Which streaming platform is the best? (sound quality)

The end of 2022 is an interesting question.

I have tried Spotify premium for quite some time in the past, now I use Tidal hifi and Qobuz.
Deezer has caught my attention quite a bit.
Which one do you think gives the highest quality?

If I had to make a ranking among the ones I’ve tried, it would be. QOBUZ>Tidal>Spotify.
I have to say that between Spotify at maximum quality and Tidal Hifi I hardly notice any difference.

  • Tidal Hifi
  • Tidal Master (MQA)
  • Qobuz
  • Spotify Premium
  • Deezer
  • Amazon Music Hd
  • Youtube
  • None of these.

0 voters

I use Amazon HD and have done so for the last circa 2 years because their library works for me and the sq is good too…only previously used Tidal masters sq ok but all that MQA bs and library gaps meant it was gone pretty quick :dash:

4 Likes

I’ve done very unscientific tests in the past where I A/B all the streaming services on the same device, same source, same volume, same IEM ect. And I found that QOBUZ sounded the best to me but it was so marginal, I decided just to stick with Apple Music because the library and interface worked the best for me.

I’m not sure if QOBUZ has changed since then, but I didn’t like the fact that you can only listen to Albums and individual songs, not having the ability to just thrown on a randomly generated playlist by the app or a ‘radio’ station based on a song or an album was frustrating, that’s typically how I find new music, so I cancelled my subscription.

Tidal is really good too, functionality works the same as Apple Music and the interface is quite nicely designed but, the steaming was not as consistent as Apple Music. It would pause and stop the music constantly when my signal wasn’t strong enough, that was enough to be a deal breaker.

It is true that Qobuz does not have a radio…
Now I really don’t know what to do.

I find Tidal hifi similar to Spotify premium max quality…Qobuz above these.

Qobuz was noticeably better than Spotify 320 kbps to my ears when used with good cans. It also was slightly better than Tidal in my testing, and I don’t want to support Tidal and its insistence on the snake oil known as MQA.

So, Qobuz all the way for me! The notes included with each album and cool feature stories on the app are just icing on a very tasty cake.

That said, if you’re into algorithmic-created or user-created playlists and social sharing features, Spotify is still the king, with ease.

5 Likes

I’m with @Ohmboy AMHD just works for me. I can’t say it’s the best quality, though, because I have not tried others yet except for YT Music, which AMHD edges out by a slight margin. I don’t do Apple and screw Tidal and their BS MQA. That leaves Qobuz. I have been curious about Qobuz and may just give that a shot in 2023 if there is a free trial available.

2 Likes

I agree with what @Ohmboy and @Raptor168 said…AMHD works for me also…I tend to stick with things that work…I can’t complain about the quality of the music…It has everything that I want to listen to and more…Is it perfect? No…Does it work for me? Yes

3 Likes

I used to use Spotify exclusively because the radio function and random music that just populates. Then I got curious and tried Qobuz. At first I wasn’t sure there was a difference but then while listening in my truck the lightbulb turned on, I could definitely hear a more full sound from the same song on Qobuz. Spotify wasn’t even close, there was more volume, bass and treble with Qobuz.

2 Likes

I’ve been on Spotify from damn near their beginning. I tried Tidal and Qobuz when I started my journey into better audio. I couldn’t tell enough of a difference to solidify it wasn’t just confirmation bias.

Went back to Spotify. It’s music discovery algorithms just know me to well. On the others I just found myself listening to the same thing over and over. They seemed pointless to me since music discovery has always been huge for me.

I love what this journey into IEMs has done for my music playback. It’s opened all kinds of details and textures I never realized songs had prior. However, just enjoying and discovering music is what brought me here primarily and that will always be my priority. Even if it meant listening to music on a phonograph.

3 Likes

I share a Spotify Premium subscription with my brother. I use mine primarily for podcasts and the artist radio function. I’ve tried Tidal in the past, it was nice but I cancelled after the free trial ended.
Now I’m using Quobuz Sublime, because I’m old fashioned. I like to buy my music, not rent it. At the rate I purchase albums, the savings more than pay for the subscription. I’m very happy with the SQ. I’m strictly lossless at this point. I’ll probably keep this going for a year or two… I think🙄

2 Likes

Im hoping you people can put some light on this. I have Tidal “high rez” with a family plan. I needed the family plan because, if I was listening on my home theater system and then left the house for 10 minutes to run errands, my car or DAP would get a notice that my account was being used elsewhere. Now my DAP, Astel-Kern SP1000M, won’t work with Tidal. I don’t even know who is screwing me here. Is it Tidal? Or is it Astel-Kern? As a result I don’t think I’ll ever purchase another Astel-Kern product (I was planning on an SP2000T). I wouldn’t even recommend them. I also feel if Tidal is at the root of this problem then I need to dump them and warn others, and find a new service.

I’m with you. I try to buy as much of the music I listen to as possible. If a band or album is good enough that I’ll be listening to it more than once, then I’ll generally purchase it. Qobuz Sublime is the perfect subscription service for listeners like us because it saves so much money on albums I would be buying anyways. Plus, I love the SQ on this service (streaming and downloads). Their hi-res library is growing almost daily and their CD quality sounds very clean to begin with.

I understand why many folks like services with algorithm created playlists or radio features, but I’m generally an album listener so I rarely use those features. That said, Qobuz introduced a feature a while back where after you play an album it will continue playing a random selection of songs though I think it only plays for like 50 songs or something.

As a professional musician with a band, I can also tell you that Qobuz pays the best of all the streaming services we’re on for plays. I really like that and I also try to go further and buy as much music as I can. I have a collection of a couple thousand CDs and several hundred LPs on vinyl. My digital download collection, which is all paid for mainly from Qobuz, Bandcamp, and HDTracks, eclipses both at this point. Supporting artists is a priority for me and Qobuz Sublime does that best and makes it easiest. It really is that easy for me.

3 Likes

Wow! Now that’s a library! I’m around a thousand albums. I have used the same digital stores as you except Bandcamp. I haven’t figured that site out. Like you, I found Quobuz Sublime as the most cost effective source for a library. I also utilize the a la carte option on occasion.
I’m retired now, so I’m ‘almost’ to the point of chasing the latest and greatest in midfi equipment. Collecting and enjoying quality content is my priority from here on out. Audirvana Origin helps me with that.

1 Like

I personally avoid any online service, all my music, shows, movies, etc. I keep on my own personal hardware. I refuse to pay someone else to access my own files.

For music, I prefer FLAC if I can get it.

I was given my first CD and a couple cassettes along with a pair of AKG K501s, an amp, and a CD player when I was seven y/o by my saxophone/music theory teacher who wanted me to start listening to the greats like Coltrane, Adderly, Parker, etc and I’ve been collecting the music and the gear ever since. I got rid of my cassettes (I never had that many because CDs took off pretty quickly) forever ago, but aside from one book of CDs that I lost after a car accident (long story) and stuff that I’ve given away and/or “loaned out”, I think I still own every CD and LP/EP that I’ve ever purchased.

BTW, the cool thing about Bandcamp is that more of the money from purchases (aside from a small fee for the platform membership and use) goes right to the artists. Unless they don’t have direct distribution rights, in which case a cut will still be going to their record companies and the like. The point is that for many artists, especially new and/or up and coming artists, Bandcamp is a great way to put themselves out there, distribute their music, and make a little cash all while maintaining more direct control than most other avenues allow. It’s pretty cool. You can buy digital dowloads and/or physical media as well as whatever streams the artists have available on their pages.

1 Like

That’s good :+1:

Yep me too and I’m totally uninterested in algorithm suggestions and play lists etc.

2 Likes

If algorithm, social integration & discovery are your main feature demands that you use often - then Spotify reigns supreme.

If your an apple ecosystem user - don’t bother with AmazonHD
If your an android ecosystem user - don’t bother with Apple Music

YouTube is responsible for so much copyright infringement it’s hard to support them if your fairness for artist inclined as they not only steal but they payout the lowest royalties - plus their SQ is shit. It’s an option for spotty teenagers only.

And if your artist fairness inclined then the options are:
Bandcamp - a little overpriced with a restricted catalogue but best for artists
SoundCloud - shit SQ but great for discovery
Qobuz - best royalty split
Tidal - Top 2 royalty split for larger platforms - pays about 7x better than Youtube, 3x Amazon, 2.5x Spotify & 2x Apple.

If your more about albums or your own generated playlists then for background-

  1. I have a subscription to Tidal (volumio integration and use of tidal connect feature),
  2. Apple (only service that allows iOS smart home integration),
  3. Spotify (best UI, feature set and tech) and
  4. Amazon (I get it for free but would not use by choice due to bad royalty split as well as the security & privacy issues - same reason I would not use Alexa or any Amazon basis for a smart home setup)
  5. had Qobuz but recently cancelled.

Tidal - has glitchy protocols - it does not have a Apple, Amazon & Spotify comparable CDN network in place, a lack of Ux grounding (I hate having to make extra button pushes to do basic shit or for example having music videos play without artist names or song titles like it’s the 90s on MTV), + we all know the MQA marketing bullshit but equally MQA as a codec is super impressive and from an environmental, technical and transmission perspective is leagues ahead on a data to SQ measurement basis. Sad how it is implemented as a licensed hardware decoder and hard sold using misrepresentation and false pretenses. If they had just released it when first Dev’d it would have been a game changer but fast WiFi and unlimited 4/5G whilst they built the monetization model rendered it wholly unnecessary from a performance perspective - why chose a lossy codec over lossless unless your data transmission constrained by speed or size. However its license & heavy handed manufacturer authorization means that its integration is preferable on streaming clients (eg… Sonos, Roon, VOLUMIO and maddening in other places when authentication takes forever). Key selling feature is Tidal connect (Only Spotify uses this also) - allows for handover to the hardware so that your phone battery does not get drained and preserves hi res transfer otherwise you would use protocols like android rendering or airplay that noticeably degrade sound on device handover. Equally Tidal probably leads in artists extras like videos and creative shorts etc… but it has been traditionally hip hop skewed due to previous ownership and if I am being honest is way too scenester /try hard rather than compelling content

Spotify - just arseholes with artist remuneration and breaking promises for HiRes - but it is the best app based offering in totality for the majority of people - just not audiophiles as for me at least there is a noticeable SQ difference to Tidal & Qobuz. But due to CDN & catalogue I use it in the car or for any portable Bluetooth speaker transmission as then the SQ is already constrained.

Qobuz whilst being the best paying remuneration and SQ quality (I used to find a tiny uptick to Tidal but how much of that is from the ear or from the brain as I’ve seen too many tidal v Qobuz WAV breakdowns) is just so technologically and catalogue limited. UI is a big step back as well as feature set. The sublime album purchase offering is nice to have though. They also do MQA but without the Tidal like shilling they don’t get a bad rap for it.

Sorry about the long post and potential spelling mistakes or nonsense sentences - writing on the phone whilst Xmas shopping with the girlfriend so need to look like I am still paying attention.

5 Likes

I picked Qobuz. Although honestly the same file, streamed with a lossless codec and played back via competently implemented software, sounds the same (the “same file” part here can be a bit tricky, since it’s not unheard of for different files to be provided to different services for various reasons).

But with sound quality being effectively a wash across the services that provide lossless streams qobuz wins for me on most other factors. As others have noted they pay the most to artists, but equally or more importantly they don’t participate in some of the more anti-artist and anti-listener activity that the larger platforms engage in. Others have noted algorithmic playlists as a major factor in favor of services like Spotify, but for me those features lose a lot of their allure once you realize that in addition to the expected “we think you’ll like this song” inputs those algorithms are also using factors like “this label charges us less per stream/actually paid us to put this song on more playlists” and “this artist signed a temporary exclusive deal with a competitor so to reach them a lesson they’re not going on any playlists for a while” to decide what actually plays.

Also prefer qobuz since at least most of the HD streams are FLAC rather than MQA. Although I generally can’t tell the difference between an MQA and lossless stream the difference in bandwidth is negligible and MQAs marketing and licensing structure both annoy me. Beyond that the the engineer in me automatically hates the idea of something low-level like a compression algorithm that’s not open-sourced.

Finally the album focus on qobuz just suits the way I generally listen better. A well put-together album tends to have a flow from song to song that gets lost when pulling out single tracks.

Ok climbing down from my soapbox now lol. Thanks for anyone who read that whole rant.

4 Likes

A question. Tidal Hifi is flac? Not Master.

Thanks everybody for your impresions.

I do not know the answer to this question, because I do not use Tidal (or any other online-only music service). But there is an easy way to test this. Can you download FLAC music files from Tidal? And can you then play those FLAC files to another device without any internet connection?

If not, then they could be feeding you anything if you can’t just download from their service, then play the music without being connected to their ‘stream’.

I have a couple articles which should help a bit in understanding why I answered the question in this way - if you already know what these files are, and how compression works, then feel free to skip everything further in this post, as it does not apply to you. And is only here for reference.

But if you feel that a better understanding of what FLAC is, might assist you in the future, then proceed onward dear reader! :slight_smile:

(as an aside - I don’t trust wikipedia further than I can throw them - BUT this hopefully should be just a simple explanation of FLAC and not biased as so many things usually are… i mean, it’s just a type of audio data… That can’t be too biased, right? … I really should know better before saying that in a forum filled with people who care more than practically anyone else about audio… :eyes:)