TIDAL vs Amazon HD - I’d like some more experienced input (mostly on TIDAL), and offer some of my experience.
Quick relevant system summary: HEOS Link Station2, (Rega Apollo - Original), MIT AVt3 Coax, Marantz AV7702MKII, Audioquest "Water" (Balanced), SMC Audio "GOLD" DNA 0.5, MIT AVt2 (x2-(Bi-wire)), Vandersteen Quatro (original cloth).
Quick Summary: For a few short weeks, I have been listening to Amazon HD (14.99/mo), and I am in AWE, WOW’d, disbelief. It makes what I had been listening to not even worthy of mention (Apollo CD as a transport over MIT AVt3 Coax). However, the technical geek in me rather dislikes the separate HEOS LS2 and being piped in via the coax configuration (I am on the brink of upgrading to a Marantz unit that has HEOS built/baked in just for that reason).
Just yesterday (10/27/2020), I discovered "Roon" ($11.99/mo) believing it could/would manage my Amazon streaming, and pipe it directly through the Ethernet connection on the AV7702MKII and completely bypass the coax connected HEOS LS2 altogether . Upon installation and configuration of Roon, I was disappointed find out it only managed Qobuz and TIDAL ($19.99), and not Amazon HD.
I decided to test drive the Roon/TIDAL (call it $32/mo) combo to see how it performed compared to the Amazon HD ($14.99/mo) I have been listening to for a few weeks.
The difference was rather staggering. On my configuration, Amazon HD over a HEOS LS2 and MIT AVt3 Coax very (let me emphasize that "very") comfortably out performed TIDAL in either or both of a Roon Stream configuration or account/subscription brokered through the same HEOS LS2 combo.
I want to be impressed with TIDAL, but in/thru/with my configuration, when compared to Amazon HD, I am not, not close.
What can I (reasonably) do to prove to myself that TIDAL is better than I have gotten to this point?
I've had a TIDAL subscription for the last year or so.
I use PLEX for managing my audio and video files on my server and access it through initially Bluesound Node 2i and now a Moon by Simaudio 280D.
I have decided to avoid the extra cost of Roon because its cost and wanted to give the software from Bluesound and Simaudio a try.
TIDAL's sound quality is good - especially the "Master" designated tracks. I've enjoyed the experience so much I stream 90% of the time and use my ripped music, vinyl and even cassettes on only rare occasions.
I didn't notice a difference with Amazon HD when using my Node 2i; however, with the new DAC my software doesn't integrate Amazon HD.
My biggest complaint regarding TIDAL is the catalogue - I like classic rock and often times have difficulty finding music I have on vinyl or CD.
Roon can potentially solve the catalog issue yet it would seem having multiple streaming subscriptions is where Roon may really shine.
I am a Qobuz user and have been very pleased with the sound quality. The main problem with Amazon is that there are many streamers out there that won't interface with their service -- Amazon keeps that proprietary, so with my system I can't even try it out.
Amazon lists the brands that support their HD service here (at the bottom of the page): https://www.amazon.com/music/unlimited/why-hd While not a bad list, there is a lot of stuff that isn't on it. I know my setup (using LMS) doesn't support Amazon, but does work with Qobuz, Tidal and Deezer.
BTW, my Qobuz Studio subscription is $14.99/mo or $149.99 a year, so it is competitive price-wise with Amazon.
I use Amazon HD and am generally happy with it. I had a trial subscription to Tidal and hated the interface; couldn't find the music I wanted (mostly classical, specific recordings/artists). I had a trial subscription to Idagio but found their catalog too limited. (They do have a lot of new recordings so others might like them. Their interface is fine.) The biggest annoyance with Amazon HD (for me) is that there is no access to the metadata - often even to the data! E.g. they say this is Hilary Hahn playing Violin Concertos - but they don't tell you the composer. I have been streaming from my MacBookAir with no problems; I am currently introducing an Audiolab streamer, which is supposed to interface happily with Amazon - we will see.
Thought I would share a recent experience... A couple of months ago I auditioned Tidal with two different network streamers, the audiolab 6000n and the Bluesound node 2i. Both units sounded ok, but In the end I went in an entirely different direction. I returned both streamers and decided to use JRiver on a laptop with a Schiit DAC. JRiver will play hi res and normal CD files, but it also allows you to stream Tidal or other similar sources. I found this approach to provide much improved sound quality over the two streamers, plus with JRiver, I can tailor the EQ and other parameters to compensate for some recordings. Best of all (at least for me), I did not have to purchase a streamer to enjoy the sound quality of Tidal or any other music service.
Was using Tidal until AmazonHD launched, made the switch immediately because it's less expensive - paying $11.99 (in addition to typical Amazon Prime - which we already had) for the UltraHD "family" music plan. Allows multiple simultaneous Amazon UltraHD music streams (phones, tablets, Denon Heos, NAD BluOS2i, multiple Alexa's throughout the house). It seems to be a great value, and just as good as Tidal regarding sound quality - even with BluOS native MQA decoding.
Tidal just doesn't have nearly the depth of music catalog compared to Amazon. Also, Amazon Music is easier to purchase (when new music is discovered). Also, Amazon allows download (without purchase) to devices for playing offline - like on a phone when you don't want to waste data streaming. Tidal also seems Rap and R&B centric, which doesn't appeal to my taste for folk and electronica.
Basement HT system center is Denon AVR-X6400H (Heos), and bedroom 2ch system centers around NAD C388 with BluOS2i and HDMI-2 MDC modules (BluOS). Of those two AmazonHD-capable systems (Heos and BluOS), BluOS wins on usability and integration with ALL music services - AmazonHD included. Heos wins on Alexa voice control integration and album art display. Here's an example why: Heos: "Alexa, play Angus and Julia Stone, Yellow Brick Road" - Denon comes to life and GoldenEar Tritons sing. BluOS: "Alexa, tell BlueVoice to play..." - NAD comes to life and maybe plays something that sounds like Yellow Brick Road, or maybe Alexa replies, "I didn't understand". I moved that Alexa device to another room to control another music system, and control NAD C388 BluOS2i with my phone, tablet or PC via BluOS apps.
BluOS does have access to AmazonMusic playlists and favorites, but not the ability to create or modify them. I don't think Heos has access to AmazonMusic playlists - maybe with a future update?
I have both, and for me BluOS has a better streaming service implementation - except Alexa voice control.
getting familiarized with the music streaming services it has always seemed to me that amazon hd is the giant whale shark that will consume all the little swimming seals like quboz tidal the rest
question is do they care about such small markets as the tippity top roon hi res audiophile streaming market to work through the streamer and software compatibility issues just for that small slice of pie
then again, amazon is the most hungry of all the whale sharks for business growth, maybe it will have the attention span to pick up all the little pennies on the sidewalk along with all the grants and benjamins
I compared Tidal and Amazon HD for three months. I desperately wanted to like Amazon because of the cost. But on my system (maybe not yours) Amazon came in second. I'm fine with Tidal's UI, but the search functionality is often terrible. Search for a song and get no results. Then open an "album" and there's the song! Terrible. Now that I've read about the shortcomings of MQA (Tidal), I will compare Tidal with Qobuz.
Amazon’s catalogue is great... only rivaled by possibly Spotify in terms of sheer quantity. I think the ultimate decision comes down to what you want from a streaming service. For my household, the streaming stuff is background, put some tunes on and party, or hang out, do chores etc. all of my HI-res resides on my NAS, and my “real” listening time is vinyl. I’ve not been too impressed with Tidal overall, and Qobuz wound up being “extra”. So, for our house, Amazon and Spotify get the nod.
I have been on Quobuz for 6 months now and love it. Blues, classic rock, metal, and anything else. I have only searched for one artists that was unavailable. Sound quality is excellent. My system is MacBook Pro usb out to schiit dac with unison usb. I would never use Amazon due to their past practices. They are the largest middleman for counterfeit merchandise in the world. I would guess that they will short change royalties that go back to support the artists and even put out unauthorized recordings or fake reproductions. Like everything you get what you pay for.Amazon may be cheaper and sound ok but if they don’t support the music industry where will we be in 20 years? I will always pay more to help music artists thrive and survive!
I don’t understand buying tracks to avoid stream bandwidth. All services I’ve seen allow encrypted downloads. And my T Mobile doesn’t count music. Collecter? Fine. OR I have put many tracks in Qobuz p/l’s that have later been unavailable. There’s that. If you want to support artists you are limited to buying Octave releases. Or support Cookie by buying Blue Coast. My musician neighbor ain’t making a living from ANY of the services, why pick out one? His income comes from his cookie jar: "Tips Are Good Karma" Just another Covid victim as far as live shows. I do understand supporting competition rather than monopolies.
I have tidal and amazon hd. The tidal,works better with HEOS, there isn’t the he interface on HEOS,just an amazon. i have had multiple HEOS devices for more than 5 years and something has happpened in the past year. I have a bunch of playlists and it often will play one or two songs then quit. This never used to happen. Denon has been terrible in responding. I like the convenience of the link for use with my compomenypys and if you would have asked me a year ago, I’d be all in on HEOS. Now, not so much. Denon tells me to reset everything and I’ve don’t it with no improvement multiple times. If I call again, if I get through, I’ll get same advice.
I have used Amazon HD since it's inception. I think the sound is great but don't have anything to compare it with. When using it with Bluetooth speakers it is easy to use with clicks on genres, artists and albums. Searching is easy with autocomplete. These features do not work on Bluesound Node 2i player. There are other issues such as playing "random" from my song library. I have learned to work with it but it could be better. I run the player off my phone or laptop and adjust the system volume through these since I don't use a preamp. Works for me.
When Amazon HD became available, I transferred all my playlists from Spotify. It seemed like the logical thing to do because I already had Amazon Prime. At the time, I was streaming from laptop, Amazon desktop app via USB to DAC. Or sometimes I'd go "line-in" to pre-amp via Echo Dot. Kind of makeshift deal, but it worked. Couldn't really tell much difference between Amazon and Tidal SQ in that configuration. Amazon HD price - $12.99/mo & Tidal $19.99/mo, so no brainer.
Then I got a Bluesound Node 2i a few weeks ago. I'm going Bluesound -> DAC via coax.
Though unexpected, I tried out Qobuz and IMHO, it was clearly better sounding than Amazon HD on both CD quality and Hi-Rez.
Given that both services stream 16-bit/44.1 Khz & 24-bit 96Khz/ 192Khz, and over the same system downstream ... I don't understand how this is happens. But it does. [Maybe somebody can explain that in laymen's terms]
Now when I threw Tidal back into the mix, something interesting happened: Tidal became the new reference; but ONY for MQA tracks. In my system and to my ears, it's the best of all of them.
I listen to a lot of Blue Note jazz from the 60's, as well as Trane and Miles on Columbia, Impulse, Atlantic, and Prestige - mostly from 50's and 60's. I've heard certain tracks/albums many times going back 40+ years. Going back and forth between the same albums and cuts ... for example Herbie Hancock "The Prisoner" or Wayne Shorter "Speak No Evil", Tidal comes closest to the originals. But again, that's ONLY for the MQA stuff.
In terms of CD-quality offerings, Qobuz beats the competition, and for Hi-Rez it's only slightly behind Tidal - by the slimmest of margins. Comparing library sizes, and titles, Amazon is the clear choice.
Conclusion: I cancelled Amazon HD, effective with the next billing cycle. There are about 2 or 3 weeks left on the Qobuz /Tidal trials, and as of right now, taking everything into consideration, I'm going with Qobuz. Well, that's my take on it. YMMV
Here is a tip when using Roon as the interface for Tidal or Qobuz (I have both). First, avoid WiFi. Roon sounds much better using Ethernet. Second, research the correct settings in Roon’s advanced settings for your device. Third, make sure you try upsampling in Roon to the highest resolution your DAC can support. You do this by going to the DSP settings in Roon for your playback device and clicking on sample rate conversion.. My Lumin can do DSD 128, but it’s default is much lower, and resetting to DSD vastly improves the sound. The next part is key - In the same sample rate settings described above, be sure to set the filter to Smooth- Minimum phase
These steps greatly enhanced my Lumin playback. On my Bluesound Powernode, used for another system, the Ethernet setting was vastly superior than using WiFi
@soix If you have a playlist set up it works. Amazon has their catalog and MY MUSIC. I have thousands of songs checked as mine. This is the list that won’t play random. I could go through and categorize all these songs into playlists but haven’t. Thanks for the suggestion
I was frustrated with this for quite a while. I used Volumio and Spotify and the interface worked really well for me but I've convinced myself that I can hear the difference between 320Kbps and 14.1Khz and the same song on Spotify didn't sound as good as the flac copy on the hard drive to my ears. I tried Tidal and with a lot of fiddling was able to use
VB-Audio Additional Virtual Cables and BubbleUpPN media server to stream to Volumio using DLNA but it was a pain as Tidal doesn't have a fixed frequency for its HD and it had to be managed manually. While Amazon has a great selection and Ultra HD streaming it is a proprietary system and doesn't support DLNA. The Android app does support Chromecast audio and I used its SPDIF output to connect to the DAC and controlled Amazon from my phone. For my system the the PC USB output sounded better than the Chromecast. I looked at the echo link but it also restricts bandwidth like the android. My final solution for less that the HEOS I could get a fanless I5 PC and use Windows Remote Access to control it and connected the DAC directly to it. I use Foobar for the music on my hard drive and the PI with Volumio now only acts as a NAS. I haven't tried QOBUZ but they didn't have the selection for my taste of music so I can't comment about the sound quality but I've heard it sounds good.
Your experience is most probably from the player software implementation than the streaming service. The lightweight players can sound better then the "heavy" implementations when the setup has not been completely optimized. Roon can be incredible with AudioLinux on a server to renderer combo when optimized with the best powersupplies, switches, cables, and OS optimizations. It's an insane level of stuff to do just to have that user interface and one has to wonder if it is really worth it.
@milpai, using Amazon HD with my Mobile Phone I am able to stream at 24/48 (device capability) Amazon Music App via Bluetooth to SU-G30. Typically streaming UHD via PC 💻 USB > SU-G30 up to 24 /192 with very good results, and the SU-G30 supports Tidal /MQA / Spotify Connect. It may be that Amazon UHD support is coming ...
i can't comment regarding Amazon other than i am constantly being solicited. I will agree with one of the comments in that Tidal seems to push ALL Rap and Hip/Hop on their what's new section. On the other hand i have yet to find any of my search attempts fail. I will strongly agree that their interface needs A LOT of work. it's terrible and after 4 months I still havent go use to it. The sound quality is great. I'm streaming thru a Matrix Audio Element i using the MA remote which after some initial glitches has been fully compatible with Tidal. Maybe some of my complaints regarding the interface has to do with the MA remote app since that is what i mostly use. it basically takes over everything. The benefit is it eliminates the need for a computer between and i connect directly to the Element i and use my iPad or phone to control.
Also, here's a tangential question: I'm running Amazon HD at the moment and I really like the sound quality, more so than I did with Tidal lossless. However, my Oppo 105, which serves as a streamer, will only run Tidal and not Quboz or Amazon. If I want to run Amazon, I linked to the Oppo via HDMI.
I rarely use the Oppo for CDs anymore, and it's strictly an audio only device. That is, I don't use it for Blu-ray. Since I don't use Tidal, should I get rid of the oppo and go for a streamer?
I have not tried Qubuz. Initially had the Bluesound Node 2i for usage with Amazon HD. Listened to them through McIntosh pre and amp and it was crap. Did not continue past the trial period of Amazon HD. Then got the Mytek Brooklyn Dac+ and Tidal. Worlds apart from Amazon HD. MQA albums sounded amazing through the Mytek but the Tidal software was not that great, so bought Roon lifetime membership. Roon and Tidal are a match made in heaven. Discovered a lot of music I would not have been exposed to otherwise. For me Roon+Tidal+Mytek have been a phenomenal value for streaming purposes.
I used Tidal until Amazon HD came along. I was thrilled to dump Tidal and very happy with AHD. I just bought a Lumin streamer which doesn't support Amazon HD yet - so I signed up for Quboz which is also very good. When Lumin supports Amazon HD I will have to re-evaluate but I can absolutely recommend either service over Tidal.
@fuzztone, +1 supporting Blue Coast / Cookie ... very much a commitment to DSD both End User and Blue Coast Label. For an explanation see: ' The Sonic Benefits of HIRez Audio' https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJ3HRjFI6F0 Analog to DSD files ...
Also I should have noted above that going from 44 / 16 to 96, 192 / 24 I notice difference and less so between 96 and 192 playback ... TBD ...
+1davehg on importance of setting up Roon correctly +1rajivhifi on Roon + Tidal + Mytek for Tidal MQA.
IMO if you try Tidal you must also have Roon--the interface is much better than Tidal's and they integrate with each other very well; that said, i have occasionally had issues with searching for music, especially classical--it's actually there but for some reason the interface doesn't always find it--seems to be the way you word your search--ie "close" is often not enough to capture it. I tried Amazon HD when it first came out but at that time its best resolution was no more than CD--16/44.1--good but not great like Tidal MQA and many hiccups with the interface. I opted out at the end of the free trial so didn't wait out all the bug fixes. Is it true that now it can stream at 24/192 ? If so i may try it again. My buddies are urging me to Quobuz as well, saying quality is better than Tidal MQA--not sure at that resolution that i could tell the difference...
@wyoboy - "Is it true that now it can stream at 24/192 ? If so i may try it again." YES. On Amazon "HD" (lossless) is "CD Quality" 16/44.1, "ULTRAHD" is anything 24 bit (44.1/48/96/192). I have not watched closely, but I think most of the content is 24 bit/"ULTRAHD".
Like many here, I used to have Tidal but was annoyed that their recommendations were primarily in genres of no interest to me. Fortunately, I tried Qobuz. I can’t say the recommendations are great, but they’re better. More importantly, the sound quality is superior to Tidal, at less cost. I also have a Spotify premium account for the family. Their selections are easily the best. And, the sound quality is better than you might expect. Of course, through lower end streamers, not so great, but through my better streamers is more than good enough for casual listening. Regarding Amazon - I have a view many of you may disagree with. I’ve personally come to the conclusion that Amazon’s employment practices and take no prisoners business model is not good for anybody except Jeff Bezos and major shareholders. I will no longer willingly give another nickel to Amazon. The fact that they host so much internet traffic means they probably win some of my money anyway pains me. I don’t expect other here to follow along, but I hope some of you will consider it.
I think it's a point well made, even though I am still doing it.
"Regarding Amazon - I have a view many of you may disagree with. I’ve personally come to the conclusion that Amazon’s employment practices and take no prisoners business model is not good for anybody except Jeff Bezos and major shareholders.
I am currently subscribed to Spotify, Soundcloud, Amazon HD, and Tidal. Amazon's tonality is the most natural of my subscriptions. The background noise is blacker and bass is more stout when comparing the same music to Tidal.
Tidal is a half decibel louder than Amazon and I cannot comfortably listen for long periods of time. Tidal produces a stronger 3D image than Amazon and I suspect that it's loudness has something to do with it.
Cymbals sound unnatural where as Amazon sounds real overall.
Spotify has the best software and great radio station selections. Soundcloud is the best option for new/underground music under the umbrella of Rock, Hip-Hop, and Electronic music. The Soundcloud radio is my favorite radio and it makes the subscription worthwhile.
My Tidal subscription will end soon. I'll try Quboz next.
@rego, Thank You for letting me know. Bluetooth is not something I would use if I were to pay $15 for streaming. I do have the Auris bluMe Bluetooth dongle, but now-a-days I use it super rarely. It is good for Youtube or forwarded audio/videos from the phone, but not for serious listening.