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Tidal vs. Deezer vs. Qobuz vs. Spotify vs. Apple Music

RayDunzl

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Could you please help me in my case?
Not really.

I don't have any of your listed gear (except maybe miniDSP), no MQA, and don't subscribe to any streaming services (except the limited Amazon Music streaming included with Prime which I rarely use).
 

Sprint

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My Yamaha AVR 775 uses Burrbrown DACs which are inferior compared to example ESS DACs in streamers like WXC-50 or SMSL DP5. In the internet many say that AVR's do not do good stereo. I could related to this as when I was using Yamaha NS777 passive speakers with my AVR. The 777 need lot of power. The internal amps in aVR probably clipped the SINAD output below 2V. Probably this was the reason why it did not sound good in 2ch music. But after I shifted to active monitors, my AVRs are quite decent to deliver analog signals via pre-outs. Since my Genelecs accept digital input via AES, I want to bypass all DAC's in the chain and make the Genelecs do the DAC job.
 

Chromatischism

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My Yamaha AVR 775 uses Burrbrown DACs which are inferior compared to example ESS DACs in streamers like WXC-50 or SMSL DP5. In the internet many say that AVR's do not do good stereo. I could related to this as when I was using Yamaha NS777 passive speakers with my AVR. The 777 need lot of power. The internal amps in aVR probably clipped the SINAD output below 2V. Probably this was the reason why it did not sound good in 2ch music. But after I shifted to active monitors, my AVRs are quite decent to deliver analog signals via pre-outs. Since my Genelecs accept digital input via AES, I want to bypass all DAC's in the chain and make the Genelecs do the DAC job.
This is true of Yamaha AVR's and Gene at Audioholics has complained to them many times to increase the preout voltage. Still, it should be enough for normal listening in a room if using an amp with a low enough input sensitivity to match.

Now, if you are using passive speakers connected to the AVR this does not apply. There, you have different things that could hold you back such as available power and how well the amps handle low impedance loads at various phase angles (speaker dependent).

Also, when using analog preouts to a powered speaker, you are using the AVR's DAC. You would need a digital output to a digital input to use the active speaker's DAC.
 

Sprint

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This is true of Yamaha AVR's and Gene at Audioholics has complained to them many times to increase the preout voltage. Still, it should be enough for normal listening in a room if using an amp with a low enough input sensitivity to match.

Now, if you are using passive speakers connected to the AVR this does not apply. There, you have different things that could hold you back such as available power and how well the amps handle low impedance loads at various phase angles (speaker dependent).

Also, when using analog preouts to a powered speaker, you are using the AVR's DAC. You would need a digital output to a digital input to use the active speaker's DAC.
Agree fully. Thats why I was looking for a streamer with digital out so that I can feed digital signals directly into my active speakers Genelecs.

BTW, my Sony TV has digital out and has Chromecast as well. Do you think can I use my Tidal to stream into Chromecast of my TV and then feed into Genelecs via Optical cable => AES. But I assume it cannot be Tidal MQA but I can then use Qobuz via Chromecast.
 

Grooved

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I can speak for Tidal, actually you can choose to listen to lossy streams, just to save some internet data. It has 3 profiles : Master (flac & mqa), Hifi (320kbs MP3) and Normal (I don't know, never used it)
Hifi profile is perfectly fine, because you don't use it at home with your main Hifi setup. And don't we forget that not the whole Tidal catalogue is in "Master" profile, some album has only Hifi or even Normal profile.
Just my 2 cents...

edit: sorry, for sure I made some confusion with the profile names & bitrate correspondence. but the main topic is still there ;)
Sorry, but yes, you made some errors ;-)
Tidal app has 4 profils :
- Low : AAC 96kbps VBR
- High : AAC 320kbps VBR
- HiFi (only with HiFi subscription) : FLAC 16/44.1 or 48 (from about 700 to about 900kbps)
- Master (only with HiFi subscription) : all MQA tracks, being FLAC from 16/44.1 to 24/48 with additionnal MQA data added (from 700 for 16/44.1 to a bit less than 2000kbps for 24/48). Once decoded (first unfold, which can be done in Tidal app or software like Roon, Audirvana, UAPP...) you get the same bit depth but twice the sample rate. If you have a MQA renderer DAC, you get more upsampling (rendering), and if you have a MQA decoder+renderer, it can do all decoding+rendering.

Have deezer exlusive mode?
No, the only option in Deezer app is Volume normalization.
Spotify app (Premium or not) : same as Deezer. It uses your default device output.
Amazon Music app (HD or not) has exclusive mode but not Bit Perfect (only Amazon Music app can use the selected device, but not Bit Perfect)
Tidal app has exclusive mode and Bit Perfect, and the choice of decoding MQA (only first unfold) or sending it unprocessed
Qobuz app is like Tidal app, but add ASIO support

The only way to get ASIO support for Tidal is to use other soaftware like Roon or other, or for all app to use something like VBA HiFi Cable from the app output and it will send it to ASIO device.

@trl, @RayDunzl
I am planning to use a dedicated network streamer with digital outs like Yamaha WXC-50 or blue sound node 2i to be fed into Genelecs via SPDIF and AES/ebu. I will use minidsp for sub correction. currently I tend to go for WXC-50 as they are cheaper but blue sound can be an option as well if there are good reasons.

Coming to the main question.
Spotify & Apple has largest collection of Indian music compared to Tidal or Qobuz. So in my case, the best will be to go for a combination of both Spotify or Apple Music (Indian) and Tidal or Qobuz (non-Indian). The service will then have to work with new Yamaha WXC-50 I assume the WXC-50 with digital out for Spotify and Tidal or Qobuz will sound much better than the current Apple Music via Apple 4K TV to AVR Yamaha 775 via analogue output. I do not have any CD or FLAC collection though. On the other hand music cast does not work with MQA for Tidal.

Question is which streaming service Apple Music Vs Spotify Vs Tidal Vs Qobuz at the end will be optimal for my case. From looking at this thread, all of them are quite decent and one cannot differentiate much from each other. Is my understanding correct?
If your streamer will host the app, then even Tidal Master can work : the app will decode it up to 24/88.2 or 96, which can then be send through SPDIF.
At this moment, I would say that Qobuz, Tidal HiFi, Amazon HD and Deezer Hifi have the best sound as they can at least play FLAC 16/44.1. I didn't test Apple Music. Spotify (until they start their FLAC offer), Tidal Premium or Deezer Premium (their basic offer) will be limited to 320kbps, and the difference can be heard, even if not huge and depending on the music style/production choice.
 
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trl

trl

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Found this here https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...s/apple-lossless-official-announcement.23474/ and I thought to myself to give it a try, so here's my findings.

Lossless_AAC256_vs_Lossy-02.png

High Quality AAC 256 kbs vs. Lossy
Lossless_ALAC_24_48_vs_AAC256_02.png

Lossless ALAC 24-bit/192kHz vs. High Quality AAC 256kbs

Lossless_ALAC_24_48_vs_Lossy-02.png

Lossless ALAC 24-bit/192kHz vs. Lossless ALAC 24-bit/48kHz

Lossless_ALAC_24_192_vs_Lossy-02.png

Lossless ALAC 24-bit/192kHz vs. Lossy Standard quality


Lossless_AAC256_vs_Lossy-05.jpg

High Quality AAC 256 kbs vs. Lossy Standard quality

Lossless_ALAC_24_48_vs_AAC256_05.jpg

Lossless ALAC 24-bit/192kHz vs. High Quality AAC 256 kbs
Lossless_ALAC_24_48_vs_Lossy-05.png

Lossless ALAC 24-bit/192kHz vs. ALAC 24-bit/48kHz

Lossless_ALAC_24_192_vs_Lossy-05.jpg

Lossless ALAC 24-bit/192kHz vs. Lossy Standard quality


Looks like there's not much difference between 24/192 vs. 24/48. Also not much difference between the regular lossy format and the high quality AAC 256 either. I guess @pkane can comment more here, thank you!

L.E.: The above pics covered the three audio qualities from available on the Lossless menu (AAC 256kbps, 24bit/48kHz and 24bit/192kHz), but also the default/standard audio quality when the Lossless checkbox remains unchecked.
 
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trl

trl

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Thread Starter #111

AppleMusic_lossless_menu.jpg

The AAC 256 kbps appears on the lossless menu, but it's not lossless, it's high quality only, so I'm going to edit my previous post and change lossless aac 256 to high quality aac 256.
 

acbarn

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Found this here https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...s/apple-lossless-official-announcement.23474/ and I thought to myself to give it a try, so here's my findings.

View attachment 134739
High Quality AAC 256 kbs vs. Lossy
View attachment 134740
Lossless ALAC 24-bit/192kHz vs. High Quality AAC 256kbs

View attachment 134741
Lossless ALAC 24-bit/192kHz vs. Lossless ALAC 24-bit/48kHz

View attachment 134742
Lossless ALAC 24-bit/192kHz vs. Lossy Standard quality


View attachment 134744
High Quality AAC 256 kbs vs. Lossy Standard quality

View attachment 134745
Lossless ALAC 24-bit/192kHz vs. High Quality AAC 256 kbs
View attachment 134746
Lossless ALAC 24-bit/192kHz vs. ALAC 24-bit/48kHz

View attachment 134747
Lossless ALAC 24-bit/192kHz vs. Lossy Standard quality


Looks like there's not much difference between 24/192 vs. 24/48. Also not much difference between the regular lossy format and the high quality AAC 256 either. I guess @pkane can comment more here, thank you!
What is “lossy standard quality”? I don’t believe Apple has anything lower in resolution than 256 AAC.
 
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trl

trl

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Thread Starter #113
"Lossy Standard quality" is when you uncheck the "Lossless" checkbox; I assume the stream itself is lossy over the AAC 256 kbps, while the "backend" stream for the lossless AAC 256 kbps is lossless, although the codec itself is lossy.

Apple_lossy.jpg

The other three settings are the options from the Lossless drop-down menu. More details you will find if you install and use iTunes/Music or by reading here: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT212183.

Other questions related to Apple Music might also be asked here: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...-lossless-official-announcement.23474/page-37.
 

acbarn

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"Lossy Standard quality" is when you uncheck the "Lossless" checkbox; I assume the stream itself is lossy over the AAC 256 kbps, while the "backend" stream for the lossless AAC 256 kbps is lossless, although the codec itself is lossy.


The other three settings are the options from the Lossless drop-down menu. More details you will find if you install and use iTunes/Music or by reading here: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT212183.

Other questions related to Apple Music might also be asked here: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...-lossless-official-announcement.23474/page-37.
Apple Music streams only three quality levels:

256 AAC
16/44.1 - 24/48 ALAC
24/48 - 24/192 ALAC

There is no “256 AAC lossless” - AAC by definition is lossy: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advanced_Audio_Coding

The lossy compression is not applied during the stream; they’re serving different files depending upon your settings.
 
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trl

trl

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Thread Starter #117
Definitely!

I'll also try an A/B test, but given that I've done that in the past with Tidal & Qobuz I doubt that I'll hear any difference between different Apple Music streaming settings.
 
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You have the screenshots above, feel free to understand each setting and explain them here, please.
I agree the UI is a little bit confusing:
- Basically there are 3 stream tiers: AAC256kb (default), ALAC up to 24/48 kHz and ALAC up to 24/192 kHz
- When you check the lossless checkbox, you can chose to set individual qualities for Streaming and Download.
- When setting both to AAC 256 kb the quality is identical to unchecking the lossless checkbox.
- The reason for the AAC also being available in the lossless pop up, is that you might want to stream AAC, and only download lossless. Setting the stream quality too high might cause interruptions in the audio due to a intermittent internet connection.

So why have the checkbox at all? Well, my guess is that is a quick way to disable lossless when on the road or on a cellular. makes it quicker to switch back and forth.
 
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trl

trl

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Thread Starter #119
- When setting both to AAC 256 kb the quality is identical to unchecking the lossless checkbox.
I haven't found this documented yet, but I think the same as you.

Tough, by looking at one of the above post graphs (High Quality AAC 256 kbs vs. Lossy AAC) the two AAC files are not quite identical. Maybe Apple is using different streaming servers for lossless-checkbox-qualities vs. the lossy-quality.
 

Music1969

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You have the screenshots above, feel free to understand each setting and explain them here, please.
I think it's better to use just the below that @acbarn mentioned and remove all other descriptions like "lossy standard" and "lossless AAC" etc (and update the graph titles if you can):

256 AAC
16/44.1 - 24/48 ALAC
24/48 - 24/192 ALAC


This is crystal clear and removes any confusion
 

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