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Tidal or Qobuz - which sounds better


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This thread is pretty old but it's pertinent for me, since I am on my free month trial of Qobuz and am going to check out Tidal as well. I got reeled in when Qobuz lowered their monthly Hi-Res subscription to $14.99 (temporary deal for new subscribers till the end of January) in the wake of Amazon Music HD's launch. The Qobuz player for Windows gave me a lot of problems so I installed a free trial of Audirvana and now it's playing perfectly and sounding great. My trial of Audirvana tells me that if I choose to buy it then I get three free months of both Qobuz and Tidal as a new subscriber, so it will be worth it even though I don't plan to use it to play my local library which is all set up in JRiver MC 26.

 

I'm suspicious of all the MQA hype and if I choose to stream Tidal then I will have to run that with my OPPO 205 as the dedicated DAC, since the OPPO handles MQA, whereas my primary Rega DAC does not. Worth checking it out at any rate. I'm totally new to streaming and it's quite exciting having access to all this music in hi-res and CD quality lossless audio.

 

From what I've read on the different forums, Qobuz has the better sound whereas Tidal has the bigger catalog. I know I won't keep both, for budget reasons, but I'd pay $5 more a month for Tidal if it seems to be the better choice for me.

"Let the great constellation of flickering ashes be heard..."   ~ Noel Scott Engel

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3 hours ago, Tinnitus Andronicus said:

I'm suspicious of all the MQA hype and if I choose to stream Tidal then I will have to run that with my OPPO 205 as the dedicated DAC, since the OPPO handles MQA, whereas my primary Rega DAC does not. Worth checking it out at any rate. I'm totally new to streaming and it's quite exciting having access to all this music in hi-res and CD quality lossless audio.

 

The MQA software decoder built into Audirvana and the official Tidal app may be all you need. Then you could use the Rega if you prefer. I've stopped restricting myself to DACs that can decode MQA because that limits my choices, and the final "unfold" is seldom worth the effort.

Everyone wants to date my avatar.

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  • 2 weeks later...
3 hours ago, Norton said:

However, I’m a few days in to my Qobuz trial and to me, it sounds markedly better than Tidal.  As a mainly classical listener, there look to be many more titles in Hi Res in Qobuz than there are MQA in Tidal and where a title is in both, the Qobuz FLAC sounds better to me than Tidal MQA.


I’m using via Roon with Oppo 205 as endpoint.

 

Have you tried getting the full MQA decoding capable OPPO 205 to stream and play TIDAL's MQA contained in FLAC / Qobuz's (bog standard) FLAC hi-res file tracks directly from their online servers, using the mconnect Player app (free Lite version available for testing)  as the TIDAL & Qobuz supporting UPnP/DLNA controller - so not using the Roon Core server's player as the go between?

 

Would be interesting to know if the audio quality difference is just as marked and whether the Roon Core server's player actually adds anything of audio value - other than gapless playback support, which OPPO unfortunately never managed to get sorted out for any of their streamers operating under UPnP/DLNA!

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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21 hours ago, Cebolla said:

 

Have you tried getting the full MQA decoding capable OPPO 205 to stream and play TIDAL's MQA contained in FLAC / Qobuz's (bog standard) FLAC hi-res file tracks directly from their online servers, using the mconnect Player app (free Lite version available for testing)  as the TIDAL & Qobuz supporting UPnP/DLNA controller - so not using the Roon Core server's player as the go between?

 

Would be interesting to know if the audio quality difference is just as marked and whether the Roon Core server's player actually adds anything of audio value - other than gapless playback support, which OPPO unfortunately never managed to get sorted out for any of their streamers operating under UPnP/DLNA!


Yes I am also an mconnect lite user and have used it in the past to send MQA to the Oppo and can’t recall any notable difference vs Roon.  It is certainly a good option for combining replay of streaming services  and local library ( perhaps the only free option?).  My point though is not so much that Roon improves streaming replay (although it does sound good to me)  but rather that using the same Roon setup, Qobuz sounds better than Tidal, and Qobuz HiRes sounds quite a bit better than Tidal MQA.  Maybe I will try mconnect again with Qobuz too. If venturing outside Roon, is there any reason why mconnect would be preferable to simply using the Tidal and Qobuz desktops on a PC usb to DAC?

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Happy New Year y'all try this if have both services and both 'players'(A+3.5+ & ROON) and probably any comparable set as mine below then do A/B comparisons.

I have a brand new Schiit Yggdrasil GS an older ME2 and brand new Schiit Ragnarok 2(just the amp so it has 3 RCA inputs).

The ME2 is connected from USB on late 2012 mac mini i7 16GB RAM then out by the RCA  speaker outlet to the amp

The Ygg GS is USB(GEN6USB) out from the Mac then RCA to the amp.

I have hundreds of playlists I originally made on TIDAL and Qobuz plus some from Spotify/Deezer(transferred more or less successfully via sounddiz premium) and my iTunes library 800 cds sacds dvd-a's successfully added by A+3 to the 'legacy itunes library' and to ROON and surprisingly into TIDAL/Qobuz more or less.

So I do A/B comparisons (IF I can keep straight which one I am listening to so i keep a list)

I listen via Sennheiser HD 598's or RS-195's via headphone output on the amp(which is ONE SCHIITLOAD of a headphone amp) or to my new Legacy Audio Studio HD monitors( thanks to my CFO who allowed this 'last rodeo'/system) after ALLOWING her to spend some of my retirement deferred comp to do 2 bathrooms a kitchen and repaint and refurnish a dining and livingroom!!

I agree with both  @AudioDoctor and @bobflood hard to tell which sounds 'better' at times Qobuz wins hands down and TIDAL really just sounds  too loud especially MQA  BUT with A+3.5+ both sound even better and in ROON almost as good(but its interface metadata and RADIO really influence how it sounds to me in it's new version)

Finally the kicker is I unretired a Yamaha cd dvd-a sacd changer optical out to the Schiit DAC RCA out to the amp AND a Harman/Kardon HDCD changer RCA out to the amp(great for the Dead's recordings) and compare discs to streaming music---THEY(discs) win hands down(but not enough to give up the ease of streaming) but who wants to find the discs take them out load the changers and then take them out and put them away??

bobbmd

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  • 2 weeks later...

In the FWIW column I prefer Qobuz as I use streaming services for mobile listening, and on an iPhone Qobuz easily bests Tidal using Audeze Sine DX or

Shure 840 headphones. I also enjoy Qubuz using Euphony Stylus or Roon for main system, doesn't match the depth of detail from local NAS source but

is a great way to determine worthwhile recording purchases

Regards,

Dave

 

Audio system

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  • 2 weeks later...
32 minutes ago, Calvin & Hobbes said:

Some thoughts from my experience listening via a Tidal HiFi trial and a Qobuz Studio Premier trial. I think Tidal have applied some equalization to boost the bass and treble of their music files. In the process, my perception is that the side effects of doing this is to take out some of the presence of voices and instruments and add an artificial quality to voices and instruments. I'm currently listening to a track that is a MQA file on Tidal vs a CD quality file on Qobuz. The CD quality file on Qobuz sounds a LOT fuller, more natural, and provides more detail to voices and instruments (timbre).

 

Not a big fan of hip hop, but decided to listen to something that is squarely in Tidal's area of focus. I listened to 'The Box' by Roddy Ricch which is a MQA file on Tidal and CD quality on Qobuz. Same results. The same track sounds fuller and has more presence on Qobuz than on Tidal. Almost sounds like two different recordings.

 

Qobuz sounds a LOT better than Tidal to me. Spotify Premium also sounds better...to my ears at least. Not to mention that Tidal's music suggestions for me have nothing to do with what I've been listening to.

 

I think your observations are pretty much spot on. I am in the final days of my free month trial sub for Tidal HiFi while on my first paid month of Qobuz Studio. I haven't spent a lot of time comparing the two, and I've been doing so with Audirvana as the player to handle both (having bought Audirvana because the Qobuz desktop app was too buggy to work with). I've tried comparing the same album and mastering in both CD and Hi-Res formats on both Tidal and Qobuz, testing them out on two different DACs, and I agree that Tidal seems to have a bigger, more dramatic sound which suggests that they're applying some EQ to make the music seem more impressive. Can't say for sure, though. I also tried doing searches for a variety of mainstream and more obscure artists and it's about six of one, half dozen of the other. Some artists Tidal may have one or two albums not on Qobuz, and often Qobuz has broader search results for the same artist. I think Qobuz has a better offering of hi-res titles. I'm not keen on MQA anyway, it sounds good but I'd rather not buy into that hype and have to use the DAC that decodes MQA instead of my better DAC which does not support MQA. I found a number of hi-res versions of albums by major artists on Qobuz that are only in CD quality on Tidal, but Tidal has a MQA version of No Secrets by Carly Simon which is the only one of her albums that Qobuz only has in CD quality and not in hi-res.

 

I haven't used the Tidal desktop app much since I'm using Audirvana, so I can't compare the performance of the two player apps. Except with Tidal I don't like having to see a bunch of hip hop albums promoted in my face every time I open the app since I'm not a fan of that genre and that's the focus with Tidal.

 

Overall, since I'm locked into a $14.99 subscription rate for Qobuz because I signed up during their promo offer, and Tidal is $5 higher per month, I'm planning to drop Tidal and keep Qobuz. If cash flow were no issue for me, I'd keep both for catalog diversity sake.

"Let the great constellation of flickering ashes be heard..."   ~ Noel Scott Engel

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@Tinnitus Andronicus & @Calvin & Hobbes Agree with both of you but am keeping both because for me they sort of back each other up for the hundreds of playlists/favorites, 10's of thousands of tracks etc I have on both and because if one doesn't have something the other does and each has its own unique qualities and faults. That said both ROON and A+3.5+ sound better when playing either one of the 2 services BUT... and this is a big 'but'(and I don't have one FYI)--- CD's DVD-A's SACD's played through my 2 changers are far more superior than anything but who wants to dig those discs out then put them away(I just keep my Dead discs around to play through the HDCD changer and my combo changer for SACD and DVD-A)??? They all go through my same system either USB to the DAC or optical to DAC and one changer directly into my amp. Alas it's all subjective and all sounds *Schiitily* good to me.

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8 minutes ago, bobbmd said:

@Tinnitus Andronicus & @Calvin & Hobbes Agree with both of you but am keeping both because for me they sort of back each other up for the hundreds of playlists/favorites, 10's of thousands of tracks etc I have on both and because if one doesn't have something the other does and each has its own unique qualities and faults. That said both ROON and A+3.5+ sound better when playing either one of the 2 services BUT... and this is a big 'but'(and I don't have one FYI)--- CD's DVD-A's SACD's played through my 2 changers are far more superior than anything but who wants to dig those discs out then put them away(I just keep my Dead discs around to play through the HDCD changer and my combo changer for SACD and DVD-A)??? They all go through my same system either USB to the DAC or optical to DAC and one changer directly into my amp. Alas it's all subjective and all sounds *Schiitily* good to me.

 

I'm not surprised if audio discs sound better than streamed audio. But when it comes to comparing audio discs of any type to an uncompressed rip of the disc, I can't tell a difference when playing either the disc on my OPPO UDP-205 or the file on my PC Jriver MC player via USB to Rega DAC. It might even sound better with the ripped file since I believe the Rega DAC is superior to the DAC in the OPPO, but I'd be lying if I said I can hear a difference. I'm not likely to ever play most of my CDs again now that they're all ripped to AIFF with my JRiver + Rega DAC setup. Even my SACDs have been ripped to DSD files which I can play with JRiver and OPPO DAC since Rega won't play DSD, and I'm doubtful I can hear a difference. The one big advantage of discs over digital files is with surround audio since neither my Rega or OPPO accepts multichannel audio via USB. However, since I am not set up with a surround speaker system, it's also moot for me.I do think that the OPPO downmixing from multichannel to stereo is superior to the JRiver downmixing DSP.

"Let the great constellation of flickering ashes be heard..."   ~ Noel Scott Engel

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  • 1 month later...

My notes on listening to Tidal vs Qobuz:

 

Qobuz vs Tidal: So far Qobuz is clearly better than Tidal even listening through pretty cheap desktop passive speakers. Tidal sounds very two dimensional and flat in its sound quality but with some harshness in the high frequencies. I'll listen a bit more to Tidal, but so far I'm not impressed at all. Spotify Premium even seems to sound better than Tidal. 
 
Some additional thoughts about Tidal after listening on higher quality equipment. I think they have applied some equalization to boost the bass and treble. In the process, I think side effects of doing this is to take out some of the presence of voices and instruments and add an artificial quality to voices and instruments.. Qobuz sounds a LOT better. Spotify Premium also sounds better. To my ears at least. (Disclaimer: Your results may vary). I'm currently listening to a track that is a MQA file on Tidal vs a CD quality file on Qobuz. The CD quality file on Qobuz sounds a LOT fuller and more natural. 
 
Not a big fan of hip hop, but decided to listen to something that is squarely in Tidal's area of focus. I listened to 'The Box' by Roddy Ricch which is a MQA file on Tidal and CD quality on Qobuz. Same results. The Qobuz file sounds fuller and has more presence. Almost sounds like two different recordings when listening on Qobuz vs Tidal.
 
This might cause some controversy, but from a musicality standpoint, I actually like Spotify Premium better than Tidal. I find that Spotify Premium's shortcomings are ones of omission which don't affect listenability while what I'm hearing from Tidal are errors of commission that for me make Tidal grating on my ears pretty quickly.
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  • 2 weeks later...

I've had Tidal for a couple of years, and am about two weeks into a 30-day free trial of Qobuz.  I am listening through my second system: Bluesound Powernode 2 + Elac Debut Reference DBR62 speakers. Not the highest high-end system, but still a pretty good resolving rig.  (Most of my streaming is on this system versus my main system, where I primarily listen to CD and my own FLAC files).

 

I have not done a lot of album vs album comparisons, but my initial impression is that Qobuz seems to sound a little better than Tidal.  There just seems to be better air and detail in recordings.  It is not a significant difference, but every once in a while I take notice to how good a track sounds on Qobuz.

 

That said, I like the Tidal interface better.  I also like the suggested "mixes" on Tidal as way to find new artists.  I hate the way Qobuz does not distinguish between albums and EPs (or even singles for that matter).  I sometimes see the same album listed six times, only to find just one is the full album and the others are early single releases of songs on that album. With regard to content, I listen to a bit of everything but mostly folk and Americana.  Each service has some artists and albums the other doesn't.  Sort of a toss up.  Qobuz does seem to have more HR albums than Tidal has MQA albums for many artists.

 

I'll keep both for a while longer before I choose one over the other.  Or maybe I'll just keep both.

 

 

 

 

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  • 3 weeks later...
On ‎3‎/‎16‎/‎2020 at 7:34 PM, Calvin & Hobbes said:

My notes on listening to Tidal vs Qobuz:

 

Qobuz vs Tidal: So far Qobuz is clearly better than Tidal even listening through pretty cheap desktop passive speakers. Tidal sounds very two dimensional and flat in its sound quality but with some harshness in the high frequencies. I'll listen a bit more to Tidal, but so far I'm not impressed at all. Spotify Premium even seems to sound better than Tidal. 
 
Some additional thoughts about Tidal after listening on higher quality equipment. I think they have applied some equalization to boost the bass and treble. In the process, I think side effects of doing this is to take out some of the presence of voices and instruments and add an artificial quality to voices and instruments.. Qobuz sounds a LOT better. Spotify Premium also sounds better. To my ears at least. (Disclaimer: Your results may vary). I'm currently listening to a track that is a MQA file on Tidal vs a CD quality file on Qobuz. The CD quality file on Qobuz sounds a LOT fuller and more natural. 
 
Not a big fan of hip hop, but decided to listen to something that is squarely in Tidal's area of focus. I listened to 'The Box' by Roddy Ricch which is a MQA file on Tidal and CD quality on Qobuz. Same results. The Qobuz file sounds fuller and has more presence. Almost sounds like two different recordings when listening on Qobuz vs Tidal.
 
This might cause some controversy, but from a musicality standpoint, I actually like Spotify Premium better than Tidal. I find that Spotify Premium's shortcomings are ones of omission which don't affect listenability while what I'm hearing from Tidal are errors of commission that for me make Tidal grating on my ears pretty quickly.

 

Thanks for sharing.

Did you compare Tidal and Qobuz via Audirvana or via the desktop apps?

 

Matt

"I want to know why the musicians are on stage, not where". (John Farlowe)

 

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On 4/16/2020 at 10:30 PM, bobbmd said:

Both sound ‘better’ on A+3.5 or ROON with QOBUZ being the better of the two regardless especially QOBUZ in hifi 

 

Thanks,

 

use now Qobuz HiFi with A3.5 and like it.

 

Matt

"I want to know why the musicians are on stage, not where". (John Farlowe)

 

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  • 3 months later...

In case anyone is interested and have not previously watched this Tidal vs Qobuz comparison review, this is the most comprehensive comparison I have seen to date.  Includes technical/objective measurement discussion and well as subjective comments.

 

 

 

 

Speaker Room: Lumin U1 + X1 psu | Lampizator Golden Gate 2 | Viva Linea | Vinnie Rossi L2 Signature Monoblocks | FinkTeam Kim | Revel subs  

Office Headphone System: Lumin U2 mini | Lampizator Big 7 updated to GG 2 specs | Viva Egoista | Hifiman HE-1000SE/Audeze LCD-4z

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