Minimum Broadband Speed Necessary For Uninterrupted Qobuz and/or Tidal Listening?

I live in a sparsely populated rural area with only a few Internet providers. I currently have 25Mb DSL from CenturyLink (previously Sprint landline) and I subscribe to both Qobuz and Tidal. My actual DSL speed varies from about 18Mb up to 25Mb and this can vary during the day. My hardware includes a Bluesound Node 2i connected by a short Ethernet cable (Not using a wireless connection) to my CenturyLink DSL router.

I can rarely listen for more than 20 minutes or so without experiencing what I would deem dropouts in either the Qobuz or Tidal music stream, or the stream will simply freeze and I have to hit the “play” icon to re-start the music stream. I do seem to suffer a few more problems listening to Qobuz than Tidal, and I attribute this to Qobuz’s multiple higher resolution offerings (higher resolution than Redbook CD) vs, the MQA offerings from Tidal which I believe use a bit less bandwidth than Quobuz’s higher resolution offerings.

I recently started listening to the four lossless radio streams with MQA encoding now offered by Radio Paradise, and interestingly enough I DO NOT have these dropouts and/or music freezes with the Radio Paradise streams. And the MQA feeds from Radio Paradise are always glitch-free compared to Tidal and Qobuz.

These dropouts/freezes suggest my CenturyLink 25Mb DSL speed is not enough for either Qobuz and Tidal and that I need to purchase more bandwidth. 25Mb is CenturyLink’s maximum speed in my area, but I can get fibre connectivity in increments ranging from 45Mb up to 1Gb and cable connectivity in increments ranging from 50Mb up to 1,5Gb, and StarLink satellite service from Space X at 70Mb ($100/month, no data cap) plus $600 for satellite equipment is now available in my area.

I’m interested in your thoughts regarding the minimum broadband speed I need, and whether I should select cable or fibre to upgrade to?
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Whatever is the broadband speed of FM, that is what you need. Pretty sure you will be able to get FM, even without a satellite.

I like vinyl rules, but have you gone off the deep end?
18-25 is more than enough. You can stream most higher def video with 10-14 easily, which requires more than simply audio. Now, that said, how many are using the WiFi in your home at one time? If you are running 3-5 streaming services at once, then yes, it’s possible you can run into issues, as that 18-25 is being shared by more than one device.

Thus, if your only streaming one or two devices, and the internet is dropping, it may be another issue other than speed.

it’s easy to get sucked into ‘I need more speed’ and pay an exorbitant amount for something you don’t require. But as I say, if you have a house full of people all streaming various devices at once, then you may have to consider speed. I learned and reduced my speed by a third, but I am in my home alone, and only streaming from one or devices at a time, max.
I believe MQA streams at about 1400 kbs, about the same as cd. Here is some info from the Qobuz website about streaming rates:

  • The quality of an audio product is often defined by its bitrate and therefore by its resolution. To reproduce a sound with maximum fidelity, ensuring its resolution is important. For example, Hi-Res sound uses 24-Bit resolution with a sampling frequency ranging between 44.1 and 192 kHz. 24-Bit resolution promises a dynamic range of 144dB and therefore an optimal listening experience for a lossless converted audio product.

  • The use of different audio qualities generates files with extremely varied sizes. The higher the bitrate, the bigger the sizes of the files generated. An hour of music in Hi-Res 24-Bit / 192 kHz takes up 2GB whereas 635MB are required to store the same amount in CD quality. In the case of streaming, the size and therefore the quality of the files should be chosen depending on the bitrate of internet available. With a theoretical maximum bitrate of 13 Mb/s, an ADSL is adequate for CD quality streaming (at 1.411 Mb/s). For Hi-Res sound streaming at a bitrate of 9.2 Mb/s, it is clear that you can quickly reach the ADSL limit. A fiber connection would therefore be preferable. For smartphone streaming, most platforms offer an MP3 format with a maximum bitrate of 320 Kb/s.

Qobuz - Discover and understand high-quality music with Qobuz streaming and downloads.

I stream Qobuz with a download rate of 50 Mbps and have a dropout once in a while.  

I appreciate the answers so far. There is only my wife and myself sharing our connection and she is often streaming movies whilst I’m listening to music. We use an Asus small-enterprise wireless N router that was advertised as supporting up to 20 users (probably overkill for just us two) and no one else has access to our network - Nearest neighbor is about 1/2 mile distant and our network is locked down.

I now really think my issue is just crappy DSL service from the local telco.

Six months ago I was using the same Bluesound Node 2i and Asus router in a townhouse in Raleigh with 200Mb cable service from Spectrum and we never even had a hiccup. We sold the townhouse and moved to the “sticks” and I’m paying $45/month for 25Mb DSL service while with Spectrum I was paying the same for 200Mb cable service.

I think the comment from Tomcy6 identified my issue when he noted he had a dropout once in a while with 50Mb, twice my speed. Thank you, Tomcy6 as your comment is extremely helpful.

I was hoping to get by with 25Mb but it would seem I need a faster connection for streaming lossless music. And I’m going to hypothesize Qobuz requires faster and/or more bandwidth than Tidal because much of Qobuz’s content is higher resolution music.

One thing I’m curious about is if the stability of a broadband signal at the same speed is the same on DSL, coaxial cable, and fibre optic? Is one of these three broadband transmission mediums more stable and/or consistent than the other? Since I can move up to either fibre or cable, I’d like to pick the one that will be the most consistent.
I have a similar problem with Qobuz. It also happens, though less so, with my Primephonic subscription. I can stream CD quality just fine but when I switch to hi-def, a good 80% of the time it either simply won't load up or it'll stop running after about a tenth of a second. Qobuz puts the blame on me while my streamer maker (Mytek) blames Qobuz.  One of them (I think Qobuz) asked for, and got from me, an analysis of my internet speed. That party has not gotten back to me...which means my internet speed is probably up to snuff. Anyway, it now only happens less than 50% of the time so I think somebody's working on the problem. Meantime, when it happens I just revert to CD quality and suffer mightily (it still sounds pretty damn good...if a fair amount less good).
I think the bottleneck is streaming both movies and music, especially so given your network speed.
Are you using wired or wireless streaming?
24/192 Flac Encoded, 50% compression efficiency, 25% overhead, and you are looking at 5-6 megabits/second.

If you go into your router, you may be able to give priority to your audio device so it gets bandwidth before anything else.
It might be worth to try AC router instead of N.
It’s not your router or anything inside your house, it’s the copper network. Copper is shared with all your neighbors and that’s why your speed varies. Also with copper, your download speeds are 10x faster than your upload speed. Also copper is noisy. Get fiber if you can, you will get a clean, stable, and no dropouts. With 1G fiber, I get 980Mb up and down, if you get 100M fiber, you would get almost 100Mb up and down. Fiber is also cheap, I pay less than $50 a month for 1Gb fiber
One more thought.  Are you both using the same 2 GHZ wifi channel, assuming you are operating on WiFi?   If so, could one of you move to a 5 GHz channel to gain some frequency diversity and the higher bandwidth at 5 GHz?
Agreed on a few points if you're streaming movies and music at the same time your speed is a bit too low. And also the channel 5G is often much less crowded than 2.4G its worth checking out.
gdnrbob, jrh1970, and jond,

Thank you for your feedback. - I appreciate you taking the time to respond.

To answer your questions:

(1) I’m using only a hard-wired connection from my CenturyLink modem/router combo to my Bluesound Node 2i. The output of the Bluesound is hard-wired to an input on my preamp. So the Qobuz signal comes in on my DSL line and is sent via a wired connection from my modem/router to the Bluesound which in turn sends the Qobuz signal via a wired connection to my preamp. At no point in this process is the Qobuz signal sent wirelessly, it’s only handled via wired connections.

(2) I only use 5Gb channels when possible on my wireless router. I’m in a rural area and my closest neighbor is over 1/2 miles away. No networks other than my own show up on a network scan. My wireless network hosts 2 iPads (always on). 2 iPhones (always on) 1 PC (used about 2 hours.week), 1 Amazon Fire Tablet (always on, used to control Qobuz and Tidal), 1 Nest thermostat (always on), 1 Ring doorbell (always on, hard-wired for power), 1 Apple TV (always on), and 3 Echo Dot’s (airways on).

(3) The maximum number of wireless devices not at rest and in actual use at any given moment by either myself and/or my wife would be 2 iPads, 2 iPhones, 1 Amazon Fire tablet, and the Apple TV. The Nest, the Ring, and the three Dot’s are almost always in a dormant state.

tomcy6’s response to my question was also very helpful when he noted “I stream Qobuz with a download rate of 50 Mbps and have a dropout once in a while.” This suggests that I need more speed, particularly if the wireless devices in use in our home are having a negative impact on my music streaming even when they are in a dormant state.

I suspect when a manufacturer conducts Alpha and Beta testing of their internet devices that they likely test them in a lab environment devoid of any other internet connectivity. This would permit them to say my device will work properly at an xxMb broadband speed. And I would suggest when you begin adding additional devices to a network carrying a Qobuz signal, the impact of these devices, even when dormant, requires a faster Qobuz signal so it will have no dropouts.

No manufacturer of a device that connects to the Internet can foresee if the environment in which their internet device is to be used is going to be a congested network environment or a non-congested environment.

Ergo, it’s in their corporate interests to specify a usable connectivity speed devoid of any network devices competing for bandwidth on the tested devices’ s network.

So that means we consumers of devices that are used on the Internet in our home have to look at the IoT for all network devices in our home network and purchase sufficient bandwidth so everything operates smoothly and without hiccups. So, as we add more IoT devices to our home network we have to purchase more bandwidth to accommodate these additional devices. And I guess we have to do this by trial and error.

So I must conclude there is no easy answer to my original question.

I will state again, learn how to set up your router to prioritize your music streaming connection.

Streamers buffer, that means they can accept short periods without connectivity.  Give priority to the most important data streams and drop outs become far less frequent.  I always have to do this as I have multiple computers with cloud storage and a few people in the house at times. You are often limited to the number of active connections at one time (active traffic paths) which can cause latency issues.