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Music Streaming Services: Tidal vs. Apple

PGansz

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When I first got into hifi a few years ago I started streaming with Amazon HD. Sounded great, huge catalog.

My wife has a Spotify subscription and it had music from her native country that Amazon didn't have; so I switched to that.

I left Spotify for various reasons and decided to "splurge" on Tidal premium. Sounded great, blah blah blah.

After some home device consolidation and reading enough articles on music quality and audibility, I switched to Apple hi-res (larger selection, native on my devices, etc.)

The second I switched from Tidal to Apple I noticed a massive difference in the way the music sounds - it's not nearly as "in my face", and I have to crank volume knobs up substantially more - this is not conjecture - it affects my car, my home stereo, etc. I have tried multiple EQ settings in Apple and I can't hear any differences between them.

Is this some bs trick TIDAL plays with their service? Am I missing a setting or feature on Apple that would change it?

I'm aware this community will probably roast me but I'm telling you this phenomenon is annoying and really makes me wish I had TIDAL back, but I like the Apple app much better and the larger catalog is nice. Any ideas?
 

DVDdoug

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Sometimes different services have different masters so you may not be listening to the same exact recording. (It wouldn't be every recording/song.)

All of the popular streaming services use loudness normalization/matching, but they don't all use the same target loudness. And, sometimes the user has options for the loudness adjustment. I read somewhere that Spotify has an option that will allow clipping when quiet-sounding songs are adjusted-up.

Loudness matching is simply a linear volume adjustment before the song starts. It doesn't affect quality or dynamics (assuming you're not allowing clipping).

I found this which says, unlike most loudness matching, Tidal doesn't turn the volume up on quiet songs. It only turns-down loud tracks.
 
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PGansz

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Sometimes different services have different masters so you may not be listening to the same exact recording. (It wouldn't be every recording/song.)

All of the popular streaming services use loudness normalization/matching, but they don't all use the same target loudness. And, sometimes the user has options for the loudness adjustment. I read somewhere that Spotify has an option that will allow clipping when quiet-sounding songs are adjusted-up.

Loudness matching is simply a linear volume adjustment before the song starts. It doesn't affect quality or dynamics (assuming you're not allowing clipping).

I found this which says, unlike most loudness matching, Tidal doesn't turn the volume up on quiet songs. It only turns-down loud tracks.
Thank you for the link and thoughts on this.

However, the problem is every song played sounds like it's behind a curtain. Maybe I have an ear infection...
 

deweydm

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Jun 25, 2021
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When I first got into hifi a few years ago I started streaming with Amazon HD. Sounded great, huge catalog.

My wife has a Spotify subscription and it had music from her native country that Amazon didn't have; so I switched to that.

I left Spotify for various reasons and decided to "splurge" on Tidal premium. Sounded great, blah blah blah.

After some home device consolidation and reading enough articles on music quality and audibility, I switched to Apple hi-res (larger selection, native on my devices, etc.)

The second I switched from Tidal to Apple I noticed a massive difference in the way the music sounds - it's not nearly as "in my face", and I have to crank volume knobs up substantially more - this is not conjecture - it affects my car, my home stereo, etc. I have tried multiple EQ settings in Apple and I can't hear any differences between them.

Is this some bs trick TIDAL plays with their service? Am I missing a setting or feature on Apple that would change it?

I'm aware this community will probably roast me but I'm telling you this phenomenon is annoying and really makes me wish I had TIDAL back, but I like the Apple app much better and the larger catalog is nice. Any ideas?
Is sound check enabled for Apple Music? I thought it was disabled by default, but maybe that’s changed. The sound check feature in AM should normalize the volume to -16 LUFSi. Making most things quieter, more rarely, louder. Turning it off is usually like turning the volume up with popular genres. Less often an effect with things like classical and jazz.
 

deweydm

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Is sound check enabled for Apple Music? I thought it was disabled by default, but maybe that’s changed. The sound check feature in AM should normalize the volume to -16 LUFSi. Making most things quieter, more rarely, louder. Turning it off is usually like turning the volume up with popular genres. Less often an effect with things like classical and jazz.
  • Spotify: -14 LUFS (integrated)
  • Apple Music: -16 LUFS (integrated)
  • YouTube: -14 LUFS (integrated)
  • Tidal: -14 LUFS (integrated)
  • Amazon Music: -14 LUFS (integrated)
  • Deezer: -15 LUFS (integrated)
From https://mastering.com/loudness-streaming-lufs/
 
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PGansz

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  • Spotify: -14 LUFS (integrated)
  • Apple Music: -16 LUFS (integrated)
  • YouTube: -14 LUFS (integrated)
  • Tidal: -14 LUFS (integrated)
  • Amazon Music: -14 LUFS (integrated)
  • Deezer: -15 LUFS (integrated)
From https://mastering.com/loudness-streaming-lufs/
That's a neat article but as a single resource is almost useless. There's no explanation of the units, or the scales mentioned, or a relative example to the real world. Meaning it's practically useless for me personally.

At any rate, turning off "sound check" absolutely fixed the issue.
 
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