the discussion or comparisons!
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Slumlord
amazon uses 256kb MP3 vs. apple music 256kb AAC
Amazon has several ways to do music, doesn't it? The latest Amazon Music HD is CD quality, Amazon Music Ultra HD is capable of higher resolution. The older Amazon Music Unlimited service of 256kbps is still available (altho the automatic library I used to get for autorips etc is now gone). At least last I looked, I don't use their service.
 
R

RichW

Audioholic Intern
Amazon has several ways to do music, doesn't it? The latest Amazon Music HD is CD quality, Amazon Music Ultra HD is capable of higher resolution. The older Amazon Music Unlimited service of 256kbps is still available (altho the automatic library I used to get for autorips etc is now gone). At least last I looked, I don't use their service.
Articles I find online state that their standard Unlimited is up to 320 kbps. And Amazon HD service is HD & UHD music at 16/44.1 up to 24/192. Don't know what quality it is if your using their 2 million song free library. Don't bother with downloads so can't answer that.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Slumlord
Articles I find online state that their standard Unlimited is up to 320 kbps. And Amazon HD service is HD & UHD music at 16/44.1 up to 24/192. Don't know what quality it is if your using their 2 million song free library. Don't bother with downloads so can't answer that.
I didn't think they had a free library any more....
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Slumlord
Yes they do, but you may have to have an Alexa or Fire device to access it.
I use Fire sticks, will check it out but seems it's only offered me a free trial for a subscription....
 
R

RichW

Audioholic Intern
I use Fire sticks, will check it out but seems it's only offered me a free trial for a subscription....
Says online you can, possibly you need to install an App on it. But I can only say for certainty about doing it with Alexa devices since I use to do it all the time before getting the HD service.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Slumlord
@RichW yeah, Amazon music does have some free music, even has my autorips still by using the Firestick (don't think I can do that from the website tho).
 

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