Audiolab PLAY streaming

Gcr1948

Novice Member
theee months ago, my Naim PreAmp failed and I could not get it fixed for a while, so I purchased an Audiolab 6000a Play and a CDT. But then I got into streaming, which I knew very little about.
Initially, I had a lot of problems with the DTS Play-fi App: in particular cutting out. DTS confirmed there were issues that they have now fixed. I have Tidal Hifi/Masters account.
Now I have some experience streaming, I am not happy with some things.
1) I find the Play-fi App confusing as I am switching between Play-fi and Tidal to select music.
2) streaming is at a max of 16bit. I am using an Ethernet cable, so why can’t I stream Master files? Is it because of Play-fi, or can’t the Anp play it? Or something else?
3) I note the Audiolab 8300 CDX can play MQA files. Have I gone down the wrong route? Does that use the Play-fi App or something else?
If I use my MacBook and a Project DAC, I was using in my Naim system for AV, could I use RCA cables into a Line In on the Audiolab 6000a Play and then play Tidal on the MacBook and not have to use the DTS Play-fi App at all?
play-fi doesn’t even have gapless I have realised.
Sorry it is a lot of questions, but I have come into digital late in life.
If anyone can confirm there is a way beyond DTS Play-fi I would be grateful.
Many thanks!
 

madfiddler

Active Member
I don’t think it’s MQA certified (certainly not heard that or spotted it anywhere when searching) so whilst you will be able to play them I believe, you won’t get the second unfold and therefore the highest resolution it can offer. Although 6000a play web page states “playback (up to 24bit / 96kHz with compatible services such as TIDAL or Qobuz).” Which to me at least is a tad confusing, as I always thought the max was CD quality of not fully MQA certified.

maybe try a qobuz trial to compare? you can find the same tracks to compare and where Tidal highlights as master, then you’ll know for definite. I think when I was trialling those services I recall using…


 

Gcr1948

Novice Member
thanks for the comments Madfiddler! I will try Qubuz to check.
Regarding the new Audiolab 8300 CDQ, Audiolab state it plays MQA certified files and streams. If that’s right, maybe I should have bought the 8300 CDQ and Amp? I did read quite a lot, but was unable to visit a retailer and talk things through.
As I understand it, the Masters files are the original recordings and CD’s are created by compressing the information. I doubt playing Masters would have any noticeable difference on the Audiolab streamer.

But I am curious to see if there is a way of bypassing the DTS Play-fi app if you, or anyone else can help?
Thanks
Graham
 

madfiddler

Active Member
Well Tidal Masters is rather a debate, or not depending upon your experience. Technically it is a lossy codec. in theory served with the same source material a lossless FLAC as delivered by qobuz would be superior to the MQA equivalent.

Exactly what the “magic sauce” is that MQA applies I don’t know and I’m not sure they are that open about it. However some MQA material is supposedly recorded and mastered (with a little “m”) specifically for Tidal so there are differences from the outset.

MQA is in my opinion a bit out dated in the sense it was created for a problem that most of us no longer have - how to get high res quality recordings across limited internet bandwidth.

Not all streamers and amps are MQA certified therefore in theory don’t get the pot to stir the magic sauce in 😂

@Cebolla and others on the forum i am pretty sure will explain this much better than I!!

my amp is MQA certified and whilst I know technically a lossless file from Qobuz should be better, after comparison there was a clarity that I was hearing in my setup that for me made me plump for Tidal rather than Qobuz even with the price differential. Maybe difference is marginal, maybe some people think I am being hoodwinked, but there Is an element of subjectivity clearly and we each have to make the decision for ourselves, there are so many other variables in the overall listening experience too.

the other thing to think about seriously though, even after all the talk of higher resolutions, CD quality is pretty darn good….

hoepfully someone will comment who has experience of the different audio lab gear you are speaking of 🙂
 
Last edited:

Njprrogers

Novice Member
"If I use my MacBook and a Project DAC, I was using in my Naim system for AV, could I use RCA cables into a Line In on the Audiolab 6000a Play and then play Tidal on the MacBook and not have to use the DTS Play-fi App at all?"

The answer to this question is Yes. You have optical ins on the 6000A Play which will use the onboard DAC and you also have 3 line level analog inputs which you can use your outboard DAC.

If you want to stream from your MacBook directly to the digital input you can simplify your setup and test out the 6000A onboard ESSABRE DAC.
 

Gcr1948

Novice Member
Well Tidal Masters is rather a debate, or not depending upon your experience. Technically it is a lossy codec. in theory served with the same source material a lossless FLAC as delivered by qobuz would be superior to the MQA equivalent.

Exactly what the “magic sauce” is that MQA applies I don’t know and I’m not sure they are that open about it. However some MQA material is supposedly recorded and mastered (with a little “m”) specifically for Tidal so there are differences from the outset.

MQA is in my opinion a bit out dated in the sense it was created for a problem that most of us no longer have - how to get highlights quality recordings across limited internet bandwidth.

Not all streamers and amps are MQA certified therefore in theory don’t get the pot to stir the magic sauce in 😂

@Cebolla and others on the forum i am pretty sure will explain this much better than I!!

my amp is MQA certified and whilst I know technically a lossless file from Qobuz should be better, after comparison there was a clarity that I was hearing in my setup that for me made me plump for Tidal rather than Qobuz even with the price differential. Maybe difference is marginal, maybe some people think I am being hoodwinked, but there Is an element of subjectivity clearly and we each have to make the decision for ourselves, there are so many other variables in the overall listening experience too.

the other thing to think about seriously though, even after all the talk of higher resolutions, CD quality is pretty darn good….

hoepfully someone will comment who has experience of the different audio lab gear you are speaking of 🙂
Well Tidal Masters is rather a debate, or not depending upon your experience. Technically it is a lossy codec. in theory served with the same source material a lossless FLAC as delivered by qobuz would be superior to the MQA equivalent.

Exactly what the “magic sauce” is that MQA applies I don’t know and I’m not sure they are that open about it. However some MQA material is supposedly recorded and mastered (with a little “m”) specifically for Tidal so there are differences from the outset.

MQA is in my opinion a bit out dated in the sense it was created for a problem that most of us no longer have - how to get highlights quality recordings across limited internet bandwidth.

Not all streamers and amps are MQA certified therefore in theory don’t get the pot to stir the magic sauce in 😂

@Cebolla and others on the forum i am pretty sure will explain this much better than I!!

my amp is MQA certified and whilst I know technically a lossless file from Qobuz should be better, after comparison there was a clarity that I was hearing in my setup that for me made me plump for Tidal rather than Qobuz even with the price differential. Maybe difference is marginal, maybe some people think I am being hoodwinked, but there Is an element of subjectivity clearly and we each have to make the decision for ourselves, there are so many other variables in the overall listening experience too.

the other thing to think about seriously though, even after all the talk of higher resolutions, CD quality is pretty darn good….

hoepfully someone will comment who has experience of the different audio lab gear you are speaking of 🙂
Thanks Madfiddler! U R right about CD quality - I think the talk about Masters made me think I was missing out. After 25 years of Naim analogue, Streaming is something 8 am trying to get my head round.
 

Gcr1948

Novice Member
"If I use my MacBook and a Project DAC, I was using in my Naim system for AV, could I use RCA cables into a Line In on the Audiolab 6000a Play and then play Tidal on the MacBook and not have to use the DTS Play-fi App at all?"

The answer to this question is Yes. You have optical ins on the 6000A Play which will use the onboard DAC and you also have 3 line level analog inputs which you can use your outboard DAC.

If you want to stream from your MacBook directly to the digital input you can simplify your setup and test out the 6000A onboard ESSABRE DAC.
Thanks N.
I have been streaming on my iPhone & iPad via the Play-fi app. If I stream from my MacBook, I assume I will need a special connector, as the Mac does not have a optical lead connection. I will have to figure that out in the morning, but assume I will need a connector or special cable to connect the Mac to the amp digital input. Thanks for your heads up.
 

Njprrogers

Novice Member
It's the curse of Apple! There's always a dongle or an add on...

This guy here should see you right...3.5mm to optical.

There are also options for digital out from iPad if you'd prefer that as time goes on.
 

Gcr1948

Novice Member
Many thanks N!
Am I correct to think it plugs into the headphone Jack on the MacBook and then onto the optical on the Amp?
If so, I will order one now.
Many thanks for your kind help!
Graham
 

Njprrogers

Novice Member
That is exactly right Graham.

The Macbook knows whether to output digital or analog from it's 3.5mm headphone jack. Hook that up to your Audiolab through the optical input and you will get a digital signal which will be converted by the 6000A onboard DAC and out to your speakers.

🪄
 

madfiddler

Active Member
Hang on a mo….I think this cropped up on another thread recently and the user found that Apple stopped doing the dual function jack socket which is now maybe analogue only. Suggest you check your Mac model first 🙂
 

Gcr1948

Novice Member
Hang on a mo….I think this cropped up on another thread recently and the user found that Apple stopped doing the dual function jack socket which is now maybe analogue only. Suggest you check your Mac model first 🙂
Hang on a mo….I think this cropped up on another thread recently and the user found that Apple stopped doing the dual function jack socket which is now maybe analogue only. Suggest you check your Mac model first 🙂
Thanks MF! I have taken a look at the Mac and it is showing under built in output ‘2ch 24 bit’ and various other options. As I purchased it around 2013 I think it is OK. If it does not work it is only £8 and I would have learnt a bit more.
 

Njprrogers

Novice Member
Good catch @madfiddler !

Apple dropped it around 2016... Apparently it can still be done but needs something like this article suggests instead. Basically this product here.

Sounds like you are good to go Graham though!
 

Gcr1948

Novice Member
Good catch @madfiddler !

Apple dropped it around 2016... Apparently it can still be done but needs something like this article suggests instead. Basically this product here.

Sounds like you are good to go Graham though!
Hi N, I got the lead you suggested from Amazon and set it up to play the amp via the MacBook. I changed the max output to digital and it works fine! Very many thanks for your advice! Graham
 

Gcr1948

Novice Member
Hang on a mo….I think this cropped up on another thread recently and the user found that Apple stopped doing the dual function jack socket which is now maybe analogue only. Suggest you check your Mac model first 🙂
I got the new lead and set the MacBook up to digital out and it works just fine! Thanks for your advice!
 

Njprrogers

Novice Member
Delighted it's working for you. I have the Audiolab myself and I like it a lot. PlayFi is a bit of a pain but I use Spotify Connect 95% of the time for convenience which means I bypass a lot of that hassle. My intention is to switch from Tidal to Spotify HiFi when it's available for CD quality streams.
 

Gcr1948

Novice Member
We have Spotify via Sonos in the lounge and kitchen as well which my wife uses. As long as she can recognise the Bee Gees and ELO she is happy.
My Naim system is sitting in the garage now. I do like the Audiolab system and as someone who knew nothing about Digital I am very impressed with what I can do with the Audiolab Play. 8 years ago, I paid £480 for a Naim Headline Headphone Amp and I needed my Flatcap power supply to power it. Add Audio Technica Q301 Quincy Jones headphones and that was about £1500 just to put headphones on.
Anyway, now I had to move the Hifi into the conservatory I am impressed with the Audiolab and can’t believe how good the B&W 606’s are for £329. At one time I had Proac tablettes and not sure they sounded better?
But after 25 years of Naim and 50 years of Hifi, I am blown away about digital. I am fighting hard to get my head round DAC’s etc.
 

Njprrogers

Novice Member
@Gcr1948 SNAP. I picked up the Audiolab and the 606's for £329 (Richer sounds). I can't get over the quality I am getting from them. Maybe it's just that combo works so well together.
 

Gcr1948

Novice Member
What a coincidence! I also purchased from Richer Sounds online. I read the reviews and figured the 606’s would be ideal. I read the good reviews of the 606’s and the 606 S2’s. It occurred to me that the 606’s, which were a What Hifi winner in 2019 reduced to £329, were better value than the 2020 replacement 606 S2’s at £599.
A few weeks ago, an old work colleague was looking for some reasonably priced bookshelf speakers to replace his floor standers. I recommended the 606’s, which he subsequently purchased. He is using some old Naim stuff I sold him 20 years ago and he is very happy with the speakers. So a great deal.
With streaming, it seems I need to become an electronics engineer.
Once again, thanks for your good advice!
 

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