Stream quality: Spotify Connect = Airplay Mcintosh MX122


I have a Mcintosh MX122 that has Spotify Connect.  I am/was under the impression that means my Spotify signal is NOT being compressed like Airplay or bluetooth.  Basically, the unit is streaming directly from Spotify so I'm getting the highest quality possible that Spotify offers.

I was just told that was not correct by McIntosh Tech Support.  They said that Spotify Connect is a fancy term for Airplay basically and that the signal is being compressed in my MX122.  

How the crap am I supposed to know when I'm getting a crappy compressed signal vs the highest quality the service offers?  Don't say by listening haha.

Also, I downloaded Qobuz and Tidal in search of higher quality streams only to find out my MX122 will not natively stream them.  So is it worthless to use those since I can only stream over Airplay or bluetooth?  Doesn't that totally defeat the purpose of Hi Res, FLAC, or MQA?

Maybe I should take my CXN v2 off Craigslist and use it again idk!
dtximages
If you stay with Spotify streaming, I don’t think you can appreciate the difference in streaming sound quality with or without CXN v2.

First off, Spotify taps out at 320kbps. Secondly the DAC in your MX122 is average at best. Both mediocre quality, sorry. McIntosh is not known for high quality DAC’s....they make great sounding preamps, IMHO.

If you really want to upgrade the SQ of streaming, get a component that allows high resolution streaming (Tidal / Qobuz) with a internal high quality DAC. You also needs to ensure a wired Ethernet connection for your streaming device. You can then use analog outputs of your streaming device and go straight into analog inputs on MX122 to enjoy high resolution streaming.
Thanks for your reply.  The DAC in the MX122 is the AK4490EQ which I read about and it seems to be very well liked and found in players ranging from cheap to $20k+.  

Do you think my Cambridge CXN v2 wolfson DAC is "better"?  

Also, knowing that Spotify tops out at 320kbps... I'm also limited with Qobuz and Tidal because they have to be streamed through Airplay which I think also tops out.  So i feel that Spotify is giving me the best streaming capability until I invest thousands more in a streamer that has Qobuz/Tidal built in.  

Am I looking at this right?  

Again: I agree that Qubuz and Tidal offer greater streaming quality, but my Mx122 doesn't have those built in, so in reality, if I stream from them, the quality is being "dumbed down".  Is that correct?





You should try CXN v2 with wired Ethernet Connection and see if it sounds better to your ears. Please do not use Airplay option. Use decent quality analog XLR cables to connect CXN with MX122. 

It's not what sounds better to my ears (it is - but hang on)..  I want to know the quality of which I'm streaming.  Is there not a cool tool that can tell me in real time my bitrate?  Or do I just assume I'm getting 320kbs or whatever because that's the tier I pay for?

Furthermore, am I right to say that Tidal and Qubuz are useless to me because I can only stream through Airplay?  Doesn't airplay dumb down my awesome high res file?  Like driving a Ferrari with a 50mph governor installed? 

Connecting via ethernet is not an option.  I have 1GB internet and wifi is solid as a rock.  

..just listen to the music.
This article and subsequent conversation about AirPlay 2 is about a year old but should answer your question:

https://audiophilestyle.com/ca/contributors/what-airplay-2-means-for-your-listening-setup-r717/#comments

The take-away is AirPlay 2 converts everything (audio) to ALAC and is bit-perfect at 16/44.1. All high res files are re-sampled to 16/44.1. In the end, it depends on the capability of the receiving device (your MX122) for bit-perfect play of the stream.
Ok so, what I'm gathering is that using Tidal/Qubuz on ANY non Tidal/Qobuz equipped player/dac is useless.  I might as well stick with Spotify Connect because the Tidal/Qobuz quality will be degraded to CD quality at best anyway.