Tidal vs Quobuz


Yes I realize the Qobuz is misspelled in the title but I can’t figure out how to update it.  Relax.  
I’ve been a die hard advocate of MqA and Tidal for the last few years. All of my source, preamp, and dac purchased had the prerequisite that they must be MqA compatible. Today, I tried Qobuz for the first time and I’m blown away by the selection of 24bit 96khz files compared to Tidal.
Here’s an example: Was very excited that the band Tool FINALLY added their collection to streaming services. All of the albums on Tidal are CD quality. So I was going to purchase them in higher fidelity on HD Tracks, but learned that Qobuz had them at the highest fidelity. Couldn’t believe it. Same with many other artists/albums I love.

Now is there an improvement in sound quality? No not really. Is the Qobux UX any better? No, in fact it’s slower. But do I get the best quality content for the same price? Yes. Will I subscribe to both? Yes.
System:

Lumin D2 -> Parasound P6 -> Elac Navis ARF 51’s. Fully balanced set up (Nordost) with AQ power cables.
helloitsben
The SQ of Qobuz is very good. I noticed it when I had free trials to both Qobuz and Tidal (was not using MQA). Hirez releases sound excellent, but I usually prefer CD quality to upsampled 16/44.1 tracks.

And btw, Tool Fear Inoculum was released on Qobuz in Hirez the same time as the CD. Outstanding sound quality!!


I had both and dropped Tidal. Only one album I haven't been able to find on Qobuz that Tidal has so far and it's a few dollars less. 
dadork:  disagree with your assessment re.  Qobuz.  Not only do I constantly find that albums are missing  sometimes I can't find anything from a particular artist.  To be fair, I experienced a similar problem with Tidal although less so.
I’ve used Spotify, Deezer, Amazon HD, and Tidal over the years. For the past month I’ve been comparing sound quality and selection between Qubuz and Tidal through an MQA capable streamer. Given all the praise for Qubuz’s sound quality on this forum I thought I would be adding this service. Still experimenting, but here’s been my experience:

1. When transferring a playlist of 240 songs through Soundiiz from Tidal to Qubuz, roughly 30 songs couldn’t be found on Qubuz. The same playlist was transferred in its entirety from Spotify to Tidal. With this said, music consisted of some pretty deep and eclectic tracks.

2. Qubuz’s greatest feature for me has been the ability to look up an artist’s label, as well explore Qubuz community members playlist - Tidal does not have either of these features.

3. Tidal Connect, like Spotify Connect, really is a game changer for me. The ability to stay within the Tidal app to control my streamer (volume, create playlists, discover new artists) vs using the streamer’s user interface (limited related artist data) is not only convenient, but much more enjoyable. Tidal Connect is also much more responsive than using Airplay, which seems to have a lag when skipping songs, music selection, and volume control through Quboz. And for me, Tidal Connect sounds “cleaner” than Airplay through Quboz due to, what I can best communicate, interpretation of a lower noise floor.

Streamer: NAD C 658 using BlueOS
I have both. They each have some things that the other doesn’t - Tidal has a larger library and I like the "my mix" feature where they put together playlists for me based on my tastes. I prefer Qobuz because there’s no gimmick like MQA, just high res tracks. If I had to choose one, I’d get rid of Tidal. The combined cost of both isn’t much more than a single vinyl record, and it’s nice to have options.
Dumped Tidal a year ago....for me Qobuz catalog and SQ easily trumps Tidal. You can keep both for now but once you get used to Qobuz high quality streaming you will drop Tidal at some point :-)
I am not a fan of MQA and I could hear the difference between that kind of streaming and high resolution on Qobuz. Does Qobuz have everything I ever want, of course not but it’s more than acceptable and the sound quality is good to my aging ears
Qobuz maybe fine if you want it for main system use only.
But don’t forget no My Mixes, no radio or station functions, the playlists are awful, support is poor.

Mobile is poor, CarPlay does not work for streamed content, log out and you loose all offline content.

if you don’t use these functions that’s fine, oh it also has no connect function like Tidal Connect.

id Mark it poor as an overall streaming service.
I keep them both. Don't see that changing. 
@toro3 

Hmm, I asked Qobuz how to find other users' playlists and was told they were still working on that feature.  I'm streaming through their Windows App.  Whats the secret?
I know you said that MqA availability is paramount, but if you listen to classical at all and are willing to try differently on the format, IDAGIO and Primephonic are fabulous. I have an IDAGIO high-res subscription and their catalogue is extensive. 
For my car, I absolutely love Tidal. Just bought the Best Buy yearly subscription. Admittedly, I have an aces car stereo system and it sounds incredible. I have Android Auto and my phone is plugged into a USB port to my head unit. Very important mention that a hard wired USB connection sounds considerably better than bluetooth. 
The TIDAL user interface is very good...While my display will show "MASTER" my head unit only can play "HiFi" Redbook 16/44.1 which for a car is fine. 
At home, I stream using my phone to a USB to SPDIF converter into my Classe's DAC. I get the first MQA unfolding and it sounds good. But I definitely am curious of Qobuz's Hi Res.
Tidal Connect IS cool but unless you have Lenbrook you gonna be waiting. It ain’t worth paying extra for.

I hooked up with Qobuz before even trying Tidal and now that I have I'm glad I did.
@electroslacker I see where we’re missing each other.

I was referring to accessing other users’ playlists when completing a search such as “dinner music.” Instead of results only curated by Qobuz, you also receive results from other users’ playlist with similar titles that they’ve created.

But like you said, I wouldn’t be able to access all of my friend’s playlists just by tapping on their username - at least not yet per your conversation with Qobuz earlier in the day.
Neither! With all that money you are throwing away each month, you could be building a physical record and cd collection that you can call your own. JMO
@toro3 
Thanks.  I didn't even know that worked.
As much as we spend on gear, from speakers to cables, a few dollars for one service or the other, or both, really is in the noise level. (pun taken). 
Enjoy them both!
I’m sure it all depends on your listening preferences but here is my take. I went from Spotify to Tidal. I had used solely Spotify for 5+ years. Loved the sound quality upgrade of Tidal but hated loosing access to so many tracks. So I kept both. I subscribed to Amazon HD and have never looked back. After two months I have actually canceled my Spotify subscription. Amazon has a much better library than Tidal and has a large selection of High Res albums. No MQA nonsense to fool with. I really recommend giving Amazon HD a trial run if you have not checked it out yet.
Neither! With all that money you are throwing away each month, you could be building a physical record and cd collection that you can call your own. JMO

@audioguy85 I have collected albums and maintained a personal Subsonic server for years.

Here is how I justify paying for a streaming service.

  • I simply no longer have the time that it takes to keep a large personal collection organized. Not to mention that server maintenance / cost and network issues are never fun.

  • The cost of a High Res streaming service varies, but in general $15-$25 is a standard monthly rate. Family plans are even lower. To me this is around the equivalent of two new albums. I currently listen to a lot more than two new albums per month. If I were to cancel my music streaming service, my monthly bill would be astronomical if I were to continue enjoying the wide variety of content I currently listen to each month.

  • By listening to curated playlist and the variety of artists radios offered by a streaming service I have discovered more music that I enjoy than I ever imagined was possible. By using a streaming service I have discovered a whole new world of music that otherwise I would have never known existed.

  • Is collecting fun? Yes! Is a large collection of physically owned media awesome? Absolutely!! But if I were to cancel my music streaming service I would spend many more hours slaving away hording and organizing than actually listening. Unless I were to sacrifice the quality and variety of listening that I currently enjoy.

  • Do I plan on shutting down my media server? No! Do I still buy albums? Indeed!! There are a few albums that simply are not available on a streaming service.

  • If portability is not a concern. Or you do not listen to many new albums per month then it might be a better value to not have a streaming service. But if you give it a honest trial, I think you will have a hard time going back.

  • Myself and many others feel like that if you factor in the time and money saved by using a High Res streaming service it is hands down one of the best monthly "investments" you can pay for in this hobby to keep your ears happy and your life simple. :-)


@geargrinder,

Great post! @audioguy85 reminds me of people that typically resist change. They are perfectly happy with spinning their collection of media over and over instead of exploring new music. They take pride in being ‘collector’ of the physical media. We can educate all we can but we know how they are programmed :-) They feel no need to stream music with thousands of records and hundreds of cd’s to choose from all in the same room within their reach.

Ever since I started streaming, I must have saved thousands of dollars by being very selective in my media purchases. I still buy LP’s and SACD’s that are truly collectible but by being selective it’s much more manageable and equally enjoyable. The streaming quality is now jaw-dropping great and often makes me wonder why buy LP’s or CD’s anymore :-)
I really appreciate this site. I'm a novice but have learned a lot here. I have the Yamaha N803 receiver. It's an excellent receiver as far as receivers go. I'm sure I'll upgrade at some point but for now I'm choosing convenience over quality. It is set up for Spotify, Tidal and Deezer.  I stream Spotify premium.  I may try Tidal to compare sound quality. I have Vandersteen speakers. Any suggestions other than I need a better system?!  Thanks.  Doug Hess
@dwhess,

You have a very nice system. Your N803 receiver is very capable of letting you discern the uptick in SQ between Spotify and Tidal / Deezer. I would encourage you to do trial run with Tidal or Deezer and see if you hear appreciable uptick in SQ. Spotify being the oldest platform has a very vast library so you may give up on some content by choosing Tidal or Deezer.

Personally if my system is this good, I would choose streaming quality over content. There is a appreciable difference in streaming quality as Spotify max out at 320 kbps vs Tidal / Deezer at 1,411 kbps bit rate.
@dwhess,

I’m not overly familiar with Yamaha receivers but I assume you are using an app on a phone or tablet to link the streaming service to the receiver? What device / app do you use to control the N803?

If you are using the Yamaha Music Cast app then Amazon Music HD is probably supported. And as stated above I would really recommend giving it a trial vs any of the other options.
Tried both and thought SQ on Quohbuzz (Like that misspelling?) was a bit better. Naturally the ultra high res files do sound better.

Still pondering Roon vs Qobuz but that's a "champaign problem".
Quohbuzz haha.  Really good input from everyone, thanks for turning this into a good thread!  
I’m an exclusive streamer because of the convenience and how many new artists/songs/albums I’m able to discover.  Honestly if it weren’t for streaming I would have never gotten into jazz the way I have in the last year.  
The lesson I have learned from my HiFi journey that started only about 2 years ago is that to my ears, the music can only sound as good as the original source (cables, mics, studio acoustics, amps, mix, mastering, etc). I have found that each service from Amazon to Quohbusz (lol) sounds good and the benefit of the high res is hardly noticeable (again only to my ears).  Instead of dropping huge cash on a really expensive ($5k+) streamer Id rather make improvements to the speakers and power amplifiers, that’s where you actually get perceive sound changes.  My option.  
What a fun hobby this is!


@gearginder,
I’m sure it all depends on your listening preferences but here is my take. I went from Spotify to Tidal. I had used solely Spotify for 5+ years. Loved the sound quality upgrade of Tidal but hated loosing access to so many tracks. So I kept both. I subscribed to Amazon HD and have never looked back. After two months I have actually canceled my Spotify subscription. Amazon has a much better library than Tidal and has a large selection of High Res albums. No MQA nonsense to fool with. I really recommend giving Amazon HD a trial run if you have not checked it out yet.

To: geargrinder,
I’ve followed an identical path very similar to you, Spotify for 4+ years, Tidal Hi-Fi and Qobuz for 1yr, and now Amazon HD since it was released. Using Amazon HD for CD quality, intentionally. No DSD/MQA. Formerly using PlayFi middleware app for my streamer, now back to AirPlay/2 which fully supports Lossless CD quality transfer rate. Amazing catalog with Amazon HD, like Spotify, yet I’m always going back once a year to revalidate sound quality of each of the former Service Providers. And Spotify dragging behind, still not going to Lossless since the 2017 lossless beta test they tried for a short time. Bean counters must be holding back the engineers there.

Connectivity/Middleware:
Curious to know if you have thoroughly compared sound using the different connectivity and protocol methods offered. Clearly Spotify Connect was nice, and now Tidal has something similar with Tidal Connect. Playing with AirPlay/2 enabled streamers, connecting to the native streaming service application which works better now than what I recall a few years ago. AirPlay2 streams Lossless well, as we know. I read something (unconfirmed) that some service providers (may) license AirPlay under the covers for their application connectivity method...I have no proof of that. Others may know better or can confirm. 

Question:
Since using Amazon HD, have you by chance gone back and compared "sound quality", and sound stage depth with something like Tidal Connect? I have not, yet. I’m listening for any degradation with AirPlay2.

Any in-depth testing and sound test companions you can share would be appreciated. Thanks.





I find the Qobuz sound quality makes IHT the winner of these options having tried several.  Availability of music is good enough that the better quality trumps the inconvenience of not having absolutely everything.  I believe their catalogue grows all the time so I guess they’ll get there. I access it through the Linn app and my Klimax DS streamer. I have B&W 800 D3s with 4 mono block Linn solos bi-amped through them and Tellurium Silver II cable - The quality is so satisfying that it can bring tears to my eyes.  I would say from this experience that top quality source material is fundamental if you’re interested in the quality of your listening.  Garbage in, garbage out can’t be got round.  
Sorry.  “IHT” should read “it”
Forgot to mention I have CAT7 cable to the streamer. 
I have both Tidal and Qobuz. I more often use Qobuz.  I don't really understand MQA with first unfolding, second unfolding, MQA hardware, MQA software.  I'm not sure if MQA is a scam or not.  Qobuz also allows purchase and downloads of music.  I download some of my favorite Hi resolution music from Qobuz to a usb flash drive for play.  I use Tidal more often in my car from the iphone app.  
I have been a Tidal user for a few years, with an MQA capable Mytek Brooklyn Dac+. For the holidays I decided to try the trial version of Qobuz, and compare the two services through Roon. Each service has its pros and cons but the most important factor for me was SQ. And on it Tidal MQA was better and more dynamic in my system. Qobuz sounded rather flat compared to Tidal. Again, this is based on the listening experience in my system and I understand it'll be different for others based on their setup. Thank god for free trials. 
I subscribe to both Tidal and Qobuz.  At the time I added Qobuz, my system only supported first level MQA unfold.  I found I generally, but not always, preferred Qobuz high-res to to Tidal.  However, I recently added a DAC (the dCS Bartok) which has excellent MQA support.  With that, I was somewhat surprised to find my preference reversed.  Generally, I now find the Tidal MQA version of a track equal to or superior the high-res Qobuz version.  However, I plan on keeping both services, as there is still a lot of music that I am looking for that is only present on one of the services.
@decooney   Since using Amazon HD, have you by chance gone back and compared "sound quality", and sound stage depth with something like Tidal Connect? I have not, yet. I’m listening for any degradation with AirPlay2.

It has been a few years since I have looked at this so I gladly stand corrected if any of the below information is wrong.

In short the Airplay protocol transcodes all audio to 16/44.1 ALAC. So trying to play a file at a higher bit rate than that is useless if quality is a concern.

I would avoid using Airplay or Airplay2 at all unless the source file is encoded in 16/44.1 ALAC to begin with or you are not overly concerned about quality loss.

I have been a long time user of the original Airport Express 1st gen and also the 2nd gen as well. I have these hooked up for my garage, kitchen, and basement stereo. My family and most friends have iPhones so the convenience factor outweighs any quality degradation. In my mind this is still one the best wireless audio solutions available even though it does have limitations.  

When using optical out and a good DAC it is very hard to beat the combined value of audio quality and convenience that Airplay on an Airport Express provides. However, if you do not need the convenience of wireless audio then a wired connection is ALWAYS better when playing High Res tracks!

I will say that the way the 2nd gen Airport Express handles the transcoding of High Res FLAC files is beyond horrible. I have noticed a lot of distortion on the 2nd Gen, even when using optical out. When playing the same tracks using optical out on 1st Gen Airport Express, the distortion is not noticeable unless you are using higher quality equipment, and then you should not be using Airplay in the first place JMHO...

But alas the 1gen Airport express does not support multi-room audio and is now a bit of a pain to configure so keep this in mind when purchasing. They can be had for as low as $10 off eBay though.

Since most Tidal files are 16/44.1 FLAC I doubt you will notice any audio quality issues when using Airplay. It was when I was playing 24/192 FLAC off of Amazon HD over Airplay2 that things started sounding really bad.

When it comes to how Tidal Connect functions, or how various AVR's handle Airplay2 I honestly do not know. I have had a Denon AVR-X3700H for a month now but have simply not had the time to see how Airplay2 or any wireless functionality works on it. I would still assume that all Airplay Audio is transcoded to 16/44.1 ALAC and so would avoid using it for High Res FLAC playback.

To me Airplay does have its place and still beats bluetooth when it comes to sound quality. But in short, whenever trying to get the best listening experience possible I would avoid using any form of a wireless audio connections.
@highpeakrider

I use Qobuz in my (not new) cars with Bluetooth. Don’t have to sign in ever. Car controls let me skip/repeat a track. Easy peasy.

Don’t know if “apple play” sound is better? Don’t know how it could be?

Add “Tunein” and you have radio with Qobuz. It’s that simple.

Radio does not appear on phone app so no radio link for car but does on iPad for home use.
@highpeakrider I use Qobuz in my (not new) cars with Bluetooth. Don’t have to sign in ever. Car controls let me skip/repeat a track. Easy peasy.

Don’t know if “apple play” sound is better? Don’t know how it could be?

A wired Apple Carplay connection would let you play files at a higher bit rate than Bluetooth. A Bluetooth connection will always be lossy. There are a few exclusions to this rule but in general whenever you use Bluetooth for streaming you may as well be playing a lossy MP3 file.
@aeschwartz  I have both Tidal and Qobuz. I more often use Qobuz. I don't really understand MQA with first unfolding, second unfolding, MQA hardware, MQA software. I'm not sure if MQA is a scam or not.

I'm sure there have been many discussions about MQA. Below are my thoughts, anybody feel free to correct me / point me in the direction of some good information about this format.

I fail to see any advantage investing in the MQA format. 

The only benefit I ever saw was smaller file sizes. But if you have a good enough phone plan or home internet that is fast enough to stream a Full Res 24/192 FLAC file why mess with MQA?

To me the marketing department has done a good job of trying to convince us that we need MQA but I'm not convinced that an MQA is the same as a regular uncompressed High Res FLAC file. I even find the Wiki page confusing.

At the end of the day even if MQA is the same as an High Res FLAC file what is the advantage in making sure the whole chain of your music ecosystem supports it vs simply using a regular FLAC file in the first place?


@wsrrsw I mean radio as in the automatic selection of random tracks as in Roon, not actual radio stations that TuneIn delivers.
@highpeakrider

Well does your name refer to snow, ski or bike riding?
@wsrrsw mtb riding, I live in the High Peak in Derbyshire UK.