The existence of Qobuz and Primephonic make me one very happy audio-fool. Ah yes, the 21st Century is good for something.
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TIDAL, because Qobuz was not available in the US when I signed up. But, now that it is, I have been thinking of giving Qobuz a try and re-think keeping/maintaining TIDAL.
Reality is, I don’t stream much at all, and if Qobuz is cheaper, (which I understand it is), it might make sense just from an economic stand point.
I switched from Tidal to Qobuz and am much happier — better user experience and no MQA unfolding crap to deal with, and Qobuz is cheaper. TAS recently did a review of the hi-res streaming services and AMZN came in last due largely to poor hi-res audio quality, so to me it’s just not ready for audiophile prime time yet. Hope this helps.
My listening notes of the services:
Round 1, Spotify Premium vs Qobuz: I have Spotify Premium with a Family subscription. From a value standpoint, Spotify was my default choice that has the best search as well as working well for my family. From a critical listening perspective in my auditioning sessions, Spotify actually is not bad at conveying detail, pace and presence from music. It sounds musical. Any shortcomings that it has are errors of omission rather than errors of commission. I can listen to Spotify especially in mobile settings and be engaged and immersed in the music. After listening for a longer period of time, Qobuz is clearly better at conveying detail, transparency/clarity, pace and presence, but Spotify doesn't do anything noticeably wrong.
Round 2, Qobuz vs Tidal: So far Qobuz is clearly better than Tidal even listening through pretty cheap desktop passive speakers. Tidal sounds very two dimensional and flat in its sound quality but with some harshness in the high frequencies. I'll listen a bit more to Tidal, but so far I'm not impressed at all. Spotify Premium even seems to sound better than Tidal.
Some additional thoughts about Tidal after listening on higher quality equipment. I think they have applied some equalization to boost the bass and treble. In the process, I think side effects of doing this is to take out some of the presence of voices and instruments and add an artificial quality to voices and instruments.. Qobuz sounds a LOT better. Spotify Premium also sounds better. To my ears at least. (Disclaimer: Your results may vary). I'm currently listening to a track that is a MQA file on Tidal vs a CD quality file on Qobuz. The CD quality file on Qobuz sounds a LOT fuller and more natural.
Not a big fan of hip hop, but decided to listen to something that is squarely in Tidal's area of focus. I listened to 'The Box' by Roddy Ricch which is a MQA file on Tidal and CD quality on Qobuz. Same results. The Qobuz file sounds fuller and has more presence. Almost sounds like two different recordings when listening on Qobuz vs Tidal.
Round 3, Qobuz vs Amazon HD: Winner for me is Qobuz for the following reasons. Amazon: Sounds more flat. Less drive than Qobuz so that some music sounds like it is plodding along. Sound is less full. Amazon HD doesn't necessarily do anything wrong (as does Tidal), but also clearly not as good as Qobuz to my ears.Qobuz: Much more presence than Amazon HD. More 3-dimensional. Better pace and drive. Better low-frequency response & definition. More range to conveying the emotion in music: (i.e., calmer for calmer music & more drive & pace for more upbeat music)
Round 4, IDAGIO vs Qobuz: Clear winner for me is Qobuz. My impressions are that Qobuz sounds fuller, has more low frequency weight and is able to convey a broader range of expression from greater calm to more drive. Qobuz also seems to have more realistic tonal quality for instruments especially for string instruments.I think this is due to greater clarity and definition from the music as reproduced by Qobuz. I thought that IDAGIO's search design would be compelling to me for listening to classical music, but I'm finding that I actually like Qobuz's search better than that on IDAGIO
Round 5: Qobuz vs Primephonic:
Sound quality: A Primephonic's sound quality was quite good, but Qobuz' sound quality was still noticeably better. Qobuz provides more presence around instruments and voices while Primephonic, though good, tends to sound more 2-dimensional in its sound quality. The benefit of more presence is that recordings are more engaging because they sound more alive rather than just being reproduced.
@bkeske Given your love of classical music, you might like Qobuz better.
I have Qobuz, Tidal, Spotify, and Pandora. The last two obviously are not "Hi-Res"
Qobuz is my go-to. I like the fact that it is more focused towards the music I like (classic rock, jazz, alt-indie), has a lot of hi-res content that doesn’t have a gimmicky "folder", and the fact that they’ve lowered the price doesn’t hurt.
Tidal’s focus on hip-hop and R&B means I have to wade through a lot of stuff that I’m not that interested in and I’m not really on board with the MQA thing. It does however sometimes have material that I can’t find on Qobuz and if I want to just let some music play without having to pick something out, the "My Mix" feature is really nice.
I listen to Spotify in the car mostly, it seems to do a great job of finding music that I’m not familiar with based on my listening habits. The Discovery Weekly and Daily Mix features are what keep me coming back to Spotify.
I listen to Pandora when I work out. Its Techno station plays some great high energy stuff. I haven’t been able to just click on something and have it play the type of selections it does on the other services. Sound quality is not that great, but it sounds surprisingly good through my Aqua DAC.
For my high end audio system I started out with Tidal and when Qobuz became available, had both for a while, thought I really didn't need both (especially since I could find everything I wanted to listen to on both), so I did an interesting A-B test, streaming the same content in 44.1/16, from the same source and into the same DAC using the same input and for some unexplained reason, if there was an audible difference, the Qobuz stream sounds slightly better. So I dropped my Tidal subscription.
My wife enjoys our Spotify subscription and we have a pair of KEF LS50 wireless speakers in the "open concept" area of our home, that works great too!
It all depends on your system and the synergy of the music services as rendered by your streamer. I have tried Tidal, Qobuz and Amazon HD and preferred Tidal over others. I have a MQA capable DAC and it sounds great to me. And cost wise BestBuy has Tidal subscription deals which makes it really cost effective. $49. For first year and $120 for renewals for their top tier. While Tidal ‘promotes’ certain genre of music, I had found they had pretty much the same releases as Qobuz, and if you have Roon it pretty much recommends the music for you based on your listening history.
Try out the free trials of each of the services and compare for yourself. Each person’s experience will be different.
misstl-- For me, the multi-thread tendency here can be traced to the wacky way Audiogon presents itself on-screen...at least via my Microsoft Laptop. Compared to the other website/chat rooms I frequent, this website is just plain difficult to navigate. Sometimes I just want to reach into cyberspace and futz with a couple of the 'gon's interconnects.