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Streaming Tidal from phone vs macbook to dac - sample rate & sound difference

kata2012

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#1
Hi All!

Brand new to this audio world. While working from home the past few months, I realized I listen to a lot more music during the day and wanted to see if I could get better sound out of my work laptop so I recently purchased a dac and amp to plug my headphones into, and then also bought a trial subscription to Tidal to see if that made a difference over youtube or pandora, where I usually listen from.

Dac - Topping e30
Amp - Topping l30

What really struck me in this setup is that when streaming Tidal from my MacBook, vs my phone (Samsung Galaxy s10e) is the difference in sample rate as shown on the Topping e30. The same "master track" from my phone shows a sample rate of 192, while the Mackbook shows 96. I have the option on my Macbook selected for Tidal to control the topping e30, so I assume it is bypassing the Mac's internal dac, but this makes me wonder what is going on.

On non-master tracks, the Mac will show a sample rate of 44.1 and the phone on the same track shows 48.

Now it could be unintentional bias, but I feel like the same song from my phone sounds more spacious and greater separation vs the mac.

Also, I'm using the exact same USB c to USB b cord for listening between the two. Also, I realize that the dac does not have MQA capabilities, and toggling the MQA passthrough only lowers the sample rate from the mac from 96 to 48.

Does anyone have an idea why there is a difference between the sample rates? and if there is a way to fix/adjust/bypass the internal dac for the macbook, and if there is, will it make a difference in the sound from the mac?

Thanks for all the
 

Thalis

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Sep 2, 2020
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#2
Hi All!

Brand new to this audio world. While working from home the past few months, I realized I listen to a lot more music during the day and wanted to see if I could get better sound out of my work laptop so I recently purchased a dac and amp to plug my headphones into, and then also bought a trial subscription to Tidal to see if that made a difference over youtube or pandora, where I usually listen from.

Dac - Topping e30
Amp - Topping l30

What really struck me in this setup is that when streaming Tidal from my MacBook, vs my phone (Samsung Galaxy s10e) is the difference in sample rate as shown on the Topping e30. The same "master track" from my phone shows a sample rate of 192, while the Mackbook shows 96. I have the option on my Macbook selected for Tidal to control the topping e30, so I assume it is bypassing the Mac's internal dac, but this makes me wonder what is going on.

On non-master tracks, the Mac will show a sample rate of 44.1 and the phone on the same track shows 48.

Now it could be unintentional bias, but I feel like the same song from my phone sounds more spacious and greater separation vs the mac.

Also, I'm using the exact same USB c to USB b cord for listening between the two. Also, I realize that the dac does not have MQA capabilities, and toggling the MQA passthrough only lowers the sample rate from the mac from 96 to 48.

Does anyone have an idea why there is a difference between the sample rates? and if there is a way to fix/adjust/bypass the internal dac for the macbook, and if there is, will it make a difference in the sound from the mac?

Thanks for all the

Welcome to ASR. For android phones you need some apps to get a bitperfect connection to a DAC. An example would be USB Audio Player Pro (UAPP). Tidal is intergrated into UAPP so if you play any MQA tracks it will perform the first unfold and the E30 should display either 88.2 or 96. You are correct that the E30 has no MQA decoding so it won't do the second unfold. Android phones will default to 48 if it does not have a bitperfect connection.

I am not familiar with Macs but I am assuming you are using the Tidal app and you are able to send bitperfect to the E30 (using Exclusive Mode setting in the app) hence you were getting 96 on the E30 for the MQA tracks you were playing.
 

M00ndancer

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#3
Or just use 44.1 or 48. Higher will not make the audio any better. MQA is just a way of getting the consumer to pay more for a lossy format.
Make sure you get the best master recordings. Streamed FLAC @44.1/48 with a properly mastered song is all you need.
High bitrate AAC/Ogg-vorbis -> 256kbps is virtually undetectable compared to a lossless format like FLAC.
MQA is the same a lot of hype and people spending money on a new format that doesn't really add anything besides money to the music companies.
 

abdo123

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#4
Or just use 44.1 or 48. Higher will not make the audio any better. MQA is just a way of getting the consumer to pay more for a lossy format.
Make sure you get the best master recordings. Streamed FLAC @44.1/48 with a properly mastered song is all you need.
High bitrate AAC/Ogg-vorbis -> 256kbps is virtually undetectable compared to a lossless format like FLAC.
MQA is the same a lot of hype and people spending money on a new format that doesn't really add anything besides money to the music companies.
He might as well use something that he paid for. This is the equivalent of asking people to throw away gear that didn’t measure well when Amir reviewed them.
 
OP
K

kata2012

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Thread Starter #5
Or just use 44.1 or 48. Higher will not make the audio any better. MQA is just a way of getting the consumer to pay more for a lossy format.
Make sure you get the best master recordings. Streamed FLAC @44.1/48 with a properly mastered song is all you need.
High bitrate AAC/Ogg-vorbis -> 256kbps is virtually undetectable compared to a lossless format like FLAC.
MQA is the same a lot of hype and people spending money on a new format that doesn't really add anything besides money to the music companies.
Thanks for the info - I'm not married to Tidal - they have a promo going right now (or they did) where it's like $4 for 4 months of their hi-fi service, so it's a small investment. I want to compare it to Qobuz ( with their 30-day trial) as I believe they stream FLAC, but I'm waiting until Christmas as I have a hunch Santa is bringing me some new headphones and I want to maximize the comparison on the new cans.
 
OP
K

kata2012

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Thread Starter #6
Welcome to ASR. For android phones you need some apps to get a bitperfect connection to a DAC. An example would be USB Audio Player Pro (UAPP). Tidal is intergrated into UAPP so if you play any MQA tracks it will perform the first unfold and the E30 should display either 88.2 or 96. You are correct that the E30 has no MQA decoding so it won't do the second unfold. Android phones will default to 48 if it does not have a bitperfect connection.

I am not familiar with Macs but I am assuming you are using the Tidal app and you are able to send bitperfect to the E30 (using Exclusive Mode setting in the app) hence you were getting 96 on the E30 for the MQA tracks you were playing.
Thank you for the info, it makes sense and I believe this is exactly what I was looking for. I'm going to give UAPP a try and see what happens.
 

Thalis

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#7
Thanks for the info - I'm not married to Tidal - they have a promo going right now (or they did) where it's like $4 for 4 months of their hi-fi service, so it's a small investment. I want to compare it to Qobuz ( with their 30-day trial) as I believe they stream FLAC, but I'm waiting until Christmas as I have a hunch Santa is bringing me some new headphones and I want to maximize the comparison on the new cans.

UAPP has Qobuz intergration too :) By the way to have MQA playback there will be a small charge if you go ahead and purchase UAPP.
 
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