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08Boss302

Tidal Hifi vs Spotify is it down to the DAC being used?

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Hi All.

I have been a Tidal subscriber for a few months and running it via Bluesound Node 2i.  I've been happy even though i think Tidal still has a way to go on their user interface by showing albums chronologically and with the year of release on the front page not once the album is chosen + there are few other little quirky things that annoy me like other artists releases having a similar name showing in an artist of you choice catalog - a big NO NO and pita if using the shuffle option!!

 

Spotify had a 3 month 99c per month offer so I thought why not.  Spotify's premium account is 320kbps Ogg Vorbis files where as Tidal is CD quality FLAC and also their master options which is MQA.

As most would know the Bluesound is capable of playing the MQA files are most phones now with recent updates.

 

Here is my question.

 

A freind and I were sitting down the other day, switching between Tidal and Spotify on the BlueSound and using the Bluesound app and the difference between Tidal master and hifi vs Spotify was certianly NOT night and day - matter of fact it was kind of hard to distinguish at times which service was being played.

 

It made me wonder if an upgrade in DAC would bring this to more prevelence or if in fact others out there have had similar expereinces when and if trialing the two.  I have not sampled Deezer or any other service.

 

We did what i'd consider a fairly critical test and my gear I'd consider decent to pretty good - the fact was this exercise it got me wondering if Tidals HiFi subscribtion was worth me keeping (an answer only I can come to - i get that) or if the bluesound dac was lacking in someway?

 

Has anyone else been in a similar position and and updgrade in DAC opened the doors ie project S2 or higher?

Are my ears really that bad now (because if they are i can save some money on future purchases LOL)

 

Keen for any experiences and thoughts on this one

 

cheers.

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From my own experience, Tidal HiFi is far superior to Spotify Premium, so much so that despite being an early adopter of Spotify, I have cancelled my subscription.

I guess the equipment will of course come into play, as well user expectation.

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I have found that whilst Spotify has the better library when compared to Tidal,Tidal has the better overall sound. Regardless of which DAC I have used (an NAD M51 first, and now its replacement, the T+A DAC8 DSD) Tidal always seemed to come out sounding better. In the end I unsubscribed to both of those services and, with the help of a VPN, I have a subscription to Qobuz up and running which gives me a better music library than Tidal with equally as good sound.

I think that a better DAC will result in better sound whichever streaming service you choose but, yes, Tidal is better than Spotify in that regard.

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Cheers guys

The difference was there, it just wasn't as dramatic as maybe I thought it would be - to the point where I wondered if keeping a family hifi subscription was worth it

 

I might save myself some coin and keep my tidal hifi acct and see if I can get a std acct for the wife n child as they won't care one bit

 

 

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18 minutes ago, Hydrology said:

From my own experience, Tidal HiFi is far superior to Spotify Premium, so much so that despite being an early adopter of Spotify, I have cancelled my subscription.

I guess the equipment will of course come into play, as well user expectation.

I think user expectations come to play here for sure.  I think I was expecting horribly compressed mp3 vs CD quality but it's certainly not the case 

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I have been there. Most people will tell you that the higher bitrate from Tidal sounds heaps better, but few of them would have done a proper blind testing. If you dig a bit, probably also in this forum somewhere, you will find a link to an webpage that will allow you to do ABX testing on the same set of songs with 3 different bitrates (I thin 128, 320 and lossless). Try that (through your DAC and system). If with your gear you cannot hear any difference, I'd drop Tidal and use just Spotify Premium. The difference between 320 kbps and lossless is, in fact, very hard to spot unless you have  reveling  gear and, if you use loudspeakers and not headphones,  your room is close to being acoustically perfect.

 

 

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@08Boss302 just go with what you enjoy best and makes you want to listen to more music. Yep, the differences won’t be night and day and avoid critical listening as it is overrated.

 

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From my own experience, Tidal HiFi is far superior to Spotify Premium, so much so that despite being an early adopter of Spotify, I have cancelled my subscription.
I guess the equipment will of course come into play, as well user expectation.

Same here.
Playing ‘Kenny Burrell’s Midnight Blue (remaster 2012)’ on Tidal Vs Spotify is chalk and cheese.

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1 hour ago, o2so said:

I have been there. Most people will tell you that the higher bitrate from Tidal sounds better, but few of them would have done a proper blind testing. If you dig a bit, probably also in this forum somewhere, you will find a link to an webpage that will allow you to do ABX testing on the same set of songs with 3 different bitrates (I thin 128, 320 and lossless). Try that (through your DAC and system). If with your gear you cannot hear any difference, I'd drop Tidal and use just Spotify Premium. The difference between 320 kbps and lossless is, in fact, very hard to spot unless you have  reveling  gear and, if you use loudspeakers and not headphones,  your room is close to being acoustically perfect.

ironic that you mention the ABX test, we did that yesterday also running through the bluesound.  128 vs 320 vs wav.  very cool test and we had a good discussion/laugh at ourselves during it also - embarrassingly when we got it wrong!

 

for anyone interested here is the link...

 

https://www.npr.org/sections/therecord/2015/06/02/411473508/how-well-can-you-hear-audio-quality

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I have Spotify. DAC is a Topping D10. Heard both and with Tidal's highest rez and found it overly fat or smooth.

Stayed with Spotify as I only use it for background music.

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I have not blind tested between them, but I consider Tidal to sound better.  Hand on heart however I am happy to accept it could be completely expectation bias.

 

In saying that, the TYPE of music I listen to simply isn't heavily available on tidal and as such I cancelled my tidal sub and use Spotify Premium.

 

Plus now my wife and son get their own profiles and playlists for the same price Tidal was costing me so thats a plus.

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What amp and speakers are you using and room setup properly?

 

 

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56 minutes ago, Al.M said:

What amp and speakers are you using and room setup properly?

 

 

Don’t have a speaker setup 

 

Currently just getting back into headphones, trying to keep it a bit more within my means this time.  Using headphones with a chord mojo.

 

Looking to maybe get some kef lsx in the medium to short term. 

 

Don’t have the space or disposable income to dive into the hobby anymore. 

Edited by Wyd4

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This is a really useful thread.  I’ll put forward my 2 cents....

We have a Spotify Premium account.  We mainly listen to streamed music on the “living area” system, where I’ve slapped together a really nice system for really not much.  

My aim for streamed music is to have more music on in the house, in a (loosing battle) attempt to decrease TV and interwebs use by the kids.

 

My current setup is:

 

old iphone 5>USB out via Apple camera connector>Gustard U10 converter>spdif in at the back of my Denon dcd3000>Music Labs pre>Music Labs power>Trevor Lees speakers

 

The sound is really rather good despite the clunky stream setup, but the phone was free, the converter about $20, the cables about $50, and I already had the great Dac in the CD player.

 

I have been considering getting a Vault 2i, both to digitise all my CDs and to continue streaming duties (in this same setup, to replace iPhone).  The thing is, it’s about priorities.  Having contemplated all sorts of fancy and highly regarded streaming systems, I have come to the following conclusions:

 

- if I want to REALLY listen to music, I play vinyl down the back on my other setup.

- streaming is often “background” music

- streaming is a way to discover new stuff, and in some cases buy it on vinyl

- streaming MUST be simple, else the wife and kids won’t use it.  Any dropouts and the missus rolls her eyes.  

- we make mixtapes for parties and so on. 

- kids are fickle.  They are more inclined to play Spotify with their mates.  If they were to say, “Wanna put something on Tidal?”, their mates would say, “Wha?  Don’t you have Spotify?”

- Spotify has an impressive range of material.  I don’t listen to mainstream, and love all sorts of obscure stuff, but it’s pretty uncommon that I search for something and it’s not there.

 

I suppose I’m trying to say that services are so damn good now that, unless you’re an audiophile who uses digital streaming as your main listening source, and like other media, pay it full attention when you listen, then maybe SQ doesn’t matter.  

 

Oh man, did I just say that?

 

 

 

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Spotify vs Tidal was night and day for me.

 

Spotify sounded thin and hollow. The experiment led me to realising why Beats headphones are popular.

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I listen to predominately metal and dabble in some blues and jazz.

My listening is becoming as much shared between vinyl and the streamer tbh, i find the conveniance and ability to find new stuff quite exciting via the streaming services.  What "scared" me was the fact I was quite shocked to hear the quality in the services (in a good way) - or should I say lack of difference between them as I'd always pride myself on hearing the differences between poor quality audio.  I think I was expecting to sit down and hear a resounding difference between Tidal HiF which is CD quality and MQA which is better again as opposed to Spotify 320kbps Ogg Vorbis.

 

I am in the midst of ripping my cd's via DB poweramp which i'll do at lossless into a ext harddrive which the network can access and i can play those files via the Oppo or the Bluesound.  I also have a large digital library of 256AAC which is in my iTunes library which I can share over the network if i choose at a later date.  Actually the 256AAC files are more than suffice when exercising etc too!!

 

Its all set up in the one room, i've take much time to ensure speakers and MLP are all well set up and run it through Bluesound Node 2i, into Vincent SV237mk and speakers are KEFq950's.  Blue Jeans cables.  I can also run via my Oppo 205 which Gatti Audio have updated the capacitors etc.

 

Whilst I am very supportive of the idea that MQQ or HiFi qaulity from Tidal it is just that the gap I am finding between it and 320 from spotify is marginal at best, HOWEVER, if i play a cd or vinyl that gap is noticeable to me -

 

Thats really what prompted me to ask the question of DAC's with a stream service.  The Bluesound has a Burr Brown DAC which I am not sure how it sits in the realm of DAC quality but it sounds good to me.  I have always wanted (for some reason or another) a CA Dac Magic Plus but it wont work with MQA, but if I simply stick with Spotify or downgrade my Tidal to premium (320kbps) and run the CA it could work, i just dont know if this is overkill.  I could also run via the Oppo ESS Sabre dacs for that matter....

 

This is kind of also a cost justifying exercise, I can get Tidal Premium for the family at half the cost of the HiFi acct, I can Spotify for the family at that same price too.  Navigation and layout IMHO goes slightly to Spotify but again, they are pretty evenly matched.

 

I could keep spotify family and get a single Tidal HiFi subscription which is going to work out identical to what i am paying now for Tidal family but I'll have both options at my call.  Is this really required though is my obvious question.  Two streaming services seems like overkill when there is nothing exclusive for me on one or the other to warrant the double up.  its simply a matter of the HiFi vs the 320kbps and my experience with the difference between them...which at the moment is not a wowing factor

 

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9 minutes ago, furtherpale said:

Spotify vs Tidal was night and day for me.

 

Spotify sounded thin and hollow. The experiment led me to realising why Beats headphones are popular.

I am not a fan of beats either, but your experience is interesting.

did you have the Tidal Hifi and the Spotify premium against each other?

 

I guess thats what i was anticipating/expecting.  I reckon if i was using free spotify which is 96kbps on phone or 160kbps on desktop vs Tidal i would have got that magical gap but at their 320kbps it was like Rosalla vs Masterfoods tomato sauce instead of Coke vs Woolworths Cola.

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15 minutes ago, 08Boss302 said:

 

did you have the Tidal Hifi and the Spotify premium against each other?

 

Sure did (and I still have Tidal). I also use a bluesound node2. I have a CD transport hooked up via the bluesound for my very few CDs that aren’t on tidal. 

 

It was instantly, and glaringly in-your-face noticeable. 

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Wow, cool, I wish I had that glaringly obvious difference, would make my decision so much easier LOL

Just goes to show why its important there are different services and options out there...

thats i guess what makes the hobby and these discussions so interesting.  the variance in user experiences.

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There are number of problematic variables so far mentioned to make proper sense of things. In no particular order:

 

1. Good headphones in general can tend to make everything sound quite good particularly where both sources are already close and good to start with so it can be difficult. Beats headphones by common product review are more popular due to marketing and fashion than great sound quality, though they are satisfactory like many other headphones to assess things.

 

2. Most basic low cost DACs have the technical ability to discern differences here. The issue is definitely not DAC quality. There are many reviews of 320kbs vs higher formats and it is commonly said that there is about 10% subjective difference and this is perceived differently by each listener. Some people might rate the 10% as significant game changer while many like you say it is small.

 

3. Changing from headphones to a good speaker and amp system can start to show differences in sources. Not that headphones are lessor devices,  but different SQ issues become apparent.

 

4. The reason why an iphone 5 with an old audio system (Music labs amp and Trevor Lees speakers) can be very good is that iPhones and iPods are quite good convincing devices and on highest settings are very good at a low to mid fi level - as good as a budget CD player, see here https://www.cnet.com/news/expert-audio-quality-test-5th-gen-ipod-vs-ipod-classic/ and when played with Music labs gear which is very good and Trevor’s earlier Speakers often based on copies of good Proac speaker designs using high quality drivers and design at 20-30% cost, that old system would be equal to about a modern day $10-15k setup.

 

5. If your main music genre is metal then you will not hear much difference no matter how good the system as metal is just inherently cluttered SQ to assess anything and you need not explore options any further. Blues, jazz and other genre is more detailed to assess things with. Also, among recorded music there are vast differences in sound quality despite the bit rates. For example, crappily recorded music on ultra high rez through the best system will still sound crap vs well recorded music on less high rez will sound vastly superior.

 

Edited by Al.M

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I do think the compression methods used by streaming companies have come a long way, and I do think Spotify is quite an acceptable sound to feed into a good audio system. However I will stand by my original statement and say Tidal HiFi is still far better again.

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As per above and my setup....

 

4. The reason why an iphone 5 with an old audio system (Music labs amp and Trevor Lees speakers) can be very good is that iPhones and iPods are quite good convincing devices and on highest settings are very good at a low to mid fi level - as good as a budget CD player, see here https://www.cnet.com/news/expert-audio-quality-test-5th-gen-ipod-vs-ipod-classic/ and when played with Music labs gear which is very good and Trevor’s earlier Speakers often based on copies of good Proac speaker designs using high quality drivers and design at 20-30% cost, that old system would be equal to about a modern day $10-15k setup.

 

i reckon this is mostly true.  If I compare to my other setup, it’s chalk and cheese.  The other system - vpi Classic, Lehmann SE2, w4s pre, OAD Power, Osborn Epitomes - is waaaay more revealing.  Details in cymbals, strings, vocals - just no comparison.

BUT the point remains - there’s no point having such detail unless to sit down and listen to it!

 

Thus, when it comes to streaming for myself and our place, practicality and user simplicity  trumps all other attributes........

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I can hear the difference between them through headphones easily. Through my Genelec speakers it's hard to tell the difference because my rooms not treated. 

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25 minutes ago, Mat-with-one-t said:

As per above and my setup....

 

4. The reason why an iphone 5 with an old audio system (Music labs amp and Trevor Lees speakers) can be very good is that iPhones and iPods are quite good convincing devices and on highest settings are very good at a low to mid fi level - as good as a budget CD player, see here https://www.cnet.com/news/expert-audio-quality-test-5th-gen-ipod-vs-ipod-classic/ and when played with Music labs gear which is very good and Trevor’s earlier Speakers often based on copies of good Proac speaker designs using high quality drivers and design at 20-30% cost, that old system would be equal to about a modern day $10-15k setup.

 

i reckon this is mostly true.  If I compare to my other setup, it’s chalk and cheese.  The other system - vpi Classic, Lehmann SE2, w4s pre, OAD Power, Osborn Epitomes - is waaaay more revealing.  Details in cymbals, strings, vocals - just no comparison.

BUT the point remains - there’s no point having such detail unless to sit down and listen to it!

 

Thus, when it comes to streaming for myself and our place, practicality and user simplicity  trumps all other attributes........

This is exactly streaming for me.

 

LP is my preference.

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For critical speaker listening sessions and discerning which setup is better sounding by smaller margins, only the sweet spot in the narrow equidistant listening triangle is relevant.

 

Unless you have a truly omnidirectional or other speaker system. Dont laugh at one of the pics below ;)

 

 

 

6DDBCC31-F604-4CEE-88F9-A1832B47FB23.jpeg

FF43A343-56AC-4D76-A7AF-A8ED507574AC.png

EC6D8ADE-E6A4-4CC5-8A66-3C37C2E51472.jpeg

Edited by Al.M

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