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Tidal HiFi vs HiFi Plus: Can you hear the difference?

Can you hear the difference between Lossless and Hi-Res?

  • Yes. I hear the difference (I did a blind test)

  • Yes. I hear the difference (I didn’t do a blind test)

  • No. I don’t hear the difference


Results are only viewable after voting.

Mehdiem

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I have been using Tidal HiFi Plus for a while now. I used to listen to MQA all the time, and lately decided not to as I read a few articles against MQA. My new DAC (RME) is not supporting MQA either. This made me think that I might need to downgrade my Tidal account to HiFi only. ($10 vs $20). Today, I went ahead an downgraded my Tidal account. A few hours later, I got a pop-up offer from Tidal, offering me $15 for HiFi plus for a year term. This made me reconsider my decision.

Even though I can hear the differnece between Lossless and lower qualities, l am not sure if I am able to hear the difference between lossless (CD quality) and the higher qualities.

I am wondering what’s your experience with higher than CD quality? Can you hear the difference?

Please vote if you wish, in addition to sharing your perspective.
 

Jimbob54

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I have been using Tidal HiFi Plus for a while now. I used to listen to MQA all the time, and lately decided not to as I read a few articles against MQA. My new DAC (RME) is not supporting MQA either. This made me think that I might need to downgrade my Tidal account to HiFi only. ($10 vs $20). Today, I went ahead an downgraded my Tidal account. A few hours later, I got a pop-up offer from Tidal, offering me $15 for HiFi plus for a year term. This made me reconsider my decision.

Even though I can hear the differnece between Lossless and lower qualities, l am not sure if I am able to hear the difference between lossless (CD quality) and the higher qualities.

I am wondering what’s your experience with higher than CD quality? Can you hear the difference?

Please vote if you wish, in addition to sharing your perspective.

I've done enough listening to both to know that even if I could hear a difference (never could), its not worth paying for.
 

MRC01

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... Even though I can hear the differnece between Lossless and lower qualities, l am not sure if I am able to hear the difference between lossless (CD quality) and the higher qualities.

I am wondering what’s your experience with higher than CD quality? Can you hear the difference?
Same here. High quality lossy can be very good, the differences can be subtle, but they are audible with the right material. However, I can't say the same for lossless higher than CD quality. Once you are at lossless 44-16, it is possible to create sounds that can be differentiated from higher rates, but they aren't music. They're stuff like square waves, jangling keys, etc. One could say that 44-16 is not perceptually transparent, but it is musically transparent for all practical purposes.

However, one reason you might want high def is to avoid resampling. Lossless at 44-16 must resample audio whose native format is higher than 44-16. That resampling should be transparent when done properly, but it's not always done properly and is not always transparent.

All that said, I would (and do) pay more for lossless streaming. The service I use (Qobuz) streams everything in its native format without resampling, so it's sometimes higher than 44-16. But I wouldn't pay extra just for that alone.
 
OP
Mehdiem

Mehdiem

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However, one reason you might want high def is to avoid resampling. Lossless at 44-16 must resample audio whose native format is higher than 44-16. That resampling should be transparent when done properly, but it's not always done properly and is not always transparent.

Interesting! I didn't know about this. I thought Tidal would keep two versions (44-16 and hi-res) of each file and plays according to your setting. Is this resampling (from hi-res to CD) true with Tidal and all other streaming services?

At least half of the music I listen to is available in higher quality (MQA, hi-res) in Tidal. So if I downgrade to HiFi only, does this mean that I take the risk of listening to a bad "resampled" version of that music?
 

Liya

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same old,
same old

worth checking

for the above challenge Mark Waldrep used extremely high dynamic range recordings from his own lable. straight recordings you will never hear from any CD, streaming or vinyl.
I doubt the files are still available to downlod from his website, but I've kept them for my own reference and for anyone that will ever visit me and think he can tell a difference between hi-res and 16/41.
I would bet a lot of money people can tell a difference between hi-res and 256AAC
 

EB1000

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Download Tidal FLAC of an album released before 2000, using Tidown tool (search GitHub), then use a spectrum analysis tool to analyze the file. 50% that you won't find any data above 16kHz, which means the flac was generated from a lossy source... Tidal cannot be trusted! Use Deezer HIFI or Qobuz if you want true lossless...
 

Liya

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Tidal, Qobuz, Deezer... they all get the files from record company.
Just enjoy the music..
but if you want you can always chase originals masters
 

MRC01

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Interesting! I didn't know about this. I thought Tidal would keep two versions (44-16 and hi-res) of each file and plays according to your setting. Is this resampling (from hi-res to CD) true with Tidal and all other streaming services?

At least half of the music I listen to is available in higher quality (MQA, hi-res) in Tidal. So if I downgrade to HiFi only, does this mean that I take the risk of listening to a bad "resampled" version of that music?
When done properly, downsampling to 44-16 should be transparent. And it usually is done properly, whether by the record label or the streaming provider. Improper downsampling is the exception, not the norm. Yet this exception is not as rare as it should be. I've encountered a few cases over the years. Some from the record company, some in device firmware.

To give this some perspective, consider the quality of the recording. Most modern rock/pop music is so badly recorded and over-processed with heavy dynamic compression, intersample overs and clipping, that whether it's been properly resampled is the least of your worries. The sound engineers already threw sound quality out the studio window. But if you're listening to classical music (and a few rare well done recordings in other genres) having much higher quality recordings and a lighter hand used in processing, then it might matter.
 
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Mehdiem

Mehdiem

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To give this some perspective, consider the quality of the recording. Most modern rock/pop music is so badly recorded and over-processed with heavy dynamic compression, intersample overs and clipping, that whether it's been properly resampled is the least of your worries. The sound engineers already threw sound quality out the studio window. But if you're listening to classical music (and a few rare well done recordings in other genres) having much higher quality recordings and a lighter hand used in processing, then it might matter.

As a matter of fact, the majority of my listening would be classical, soundtracks, jazz, and some other sorts of instrumental music majority of which sounds to be properly recorded and mixed.
 

MRC01

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no, it doesn't matter with classical either. 24/96 is all you need while recording (24/192 is too much).
for distribution 16/41 max.
it's not an opinion. there's way too much evidence by now out there.
When I said "it might matter", the context of "it" referred to resampling, not to bit rates higher than 44-16.
When converting to 44-16 for distribution, they usually do it right.
Yet sometimes they do it wrong. I occasionally see recordings with spurious high frequency noise, DC offsets, or other problems. Some of these are otherwise well recorded classical music.
 

Liya

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I wouldn't be so optimistic even with classical. there's Amir you tube video when he downloded hi res music from Linn website (I think) and the amount of noise in this file was huge.
if this would be converted to 16/41 the noise wouldn't be there.
still, modern classical is way better recorded than pop.
I get that there are always new people coming to this hobby but 16/41 was enough since the CD was invented.
SACD wasn't needed too.
I appreciate difference where there is one... say, going from LCD to OLED.
 

MRC01

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I wouldn't be so optimistic even with classical. there's Amir you tube video when he downloded hi res music from Linn website (I think) and the amount of noise in this file was huge.
if this would be converted to 16/41 the noise wouldn't be there.
...
Yep, here's one I documented recently.
I think you meant 44-16... sure, supersonic noise wouldn't be there simply because the format doesn't have enough bandwidth for anything supersonic. But if a high bit rate or DSD recording is converted improperly, even the 44-16 could have aliasing in the passband, which would mean noise & distortion that is harder to detect by analyzing the audio file.
 

Liya

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properly or not.. I guess it is a job for software converting the hi res file down to 16/44?
 
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Mehdiem

Mehdiem

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I wouldn't be so optimistic even with classical. there's Amir you tube video when he downloded hi res music from Linn website (I think) and the amount of noise in this file was huge.
if this would be converted to 16/41 the noise wouldn't be there.
still, modern classical is way better recorded than pop.
I get that there are always new people coming to this hobby but 16/41 was enough since the CD was invented.
SACD wasn't needed too.
I appreciate difference where there is one... say, going from LCD to OLED.

I really liked your LCD/OLED analogy!
 

MRC01

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properly or not.. I guess it is a job for software converting the hi res file down to 16/44?
Yep. Proper methods are well known and not hard to implement. There's really no excuse for getting it wrong. Because of this many people think resampling or format conversion in general is a non-issue. Yet I've seen enough examples of getting it wrong, the issue shouldn't be hand-waved away.
 

Juhazi

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16/44(48) is the sweet spot for audio reproduction. Audibly as good as can be, moderate file size and bitrate ok for modern networks and wifi.

24/96 is the sweet spot for recording. Processors might work with even higher modes and floating point.

I have been happy with CDs since 1984. When computer audio came audio codec battles started... MP3 came and ruled, lately streaming is having the battle going on. I recently changed form Spotify to Tidal Hifi (16/44) and I'm totally happy. MQA is not needed in any way.

Some 15 years ago I played a little with Audacity and downloaded "hires" formats, and it very soon became obvious that MP3 256b is very difficult to distinguish from 16/44, if source is same original.

The biggest problem nowdays is mixing and (re-)mastering with huge dynamic compresion and dsp effects like autotune, which have nothing at all to do with musical enjoyment or authenticity. Fortunately I mostly listen to classic, jazz and vintage pop/rock...
 

Liya

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Daniel Barenboim cycle of Bethoveen Sonatas from 2019 is a weird recording. High tones are in left channel, low register in right channel. Sounds counterintuitive, especially on headphones.
One of Daniil Trifonov's albums is loaded with some strange digital echo, unlistenable. Same with khatia buniatishvili album...
 

Liya

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Yep. Proper methods are well known and not hard to implement. There's really no excuse for getting it wrong. Because of this many people think resampling or format conversion in general is a non-issue. Yet I've seen enough examples of getting it wrong, the issue shouldn't be hand-waved away.
I was using XLD on Mac to convert hi-res to 16/44. In your view, Is it a proper way of converting files?
 

LuvTheMusic

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worth checking

for the above challenge Mark Waldrep used extremely high dynamic range recordings from his own lable. straight recordings you will never hear from any CD, streaming or vinyl.
I doubt the files are still available to downlod from his website, but I've kept them for my own reference and for anyone that will ever visit me and think he can tell a difference between hi-res and 16/41.
Second Mark Waldrep's test -- unfortunately, I just checked and could not find the files on the website, although they could be buried somewhere.

In any case, when I listened to them, I thought that just maybe, perhaps, possibly I could hear a few small differences on repeated tries -- but my chances of noticing anything in regular listening were zilch. To give you some idea, I would say that the sonic difference produced by moving my head two inches in any direction likely would be more noticeable than any difference that I might hear between the hi-res and CD-quality versions of the music.
 
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