Be sure to check the manner of your Tidal access. Tidal HiFi (the highest quality streaming service they provide) requires access via Google Chrome. The HiFi letters seen lower right when on-line with Tidal will NOT be highlighted if you are NOT accessing via Chrome. When I was using Safari on my MacBookAir to trial Tidal, I really wasn’t getting HiFi though I did not know this at the time - so it was tough to hear differences between Tidal and Spotify Premium. Now that I’m getting Tidal HiFi via an Aries Mini, I can hear a difference on the main system. Tidal is better...but to me, it’s not "game changing better" (some will disagree vehemently with that assessment). On the other hand, given the same album on Tidal or Spotify, I’ll choose to stream from Tidal. I do greatly enjoy Spotify however - find the sonics entirely satisfactory, love its ease of use, and the completeness of the Spotify library vs Tidal’s. I’m uncertain how much of Tidal’s SQ advantage would be preserved in an automobile listening environment.
Thank you so much. I download the Tidal Software on the Mac so I am the browser does not matter in that case.
I appreciate the information. I have not played extensively with either but I a getting used to the Tidal interface on iOS and my mac.
I can tell you that even bluetooth from my phone with Tidal downloads and Pandora at its best is night and day. Pandora is mostly horrible. Plugging in with Tidal is CD equivalent to my ears.
Pandora needs to up the streaming rate, that's for sure.
Spotify premium isn't bad. Compared to Tidal, it is a close second. There has been some noise about Spotify moving to higher streaming rates recently. If so, it will probably knock Tidal back a bit.
Believe me, I want Tidal to be a player, but the selection on non-current genres is lacking. And, I'm not a hiphop fan, unfortunately.
I have subscriptions to Pandora, Spotify and Tidal HIFI. Tidal (HIFI only) is WAY better in sound quality than the other two, no contest. I have the others because, Pandora has a better random selection of music when I just want to listen to background jazz in a particular style through my Sonos player, Spotify was what my kids said I should get (it has the best selection of stuff the young set wants) and it does give a better selection of exercise music for the gym but the sound quality sucks (kids don't care).
I have never heard tidal, but spotify is ok on earbuds/cellphone, can be ok on a stereo but it depends on the time of day in my experience;. I have a membership and sometimes, usually friday evenings and saturdays, i have to switch to pandora because spotify streams at 64kbps or less. It is very rare when it sounds actually decent.
I do not think you need google chrome to get the full bandwidth for tidal I’ve been running the tidal app on my PC and getting the highest rates available for the specific tracks i can tell as my DAC switches with the rate (even tried the MQA with a loner dac to good effect). that said i can not say how it works on apple devices so sorry if i’m out of line or miss informed.
"I do not think you need google chrome to get the full bandwidth for tidal ...."
I'm merely reporting what pops up on my MacBook when I use Safari to log into my Tidal subscription account and click on HiFi in the lower right. HiFi is grayed out but a pop up window opens with 3 streaming choices: Normal, Hi, & HiFi/Master. HiFi/Master is grayed out with a message below it: "HiFi playback is only available in Google Chrome." Yeah, maybe this is something only encountered with an Apple product. It was simple to work around by using Google Chrome to access Tidal.
everyone should take this test before weighing in on the spotify vs. tidal issue:
i'm embarrassed to admit that i only chose the lossless file on 4 out of the 6 tracks (missing on the rap and acappella vocal tracks). except at very loud volumes the differences between the lossless and 320kb files was small, at least to my declining ears. ergo, since i'm not typically listening in an ideal environment, i've opted for the more expansive library, better ui (and cheaper price) of spotify .
Great NPR link. I got every song correct except for the Suzanne Vega track. To be fair, I did the test initially using my iPhone and a cheap pair of plug style head phones, after getting 2 correct, I did the test again using a decent pair of IME headphones, did a lot better. I'm still having a hard time hearing the difference with the Suzanne Vega track. I listen to each track twice, sometimes 3 times. If you know what to listen for, most of the songs are easy.
Thanks, Portland. You reminded me and now that you mention it I do recall downloading Tidal back when I first trialled it. At that time, I was streaming Spotify & Tidal and playing ALAC ripped CDs via USB out of the MacBook. Got rid of Tidal when I cancelled the trial subscription because I couldn't hear a major diff. between it & Spotify (similar decision process as what Loomisjohnson reports). More recently, got an Aries Mini that came with a Tidal subscription. With this I can hear more of a difference between the two services but still think it's not huge; i.e., listening on the main system to Spotify doesn't leave me pining for Tidal. I still use the MacBook as a source for headphone listening at night. I wonder if having Tidal on the desktop would eliminate some of the buffering delays I encounter when playing from the Tidal site via Google Chrome. Okay. Thanks again for your reminder.
Ghosthouse, I have not had any buffering at all during my trial. So maybe the download is better for that? I am not sure.
I am pretty sure I cannot hear a difference with Spotify and Tidal on my Mac and iPhone. But I wonder if I bluetooth stream a Tidal download vs Spotify download in the car if I will? Right now Tidal via bluetooth in the car is pretty good but Pandora is way worse.
Back to the NPR tracks. Using my iPhone, and $50 headphones or my Mac with these headphones left me guessing and I only got a couple of them right and picked the 128 twice!
At 48 I guess my hearing is not as good as it used to be. Having said that, I could hear some differences and I think my expectations were wrong. Since I don’t remember which is which I may try again and I may also try it through a real system.
The things I was trying to key in on were space between instruments, flattened sound, harmonics, lack of extension.
None of it panned out. I do think that perhaps and that is a perhaps is that the 128 sounds a bit more rolled off and that would make sense. But the unexpected part is I kind of like what seemed like a midrange emphasis.
Spotify is clearly enough for my phone, computer, car listening.
I do wonder if adding a DAC like a Dragonfly would change this outcome?