Is HDtracks better than Tidal? Do I need to do something with settings?


I am having the opposite reaction than I thought I would.

When I compare tracks in HDtracks and Tidal, I think Tidal sounds better.  This is surprising to me, so I thought I would mention how I'm playing the music and see if others have comments or advice.

When Playing Tidal:
Creek Evolution 100A integrated amplifier
Creek Ruby internal DAC
Bluesound Node 2 (output to Creek DAC via optical Toslink)
Tidal (streamed to Bluesound through 100mbps internet connection)

When Playing HDTracks:
Creek Evolution 100A integrated amplifier
Creek Ruby internal DAC
MacBook Air playing HDtracks music through JRiver program and USB out to Creek Ruby internal DAC 

I can easily A/B both sources by playing them simultaneously and switching inputs on my Creek integrated.  

Loudspeakers are PSB Imagine T2s.  

I'm wondering what's going on because my Creek will confirm Tidal is 44.1 whereas HDtracks are coming in at various rates but all tracks tested are better than 44.1/16 bit.    Last night it was clear that Cat Stevens, Tea for the Tillerman, sounded significantly better through Tidal, yet my HDtracks album was at 96khz/24 bit.  The Creek can accept up to 192/24bit. 

Any comments, directive/advice? I'm confused. I'm happy Tidal sounds so great, but I was just trying to see if I could maximize the Creek DAC and try better quality files to do it.  

I'm super curious to what folks think!


jbhiller
I was really hoping for some advice here. Anyone!? Please, I could use it.  
Sounds like it might be a software issue on the Macbook.  Have you tried any other playback software for comparison?

Try this one...

http://coppertino.com/vox/mac
THANK YOU!!!!!!
In my opinion, this is because the Bluesound Node 2 is an excellent sounding piece for streaming Tidal. We're a relatively new Bluesound dealer and I've been greatly impressed by the sound of the Node 2 feeding a digital signal to a good quality DAC. Tidal streaming via the Node 2 is extremely impressive. Once again, in my opinion, I don't think a MacBook will match up to the Bluesound unless highly tweeked. Even, then I'd guess the Bluesound would probably still win the fight. Also to note, while I'm a fan of JRiver Media for a PC, I think there are other options that probably sound better for a Mac such as Audirvana Plus.

Why don't you try comparing the music from HDtracks played back via the Node 2 vs your MacBook? That could give you some great insight.
Thanks Everest.  Yes, I am very happy with the Node 2.  Strangely, I haven't tested the Node 2's own internal DAC. I've just been using it by toslink to feed my Creek Ruby DAC and it sounds amazing. 

I may play around a bit. It seems, though, that I've stumbled across great sound from Tidal, Node 2, and the Creek Ruby DAC. So, I'll just be happy and enjoy the music.  With the money I save from not buying on HDTracks, I can buy more vinyl!

Tidal is a phenomenal service!
Ditto appreciation for Tidal.  Quite good overall.