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Fridolin

Tidal sucks

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No - not all of it sucks, but part of it.

 

The problematic part of Tidal are those albums that aren't playing HIFI, even if you have a HIFI subscription. And there are countless albums that aren't coded for HIFI.

 

Since a couple of months, these albums don't play in 320 kbps any more as they did before.
Instead they play in even worse 96 kbps what is inacceptable because i pay for HIFI quality.

 

I even tried to downgrade my subscription to Tidal Premium with the hope that these albums would play in 320 kbps, but to no avail. All HIFI-albums then play in 320 kbps, and those LOFI-albums stay at 96 kbps.

 

That really sucks!

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What kind of music are you listening too?  Is this on your phone or home computer based system.  If it's your phone, make sure in it's setting that it's not automatically converting it to lower streaming setting to save battery and space.  When I'm streaming at home the only artist I've found with lower that 44.1khz is My Morning Jacket.  On my Iphone it automatically defaults it to lower setting to save on battery and data.  


PC/NAS/JRiver/Roon - PS Audio P5 Regenerator - KEF LS50 Nocturne - Rel 328 subwoofer - PS Audio AC5 Power cables 

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I listen on a MacBook Pro with the Tidal app (Settings "HIFI") and an Auralic Aries Mini - no phone or tablet.

 

I have made at least 50 playlists full of  "LoFi" albums (often older ones) that i would like to hear at least in 320 kbps quality. But that isn't possible any more since Tidal dropped the quality of those albums to 96 kbps. They didn't drop the subscription fees, however.

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Can you give some examples of the tracks?

But good thing about Tidal is that you can just quit it whenever you want and check other like Spotify or Deezer. Maybe they have they files on the quility you demand? 

There are some tools that allows you to convert the playlist. I did it few times (Spotify, Tidal, Spotify and Tidal again because of Roon).

 

 

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Yes, i can :-)

 

Only a few of several hundreds of albums that don't play right:

 

Artist|Album

Bruce Hornsby|Red Hook Summer: Music From The Original Motion Picture
Brooks Williams|Back To Mercy
Greg C. Brown|Distant Places
Innocence Mission|Small Planes
Inti-Illimani|Andadas
Jacqui Dankworth|Detour Ahead
James 'Bla' Pahinui|Mana
Jann Arden|Uncover Me
Jeff Lorber|Now Is The Time
Jimmy Ponder|Jimmy Ponder
Jimmy Ponder|Steel City Blues
Joan Armatrading|Live: All the Way from America
Joana Amendoeira|Aquela Rua
Joanne Shaw Taylor|Almost Always Never
Joanne Shaw Taylor|Diamonds In The Dirt
Joanne Shaw Taylor|White Sugar
Joe Bonamassa|A New Day Yesterday
Joe Bonamassa|Had To Cry Today
Joe Bonamassa|Sloe Gin
Joe Bonamassa|So It's Like That

 

and so on ...
 

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5 hours ago, Fridolin said:

No - not all of it sucks, but part of it.

 

The problematic part of Tidal are those albums that aren't playing HIFI, even if you have a HIFI subscription. And there are countless albums that aren't coded for HIFI.

 

Since a couple of months, these albums don't play in 320 kbps any more as they did before.
Instead they play in even worse 96 kbps what is inacceptable because i pay for HIFI quality.

 

I even tried to downgrade my subscription to Tidal Premium with the hope that these albums would play in 320 kbps, but to no avail. All HIFI-albums then play in 320 kbps, and those LOFI-albums stay at 96 kbps.

 

That really sucks!

 

Hi Fridolin,

 

I believe the problem albums are ones that TIDAL have their tracks originally encoded as lossy MP3 in their archive and have never bothered upgrading to lossless formats, ie, ALAC (to supply the Apple ecosystem) and FLAC (for everyone else). These (old) MP3 album file tracks are mostly at 320 kbps bitrate, but some are at lower quality 256 kbps, eg:

Núcleo - José Luis Gutiérrez Trio

 

There's a further problem in that the majority of audio devices that can stream directly from TIDAL's online servers with a TIDAL HiFi account connection, for some reason cannot stream the original MP3 file tracks and are are supplied the lowest quality 96 kbps AAC streams instead - such as your Auralic Aries Mini.

 

I know of only two TIDAL HiFi supporting devices/platforms that can still stream the original lossy TIDAL MP3 album tracks (320 kbps or 256 kbps):

- Roon;

- ickStream (for Squeezebox type devices via the Logitech Media Server).

 

John


We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.

-- Jo Cox

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3 hours ago, ShawnC said:

What kind of music are you listening too?  Is this on your phone or home computer based system.  If it's your phone, make sure in it's setting that it's not automatically converting it to lower streaming setting to save battery and space.  When I'm streaming at home the only artist I've found with lower that 44.1khz is My Morning Jacket.  On my Iphone it automatically defaults it to lower setting to save on battery and data.  

 

The issue that the OP is referring to is not obvious if you are using TIDAL's own Desktop and iOS/Android apps, since with them it is difficult (if not impossible) to tell both the TIDAL stream's audio file type (MP3, AAC, FLAC, ALAC, etc) and what the actual bitrate is (important info for lossy audio formats such as AAC & MP3).


We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.

-- Jo Cox

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53 minutes ago, Cebolla said:

There's a further problem in that the majority of audio devices that can stream directly from TIDAL's online servers with a TIDAL HiFi account connection, for some reason cannot stream the original MP3 file tracks and are are supplied the lowest quality 96 kbps AAC streams instead - such as your Auralic Aries Mini.

 

That's only the case since a few moths. Before that, my Aries Mini was indeed able to stream these albums (files) in AAC 320 kbps and displayed the right information in the app. Which was, by the way, not "HIFI", too.

 

But now you can recognise the bad bitrates even with the native macOS Tidal app.

You can observe the downloaded (=streamed) amount of data for a single title and calculate the bitrate out of the amount of data (if you know the length of the title).

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51 minutes ago, Fridolin said:

That's only the case since a few moths. Before that, my Aries Mini was indeed able to stream these albums (files) in AAC 320 kbps and displayed the right information in the app. Which was, by the way, not "HIFI", too.

 

The fact that even before the Aries Mini was receiving AAC streams, as opposed to in the original MP3 audio format is probably significant. So the streams were already being transcoded by the TIDAL servers from MP3 to AAC for some reason, albeit at a 320 kbps bitrate. It's possible that a few months ago the TIDAL server's MP3 to AAC transcoding process was (either deliberately or unintentionally) changed by TIDAL to always produce the low 96 kbps AAC bitrate you are receiving currently.

 

BTW, you should be able to get the Aries Mini to be controlled as if it were a Squeezebox and therefore stream the original MP3 320/256 kbps TIDAL album tracks with the Logical Media Server and the ickStream LMS plugin (also requires the UPnPBridge LMS plugin) - assuming you can still set the Aries to standard UPnP mode.

 

 

 

51 minutes ago, Fridolin said:

But now you can recognise the bad bitrates even with the native macOS Tidal app.

You can observe the downloaded (=streamed) amount of data for a single title and calculate the bitrate out of the amount of data (if you know the length of the title).

 

I suppose it gives you some rough idea of the bitrate, though not exactly an accurate nor obvious/easy way for the average user to obtain it, compared to it actually being displayed by the player - assuming you can trust the player's display that is!


We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.

-- Jo Cox

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3 minutes ago, Cebolla said:

I suppose it gives you some rough idea of the bitrate, though not exactly an accurate nor obvious/easy way for the average user to obtain it, compared to it actually being displayed by the player - assuming you can trust the player's display that is!

 

You're right. The calculated bitrate isn't surely exact. But you can roughly estimate that it is about 96 kbps - not 128 kbps, nor any higher. 

 

A  DAC with a display should show the bitrates, too. Or am i wrong?

 

The problem is, however, that even Tidal's own app doesn't deliver the higher (320 kbps) quality any more. And they don't inform their customers.

 

I don't know if it is only me who cares about this, but there must thousands of albums be affected. In my "LoFi" playlists i alone have sampled hundreds of albums (originally to consume the 320 kbps titles) that are now worthless for me. Unfortunately i have to scan all my other playlists for bad albums before i play them. That's a shame.

 

I have subscribed since the beginnings when the service was called WIMP.

But i now consider to change to another one. The problem here are my many playlist, that don't convert well to other services. QOBUZ for example misses many of my preferred Tidal albums that were thoroughly selected and collected in appropriate playlists.

 

 

The "Logical Media Server and the ickStream LMS" route seems promising. I will try that. 

The Aries works in standard UPnP mode, too.

 

But the standard Tidal customer is really left alone.

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3 hours ago, Cebolla said:

 

Hi Fridolin,

 

I believe the problem albums are ones that TIDAL have their tracks originally encoded as lossy MP3 in their archive and have never bothered upgrading to lossless formats, ie, ALAC (to supply the Apple ecosystem) and FLAC (for everyone else). These (old) MP3 album file tracks are mostly at 320 kbps bitrate, but some are at lower quality 256 kbps, eg:

Núcleo - José Luis Gutiérrez Trio

 

There's a further problem in that the majority of audio devices that can stream directly from TIDAL's online servers with a TIDAL HiFi account connection, for some reason cannot stream the original MP3 file tracks and are are supplied the lowest quality 96 kbps AAC streams instead - such as your Auralic Aries Mini.

 

I know of only two TIDAL HiFi supporting devices/platforms that can still stream the original lossy TIDAL MP3 album tracks (320 kbps or 256 kbps):

- Roon;

- ickStream (for Squeezebox type devices via the Logitech Media Server).

 

John

 

I just checked - Audirvana streams AAC 320 on the ones I checked from the list above.

 

So it's not necessarily that "Tidal sucks", as the title of this thread states - if they have the lossless version, that's what you get.  If they have a lossy version, they're not going to "upgrade" it to lossless, they'll stream what they have (in some cases, I suspect there is no lossless version available).


John Walker - IT Executive

Headphone - MacMini running Roon Server > Netgear Orbi wireless > Blue Jeans Cable Ethernet > mRendu Roon endpoint > iFi Audio xDSD + iFi Audio xCAN > Focal Elegia

Home Theater - Mac Mini running Roon Server > Blue Jeans Cable HDMI > Pioneer Elite SC-81 > MartinLogan Motion series home theater speakers + M&K subwoofer

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@Fridolin I too have been a Tidal subscriber since the WIMP days.

 

I have noticed that many more Albums are playing at the 96kbps than before. I don't have playlists but use "Favorites" as I tend to listen to whole albums. I think I would have noticed that they were 96kbps, but I can't say for certain.

 

But I have noticed that when I do searches there are duplicates and triplicates of albums, and that some of them are Flac 16b/44.1kHz/1411kbps and others are 96kbps AAC files.

 

For example: Starry, Starry Night by Robert Silverman shows 3 Albums with different bitrates. Of course, unlike the MQA "Masters" they are not identified as such and you only find out when you play them. On the desktop app the HiFI is no longer highlighted and on the Lumin App the actual bit rate is shown.

 

I'm really, really getting tired of Tidal.


 

"The function of music is to release us from the tyranny of conscious thought", Sir Thomas Beecham. 

 

 

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1 hour ago, jhwalker said:

 

I just checked - Audirvana streams AAC 320 on the ones I checked from the list above.

 

So it's not necessarily that "Tidal sucks", as the title of this thread states - if they have the lossless version, that's what you get.  If they have a lossy version, they're not going to "upgrade" it to lossless, they'll stream what they have (in some cases, I suspect there is no lossless version available).

 

If Tidal needs outside help to play its files correctly, i would say, it sucks :-).

Nonetheless HiFi isn't always HiFi on Tidal.

 

But i saw on the Audirvana site that it costs as much as it gives you in form of vouchers for Tidal and QUOBUZ. So effectively it would pay for itself, provided you stay subscribed on Tidal anyway. A good deal i would think.  

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4 hours ago, jhwalker said:

I just checked - Audirvana streams AAC 320 on the ones I checked from the list above.

 

That's very interesting. Are you certain Audirvana connecting with a TiDAL HiFi account is reporting AAC (and not MP3), plus is it at 320 kbps (and not 256 kbps) with the Núcleo - José Luis Gutiérrez Trio album (link in my post you quoted)?

If so, it may be that streamers on Apple hardware are being treated differently with their TIDAL connection.

 

 

 

4 hours ago, jhwalker said:

So it's not necessarily that "Tidal sucks", as the title of this thread states - if they have the lossless version, that's what you get.  If they have a lossy version, they're not going to "upgrade" it to lossless, they'll stream what they have (in some cases, I suspect there is no lossless version available).

 

Not necessarily: the Núcleo - José Luis Gutiérrez Trio album is available on a bog standard audio CD, so a lossless version is out there & still available for purchase:

https://www.freshsoundrecords.com/jose-luis-gutierrez-albums/59-nucleo.html

R-10108710-1491768378-6078.jpeg.jpg

Image from Discogs


We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.

-- Jo Cox

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5 hours ago, Fridolin said:

You're right. The calculated bitrate isn't surely exact. But you can roughly estimate that it is about 96 kbps - not 128 kbps, nor any higher. 

 

A  DAC with a display should show the bitrates, too. Or am i wrong?

 

Oops, classic oversight - DACs do not receive audio files be they lossy, compressed, or otherwise! The bitrate of the realtime digtal audio signal that the DAC is receiving would be that for the decoded audio file, ie, bog standard (uncompressed) LPCM.

 

 

 

5 hours ago, Fridolin said:

The "Logical Media Server and the ickStream LMS" route seems promising. I will try that. 

The Aries works in standard UPnP mode, too.

 

But the standard Tidal customer is really left alone.

 

Good to know the Aries still works in standard UPnP mode. Let me know if you require any help setting up LMS for TIDAL & connection to standard UPnP streamer.

 


We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.

-- Jo Cox

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9 hours ago, Cebolla said:

I know of only two TIDAL HiFi supporting devices/platforms that can still stream the original lossy TIDAL MP3 album tracks (320 kbps or 256 kbps):

- Roon;

- ickStream (for Squeezebox type devices via the Logitech Media Server).

 

FWIW, here's the thread on the Roon Labs community site that discusses the MP3 albums in TIDAL HiFi:

https://community.roonlabs.com/t/mp3-albums-in-tidal-hifi/25285/8

 

I forgot that our very own @wkliefrom Lumin also contributed to that thread by reporting the following:

 

"I've just done further testing for the album in post #1 using Tidal API:

soundQuality setting as LOSSLESS gives 256kbps MP3
soundQuality setting as HIGH gives 256kbps MP3
soundQuality setting as LOW gives 96kbps AAC"

 

- "the album in post #1" being the Can't Wait for Perfect - Rob Reynolds album.

 

So it's very likely that the Lumin devices may also (still) be streaming 320 kbps or 256 kbps MP3 albums in TIDAL HiFi.

Perhaps @wklie can confirm?


We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.

-- Jo Cox

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With a Lumin player using a Tidal HiFi account for US country, here's the bitrate of the first track of each album:

 

320kbps AAC:

Joanne Shaw Taylor|Almost Always Never

Joanne Shaw Taylor|Diamonds In The Dirt

Joe Bonamassa|A New Day Yesterday

Joe Bonamassa|Sloe Gin

 

96kbps AAC:

Núcleo - José Luis Gutiérrez Trio

Jimmy Ponder|Jimmy Ponder

Joanne Shaw Taylor|White Sugar

Joe Bonamassa|Had To Cry Today

Joe Bonamassa|So It's Like That

 

Cannot find:

Jimmy Ponder|Steel City Blues

 

@Fridolin Which country is your Tidal account created in?  This may explain why some of us can stream 320kbps for some of the albums you listed, and why there is at least one album you listed that I cannot find.  (These things can change daily too, but let's rule this out for the sake of discussion.)


Peter Lie

LUMIN Firmware Lead

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@wklie Thanks for checking the albums. My Tidal service is a German one.

 

Maybe there are differences.

But wouldn't that mean that the music lies on different servers that aren't synchronized?

Nevertheless, there are albums that only play with 96 kbps for you, too.

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8 hours ago, Cebolla said:

Good to know the Aries still works in standard UPnP mode. Let me know if you require any help setting up LMS for TIDAL & connection to standard UPnP streamer.

 

@Cebolla Thank you for the offer!

I certainly would like to come back to you when i have informed myself a little bit and have problems.

 

One question ahead. Is it possible to play the music with LMS directly on a Mac without first streaming it  to an Aries Mini, for example?

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11 hours ago, wklie said:

With a Lumin player using a Tidal HiFi account for US country, here's the bitrate of the first track of each album:

 

320kbps AAC:

Joanne Shaw Taylor|Almost Always Never

Joanne Shaw Taylor|Diamonds In The Dirt

Joe Bonamassa|A New Day Yesterday

Joe Bonamassa|Sloe Gin

 

96kbps AAC:

Núcleo - José Luis Gutiérrez Trio

Jimmy Ponder|Jimmy Ponder

Joanne Shaw Taylor|White Sugar

Joe Bonamassa|Had To Cry Today

Joe Bonamassa|So It's Like That

 

Cannot find:

Jimmy Ponder|Steel City Blues

 

Using my UK based TIDAL HiFi account with the BubbleUPnP Android app, I've found exactly the same AAC audio format and bitrates as @wklie has. However, I am able to access the Jimmy Ponder|Steel City Blues album and that is streaming as 96 kbps AAC.

 

@Fridolin, it's odd that the UK account would be the same as the US account and therefore different to your German account. So may be it's more to do with the device/platform used to connect to TIDAL, than the region.

 

Is there any chance you could test your German TIDAL HiFi account with the BubbleUPnP Android app (free version will do), using @wklie's music list?

It might also be best to double check the same list with the Auralic, just to make sure that hasn't suddenly changed.

 

 

 

@wklie, in your Roon Lab community post I quoted, you metioned testing using the TIDAL API for a particular track with "soundQuality setting as LOSSLESS gives 256kbps MP3".

I am also getting MP3 streams using the UK TIDAL HiFi account with the ickstream/LMS platform (so different to the AAC streams obtained with the BubbleUPnP Android app on the same UK account), as follows:

 

320kbps MP3:

(Jimmy Ponder|Steel City Blues)

Joanne Shaw Taylor|Almost Always Never

Joanne Shaw Taylor|Diamonds In The Dirt

Joanne Shaw Taylor|White Sugar

Joe Bonamassa|A New Day Yesterday

Joe Bonamassa|Had To Cry Today

Joe Bonamassa|Sloe Gin

Joe Bonamassa|So It's Like That

 

256kbps MP3:

Núcleo - José Luis Gutiérrez Trio (as I reported in previous post)

Jimmy Ponder|Jimmy Ponder

 

Are you also able to get the same MP3 streams for those albums using the TIDAL API and are their bitrates the same?

If you are also getting MP3 streams using the TIDAL API, what is the explanation for the Lumin player receiving AAC streams instead of MP3 for the same albums?


We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.

-- Jo Cox

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53 minutes ago, Cebolla said:

Is there any chance you could test your German TIDAL HiFi account with the BubbleUPnP Android app (free version will do), using @wklie's music list?

 

Sorry, but this is an Apple only household. So i can't test with Android hardware.

But i will do it again with my Aries Mini when i come home.

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I tested the list of albums again with my Aries Mini and got the same results as @wklie.

 

320kbps AAC:
Joanne Shaw Taylor|Almost Always Never
Joanne Shaw Taylor|Diamonds In The Dirt
Joe Bonamassa|A New Day Yesterday
Joe Bonamassa|Sloe Gin
 
96kbps AAC:
Núcleo - José Luis Gutiérrez Trio
Jimmy Ponder|Jimmy Ponder

Jimmy Ponder|Steel City Blues
Joanne Shaw Taylor|White Sugar
Joe Bonamassa|Had To Cry Today
Joe Bonamassa|So It's Like That

 

All files were AAC, no Mp3.

 

That means i have to scan all my "LoFi" playlist again to separate "LoFi" albums from "SuperLoFi" albums. Sigh. 

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