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Ski Bum

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Everything posted by Ski Bum

  1. Congratulations on your purchase. I purchased a pair of Alexia 2s shortly after they were released. I still love them. They reward careful installation, careful room setup, improvements in upstream components, and well-recorded vinyl and digital sources. Interestingly, in my room (which suffers from excess wall and floor vibration) they sounded better on Aurio Pro isolation devices than on spikes.
  2. I'm a dCS Vivaldi owner, and have been the beneficiary of John Quick's patient telephonic advice on numerous occasions. John and dCS provide a much higher level of continuing customer support than any other audiophile manufacturer that I've ever dealt with.
  3. Valid point. I am grateful that dCS does a great job of providing updates and improvements for its customers.
  4. I really don't know, but I won't debate it. My principal gripe with MQA is different than most of the folks who have been posting in the "vaporware" thread and elsewhere about MQA. I'm really not hot and bothered by the fact that MQA is "lossy," may be disguised DRM and/or is promoted with some hysterical marketing language and unintelligible explanations. The fact is that I got full MQA compatibility for free with a firmware update from the manufacturer of my digital stack (dCS), and IMO a lot of the MQA Studio-encoded files on Tidal sound as good or better on my system than the same hi rez titles streamed on Qobuz or purchased from a download site. I may not be thrilled with the way MQA made or marketed the "sausage," but I think it tastes ok. BUT, in my view, the principal issue facing digital audiophiles is the difficulty of finding digital files that are as well-mastered as the best analog files of the same music. (I'm NOT saying that analog playback is better than digital. I am saying that analog source materials available to audiophiles are generally better mastered than the digital source materials available to audiophiles. Of course there are exceptions, but in particular it seems like dynamic compression is far more avoidable by purchasing analog sources.) I've been buying vinyl since the late 1960's. For a lot of the classic rock and other music that is important to me, it is impossible (or close to impossible) to get digital files that match the mastering quality of the original pressings and best remasters that are available on vinyl. MQA claims to be dealing with this, but they are not. In my experience, MQA is almost always applying its special sauce to a recent remaster -- and that is often a heavily compressed POS -- rather than an original analog or digital mastering. MQA is perpetuating the problem, not contributing to a solution.
  5. "We also changed the game by offering only the pure original and highest quality of a recording with secure confirmation at playback – so the listener has the huge benefit of knowing they have the approved original. MQA: Master Quality Authentication." If only this were true, I'd forgive all the other stuff.
  6. I hope Roon is talking with Amazon about integrating the Amazon hi rez service into Roon.
  7. Well said. A little tolerance and flexibility can go a long way. Let's celebrate and appreciate our differences; don't be threatened or upset by them.
  8. Fair enough. In the interim, I'll just listen to corresponding Tidal MQA versus Qobuz hi rez files back-to-back on Roon and come to my own (biased and placebo-infected, but not financially interested) views. I listened to the White Album. Qobuz wins that one over Tidal, but the vinyl beats them both. In the case of the Allman Brothers tracks, I think the MQA files sound best (even beating my vinyl, which is quite unusual). I do not have measurement gear and do not purport to be testing with scientific rigor.
  9. If you’re going to go through the effort of measuring/comparing, you might as well choose some files for which MQA at least facially made a serious effort. How about comparing the Tidal 24/192 MQA Studio files of Revival and Midnight Rider from The Allman Brothers’ Idlewild South Album with the Qobuz 24/192 files of the same tracks?
  10. Do I get a plaque commemorating my achievement? I still like MQA Studio, but I'm trying to maintain a sense of humor about the whole mess. I just wish that someone would give us access to better masterings in any digital format.
  11. Probably not a good example because the White Album MQA files posted on Tidal are not MQA Studio, just generic MQA. Even to this listener who finds many of the MQA Studio files to have excellent SQ, the White Album files are a bit strident and wonky. (The Qobuz White Album hi rez files sound better, and the vinyl sounds better than both.) I guess that the White Album wasn't important enough to merit the full MQA Studio treatment (wink).
  12. Here is the method that I use on Roon. It is admittedly non-scientific, but actually works quite well and has persuaded me as to the reliability of the results. I've principally used it to compare Tidal MQA files with the corresponding Qobuz hirez files: Using the Queue feature in Roon, queue up at least 6 pairs of corresponding songs, with each pair grouped together but the order (Tidal first or Qobuz first) randomly selected. By the time I've completed a queue of at least 6 pairs, I can't remember the random selection (I'm 67 years old; you may need to queue more or fewer pairs). Play enough of the first song of a pair (without opening the file source information) to adequately sample the sound quality, and then move to the corresponding song in the pair and do the same thing. Then -- AFTER forming an opinion as to which version sounds better -- open the file source information on the second file to determine the source of the better sounding file. Then move to the next pair in the queue and repeat. If you truly forget the random selection, this is quite close to a double-blind test. By doing this with dozens of songs, I can now generally pick out a Tidal MQA Studio 24/96 or 24/192 version versus a Qobuz 24/96 or 24/192 version without having to do a comparison. And, yes, I have formed an opinion as to which version generally sounds better on my system. In case anyone else wants to try this approach, I will refrain from posting my results so that I'm not inadvertently inserting a placebo into another listener's test.
  13. i will probably keep both, at least for the near-term. I listen to Tidal and Qobuz through Roon, and I'm getting slightly better sound quality with MQA Studio Tidal files than Qobuz hi-rez files. OTOH, I'm getting better sound quality with Qobuz hi-rez than non-Studio MQA Tidal files. Go figure....
  14. I am a new U.S. beta hi-rez user of Qobuz, which I stream through Roon. I am able to successfully stream most of the Qobuz hi-rez and redbook files, but occasionally I will run into an album that appears to be available for streaming from Qobuz but I get error messages in Roon (to the effect that the song is unavailable) when I try to stream it. For example, the new Jenny Lewis album appears among the Qobuz new albums and I can add it to my Roon library, but the songs are unavailable when I try to stream them. Is this a U.S. licensing issue?
  15. Just to be fair -- in case anyone is inclined to fairness -- there is an excellent chance that the MQA files and redbook files for any album on Tidal are derived from different masterings. The mastering differences are likely to have a greater impact on sound quality than the format differences.
  16. The Hoffman Forums are the best source that I have found for information about the sound quality of various recordings, different masterings, etc. This information is very important to me, and I am grateful to the Forums. Information from the Forums (together with listening, of course) has helped shape my music library. In most cases, the information comes from other Forum members rather than the Host or a Gort. The Forums are stronger for analog sources than digital, but has information for both.
  17. I am a Mac user so I have not suffered through the problems with the Tidal desktop that the Windows users have been experiencing. On the other hand, I must use the Tidal desktop app to have access to the "Masters" (MQA) decoding but the Tidal desktop will not output to my upsampler/DAC through the dedicated hardwired ethernet network over which I listen to Roon. Accordingly, when I listen to the Tidal desktop I must route the signal over a USB cable from my Mac to my upsampler/DAC. Not surprisingly, in my system, all else being equal sound quality over the network is better than over a USB cable. I have compared the sound quality between the same track played on (a) Roon sending a 44.1/16 signal over the network to my upsampler/DAC, and (b) the Tidal desktop sending a 96/24 signal over a USB cable (with a Jitterbug) to my upsampler/DAC, and the Roon route quite clearly sounds better (principally, clarity and body). I'm looking forward to Roon providing an update that allows MQA decoding to take place in Roon.
  18. I wonder if this is geographic. I live on Long Island, NY. I am able to stream MQA (24/96) reliably without stuttering from the TIDAL desktop app running on a MacBook Pro, but I have to use a USB connection between my laptop and my upsampler/DAC (rather than my usual hardwired ethernet network) because the TIDAL desktop app will not output to the network (even if it did, Apple Airplay would probably downsample it). I have no trouble running Roon on the network, so I am looking forward to Roon integrating TIDAL/MQA decoding.
  19. Thank you. I'll stop banging my head against the wall. Using an earlier version of the TIDAL desktop app, it communicated by way of the network using Airplay but only at 16/44.1 as you predicted (both Airplay and 16/44.1 input were shown on the upsampler). For whatever reason, the USB workaround has been successful (the upsampler shows no Airplay and 24/96 input). I'll use the workaround until Roon integrates the TIDAL MQA feature (soon, I hope).
  20. I generally do my streaming with a dedicated hardwired network consisting of a MacBook Pro (running most current updated iOS and Roon with Tidal integration), Netgear 7500v2 router, and dCS Vivaldii stack (through the upsampler). All the connections are generic Cat6 ethernet cabling. This works well with Roon. When I try to run the Tidal desktop app on the MacBook Pro to listen to hi rez MQA files, the Tidal app does not "see" the dCS upsampler (i.e. it does not appear as an option in the Settings/Audio/Streaming tab of the app). I tried rebooting, reinstalling, reconnecting, etc endless times with no success. In desperation, I tried connecting the MacBook Pro to the upsampler with a USB2 cable, and it worked; the upsampler showed that it was receiving 24/96 and the sound was excellent (comparable to playing a 24/96 hi rez file on my hard drive through Roon). For the audio options, I selected Exclusive Mode, Forced Volume, and MQA decoding by the Tidal app. The USB cable is a PITA. Any idea why Tidal is not seeing the network?
  21. That would be great. Thank you.
  22. Agreed. It would be great to be able to have a quick, easy and objective comparison of the Tidal version of an album or song, and the other version(s) I have on a disc and/or hirez download.
  23. I noticed that Roon is now displaying dynamic range readings for each of my downloaded albums. Is that new?
  24. I've been running (and loving) the Roon + TIDAL Hi Fi combination on my MacBook Pro with SSD > Upsampler > DAC > Tube preamp > SS power amps > Speakers rig. I found that the SQ improved a lot when I started tinkering with the audio options for the Zone specified for my upsampler. In particular, make sure to check the box for fixed volume and the choice immediately above it. They were not checked as a default.
  25. I have the Smokin' download from Acoustic Sounds. I think it sounds excellent (solid bass, good soundstage, fairly dynamic, excellent voices).
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