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Help me choose- Tidal/Qobuz/Spotify

PNB

Established Member
Hi all,

Thanks so far for the input in other thread surrounding equipment.

I've been using Play Music from Google for many years and its now being discontinued- I've been moved over to YouTube music and from what my ears can tell the bit rate seems aweful. I really don't like the interface either.

I've signed up for free trials on Tidal/Qobuz and Spotify and I'm really struggling to choose which to stay with.

I listen on my phone when running and the quality of that is non important as I use bone conducting earphones.

On out car we have a kenwood unit with android auto (ive not tried them with this but Play used to be seemless and work voice activated).

On our stereos in the house we use Chromecast- from what I can tell Tidal and Qobuz sound better than Spotify on these (Ive heard that Spotify bitrate is downgraded through chromecast).

I'll only be using Tidal HIFI as the Masters subscription is TOO much. I might stretch to Qobuzs £15 subscription though.

I'm currently pretty busy with life- 2 kids, a building project and the wife starting a new job thats long hours- so I'm finding it hard to extensively test these subscriptions.

What have you chosen/what would you choose with my kit and why?

There's choice here and would really appreciate some input on why people would choose the different services as opposed to a thread of people trying to convince people their choice is better.

Many thanks in advance for any useful insight.

Paul
 

mseve1

Established Member
Well for the non classical listener at least I think it's universally acknowledged that Spotify has by far the best library, curation and interfaces. It's also widely accessible and even for critical listening it's difficult to fault the Premium 320 kbps quality. Still there's always a nagging doubt about the ultimate fidelity of a lossy codec and it's a pity they don't have an uncompressed CD quality tier. If this was the case I wouldn't need to even consider any alternative services.
I should say that I remain totally unconvinced of the sonic benefits of HiRes so, for me, a comparison of other providers is based solely on performance / delivery of 16 bit 44.1kHz streams. I can't see any reason to think that any provider's streams should sound any different to any others but I'm very sensitive to inconsistencies in levels between different tracks which seems to be a widespread problem.
Based upon several free trials of Spotify alternatives Qobuz wins out for me based mainly on its interface - I couldn't get on with Tidal and haven't even considered Amazon - I wouldn't support them as a matter of principle!
But at the end of the day none of this is such a big deal since most of my critical listening is on locally stored CD rips and steaming services are primarily a means of discovering new music.
 
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Steve356

Distinguished Member
I'm in the process of beginning my streaming journey too. Using free trials, I have so far experienced the following.......

Spotify - Great value for money. Excellent user interface and library, but when I compared sound quality with CDs of the same track, I didn't think it was as good. I would put sound quality on par with Apple Music.

Tidal - Relatively expensive unless you can get a Family deal and members of the family chip in towards the cost. Good user interface and extensive library. Better sound quality and very close to CD quality, especially when using Roon or mConnect HD. I don't have an MQA decoder so can't comment on that aspect. Personally I struggled to hear any difference between CD quality and Hi Res.

Qobuz - Reasonable cost per month, but library not as extensive as Tidal or Spotify. I thought this was the best sounding of all the apps in CD quality and I could hear a slight difference, not necessarily an improvement, on Hi Res tracks.

mConnect HD - Reasonable app at a relatively low one-time cost of £5.99, but it's only available for my iPad and not for my preferred MacBook. I don't find it particularly user friendly, but it does offer Hi Res playback via WiFi into my Lyngdorf 3400 amp (UPnP).

Roon - Major disappointment for me. Yes, it offers Hi Res playback of Tidal and Qobuz, but it's very expensive for what it is IMHO. Also, I found it to be very flakey in use with numerous drop outs, track skipping, etc. I know a few people that are very happy with it, but they have added several thousands of pounds to their systems which work well and they only stream music. I'm not anywhere near that point yet.

Qobuz UPnP - Qobuz has a nice feature in that they have a Beta version on UPnP. When it works, I got great sound quality from Qobuz, but it also clearly has some bugs, which in fairness Qobuz admitted to me. Was refreshing to get honest replies from their support people.

Audirvana - Nowhere near as nice an interface as Roon and the results I got were just as flakey as Roon, so not for me.

AirPlay - I've found Tidal and Qobuz over AirPlay to be OK, but it's clear that AirPlay is adding some compression. I could live with it for background music. Zero playback problems. My Lyngdorf will likely get updated to AirPlay 2 as their recent amp release has added it. I hope that AirPlay 2 may give me what I want, so I can wait.


So for me, at this time, I think I'm going to move forward with a Tidal family plan that I'll share with my nephew (a long time Tidal user), so works out at £15 per month and comparable to Qobuz costs. For general music listening, I'll probably just playback from my MacBook via AirPlay for now. For serious listening, I'll use mConnect on my iPad. Then after 6-12 months I'll review how much I've used streaming and decide whether to invest in better equipment or not.

Just my personal opinions / experiences and hopefully of use to the OP. For all you experienced Streamers out there, please don't shoot me. ;)
 

Cebolla

Prominent Member
I'm in the process of beginning my streaming journey too. Using free trials, I have so far experienced the following.......
I recommend you also try the free Logitech Media Server, which supports all 3 of those online music services if you install the relevant LMS plugins, though MQA tracks from TIDAL are not supported (the TIDAL online server provides resampled CD-res versions of them instead) & a Premium account is required for Spotify.
Logitech Media Server - v8.0

Support for UPnP/DLNA streamers is provided by UPnP/DLNA Bridge LMS plugin. A pretty decent controller user interface can be accessed via any web browser if you also install the Material Skin & Music and Artist Information LMS plugins.
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