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Tidal or Qobuz - which sounds better

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I spent 15 minutes doing this preliminary test, but playing Elton John's "Your Song" from Tidal (MQA 24.96), Qobuz (24.96) and my local HD Tracks download (24.96) yielded the following results:

 

Best: I don't think I could distinguish between Qobuz and my local version except my local version was louder for some reason.  Both sounded good.

Worst: Tidal version (MQA 24.96) - less air, less detail, less bass.  It doesn't sound bad, but it doesn't sound as good, and it was very easy to tell the difference.

 

Will be doing more testing as I am sure others are right now.


- Mark

 

Synology DS916+ > SoTM dCBL-CAT7 > Netgear switch > SoTM dCBL-CAT7 > dCS Vivaldi Upsampler (Nordost Valhalla 2 power cord) > Nordost Valhalla 2 Dual 110 Ohm AES/EBU > dCS Vivaldi DAC (David Elrod Statement Gold power cord) > Nordost Valhalla 2 xlr > Absolare Passion preamp (Nordost Valhalla 2 power cord) > Nordost Valhalla 2 xlr > VTL MB-450 III (Shunyata King Cobra CX power cords) > Nordost Valhalla 2 speaker > Kaiser Kaewero Classic /JL Audio F110 (Wireworld Platinum power cord).

 

Power Conditioning: Entreq Olympus Tellus grounding (AC, preamp and dac) / Shunyata Hydra Triton + Typhoon (Shunyata Anaconda ZiTron umbilical/Shunyata King Cobra CX power cord) > Furutec GTX D-Rhodium AC outlet.

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I’ve been testing Qobuz this past week and comparing some albums between my locally stored copies on my Aurender Server, Tidal MQA (with a Mytek MQA DAC), and Qobuz hi-res and overall, I’ve actually decided that Tidal MQA sounds better than the Qobuz hi-res version. 

Most of the time, my own personal and locally stored version sounds better by a little bit than either the Tidal MQA or Qobuz Hi-res versions, but almost always Tidal MQA sounds considerably better than the Qobuz version. 

As all things, I’m certain this is entirely system and set up specific and will vary from system to system. 

But with my combination of Aurender Music Server / Streamer -> Mytek Brooklyn MQA DAC, 

Tidal is definitely the clear winner! 

I was really excited to try Qobuz and couldn’t wait to start my free beta trial, but I definitely will not be extending it past my 30 day trial, I’m glad to be keeping Tidal at the lower cost and superior sound quality! 

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2 hours ago, agladstone said:

I’ve been testing Qobuz this past week and comparing some albums between my locally stored copies on my Aurender Server, Tidal MQA (with a Mytek MQA DAC), and Qobuz hi-res and overall, I’ve actually decided that Tidal MQA sounds better than the Qobuz hi-res version. 

Most of the time, my own personal and locally stored version sounds better by a little bit than either the Tidal MQA or Qobuz Hi-res versions, but almost always Tidal MQA sounds considerably better than the Qobuz version. 

As all things, I’m certain this is entirely system and set up specific and will vary from system to system. 

But with my combination of Aurender Music Server / Streamer -> Mytek Brooklyn MQA DAC, 

Tidal is definitely the clear winner! 

I was really excited to try Qobuz and couldn’t wait to start my free beta trial, but I definitely will not be extending it past my 30 day trial, I’m glad to be keeping Tidal at the lower cost and superior sound quality! 

 

Inferesting. Would you please identify some material you compared.  I would like to try some of the tracks too.   Thx. 


- Mark

 

Synology DS916+ > SoTM dCBL-CAT7 > Netgear switch > SoTM dCBL-CAT7 > dCS Vivaldi Upsampler (Nordost Valhalla 2 power cord) > Nordost Valhalla 2 Dual 110 Ohm AES/EBU > dCS Vivaldi DAC (David Elrod Statement Gold power cord) > Nordost Valhalla 2 xlr > Absolare Passion preamp (Nordost Valhalla 2 power cord) > Nordost Valhalla 2 xlr > VTL MB-450 III (Shunyata King Cobra CX power cords) > Nordost Valhalla 2 speaker > Kaiser Kaewero Classic /JL Audio F110 (Wireworld Platinum power cord).

 

Power Conditioning: Entreq Olympus Tellus grounding (AC, preamp and dac) / Shunyata Hydra Triton + Typhoon (Shunyata Anaconda ZiTron umbilical/Shunyata King Cobra CX power cord) > Furutec GTX D-Rhodium AC outlet.

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I know I tried a few of the recent releases by Naxos 2xHD (Buddy Holly and London Symphony Orchestra, The Carpenters and LSO, etc. since I own these from HDTracks and they’re in Tidal as MQA and Qobuz), also (don’t laugh!!), the Grease OMP Soundtrack ( this one I actually felt like the two diff 16/44 CD quality Tidal versions actually sounded better than my own original CD rip and the Tidal MQA, with Tidal MQA still sounding better than the Qobuz Hi-Res version). 

I also tested several newly released classical albums (one I recall was Yo-Yo Ma solo Cello playing Bach ), once again the Tidal MQA sounded much better to me. 

What DAC are you using? I have a Mytek Brooklyn DAC with very good MQA unfolding capabilities and I’m using an Aurender Music Server feeding the Mytek DAC and doing all these tests via Aurender’s own Conductor app. 

I definitely believe that which service will sound better is going to be system dependent. 

If someone doesn’t have a good MQA DAC for example, I doubt Tidal Masters / MQA are going to sound as good as Qobuz. 

Also, playing Tidal MQA and Qobuz Hi-Res through the Aurender vs. using a PC or MacBook, etc. also going to affect the sound quality. 

 

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10 hours ago, agladstone said:

I know I tried a few of the recent releases by Naxos 2xHD (Buddy Holly and London Symphony Orchestra, The Carpenters and LSO, etc. since I own these from HDTracks and they’re in Tidal as MQA and Qobuz), also (don’t laugh!!), the Grease OMP Soundtrack ( this one I actually felt like the two diff 16/44 CD quality Tidal versions actually sounded better than my own original CD rip and the Tidal MQA, with Tidal MQA still sounding better than the Qobuz Hi-Res version). 

I also tested several newly released classical albums (one I recall was Yo-Yo Ma solo Cello playing Bach ), once again the Tidal MQA sounded much better to me. 

What DAC are you using? I have a Mytek Brooklyn DAC with very good MQA unfolding capabilities and I’m using an Aurender Music Server feeding the Mytek DAC and doing all these tests via Aurender’s own Conductor app. 

I definitely believe that which service will sound better is going to be system dependent. 

If someone doesn’t have a good MQA DAC for example, I doubt Tidal Masters / MQA are going to sound as good as Qobuz. 

Also, playing Tidal MQA and Qobuz Hi-Res through the Aurender vs. using a PC or MacBook, etc. also going to affect the sound quality. 

 

 

Thanks, I will listen to some of this material.  Even the Grease Soundtrack :)

 

Using dCS Vivaldi system.


- Mark

 

Synology DS916+ > SoTM dCBL-CAT7 > Netgear switch > SoTM dCBL-CAT7 > dCS Vivaldi Upsampler (Nordost Valhalla 2 power cord) > Nordost Valhalla 2 Dual 110 Ohm AES/EBU > dCS Vivaldi DAC (David Elrod Statement Gold power cord) > Nordost Valhalla 2 xlr > Absolare Passion preamp (Nordost Valhalla 2 power cord) > Nordost Valhalla 2 xlr > VTL MB-450 III (Shunyata King Cobra CX power cords) > Nordost Valhalla 2 speaker > Kaiser Kaewero Classic /JL Audio F110 (Wireworld Platinum power cord).

 

Power Conditioning: Entreq Olympus Tellus grounding (AC, preamp and dac) / Shunyata Hydra Triton + Typhoon (Shunyata Anaconda ZiTron umbilical/Shunyata King Cobra CX power cord) > Furutec GTX D-Rhodium AC outlet.

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56 minutes ago, R1200CL said:

@juanitox what render/streamer and DAC ?

 

 

 

no streamer or render, just a dedicated powerfull PC with linear supply to Intona usb filter to T+A DAC8 DSD using  Roon player with HQPLAYER


PC audio /Roon + HQPLAYER / INTONA /T+A DSD8 dac / E55L Spud amp / sony VFEt amp / Fostex Horn speaker.

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On 1/22/2019 at 10:11 PM, agladstone said:

I’ve been testing Qobuz this past week and comparing some albums between my locally stored copies on my Aurender Server, Tidal MQA (with a Mytek MQA DAC), and Qobuz hi-res and overall, I’ve actually decided that Tidal MQA sounds better than the Qobuz hi-res version. 

Most of the time, my own personal and locally stored version sounds better by a little bit than either the Tidal MQA or Qobuz Hi-res versions, but almost always Tidal MQA sounds considerably better than the Qobuz version. 

As all things, I’m certain this is entirely system and set up specific and will vary from system to system. 

But with my combination of Aurender Music Server / Streamer -> Mytek Brooklyn MQA DAC, 

Tidal is definitely the clear winner! 

I was really excited to try Qobuz and couldn’t wait to start my free beta trial, but I definitely will not be extending it past my 30 day trial, I’m glad to be keeping Tidal at the lower cost and superior sound quality! 

 

Did you make sure that all versions were at the same volume? Tests show that we generally perceive louder as better

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I have TIDAL, Qobuz, and a full decoding DAC (dCS Rossini). 

 

A few observations after a few weeks:

1- I have not found any MQA release not available in Qobuz at the same true resolution (no exhaustive checks)

2- I have found a lot of true high res on Qobuz that does not have MQA versions on TIDAL

3- Qobuz redbook and true high res sounds amazing - as good as TIDAL at least

 


mini+Roon > dCS Rossini DAC + Rossini Master Clock >

Audio Note Kondo Ongaku > Avantgarde Duo Mezzo G2

system pics

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On 1/23/2019 at 10:05 AM, agladstone said:

I know I tried a few of the recent releases by Naxos 2xHD (Buddy Holly and London Symphony Orchestra, The Carpenters and LSO, etc. since I own these from HDTracks and they’re in Tidal as MQA and Qobuz), also (don’t laugh!!), the Grease OMP Soundtrack ( this one I actually felt like the two diff 16/44 CD quality Tidal versions actually sounded better than my own original CD rip and the Tidal MQA, with Tidal MQA still sounding better than the Qobuz Hi-Res version). 

I also tested several newly released classical albums (one I recall was Yo-Yo Ma solo Cello playing Bach ), once again the Tidal MQA sounded much better to me. 

What DAC are you using? I have a Mytek Brooklyn DAC with very good MQA unfolding capabilities and I’m using an Aurender Music Server feeding the Mytek DAC and doing all these tests via Aurender’s own Conductor app. 

I definitely believe that which service will sound better is going to be system dependent. 

If someone doesn’t have a good MQA DAC for example, I doubt Tidal Masters / MQA are going to sound as good as Qobuz. 

Also, playing Tidal MQA and Qobuz Hi-Res through the Aurender vs. using a PC or MacBook, etc. also going to affect the sound quality. 

 

If you are listening on an Aurender and a Brooklyn, then ALL the files are getting played back with MQA filters-even the non MQA files. This is going to skew your test results in favor of MQA, as only the MQA files are being played back as intended. 


Main listening (small home office):

Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>CAPS IV Pipeline Server + Sonore 12V PS >SOtM Lan Isolator>Bricasti M5 Network Player >Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.
 

Secondary Listening: CAPS Pipeline>IFi iOne DAC>Schiit Freya>Kii Three . Also 2 SBT and an SB Boom. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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3 hours ago, firedog said:

If you are listening on an Aurender and a Brooklyn, then ALL the files are getting played back with MQA filters-even the non MQA files. This is going to skew your test results in favor of MQA, as only the MQA files are being played back as intended. 

 

Huh??  I am about to buy a Mytek Brooklyn Bridge for my office system. Are you saying the Mytek dac somehow taints non-MQA files (true hi res or dsd) with MQA filters?  Please clarify this. 


- Mark

 

Synology DS916+ > SoTM dCBL-CAT7 > Netgear switch > SoTM dCBL-CAT7 > dCS Vivaldi Upsampler (Nordost Valhalla 2 power cord) > Nordost Valhalla 2 Dual 110 Ohm AES/EBU > dCS Vivaldi DAC (David Elrod Statement Gold power cord) > Nordost Valhalla 2 xlr > Absolare Passion preamp (Nordost Valhalla 2 power cord) > Nordost Valhalla 2 xlr > VTL MB-450 III (Shunyata King Cobra CX power cords) > Nordost Valhalla 2 speaker > Kaiser Kaewero Classic /JL Audio F110 (Wireworld Platinum power cord).

 

Power Conditioning: Entreq Olympus Tellus grounding (AC, preamp and dac) / Shunyata Hydra Triton + Typhoon (Shunyata Anaconda ZiTron umbilical/Shunyata King Cobra CX power cord) > Furutec GTX D-Rhodium AC outlet.

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7 hours ago, firedog said:

If you are listening on an Aurender and a Brooklyn, then ALL the files are getting played back with MQA filters-even the non MQA files. This is going to skew your test results in favor of MQA, as only the MQA files are being played back as intended. 

 

3 hours ago, MarkS said:

 

Huh??  I am about to buy a Mytek Brooklyn Bridge for my office system. Are you saying the Mytek dac somehow taints non-MQA files (true hi res or dsd) with MQA filters?  Please clarify this. 

 

I read somewhere that was a problem with the early Brooklyn firmware, but it was fixed a long time ago. You should confirm directly with Mytek of course. I don't know anything about Aurender.

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22 hours ago, miguelito said:

 

3- Qobuz redbook and true high res sounds amazing - as good as TIDAL at least

 

 

Am I correct in interpreting your comment to mean you determined that Qobuz redbook and Tidal redbook are roughly equivalent in terms of sound quality?

 


Home: UltraRendu (Roon) + Uptone LPS-1.2 | Berkeley Alpha USB | Schiit Yggdrasil Analog 2 | Jeff Rowland Coherence II Series 2 | Blue Circle Audio BC202 | Revel Ultima Gem speakers | 2 x Revel Performa3 B112 subwoofers (Sablon Reserva usb+ethernet+power cords/MG Audio Planus 3 cables/GIK Acoustic room treatments/Stillpoints/Blue Circle Conditioners). Headphones: Cavalli Liquid Carbon > HD800/Meze 99 

 

Desktop at Work: Uptone Iso Regen + LPS-1 > Schiit Eitr > Schiit Bifrost Multibit | Luminous Audio Axiom II pre | Job 225 amp | Gallo Strada 2 | Elac S10 sub

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Don't forget the watermarks that are common on non MQA files on Tidal. I have yet to hear a watermarked track on Qobuz. There may be some, anyone who has heard a watermarked track on Qobuz please point it out. The watermarks are most noticeable on solo piano tracks. The watermark distortion can be heard on Yuja Wang's Sonatas & Etudes album, compare the album on Tidal and Qobuz:

 

https://listen.tidal.com/album/5387443
https://play.qobuz.com/album/0002894778264

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2 hours ago, Blake said:

Am I correct in interpreting your comment to mean you determined that Qobuz redbook and Tidal redbook are roughly equivalent in terms of sound quality?

 

Yes. To be clear, I am listening to both via Roon, and my impression so far of Qobuz is that redbook sounds at least as good as Tidal. My impression is also that high res sounds better than MQA on average, so far (btw I have a full-decoding MQA DAC, dCS Rossini).


mini+Roon > dCS Rossini DAC + Rossini Master Clock >

Audio Note Kondo Ongaku > Avantgarde Duo Mezzo G2

system pics

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3 minutes ago, exdmd said:

Don't forget the watermarks that are common on non MQA files on Tidal. I have yet to hear a watermarked track on Qobuz. There may be some, anyone who has heard a watermarked track on Qobuz please point it out. The watermarks are most noticeable on solo piano tracks. The watermark distortion can be heard on Yuja Wang's Sonatas & Etudes album, compare the album on Tidal and Qobuz:

 

https://listen.tidal.com/album/5387443
https://play.qobuz.com/album/0002894778264

As far as I know, their is no category of “non MQA” being watermarked on Tidal. There is an issue of the Universal tracks released to streaming being  watermarked, and this is label related, not MQA or Tidal related.It’s a label decision of what is released for streaming, not a decision of the streaming company.


Main listening (small home office):

Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>CAPS IV Pipeline Server + Sonore 12V PS >SOtM Lan Isolator>Bricasti M5 Network Player >Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.
 

Secondary Listening: CAPS Pipeline>IFi iOne DAC>Schiit Freya>Kii Three . Also 2 SBT and an SB Boom. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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14 minutes ago, firedog said:

As far as I know, their is no category of “non MQA” being watermarked on Tidal. There is an issue of the Universal tracks released to streaming being  watermarked, and this is label related, not MQA or Tidal related.It’s a label decision of what is released for streaming, not a decision of the streaming company.

 

I thought that was a specific condition in some distribution agreements, though that probably would be label specific.  -Paul 


Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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AFAIK/AFAIConcerned: I think it depends on the recording you are listening to and with ROON (if you have it gives a choice of versions to try for both Qobuz and TIDAL plus your embedded library) so can do a/b/c/ comparisons

At times TIDAL sounds ‘better’ especially MQA(just my subjective opinion I am not advocating it and don’t understand ‘watermarks’) other times more often than not Qobuz sounds a lot better especially ANY albums marked HiRes BUT my hundreds of playlists that I transferred from TIDAL to Qobuz via Soundiiz some MQA albums play in HiRes ie 24/88 96 or 192!!?? And sound great.

The game changer is using ROON or better yet Audirvana +3 and that also to my ears improves the SQ more than anything especially A+3-also it depends on your DAC I switch between ME E2 and first generation Gungnir the Schiit at times sounds a lot better than than ME E2- but all of this is totally subjective to one’s ears-ie ‘what ever floats your boat’

On the other hand I have many DVD-A and SACD albums that I USED to listen to via 2005 yamaha dvd dvd-a sacd  cd changer with Outlaw ICBM-1 bass manager that blow away anything you can get streamed especially GD studio albums(dvd-a) and the Stones(sacd) but too much trouble digging them out and putting them back! 

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41 minutes ago, bobbmd said:

AFAIK/AFAIConcerned: I think it depends on the recording you are listening to and with ROON (if you have it gives a choice of versions to try for both Qobuz and TIDAL plus your embedded library) so can do a/b/c/ comparisons

At times TIDAL sounds ‘better’ especially MQA(just my subjective opinion I am not advocating it and don’t understand ‘watermarks’) other times more often than not Qobuz sounds a lot better especially ANY albums marked HiRes BUT my hundreds of playlists that I transferred from TIDAL to Qobuz via Soundiiz some MQA albums play in HiRes ie 24/88 96 or 192!!?? And sound great.

The game changer is using ROON or better yet Audirvana +3 and that also to my ears improves the SQ more than anything especially A+3-also it depends on your DAC I switch between ME E2 and first generation Gungnir the Schiit at times sounds a lot better than than ME E2- but all of this is totally subjective to one’s ears-ie ‘what ever floats your boat’

On the other hand I have many DVD-A and SACD albums that I USED to listen to via 2005 yamaha dvd dvd-a sacd  cd changer with Outlaw ICBM-1 bass manager that blow away anything you can get streamed especially GD studio albums(dvd-a) and the Stones(sacd) but too much trouble digging them out and putting them back! 

 

I briefly compared the two at home last night.  Both going into Roon then using HQPlayer as the NAA.  The difference in sounds was much less noticeable.  I'm guessing that's due to HQPlayer applying filters and upsampling.  While I expect to notice a big difference where I'm not using Roon or HQPlayer, like work, the car, or anywhere from the phone, home listening won't be impacted as much.

 

MQA for me is much heavier in the mids and bass.  By comparison a 96k MQA track from Tidal can sounds a bit muddier than a 96k Quobuz track.  It can vary by album, no question.

 

Thanks for the tip on Soundiiz.  Exactly what I needed.  An unfortunate finding when converting my playlists is that there are quite a few albums not in Quobuz that are in Tidal.  I would expect that to change over time, but find it limiting in the interim.


Digital chain: Synology DS1815+ -> Linear Solution OCXO switch-> Custom 2016 Server (sCLK-EX modified motherboard, Mutec REF 10)-> AL NUC NA->  Holo Spring L3 -> Audio Research LS28-> Benchmark AHB2 -> Paradigm Persona 9H, JL Fathom sub

Power: Paul Hynes SR7, Uptone LPS-1.2, sPS-500, Topaz 91001-31 Isolation Transformer

Analog chain: VPI Prime with Ortofon Quintet Black cart -> Simaudio Neo 310LP-> Audio Research LS28-> Benchmark AHB2 -> Paradigm Persona 9H

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I have been playing around with Qobuz and Tidal as well. Small rid is:. Lumin D1, Sbooster, Wireworld Eclipse Silver RCA,   Kef LS50W with Cullen power cables, Velodyne SPL1200 sub.

 

Tidal MAQ seems to have more bass to me vs the high rez on Qobuz. On Tidal MQA, I feel during complicated music or music that has a lot going on within the song, it seems more meshed together where Qobuz, the instruments have more separation. On some stuff the extra bass on Tidal helps on poor mastered recordings but, with that Velo sub, I don't need the extra help on bass.   The MQA versions to me have a bit smoother presentation on top and is usually very pleasant sounding vs Qobuz high rez has a bit more extension on top. Both sound good but, to me, its personal preference on the top end.

 

Tidal seems to have a better selection. They have stuff in the rock department that Qobuz does not.  It's a toss up.

 

 


Kef LS50 Wireless, Velodyne SPL1200, Lumin D1, LH Labs VI Infinity, Cayin SCD50T, Jolida D9, Technics 1200, Denon DL160,

Tweaks: Intona, W4S Recovery

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