Author Topic: Tidal or Qobuz SQ/Bandwidth Question  (Read 419 times)

Offline James Edward

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Tidal or Qobuz SQ/Bandwidth Question
« on: September 28, 2021, 02:18:50 PM »
So, I do love the sound I’m getting via Tidal to Bluesound node to my Esoteric K-07x (using coax) as a DAC. However, my Nervosa reads on and off that Qobuz must sound better because a hi-res file is not MQA encoded(compressed) as it is through Tidal. The way it is configured has been pretty much bulletproof. I have no dropouts, quirks, etc. It just works as reliably as FM radio.

So… Has anyone here used or use both services, and do you find a qualitative difference between the two? The Bluesound Node does ‘unfold’ the MQA file, and the DAC display shows it as 88.2 or 96, depending. As I stated, I think it sounds excellent.

However… There is always room for improvement. So I’m willing to give the two services a side by side comparison.

Therefore… Do you think that Qobuz might be more of a strain on my limited bandwidth, unsophisticated, wifi way of listening? I ask because of the uncompressed file sizes being streamed. There is no way to hardwire my connection due to my house construction. I ask this because I don’t want to spend the trial month of Qobuz doing troubleshooting.

I may be overthinking this, and if it doesn’t work out, I’d just cancel. But forewarned is forearmed, and all that BS…

Any thoughts/insights/input appreciated.

Jim





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Offline P.I.

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Re: Tidal or Qobuz SQ/Bandwidth Question
« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2021, 03:15:31 PM »
So, I do love the sound I’m getting via Tidal to Bluesound node to my Esoteric K-07x (using coax) as a DAC. However, my Nervosa reads on and off that Qobuz must sound better because a hi-res file is not MQA encoded(compressed) as it is through Tidal. The way it is configured has been pretty much bulletproof. I have no dropouts, quirks, etc. It just works as reliably as FM radio.

So… Has anyone here used or use both services, and do you find a qualitative difference between the two? The Bluesound Node does ‘unfold’ the MQA file, and the DAC display shows it as 88.2 or 96, depending. As I stated, I think it sounds excellent.

However… There is always room for improvement. So I’m willing to give the two services a side by side comparison.

Therefore… Do you think that Qobuz might be more of a strain on my limited bandwidth, unsophisticated, wifi way of listening? I ask because of the uncompressed file sizes being streamed. There is no way to hardwire my connection due to my house construction. I ask this because I don’t want to spend the trial month of Qobuz doing troubleshooting.

I may be overthinking this, and if it doesn’t work out, I’d just cancel. But forewarned is forearmed, and all that BS…

Any thoughts/insights/input appreciated.

Jim
Great topic.

I tried them both and chose to go with Tidal because the SQ is excellent (remember: I am 73, so YMMV) and I much prefer the interface when using a Mac as a digital front end.  Also, I use NOS 16-bit DACs because I prefer them to higher rez formats because I have ~ 3TB of music in Redbook and the whole world supports Redbook and not DSD 64-bit 16 jillion kHz data.  :lol:
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Offline Jack

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Re: Tidal or Qobuz SQ/Bandwidth Question
« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2021, 06:21:37 PM »
I have had both since 2016 and the sound quality is better with Qobuz to my ears on four different systems. The Hi Res files on Qobuz are FLAC files and not DSD files.  If you are using Coax out of the Node to the Esoteric you are only getting the first unfold from MQA so not sure what the benefit of the MQA would be plus if it matters to you Qobuz is cheaper.  I only keep the Tidal subscription as my daughter uses it and I occasionally find something on an obscure independent label that is not on Qobuz but if she wasn't using it I would cancel.
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Offline James Edward

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Re: Tidal or Qobuz SQ/Bandwidth Question
« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2021, 05:29:30 PM »
I have had both since 2016 and the sound quality is better with Qobuz to my ears on four different systems. The Hi Res files on Qobuz are FLAC files and not DSD files.  If you are using Coax out of the Node to the Esoteric you are only getting the first unfold from MQA so not sure what the benefit of the MQA would be plus if it matters to you Qobuz is cheaper.  I only keep the Tidal subscription as my daughter uses it and I occasionally find something on an obscure independent label that is not on Qobuz but if she wasn't using it I would cancel.
I’m more than a bit ignorant on various file nomenclatures- I will take your word that Qobuz sounds better; but what do you think about the full file coming across? Is there a significant bandwidth difference between using MQA, where the ‘heavy lifting’ so to speak, is done in the streamer or dac, and Qobuz, where the full file is sent.
I may be over thinking this- but do you think my very basic internet service can handle a full file from Qobuz as well as it does the compressed MQA file, where the heavy lifting is done by the streamer and dac. I’ve had zero dropouts, etc., using Tidal.

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Offline Jack

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Re: Tidal or Qobuz SQ/Bandwidth Question
« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2021, 06:30:20 PM »
I don't see why there would necessarily be an issue but it is easy enough to get the 30 day free trial and see for yourself.  Then you can try the two head to head Hi-Res vs single unfold MQA.
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Offline James Edward

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Re: Tidal or Qobuz SQ/Bandwidth Question
« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2021, 04:05:01 AM »
Ok thank you. I guess a ‘shootout’ between the two services will be the focus of my next get together.
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Offline tmazz

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Re: Tidal or Qobuz SQ/Bandwidth Question
« Reply #6 on: September 30, 2021, 09:33:05 AM »
I have to agree with Jack on two points. First,when I was running both services at the same time I felt that Qobuz had better SQ, not only on MQA vs  native Hi Res files, but even when comparing Redbook versions. Not a huge difference. I could have easily lived with either one, but if you listened critically the differences were there.

I also agree that the only way to know for sure is to sign up for the free trial and compare them yourself. But.... this is much easier said than done. Both service do not do a good job at identifying the sources of each album. For example, they both have quite a few copies of the Miles Davis Kind of Blue album but give virtually no information of the source of each version. Just like with CDs or LP different mastering most often sound different. So it is very difficult to compare the two services. Since you have a hard time knowing if you are listening to the same version of a recording it is tough to know if any SQ differences come from the different masterings or the different services. I found the only way I could be reasonably sure I was listing to the same masterings was to pick something that was a brand new release and if it was only on the market for a week or to I could feel reasonable certain that there was at that point only one mastering floating around.

As to doing a shoot out at a G2G I would be careful about that. It is good to have another set of ears or two to get some different perspectives, but I would at least have the decision making session attended by only tow or three other people. The differences between the two services are not going to be bold, but rather exists around the "audiophile edges" and as such may be tough to discern if you have a large group of people in the room.  Not only will a large group force people to listen off axis in sub-optimal listen positions, but putting a significantly larger than usual number of bodies in a room definitely changes the room acoustics and therefor the sound as compared to how it is when you usually listen to your system.

Having as shoot-out type event as a meeting topis is all well and good on it's own, but I would suggest that you do the meeting outside of the listening you do for decision making purposes.

Lastly, while there are slight differences in SQ between the two services I think the bigger and more significant difference is in their library contents. The two service seem to cater to different audiences. Tidal focuses more on Urban and more current artists than does Qobuz, which I found was better for Classical, Vintage Jazz and more Classic Rock type music. (no comment on either collection being better or worse that the other, just reporting what I saw in the catalogs) This should be no big surprise considering that Jay-Z was a long time principle in Tidal.  So when comparing the two services take some time and look at the catalogs that each of them offer. IMO the SQ differences are relatively small and it would be more important to me to be able to get more of the music that I would tend to listen to. (My experience with Qobuz was mostly before their US launch, when I had a European account with them., so I can't really vouch for what the US catalog look like right now, but the idea is still the same.
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Offline tmazz

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Re: Tidal or Qobuz SQ/Bandwidth Question
« Reply #7 on: September 30, 2021, 09:44:49 AM »
As far as bitrates go, a raw 2 channel 192/24 file has a bitrate of 9.2 Mb/Sec (192,00 sample X 24 bits per sample X 2 channels). When packages in the FLAC format that 9.2 Mb drops down to about 7 Mb/s. This should be no problem for any internet service except DSL. And any fairly recent WiFi system should have not trouble passing it either. Of course like anything else in the hobby the only way to know for sure it to try it.

By comparison the bitrates for a 96/24 signal are about half that of a 192/24. However an MQA encoded signal is packaged within a normal Redbook stream and that is what would be transmitted from the internet and your Bluesound Node and that bitrate is in the 1.5 Mb/s range when packaged in the FLAC format.

Further info, if you are so inclined:

https://www.qobuz.com/be-nl/info/hi-fi/bancs-d-essai/will-my-internet-bandwidth-be179216

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Offline P.I.

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Re: Tidal or Qobuz SQ/Bandwidth Question
« Reply #8 on: September 30, 2021, 09:50:44 AM »
Tom, +1 on identifying the source material.  Which from where is critically important.

An ancient case in point:  our oldest daughter and son-in-law had a Columbia Record Club membership years ago.  We were at their home and she put on Bonnie Raitt's "Luck of the Draw" CD and it just sucked.  I mentioned the bad SQ and my son-in-law said that it was digital, so that couldn't be true. I had them bring their copy over when they came to Sunday dinner.  Their copy was narrow, flat, no depth and truncated.  You should have seen the expression on the face of the guy that always had to be the 'biggest brain in the room'.  :rofl:  Humility learned the hard way.

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Offline James Edward

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Re: Tidal or Qobuz SQ/Bandwidth Question
« Reply #9 on: September 30, 2021, 01:07:01 PM »
Thanks- all points taken. I’m especially sensitive to the noise at any get together- I probably complain more about it than most. I would just do it for fun- no critical decision will be made.
I signed up Qobuz this morning, so I’ll see how it goes.
As far as bandwidth goes, my very unscientific 30 minutes before work listening went fine- my wife happened to be on a Zoom meeting and there were no hiccups with streaming.
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Re: Tidal or Qobuz SQ/Bandwidth Question
« Reply #10 on: September 30, 2021, 09:55:21 PM »
I guess I need to do another audition.  I only use the Redbook format on Tidal, but I reckon it bears giving Qobuz another listen.
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Offline James Edward

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Re: Tidal or Qobuz SQ/Bandwidth Question
« Reply #11 on: October 01, 2021, 03:09:38 PM »
Call me crazy, but my initial impression is that Qobuz is not to my liking vs Tidal. There seems to be a slight tizz on top that is not conducive to my enjoyment of music. I have definitely not spent enough time with it yet, but at the outset, I’m not digging what I hear.

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Offline tmazz

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Re: Tidal or Qobuz SQ/Bandwidth Question
« Reply #12 on: October 01, 2021, 04:41:15 PM »
I think in the discussions I have had with folks about Tidal vs Qobuz the preferences have been split pretty much evenly. Who know, maybe it is somehow system dependent. But at the end of the day it's your system and the only one who has to be happy with your choice is you.

Pick whichever service works better for you based on SQ, music selection and ease of use. And once you do just sit back and enjoy it. You don't need to apologize or explain your choice to anyone.
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Offline P.I.

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Re: Tidal or Qobuz SQ/Bandwidth Question
« Reply #13 on: October 01, 2021, 08:11:39 PM »
Call me crazy, but my initial impression is that Qobuz is not to my liking vs Tidal. There seems to be a slight tizz on top that is not conducive to my enjoyment of music. I have definitely not spent enough time with it yet, but at the outset, I’m not digging what I hear.
That as myinitial impression.  I only stream on your office system, so I opted for ease of use.  Gayle wants to be able to stream in the listening/den, so I'm going give Qobuz another try and let her see what she hears...

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Offline rollo

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Re: Tidal or Qobuz SQ/Bandwidth Question
« Reply #14 on: October 02, 2021, 11:49:58 AM »
  For me easy to discern. Qobuz takes the cake. For True DSD misic my Aqua Formula  DAC does native DSD. For redbook and 24/192 Qobuz as well.


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