I just did an A/B test between my newly acquired Amazon HD account and my (relatively) longstanding Tidal HiFi subscription and boy, what I have to tell you!
I only needed to play two tracks in order to decide to cancel my Tidal subscription. The first song was “Hey Now” by London Grammar. I started with the Tidal (non-MQA) version and then switched to Amazon’s UltraHD version. While I couldn’t sense a strong difference between the two, I nevertheless heard more meat-on-the-bone with Amazon and I also was getting a slight sense of the chills with the Amazon version. This wouldn’t have been enough to get me to switch; however, when I played the Ultra HD version of “Starboy” by The Weekend and then switched to Tidal’s (MQA) version the difference was night and day! Not only was the MQA version much quieter, but there wasn’t even a trade-off of a more “analogue” sound or something. it just sounded worse in all ways…less dynamic, less clarity and just overall far less involving. I was expecting MQA to at least be the equal if not the superior version, especially considering that the London Grammar track had almost been a tie. I don’t think that this is to say that MQA is worse than Tidal’s non-MQA versions, but rather it’s more likely that either The Weekend track is a better recording for showing off differences in equipment and so forth or that one of the two services has a quality control (or possibly and more accurately a consistency) issue. Nevertheless, it was enough for me to switch (and I’m no fan of Amazon, but frankly I might hate Jay-Z more, so…) Once I have lived with Amazon for a while I’ll give Qobuz a try and see if it’s better (I suspect that it will have better sound quality than Amazon but fewer titles).
My equipment for this review was an LG V30 smartphone/Naim NAC & NAP 152/Scansonic MB2.5.