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TIDAL is NOT Worth it! Listening Test

amirm

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#2
Good watch. It is another piece of evidence that most people can't even hear the difference between compressed and uncompressed music let alone all the esoteric things we throw money at.

256 kbps AAC sounds superb and the MP3 version that Amazon uses close to it. So not surprising that people fail to tell the difference from original.

I plan to do a comparison one day like they have done. It is possible that what we think is lossless may not be on Tidal (although seeing the .flac designation tells me it should be).
 

dallasjustice

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#3
Good watch. It is another piece of evidence that most people can't even hear the difference between compressed and uncompressed music let alone all the esoteric things we throw money at.

256 kbps AAC sounds superb and the MP3 version that Amazon uses close to it. So not surprising that people fail to tell the difference from original.

I plan to do a comparison one day like they have done. It is possible that what we think is lossless may not be on Tidal (although seeing the .flac designation tells me it should be).
I know there's been a nice summary recently showing hires is really audibly better in the AES journal. Is there any similar meta analysis available comparing lossy to redbook?

When you do your listening test, don't forget to actually face the R/L speakers. :D That CNBC mixing room setup was cute but not ideal.
 

Thomas savage

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#4
Though I have never played them through my hifi the 320k files Amazon keep for you when you buy music from them are excellent through earphones and headphones combined with a chord Hugo..even Bluetooth via my phones Memory card to my JBL extreme I use at work the 320k files sound detailed and very enjoyable.

I am a crap audiophile,shame on me :D
 

Sal1950

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#5
"Folks, get the cheapest music possible, it doesn't matter".
ROTFLMAO,
Thanks Dallas
 

Sal1950

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#6
I code the files for my SansaClip+ in Ogg at level 5. That's supposed to set the variable "average" bit rate at about 160kb's. Even when played back on my high end rig they sound very good. Don't really matter in any case as they're only for playback on my trucks rig and my pool side boom box.
 

amirm

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#7
I know there's been a nice summary recently showing hires is really audibly better in the AES journal. Is there any similar meta analysis available comparing lossy to redbook?
Oh yes. There has been plenty of listening tests published although interest in the last decade has been in very low bit rate codecs for cellular streaming (e.g. HE-AAC). The results are always the same. Fidelity approaches lossless source but never gets there across all content and all listeners. Here is one graph I have handy to show the former:

AC-3 Stereo.png


0.00 score at the top would indicate the same fidelity as the CD. We see that at 128 kbps, AAC starts to approach that and hence the difficulty people have telling compressed content from uncompressed. But that is composite score. If we look at individual results, we see that some content is more revealing than others.

AC3 Blind test Results.png


Look at the scores for pitch pipe. And in general how fidelity changes depending on what content is used.

Speaking personally, in challenges people have thrown at me over the years, I can tell the clips apart in three out of four times if not better. I can only do this though by finding specific narrow segments where fidelity is lost. Across the whole track fidelity will seem the same even to me with better codecs like AAC (and WMA Pro). So for trained listeners, there is no transparency.

There are a lot of resources online on such results. Here is one example I just found: http://listening-test.coresv.net/results.htm
 

FrantzM

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#8
Thomas

You're not alone being a crap audiophile :)... I took the online thing from the Harman people and am fairly good at hearing artifacts ... on small segments and on known music ... If I am just listening to the music for the most part I am consistently fooled by anything above 192 Kb/s :(..

The other day I played a cruel joke on a golden eared audiophile friend. I took a 128 Kb/s and burnt it on a CD as an audio CD ... Suffice to say he was as fooled as anybody ...
 

Thomas savage

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#9
Thomas

You're not alone being a crap audiophile :)... I took the online thing from the Harman people and am fairly good at hearing artifacts ... on small segments and on known music ... If I am just listening to the music for the most part I am consistently fooled by anything above 192 Kb/s :(..

The other day I played a cruel joke on a golden eared audiophile friend. I took a 128 Kb/s and burnt it on a CD as an audio CD ... Suffice to say he was as fooled as anybody ...
I had to sell my golden ears to pay my bar tab :(:D
 

Phelonious Ponk

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#10
"Folks, get the cheapest music possible, it doesn't matter".
ROTFLMAO,
Thanks Dallas
The entry level for music streaming should be $20/mo, with increases for high use (maybe start at greater than 100 hours/mo). And every dollar of that increase should go to the writing and performance copyright holders. Should people pay a premium for "hi res?" Sure, why not? We pay a premium for all kinds of unnecessary things.

Tim
 

Sal1950

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#11
The entry level for music streaming should be $20/mo, with increases for high use (maybe start at greater than 100 hours/mo). And every dollar of that increase should go to the writing and performance copyright holders. Should people pay a premium for "hi res?" Sure, why not? We pay a premium for all kinds of unnecessary things.

Tim
No argument there Tim, I just found the host comments funny as hell. ;)
 

NorthSky

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#12
Yes, we pay (some) for millions of TV channels and music stations and high speed internet, and we only use less than a fraction of one percent of them all!
This is only because we can afford to pay for stuff we never use but that we like to have anyway. Do you know how it originated?

Anyway, in the jungles of Amazon the tribes make their own social and ritual music. Bring them electrical wires, gas generators, solar panels, batteries...and a Tidal music server and they'll probably go all berserk. It will take them quite some time to re-adapt and change their dancing style and way of living. And then no one knows if it would be for the better, or for the worst. ...Just a simple thought like that, with a humor touch.

* Is there a great worldwide classical music selection/section on Tidal, and for only $20/month right? ...US dollars?
 

dallasjustice

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#13
The entry level for music streaming should be $20/mo, with increases for high use (maybe start at greater than 100 hours/mo). And every dollar of that increase should go to the writing and performance copyright holders. Should people pay a premium for "hi res?" Sure, why not? We pay a premium for all kinds of unnecessary things.

Tim
Spotify is the cheapest. Spotify pays out the most money to artists because it has the most customers. Tidal is the most expensive. Tidal pays out next to nuthin because it has a handful of customers by comparison. People will always listen to music and will mostly select the cheapest and most convenient method.
 

Phelonious Ponk

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#14
Spotify is the cheapest. Spotify pays out the most money to artists because it has the most customers. Tidal is the most expensive. Tidal pays out next to nuthin because it has a handful of customers by comparison. People will always listen to music and will mostly select the cheapest and most convenient method.
True. We just need a baseline that actually compensates musicians for their music. But from the musicians POV it doesn't matter how big the service is, it matters hoe many plays they get. That's how they get paid, and Spotify doesn't pay squat. ITunes is bad enough. Spotify is dismal.
 

Blumlein 88

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#15
My first thought was are they using any music with enough fidelity that something is lost with compressed vs lossless? And this is an often overlooked point though Amir touches upon it above.

Quite a bit of music, most music, heck maybe 80% of recordings lack fidelity in the recording to be heard as different over good compressed streams. Throw in that 99% of such music is listened to over less than great gear/conditions and compressed streams are probably rarely a bottle neck. Yet, the right kind of content over good gear can be heard.
 

astr0b0y

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#16
I succumbed to the convenience and polish of Roon recently and I really like the Tidal integration. I have done zero testing that would be acceptable here in terms of being objective but subjective listening does show a range of different experiences when comparing my local digital library to Tidal's files.
Most often Tidal beats my files that I ripped twenty years ago and have been moved through a dozen hard drives since then. They have obvious ripping errors or file corruption that are repeatedly audible at the same positions in a track. In the wisdom of my youth I decided to rip all my CDs and then sell them all when I moved countries - that was about 5000 tracks that I ripped at 160 Kbps MP3 or 128 Kbps AAC (no idea why I mixed the formats!)

There's a number of other lossy tracks I've obtained since then that I can hear significant differences in sound when comparing to Tidal's versions (or lossless rips). Almost always the major difference for me is the sound of cymbals, saprono level woodwind/brass notes and acoustic guitar along with other higher frequency sounds. The giveaway to me is a sort of warble effect on the note. Hard to describe the sound really - like a phase effect or being played underwater or a combination. This happens almost always with 192 Kbps or lower but I have found a couple of 256 and 320 Kbps tracks that exhibit the same sound but I put this down to the rip being done poorly.

Tldr; Tidal rocks when used with Roon and sounds better than a lot of my crappy rips. However, if Roon supported other lossy streaming services I'd jump ship immediately.

Phew, my first post here out of the way!
 

dallasjustice

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#17
Welcome Astro!
Michael.
I succumbed to the convenience and polish of Roon recently and I really like the Tidal integration. I have done zero testing that would be acceptable here in terms of being objective but subjective listening does show a range of different experiences when comparing my local digital library to Tidal's files.
Most often Tidal beats my files that I ripped twenty years ago and have been moved through a dozen hard drives since then. They have obvious ripping errors or file corruption that are repeatedly audible at the same positions in a track. In the wisdom of my youth I decided to rip all my CDs and then sell them all when I moved countries - that was about 5000 tracks that I ripped at 160 Kbps MP3 or 128 Kbps AAC (no idea why I mixed the formats!)

There's a number of other lossy tracks I've obtained since then that I can hear significant differences in sound when comparing to Tidal's versions (or lossless rips). Almost always the major difference for me is the sound of cymbals, saprono level woodwind/brass notes and acoustic guitar along with other higher frequency sounds. The giveaway to me is a sort of warble effect on the note. Hard to describe the sound really - like a phase effect or being played underwater or a combination. This happens almost always with 192 Kbps or lower but I have found a couple of 256 and 320 Kbps tracks that exhibit the same sound but I put this down to the rip being done poorly.

Tldr; Tidal rocks when used with Roon and sounds better than a lot of my crappy rips. However, if Roon supported other lossy streaming services I'd jump ship immediately.

Phew, my first post here out of the way!
 

fas42

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#18
There may be something interesting going on with YouTube ... a very recently uploaded video seemed to show superior quality at 1440p, and I have just looked at some audio derived from a clip which states 321 Kbps AAC. Will do some further investigation, to see if this is a 'real' quality upgrade, or not ...
 

amirm

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#19
There's a number of other lossy tracks I've obtained since then that I can hear significant differences in sound when comparing to Tidal's versions (or lossless rips). Almost always the major difference for me is the sound of cymbals, saprono level woodwind/brass notes and acoustic guitar along with other higher frequency sounds.
Welcome to the forum Astro! What you described is precisely the type of content that gives lossy codecs a hard time. Great to see that you intuitively managed to spot all of this.

Lossy compression relies on transforming frames (milliseconds) of audio into frequency domain. Once there, the resolution of each frequency band is reduced per psychoacoustics metrics. That act smears distortion across the entire frame. This causes transients to have a type of distortion called pre-echo. The higher the frequency of the transient, the worst this is. This is why cymbals, and guitar strings are so revealing. Other content that is hard to compress are non-harmonic content. Pitch Pipe, harpsichord, etc. are examples of this. Human voices and of all things, audience clapping is also very difficult to encode.

Great first post Astro. :)
 

fas42

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#20
There may be something interesting going on with YouTube ... a very recently uploaded video seemed to show superior quality at 1440p, and I have just looked at some audio derived from a clip which states 321 Kbps AAC. Will do some further investigation, to see if this is a 'real' quality upgrade, or not ...
Definitely something interesting - I had a look for the group mentioned by Ray, http://audiosciencereview.com/forum...-listening-to-right-now.40/page-21#post-21477, and was able to pull down an audio track again at 321 Kbps AAC - and it sounds like it. Very, very clean, punchy sound, "CD quality", :) ... will keep checking this out ...
 
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