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Best way to stream Tidal to my HiFi

Barheys

Active member
Jan 20, 2020
15
4
25
I've recently invested in some Arcam kit (SA20 Amp and CDS50 CD player with streaming capabilities) and have wanted to stream Tidal (HiFi/FLAC) to it. Although Arcam have their own Music Life App which lets you do this natively from within the app, the experience is poor (app is a bit flaky, the interface is not as good as the Tidal app etc...). Ideally therefore, I am looking for a way to stream Hifi music from the Tidal App straight into my equipment without having to use Musiclife. I can stream from the Tidal App using Apple airplay but I believe the limitations of Airplay mean that I won't get better than 320kbps quality sound (certainly it sounds that way when you listen to music streamed via Airplay v/s via Musiclife) - so no benefit from the HiFi subscription. I was wondering therefore if anyone out there knows of a better way to do this ? I guess I should also add that I have an iPhone so some of the Android Apps are obviously no good to me ( I gather there are one or two apps that work well but they don't have Apple versions). Ideally, I either need a bit of hardware that plugs into my Arcam but talks directly to my Tidal App on the iPhone (or can talk to Tidal directly) or an App on my iPhone that replaces Musiclife . I am sure someone must have. cracked this ??
 

Barheys

Active member
Jan 20, 2020
15
4
25
Check the settings in your account and phone - you shouldn’t be limited to 320kbps. I usually work with the distributor for Amphion and Hegel at shows, and quite often we use TIDAL streamed via Bluetooth to the Hegel amps and have never been limited to that.
Thank you for that - if I was streaming via Bluetooth then indeed I am sure you would be right. As it stands, I am streaming via Airplay because that is the only way other than using Music Life (which I'm not keen on) I can get my music to the Arcam stuff. I gather Airplay is limited by Apple's protocols to 320kps ??? If I wanted to stream via Bluetooth (which would be fine), what do I need to add to my Arcam set-up as its not native to them ??
 

Barheys

Active member
Jan 20, 2020
15
4
25
I think the Yamaha WXAD10 streamer would work for you. Has Tidal and others built in.


Richer Sounds also have it for £119 I think.
Thank you for getting back to me. I did have a look at this but wasn't sure so will happily take advice and input. From what I can see, it will do the converting from digital to analogue itself and output analogue only (there aren't any digital outputs on the back). Whilst that may not necessarily be a bad thing, it doesn't have a display of its own to tell me what I am getting and the display on the Arcam won't be able to tell me anything either (because its only getting an analogue output). Alternately, if I use the Yamaha to link directly to Tidal (which it will), it apparently streams to my amplifier via Airplay again with all the limitations that it has (I can do that from my phone anyway). Ideally, what I was hoping for was a way to get a digital stream into my Arcam and let it use its very good DAC to do the converting to analogue.
 

smbmetal

Well-known member
Sep 8, 2007
109
24
18,595
I’m not 100 % if I’m honest as I don’t own the device.

I would take some advice from someone like Richer Sounds.

Ideally you need a dedicated streamer probably with a display if you want to know the file format etc. I use my AV amp.

Sorry I can’t be of any further help.
 

Barheys

Active member
Jan 20, 2020
15
4
25
Hi - thanks for having a go and appreciate the effort. If something does occur to you down the line, please feel free to revert back with any suggestions - happy to give them a go. Thanks once again :)
 

Barheys

Active member
Jan 20, 2020
15
4
25
FYI Airplay 2 is not limited to 320k but it maxes out at 16/44.1 so can’t handle max specs for hi res.
ok - thanks for that. So I think you are saying I ought to be able to get CD quality at least ? It doesn’t sound as good, but maybe that’s just me ........
 

Niallivm

Well-known member
Oct 28, 2019
58
31
70
FYI Airplay 2 is not limited to 320k but it maxes out at 16/44.1 so can’t handle max specs for hi res.
ok - thanks for that. So I think you are saying I ought to be able to get CD quality at least ? It doesn’t sound as good, but maybe that’s just me ........
Correct. I have Sonos equipment which is also limited to 16/44.1. I’ve steamed Tidal HD and Apple Lossless via AirPlay 2 and to my ears they’re very good
 

Barheys

Active member
Jan 20, 2020
15
4
25
Sorry I didn’t mean to suggest otherwise - CD quality is indeed very good and way better than MP3 - true lossless is just that little bit better but I agree we are very much at the margins here and CD quality is good enough for 99.9% of us 😀. I am using AirPlay 2 most of the time for now and it is indeed pretty OK. I guess I’m just trying to squeeze max performance out of my equipment and lossless subscription to Tidal. Thanks for your thoughts 👍🏽
 

Hawkmoon

Well-known member
Feb 19, 2020
95
36
70
Node 2i streamer? Has digital out if you want to use a DAC and the BluOS app is quite good for its integration with Tidal - it is also a fully MQA compliant unit and its internal DAC is quite good. Can also spit out MQA via coax if you have an MQA compliant external DAC
 

Shildondurham

Well-known member
Feb 7, 2016
23
0
4,520
I'm also in the same quandary. As previously said in a earlier post I'm wanting to maximise ultra HD on Amazon music.
I am leaning toward using a dragonfly as both a portable headphone amp when out and about and also as a preamp wired to my amp.
Am I heading in the right direction with this setup idea? Or would I be better using the yamaha streamer as a dac/streamer sound wise.
I like the duel purpose dragonfly option but want best sound over anything.
On the dragonfly option should I pump for the cobalt or is the red a good enough option taking price into consideration.
 

Hawkmoon

Well-known member
Feb 19, 2020
95
36
70
Dragonfly is designed to be a DAC for phones, laptops and computers, via USB. It is not a streamer, it’s just a DAC plus headphone amp. A streamer is a stand-alone device usually designed as a hi-fi component to be connected into a separates system. They serve a different purpose - so do You want to use a phone or computer as your streaming device or not? If yes, then the Dragonfly Cobalt is excellent. But if you want to be freed of using a computer with your HiFi then a stand-alone streamer would be better in my view
 

Hawkmoon

Well-known member
Feb 19, 2020
95
36
70
I'm also in the same quandary. As previously said in a earlier post I'm wanting to maximise ultra HD on Amazon music.
I am leaning toward using a dragonfly as both a portable headphone amp when out and about and also as a preamp wired to my amp.
Am I heading in the right direction with this setup idea? Or would I be better using the yamaha streamer as a dac/streamer sound wise.
I like the duel purpose dragonfly option but want best sound over anything.
On the dragonfly option should I pump for the cobalt or is the red a good enough option taking price into consideration.
Dragonfly is good but there are better sounding solutions if you want ultimate sound quality through a separates system- high end streamers will sound better, as will a good streamer plus outboard DAC. Of course those solutions are not portable. I do know people who use Dragonfky for both phon/laptop and hi-fI and get a good result but it is not the way to go if you want max sound quality in a hi fi system IMHO. BTW yes it’s worth spending the extra on Cobalt if you have good headphones
 

Shildondurham

Well-known member
Feb 7, 2016
23
0
4,520
Thanks! Regular bose cans and bose in ears ( I know but they were gifts) and I don't use a laptop just the app from my phone bluetooth to my yamaha as201 amp and mardaunt short floor standers.
Looking at the yamaha streamer and the cobalt/red options piecing sound v portablity.
 

iMark

Well-known member
May 16, 2008
237
55
18,870
I had a trial subscription to Tidal for a couple of months. Streaming at CD quality through our Yamaha R-N602. I didn't renew the subscription and stuck with Spotify. Although it's limited to 320kbps it's good enough for our listening. If I really like something I will get the CD.
 

Hawkmoon

Well-known member
Feb 19, 2020
95
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70
I had a trial subscription to Tidal for a couple of months. Streaming at CD quality through our Yamaha R-N602. I didn't renew the subscription and stuck with Spotify. Although it's limited to 320kbps it's good enough for our listening. If I really like something I will get the CD.
CD is still very good and of course you own the music for life (well, until/if you damage or lose the disc). But streaming does offer a lot more - massive catalogues, high res formats - if you have the right kit it can sound stunning - I'm very pleased with my Node 2i streamer either alone through my amp or used as a streaming transport into my Arcam irDAC2 - Tidal Masters or Amazon Ultra HD tracks can sound amazing and exceed the quality of CDs - mastering is still crucial and a badly mastered album will still sound poor when streamed - I was just listening to RHCP's 'Californication' recently and it is a compressed utter mess sonically - both on CD and on Tidal. But listen to, for example, Joni Mitchell's back catalogue in high def on Amazon, and you can really hear how those recordings sound better than the CD versions. I have a decent system but not an overly expensive one and I can hear the benefits of high def streaming. I can only imagine how sublime it must sound on a system costing many £1000s
 

Jimboo

Well-known member
Oct 29, 2019
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770
Funny that RHCP c.d you mentioned I had to give away as unlistenable barely covers it.
I have used tidal and tried Amazon and Spotify via Bluetooth as it sounds better on my system , go figure.
The catalogue and quality of music available on streaming sites as you say vary depending on the recording streamed. There is a preference for remastered versions to be offered as if this is a guarantee of quality.
Streamer hardware is going to be the new cables does it or doesn't it make a difference future debate.
You said if you have the right kit it can sound stunning. That is the case for all formats though. The hifi buff will be given a choice of a DAC / streamer in the amp a cd/ DAC /streamer player and a streamer with a DAC and a separate stand alone DAC all for a format that works best as recordings that have been mastered from better than CD quality music sources.
I think the difference is subtle at best , questionable most of the time and as people do with 4k TV's saying everything is better even though most of it isn't 4k.
For me I am yet to hear a stunning improvement on streamed music compared to the physical format. Streamers costing thousands of pounds worry me because I am not sure as to where the money you need to buy one has been spent and on what.
 

Hawkmoon

Well-known member
Feb 19, 2020
95
36
70
Funny that RHCP c.d you mentioned I had to give away as unlistenable barely covers it.
I have used tidal and tried Amazon and Spotify via Bluetooth as it sounds better on my system , go figure.
The catalogue and quality of music available on streaming sites as you say vary depending on the recording streamed. There is a preference for remastered versions to be offered as if this is a guarantee of quality.
Streamer hardware is going to be the new cables does it or doesn't it make a difference future debate.
You said if you have the right kit it can sound stunning. That is the case for all formats though. The hifi buff will be given a choice of a DAC / streamer in the amp a cd/ DAC /streamer player and a streamer with a DAC and a separate stand alone DAC all for a format that works best as recordings that have been mastered from better than CD quality music sources.
I think the difference is subtle at best , questionable most of the time and as people do with 4k TV's saying everything is better even though most of it isn't 4k.
For me I am yet to hear a stunning improvement on streamed music compared to the physical format. Streamers costing thousands of pounds worry me because I am not sure as to where the money you need to buy one has been spent and on what.
Well some people get excited about streaming, some don't. For me the excitement is more about the massive and varied content available to me and the fact that in my system at least, most of the time the quality matches CD or exceeds it. This is a big deal for me as it means I can be super selective about buying new CDs (needed as my collection is over-flowing and unmanageable). It also means I don't need to rush to ripping all my CDs to FLAC, which would take me absolutely ages. Sure, I have some esoteric rare CDs not available on any streaming service, but I can still play those when I want as I am keeping a CD transport. But I will never spend big bucks again on a stand-alone one box CD player. For me increasingly it's all about the DAC. If streaming doesn't float your boat it's fine, we all have our own take on things. I'm just having fun exploring lots of new music.
 

Jimboo

Well-known member
Oct 29, 2019
510
210
770
Oh no , streaming is great. I can read about someone and hear it before I buy it or not.
I just worry about the difference in streamer hardware as it is going to be snake oil claims in abundance, that and,, as I said, everything will have a streamer and a dac fitted as standard it seems. That will not stop people buying separate boxes anyway despite the fact that the ultimate medium is already here. It is the future I accept that.
The real fear and I use that word accordingly.is that music like TV streaming will be split by the labels/ copyright owners and move from an all in one platform to various different companies/services as exclusive content. It already happens with movies.
 
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iMark

Well-known member
May 16, 2008
237
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18,870
I can only say that we're very happy with a solution offered by Yamaha and a few other companies: a stereo network receiver. It's a very neat one box solution for our records, streaming and TV. Really nice integration of Airplay and MusicCast.

We're not looking for an upgrade anytime soon.
 

Barheys

Active member
Jan 20, 2020
15
4
25
Hi everyone - as the original poster in this thread, I thought I ought to update on progress as I have come upon a solution that I am more than happy with. So following advice from Hawkmoon (thank you !) I checked out the Bluesound Node2i and finally bought one today. I can confirm that it does exactly what I want it to plus a whole bunch more - an absolutely superb bit of kit that doesnt break the bank. Although it comes with its own app which is pretty decent, you can use the native app for Tidal (which is what I wanted to do because I liked the user experience). As it is however, the Bluesound app isnt bad either. I have also come to understand that the Node 2i is one of a very few streamers that can do both unfolds of MQA files and thus unlock their full quality - apparently few DAC's have that capability. Some of the (MQA) tracks I have listened to did indeed sound pretty supendous (you can hear all the string pulls and everything as if you were there !). The Node also stream iTunes too (connects to the iTunes app and you just select the Node from within it to stream) and somewehat curiously, the Apple tracks seemed to sound just that few percent better ....... !! So for anyone out there who has an Arcam amp (like me) but doesnt want to use Musiclife to stream Tidal (or anything else for that matter), just get one of these and all will be fixed. Thank you all once again for your inputs and especially to Hawkmoon for the winning suggestion :)
 

Hawkmoon

Well-known member
Feb 19, 2020
95
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70
You’re welcome! Do remember though that if you use the Tidal app instead of the BluOS one, you’ll be using Bluetooth and not hearing things in full high def - you’re only going to get the true best sound quality if you stream Tidal from within BluOS
 

Barheys

Active member
Jan 20, 2020
15
4
25
Oh really ? I hadn't twigged that ..... I had just assumed that with both my phone and node being on the same wifi network, it was all coming off the network via wifi. Is it because I am essentially using bluetooth to stream first from my phone to the Node as opposed to the Node directly getting the data from the network ? I was pretty sure they were connected over the wifi ? Presumably if I turn the bluetooth on my phone off, i wont be able to stream directly from Tidal app to the Node then ??
 

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