Who has tried "TIDAL" vs other streaming applications?

Hello, I'm new to Audiogon, this is my first posting into Forums.

I enjoy streaming audio from my PC and have been using Spotify for a number of years now (college student discount to premium $5 a month). I just recently stumbled upon a App called TIDAL, that streams Lossless 16/44.1FLAC with their "HI-FI" subscription (Student $10 a month). Since I can queue up Spotify and Tidal at the same time, I was able to do an A/B and used Dire Straits Brothers in Arms. I noticed that TIDAL indeed sounds better to me but am convinced none of my family members could tell a difference. I then did an A/B with TIDAL and the actual Brothers in Arms CD, to my surprise TIDAL sounded scary close, if not just as good as the CD! This is hard for me to believe, I think I'm just trying to justify the extra cost of TIDAL on a crazy tight student budget, maybe its a placebo effect? I need to drop one of the services, but which one? I would appreciate your thoughts please... Thank you!
My system:
PC = Gaming Rig I built myself, using dedicated high quality audio card.
Krell KAV 400xi integrated
Sonus Faber Electa's with Sunfire HRS Sub
Cambridge AZUR 840C CDP/DAC
Luxman T117 Tuner
Sony SCD - C2000ES SACD Player
Kimber Silver Streak throughout  

Nice system for a student! I am a big believer in Tidal I think it sounds fantastic and indeed pretty indistinguishable from cd's in my system. I was always finding myself antsy and dissatisfied listening to stuff on Spotify so for me Tidal was really a revelation. Certainly well worth $10 a month I am happy to pay the regular $20 per month rate.
Tidal sound quality is way better.  1411 kbps as compared to 320 kbps, and your system certainly can tell the difference...
A college student listening to Dire Straits, Brothers in Arms?  Ain't that kind of old hat?  Nothing with sound quality worth A/B'ing from this decade???  :-)  The illuminati here will definitely tell you Tidal is better...vastly better.  Even your system can "tell" the difference.

Tidal vs Spotify has been discussed in various threads here, you will probably benefit entering either of those names in the "Search Discussions" box.
By the way, welcome to Audiogon where there is no shortage of  
O-pinions, some informed, some not.  Best advice starting out: trust your own ears and judgement.  BTW as jond said, nice system for a student (or anyone!).  Again, welcome.

The illuminati here will definitely tell you Tidal is better...vastly better
+100! Tidal’s biggest cheerleader here. Yeah, nice system.

Tidal has a student discount:

I also like listening to Tidal Streaming music because it is easy to use and I love the variety.  Of course, the BEST PART is their excellent uncompressed sound quality.  In addition, I can change my mind on an album and quickly find a different album to listen to. The flexibility and sound quality of Tidal is a big listening plus for me.

Tidal music selections are improving and additional albums are always being added. Tidal also offers various play lists you can select or you select your own album. Another advantage with Tidal is that you can select an album and then page down to see additional albums by that artist.

Another useful feature, for example, is the Luxman Distributor, On Higher Note, publishes their demo playlists that can be added to your Tidal account.  One playlist example is named “Box of Fun”, and it is terrific. See:


You can go to the genres tab, and then select classical music, jazz, country, etc. Here you will see a variety of content.

I feel the Tidal sound quality is well worth the monthly fee (I pay $19.99 per month).  I suggest you give Tidal a try for one month and then decide.   Tidal Customer Service is excellent and I highly recommend Tidal Streaming.

I have Tidal and pay $20 per month. I love the sound quality, access to new Jazz, and old R&B, but I don't like how slow it operates at times.
You certainly have a nice system and that's why you're able to hear the differences between the two sources. The better the system quality  (not necessarily more expensive ) the easier it is to make sound quality distinctions.  In college I had a Pioneer receiver and turntable with a pair of horn speakers but I enjoyed it. You're doing "very"well for a college student. 
Hi Ricred1,  I also had streaming performance problems with Tidal when I first started using it.  After some research, I finally determined my router was not handling the steaming packets correctly (router had problems handling the packet flow).  I purchased the Apple AirPort Extreme router and my Tidal performance greatly improved.  I also updated to a higher speed internet service (55) and checked all my Ethernet cables to ensure they were tight (I only use Ethernet cables).  If you are streaming using Wi-Fi, it is possible your signal connection is not very strong and you might need an extender (how far away are you from the router?).   I suggest you log the times when you have connectivity problems.  Is someone else steaming video's or other similar activities?   Do you have enough memory in your computer (probably yes but I have to ask).   Please keep us posted with what you find.    

Thanks to all of you for the welcome to Audiogon and the great feedback - so fast! Based on the responses, I guess that its not the placebo effect, I have bounced back and forth between Spotify and TIDAL today and its clear to me TIDAL is the winner! I will be cancelling my Spotify subscription. What I also like about TIDAL are the great music videos, tons of them and the quality is great as well! 

Thanks... I called Time Warner cable and they told me I should be  downloading at up to 300 mbs.  I will do as you suggest and try to pinpoint the source of my problem.
grm - 
I'm a happy SPOTIFY subscriber.  
Tidal is a great way to go. Check out the Bluesound Node’s that allows you to add pretty much any streaming subscription out there to it as well as external hard drives. You control it using an app and you can hardwire it to your router. Has a built in DAC or you can send the signal straight to your amp. Got one used for $200.00 online and very happy with it. 
If I may offer some advice,  continue to have confidence and trust your ears and impressions. You're off to a good start and will be happiest in the long term by sticking to this simple rule. 
ricred1, you are not alone if buffering is an issue. I have the best router Time Warner has available, 200 down in addition to a powerful computer. No issues with other music or movie streaming websites. If packets was an issue it would be with other high bitrate streaming as well. Ran speedtest yesterday and it tested out well over 200. Last night with people over it started acting up. Pulled the plug on it immediately and switched over to spotify without a hitch. Only thing I can think of is they dont have stable west coast servers? idk
If you get to the root of the issue please post and share!
How do u get the stream from tidal from your computer into your stereo system 
Tidal is amazing in sound quality, just so wonderful. Coupled with Roon it sounds far better and as good or better than a cd played on a $4000 transport I owned. Roon combined with Tidal is the best digital I have heard to date. Roon may be out of reach for a college student, but others please take note. 

I tried computer based  audio and left it dismayed a couple of years ago. However with the advent of Roon, Tidal, and today's one box servers, computer front ends can be something altogether superior. Great times for us music lovers! 

Forgot to mention that I use the Music Vault Ultra Plus as my server. It comes with a lifetime Roon membership. The sound quality of my ripped CDs and Tidal is just so enjoyable with this set-up. The Tidal SQ is as good as my DB Poweramp ripped CDs! I do prefer my DSD downloads to Tidal however. 
Grm, yes your ears are to be trusted. No need to buy anymore CDs! Tidal is loaded with all kinds of music for you to explore and enjoy and all from the screen of your phone or tablet. 

When you are able, add Roon and you will be astounded by the sonics. Roon has interesting liner notes, pictures, lyrics etc... And all are a simple click away. 

Hello again,
To answer the question regarding how my PC is connected to my system, I'm using a 280 Glass Fiber TOSLINK cable running at 96khz according to my CDP/DAC. Though the CDP/DAC displays 96khz (the highest TOSLINK can go I think) it says my bit depth is =<20bit, so I'm not sure what the bit depth is exactly, and the App for my card allows you to select either 44.1, 48, and 96khz max for the output but no selection for how many Bits. I tried using a COAX SPDIF interface, but ended up with a real nasty Hum (bad ground loop) so that was fixed with the TOSLINK. Lastly, can somebody explain to me a bit more on what Roon is? I'll have to Google it?
Just watched 32min Roon demo on YT, way cool! Its unfortunate that you can't do a one time download of the App, rather its another annual subscription, another $120 a year - too deep for my pockets at this time. I loved the way it integrated with TIDAL, maybe someday!
@grannyring  Roon looks interesting I use, and like, Sonos but really only use it for Tidal and streaming my own music. Roon might be a better option for me but can it be configured wirelessly? The only example given on the Roon site is with an apple device, I use Windows and don't want to mess around with itunes or any of that stuff. My own music is on a Synology NAS. How would I make it work? Feel free to PM me if you prefer not trying to hijack grm's thread. Thanks!
How do u plug a tosolink into a preamp?
Chubaka - you need a DAC (digital analog converter).  Toslink from computer to DAC.  RCA (or XLR) from DAC to pre-amp or amp.
I am no expert on computer audio. Neal at Sound Science helped me and I would call him. Yes Roon works wireless or wired. Roon combines your ripped music files with Tidal so you see both! Call Neal as he is the man!
Have been listening to Tidal for two months now, and here’s is what I’ve observed; Tidal is like another key component in the audio chain. On the best recordings it is nearly indistinguishable from the best vinyl. On the worst recordings it is just as unlistenable as the worst of any sources. The key seems to be the quality of the original recording from which Tidal digital recordings were converted. Additionally, the best sound I’ve observed with Tidal thus far is AirPlaying the Tidal app from iPad to Apple TV, then to my Jolida Glass FX Tube DAC via Toslink. Again, with this setup, the best Tidal recordings are stunning. Very much worth the $20 monthly subscription.

I'd let them shut off the water before I'd give up Tidal. 

My skeptiscim about streaming overall reached its zenith with the Apple Music debacle and I don't remember how I waltzed into the free month of Tidal, but less than a year later it is solidly 50% of my total source consumption and growing. I send from iPad or iPhone to AE then Toslink to Rega DAC-R.
I guess I'm in the minority here, I don't really hear much difference between Apple Music and Tidal when it comes to sound quality. There's maybe a song here or there, where I think Tidal might have a slight edge, but it's so slight I wouldn't trust it unless I actually did a blind test to confirm it. On the other hand, several times I've not been able to find songs on Tidal that I had on Apple Music, which is a very real tangible reason that's prevented me from making a total switch to Tidal.

I'm also curious why people are surprised Tidal would sound as good as CD... they're both redbook quality and lossless. In many cases, the studios are going to send Tidal the exact same digital files that they use to master their CD's. Unless Tidal does some special processing before creating the digital assets, why would it be worse than CD?
IMO, TIDAL is the best value we audiophiles have as a source for music for our music listening rooms, cars and when travelling. With access to over 35 million songs, $20/month for the HiFi (Lossless) option is a steal. I didn't know about the student offer at $10/month. I haven't purchased a CD since I've been a TIDAL subscriber.

I have an Aurender N100H music server/streamer. The integration with TIDAL is perfect and the sound quality of the Aurender replaced my Mac Mini based music server.  

I can't explain it but several times I've compared TIDAL to Redbook CDs I own and TIDAL consistently is as good and in some cases sounds better. When TIDAL offers MQA, game, set & match to TIDAL.
The only people who can say Spotify is superior to Tidal are deaf people.  
I can't explain it but several times I've compared TIDAL to Redbook CDs I own and TIDAL consistently is as good and in some cases sounds better. When TIDAL offers MQA, game, set & match to TIDAL.

The only people who can say Spotify is superior to Tidal are deaf people.  


If you are a student and like classical you might want to see if your institution has a subscription to Naxos. My university has a subscription for free.

Tidal is lacking in classical music. Otherwise, it is a wonderful service. I hope it spawns competitors.

Like Topdown I stream through a Jolida Glass FX Tube DAC via Toslink. But, I found the sound to be even better if the source is a Bluesound Node as opposed to through a computer. The key is to bi-pass the Bluesound Node's own DAC and let the Jolida take over. Much better.
     I tried Tidal and was quite unhappy with it, especially the contrived bass. Much of the sound was better than XM radio, which I do use for background music.
     BTW, on the XM channel that specializes in vinyl, they do not play vinyl, but simply decrease the dynamic range electronically. I have vinyl-nut friends who swear this sound better.  
No, you are right grm. 

It will never sound exactly as the cd, but all the qualities right up there with cd on a well setup system.

Just a slight differnce in presentation, but no lesser in quality and resolution.

I have almost entirely given up on cds.

Trust yourself, if it sounds good, its good.

After spending a week or so having a great time with TIDAL, it turned out to be an easy decision to let go of Spotify. First and formost, the TIDAL SQ is by far better to "my" ears compared to Spotify. As a result, I am having such a great time discovering all types of music and entertaining videos in HIFI/HD. Thanks to all for contributing, it helped further reinforce an already easy decision for me to make!
Roon and Tidal are a deadly cool combo.  I am getting outstanding results on my system.  Roon is by far the best audio software I have used from a user experience - nothing comes close.  If anyone is using JRiver or iTunes add-ons, take of the shackles and step into a larger world!

I hear a lot about Roon.  How easy is it to use for a complete hack like myself?

Thanks in advance,

Bob, Roon is easy to use, even if you have limited software experience.  The interface is uncluttered and intuitive, and highly enjoyable I might add.  There is an integration between Tidal and Roon so you will use Roon to control your own digital music library as well as your access to Tidal music.  Give it a try!
In order to listen to Tidal via Roon, you need to download everything you want to be able to listen to.  No other player/streamer does that.  I was not a fan. I love Tidal, but not with Roon.  
I am a JRiver on Windows user. I was disappointed that they decided not to integrate Tidal and I had to find another way to try Tidal. I wanted it for CD quality and I am do not use Chrome. The solution was Bubble UPnP on an Android tablet, sending the Audio to JRiver via DLNA. You could use any DLNA rendered if you do not use JRiver. Bubble UPnP has pretty much a full Tidal implementation and easily streams to DLNA on my PC. Very simple solution.

I have only been using TIdal in this mode for about a week, but so far I have found the selection excellent, except for classical, and the sound quality is very good. So far, I am happy with this solution.

If you do not have a DLNA renderer, you can also use a Chromecast Audio streaming from Bubble UPnP on the tablet, although you need a DAC with a Toslink input if your want to use the digital output on the Chromecast - no coax, unfortunately.
Cerrot, I use a Mac with Roon and Tidal, and I don't have to download anything.  I just point to a tidal based track, and play...

In order for Roon to play Tidal for me, I had to download the playlists or albums, which was just crazy.  It also did not like my JRiver and Pono apps so I dumped it.  JRiver is awesome for the hi res and I use Ickstream via my Transporter for Tidal and it is pretty incredible.
Cerrot, I'm really curious how you got Roon to download the playlists and albums. If I could do that, I would download a couple hundred thousand tracks and then cancel my subscription to Tidal. Seriously. 

Cerrot...you don't need to use ickstream anymore, if you don't want to.  They have added the Tidal app to mysqueezebox.com.

You can just add it right onto your Transporter's menu system.
I have a Spotify account for my wife (iPad) and a Tidal account for me and my audio system (Windows 10, USB connection to the DAC).

For my Tidal listening, I prefer to download and install their app, instead of using the browser version, one less set of "variables".  I have found the performance and SQ from Tidal to be awesome.

From what I’m reading, it sounds like sometime soon Tidal will be offering MQA, at first thru their app, later thru the browser version. I hope that they will be doing the conversion from MQA to whatever will be accepted by my DAC in the app, and not require that we purchase new "MQA-capable" DACs to enjoy the improvement in SQ. Time will tell.
No need to download music from Tidal  into Roon . Amazing sonic combo that sounds as good as my past $9000 Dac and transport. Roon and Tidal together is the best thing to ever happen in audio for us audiophiles. Wow is all I say daily as I experience all kinds of new music. 
grannyring, Yes! It  IS a daily wow! The only downside is not having enough time to explore...
The download is just so you can play the music.  It did not reside on my harddrive, just the tag lines.  Every time I started it up again, I had to redownload everything.  I will try Transporter/Tidal w/o ickstream if I can figure it out.

Perfect!  Thanks guys!
Perhaps someone can clarify my understanding of TIDAL "HIFI" playback, especially if you desire to integrate it with something like Roon for example.

When I signed up with the TIDAL premium HIFI subscription, I am almost positive it said that only Chrome supported HIFI, so I did not bother downloading the TIDAL app or any other app such as the many discussed in this forum. When I launch TIDAL through Chrome, the upper left hand corner of the home page shows my user name and "TIDAL HIFI" directly below it. Also, in settings, under streaming, it shows I'm listening to HIFI and gives me the options to lower the quality to HI or Low, of course I keep it on the HIFI setting.

I hope my question made sense - thanks! 
There is an indicator at the bottom of the screen - in the transport area. Block letters: HIFI. It will be displayed in bold white letters when in effect. 

If that bold HIFI appears, you're listening to the lossless FLAC version.

In my experience, a small percentage of Tidal tracks are not available in lossless FLAC and the HIFI indicator will be greyed out. Unless you have selected a lossy version of the service under settings. 

I've used both the Chrome webplayer and Tidal's app on my Mac with no perceived quality difference.

In Roon, there is a colored dot that appears next to the track name in the transport area at the bottom of the screen. If you click on that dot, Roon displays the "Signal Path" which gives you the resolution of the source material as well as any changes your system may make to play the track. A purple dot indicates bit-perfect playback. Roon always reports the bit-perfect status - or lack thereof - when playing a track.

Hope this helps.