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Best way to stream Tidal to my HiFi

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Hawkmoon

Well-known member
Feb 19, 2020
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The only way for the 2i to stream Tidal directly is if you do it from within the BluOS app. Same with Amazon Music etc - if you try to use Tidal app or Amazon app your phone will use Bluetooth to the 2i.
 

Barheys

Active member
Jan 20, 2020
15
4
25
Hello Hawkmoon - it was the Bluetooth in your answer that foxed me as I am not using Bluetooth - however, I do now have the answer and agree that you are correct on this. So even when you select the Node from within the Tidal app on (in my case) an iPhone, it actually uses Airplay to stream the music from the phone to the Node and the quality is therefore limited. Doing it through the BlueOS app means that you are using the Node's own direct connection to Tidal (in my case via ethernet) so you can get stream the "full fat" MQA files. The Blue OS app on the phone is just a controllwer for the Node - thats all (I got the guys at Bluesound to explain this to me). All makes perfect sense now. Thank you all - and happy listening :)
 

gfong

Active member
Sep 1, 2020
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So following advice from Hawkmoon (thank you !) I checked out the Bluesound Node2i and finally bought one today.
Dragging this back up and hoping you or Hawkmoon could offer advice.

I am running a Simply Italy Integrated amp with the Arcam cds50 sacd player. They are connected together with rca cables and I have an Ethernet cable running from the cds50 to my router. I’m using the MusicLife app on my iPhone to run Tidal hifi. Everything works great connected like this.

As your post states you found a way around the MusicLife app using the Node 2i with your sa20 and cds50. Happy you found.

My questions???
As there is a dac in my cds50 and it has coaxial in and optical in could I connect a Node 2i to my cds50 through either of those connections and would the node 2i function properly through the cds50 that I have already connected to my Simply Italy amp. My amp does not have digital connections on it, only rca plugs.

If that did not work could I hook the node 2i to the cds50 Like above but then run rca cables to a free input on the Simply Italy?

My goal is to have the MQA Tidal audio working its best like you wanted and to get away from the less then friendly music life app. (They have updated it but still clunky) Would also like the variety that the node 2i offers with other services like Amazon HD etc.

Is your Node 2i connected to you sa20 or cds50? Curious?

I hope I explained this correctly and I do appreciate any assistance. Thanks in advance.
 

Barheys

Active member
Jan 20, 2020
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Hi - so in my case, I have connected the Node 2i directly to my amp - the Node can output in either pure digital through a coax output or in analogue, having converted the digital signal using its own built in DAC. So I am doing the latter. You could absolutely connect the Node to the CDS50 using a coax connection from the Node and do the conversion there - the only reason why you might do that I guess is because the digital display on the CDS will show you the bit rate of the input. However you are adding another element to the signal path and inasmuch as the DAC in the Node is extra good, you might as well let the Node do the converting. In addition, I don’t know if the DAC in the Arcam will do BOTH unfolds of the MQA signals from Tidal - the Node definitely does so you are assured the best quality output that way.
 

gfong

Active member
Sep 1, 2020
11
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25
Hi - so in my case, I have connected the Node 2i directly to my amp - the Node can output in either pure digital through a coax output or in analogue, having converted the digital signal using its own built in DAC. So I am doing the latter. You could absolutely connect the Node to the CDS50 using a coax connection from the Node and do the conversion there - the only reason why you might do that I guess is because the digital display on the CDS will show you the bit rate of the input. However you are adding another element to the signal path and inasmuch as the DAC in the Node is extra good, you might as well let the Node do the converting. In addition, I don’t know if the DAC in the Arcam will do BOTH unfolds of the MQA signals from Tidal - the Node definitely does so you are assured the best quality output that way.
Hi, thanks for the info, your setup sounds nice. I will do some more investigating to see what I can come up with.
Thanks for the explanation about running it through the cds50, I may just keep using the cds50 since it does work good. Not much use having two dacs! Thanks again
 
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Goodears

Active member
Sep 8, 2020
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I have the Arcam CD S 50 . Via its coaxial output i connect an Arcam r-Doc to the CD S 50 coaxial input.
The Arcam r -Doc accepts i phone thus plays any app on the i phone . I dont have Tidal but i play Spotify with this method so no reason Tidal wouldn't work.
Dissappointing to hear the music Life app is not satisfactory with Tidal but this method avoids its use as you would stream direct from the Tidal app from the i phone. Only downside is your phone must be connected to the r-Doc and not in your hand. Of course your phone can run off your home wifi or your chosen network provider.
 
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Barheys

Active member
Jan 20, 2020
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Hello Goodears - The issue isnt so much as to whether these various methods of obtaining connectivity work because as you indeed point out, they do.

The issue is around whether you are then able to benefit from the full MQA unfold of the signals received into your kit. Just about any method that involves the signal first going into a phone app and then from there into your kit will be limited by whatever method the phone uses to send data to the CDS50 or other DAC. MQA will not be possible via this route because neither Bluetooth nor Airplay have enough bandwidth to transmit MQA signals to your kit. (Although I gather there are one or two smartphones from the likes of LG that have MQA decoders built into them and can therefore unfold the signals and transmit very high quality audio - Apple certainly cannot).The alternative therefore is for your kit to connect DIRECTLY to Tidal (or any other service) via WiFi or (in my case) Ethernet. You are then using the available bandwidth to stream MQA into and out of your equipment and the phone app functions as a control app for your equipment (so the signal isnt actually coming from your phone). The CDS50 allows you to do that but you then have to use Music Life as the control app to manage the service.

Now as control apps go, Music Life really isn't that good (in fact its pretty poor) hence the reason why a lot of us want to get away from it and work with something different.

After about 10 days now of using the Node 2i, I can attest to both its excellence and the user friendliness and experience of the Bluesound App. For now, my Node connects directly into my Arcam SA20 Amp ....... I guess I could try connecting it to my CDS50 using a Coax cable and using its DAC to unfold the digital signal (The Node has a setting that allows it to output unchanged digital signals instead of analogue ones it has converted itself). The only reason for I'd want to do that however is if I wanted to use the digital display on the CDS to display track info and info on the bitrate and nature of the file being played (which I can't otherwise do) - a perfectly valid reason I might add although the purists out there will point out that introducing another element into the signal path reduces sound quality. Perhaps it does but I bet 99% of aren't going to hear it.

However, the other point I am not totally sure about (maybe someone else knows the answer to this) is whether the CDS50 can do the FULL unfold of the MQA signals from Tidal. There are 3 unfolds if you want the full experience - the CDS50 deffo does the first one which outputs at 96Khz .... However, the final unfolds of Tidal files I believe are usually at 192Khz but can be as high as 384Khz (Amazon maxes out at 192KHz) - I am not sure if the DAC in the CDS50 can do those ? The Node deffo can.

More info on MQA here | https://www.mqa.co.uk/
 
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gfong

Active member
Sep 1, 2020
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I have the Arcam CD S 50 . Via its coaxial output i connect an Arcam r-Doc to the CD S 50 coaxial input.
The Arcam r -Doc accepts i phone thus plays any app on the i phone . I dont have Tidal but i play Spotify with this method so no reason Tidal wouldn't work.
Dissappointing to hear the music Life app is not satisfactory with Tidal but this method avoids its use as you would stream direct from the Tidal app from the i phone. Only downside is your phone must be connected to the r-Doc and not in your hand. Of course your phone can run off your home wifi or your chosen network provider.
Thanks for the info, much appreciated. As for the MusicLife app, I may have been a little harsh on it! :) It's not bad it is just limited or should I say Arcam has choose to make it limited.
Here is a list of what is on mine in Canada... Radio stations, Podcasts, TIDAL, Napster, Deezer, Qobus (not available in Canada) and HIGHRESAUDIO. Can't use Spotify, Amazon, i tunes etc. Does not allow you to use any other apps for music and does not have BlueTooth abilities.
Best way I have found to use MusicLife is to search/add your music in the actual Tidal app then it will appear in your Musiclife app and you are good to go. So after me writing that sentence it does not sound to intuitive does it! :) lol

Thanks again!
 
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Barheys

Active member
Jan 20, 2020
15
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Hello Gfong - so yes I agree that you can make Music life work. I found it did crash often - I tried it for a bit (around a year) but got progressively hacked off with its limitations and poor user experience. As you say, I have to go into the Tidal app, fix whatever I want to there and then use it in Music Life. It's quite surprising that having developed some good hardware, Arcam (who BTW are owned by Harmon Kardon so a very big company indeed) have not really invested in this side of their business - a decent app would bring more people to their hardware - but there you go !!
 
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gfong

Active member
Sep 1, 2020
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However, the other point I am not totally sure about (maybe someone else knows the answer to this) is whether the CDS50 can do the FULL unfold of the MQA signals from Tidal. There are 3 unfolds if you want the full experience - the CDS50 deffo does the first one which outputs at 96Khz .... However, the final unfolds of Tidal files I believe are usually at 192Khz but can be as high as 384Khz (Amazon maxes out at 192KHz) - I am not sure if the DAC in the CDS50 can do those ? The Node deffo can.
The Arcam CDS50 can not unfold the MQA signal so my thought on going through the CDS50 is useless for achieving what I am trying to accomplish. I am either stuck with Tidal at FLAC (which is not bad) or purchase the Node 2i like you and some others and run it directly to my Simply Italy amp through RCA to get MQA.

In defense of the CDS50 I do have a bunch of SACD's and like how they sound through it and to me the strongest point of the CDS50 is the sound quality while playing regular CDs. Purchasing the Node2i would not be such waste as I would still use the CDS50.

Next question...To switch or stay? Is Tidal MQA that much better sound quality than Tidal FLAC output at 88.2kHz or 96kHz that I am getting now? It never ends eh! :) lol

I'm not even sure the Musiclife app is compatible with MQA. I know the Tidal app is but I can't use it on the CDS50. I'm going to shoot an email off to Arcam and see it they get back to me.
 
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Barheys

Active member
Jan 20, 2020
15
4
25
Hello gfong -I am reasonably certain that the CDS50 can do the first unfold of MQA files - The Musiclife app itself doesnt need to be compatible with MQA as it doesnt do anything - it just controls the CDS50 which is where the action happens. I am not confident however that the CDS50 can do the rest of the unfolds. That said, even the first unfold delivers above CD quality sound so its not a bad place to be. However if you really want to go for gold then yes, you'd need something like a Node to do the job. Is it that much better ? Well thats a very subjective question. Many will tell you that they can't distinguish between an MP3 and a CD !! As is so often the case, its down to the quality of what you are listening through. If you have a nice amp and speakers, then playing the best quality music through them will enhance the experience. My own kit is relatively modest by HiFi buff standards (Arcam SA20, CDS50 and KEF Q750's - and now a Node 2i) but I find the MQA tracks can just about make you feel as though the artist was in the room playing live just to you - you can hear every twang of the strings and every intake of breath. I love it :)

That said, you can judge yourself - just try a trial subscription with Tidal and give it a go - you can always stop after the trial if you dont feel you are getting your money's worth
 
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gfong

Active member
Sep 1, 2020
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Hello gfong -I am reasonably certain that the CDS50 can do the first unfold of MQA files - The Musiclife app itself doesnt need to be compatible with MQA as it doesnt do anything - it just controls the CDS50 which is where the action happens. I am not confident however that the CDS50 can do the rest of the unfolds. That said, even the first unfold delivers above CD quality sound so its not a bad place to be. However if you really want to go for gold then yes, you'd need something like a Node to do the job. Is it that much better ? Well thats a very subjective question. Many will tell you that they can't distinguish between an MP3 and a CD !! As is so often the case, its down to the quality of what you are listening through. If you have a nice amp and speakers, then playing the best quality music through them will enhance the experience. My own kit is relatively modest by HiFi buff standards (Arcam SA20, CDS50 and KEF Q750's - and now a Node 2i) but I find the MQA tracks can just about make you feel as though the artist was in the room playing live just to you - you can hear every twang of the strings and every intake of breath. I love it :)

That said, you can judge yourself - just try a trial subscription with Tidal and give it a go - you can always stop after the trial if you dont feel you are getting your money's worth
Thanks for the insight on the app and the player and you have a very nice system for sure.

Here is my situation, Tidal subscriber for over a year and have no reason to switch to other services as $19.99 CAD a month is peanuts for high res music.

My system.. Unison Research Simply Italy tube amp, Arcam CDS50, Klipsch LaScala speakers, AudioQuest Water RCA interconnects and AudioQuest Castle Rock speaker cables. I also run a Rega P6 with Ania cart, Rega Aria pre stage but none of that will be effected.

Before you bought the Node2i did you use the Music life app and Tidal together and listen to the Master audio even though you were not getting the MQA like I have now? Once you upgraded to the Node2i did you notice an upgrade in sound quality with the MQA? I know you mentioned that you like the MQA sound now but unsure if you were using FLAC file prior to the Node21.

Thanks for the help all! Greg (gfong) :)
 
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Barheys

Active member
Jan 20, 2020
15
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Hello Greg,

So yes, I did indeed use the Music Life app for about a year. My experience was that when I was listening to FLAC files through the CDS50 , they sounded much better than say using Airplay to stream through the Tidal app. However the user experience on the Tidal app was much better.

Does the Node sound that much better ? I would say that for ordinary FLAC files, there isnt much difference. However for the MQA files, I think it does sound better - but this is purely subjective. Just as important for me however is that the user experience on the Bluesound App is way better and the Node gives me options that I don't recall having before (like Tune In radio which I quite like to listen to every now and then). The Node is also compatible with a whole host of other services but as I dont use them, I dont really care about them. The Node is also "always on" so its just very convenient to use - switch the amp on and stream away :)

Given that the Node isnt that expensive (in HiFi terms at any rate) and works so very well, I felt justified in spending the £499 it cost and ten days in, am content that it was a very good investment
 
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gfong

Active member
Sep 1, 2020
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Hello Greg,

So yes, I did indeed use the Music Life app for about a year. My experience was that when I was listening to FLAC files through the CDS50 , they sounded much better than say using Airplay to stream through the Tidal app. However the user experience on the Tidal app was much better.

Does the Node sound that much better ? I would say that for ordinary FLAC files, there isnt much difference. However for the MQA files, I think it does sound better - but this is purely subjective. Just as important for me however is that the user experience on the Bluesound App is way better and the Node gives me options that I don't recall having before (like Tune In radio which I quite like to listen to every now and then). The Node is also compatible with a whole host of other services but as I dont use them, I dont really care about them. The Node is also "always on" so its just very convenient to use - switch the amp on and stream away :)

Given that the Node isnt that expensive (in HiFi terms at any rate) and works so very well, I felt justified in spending the £499 it cost and ten days in, am content that it was a very good investment
Again thanks for your insight. Your reasons for switching and your logic is 95% of why I am thinking of buying the Node2i. It's $649 CAD here which is approx £377, as you mentioned not that expensive!
I should have jumped on here earlier and could have saved you some money! :) Just checked the USD price and it's $549 which converts to $724 CAD. Not sure why it is less expensive in Canada. Cheers, thanks.

Edit: Just found out that Bluesound (Node2i) is a Canadian company and part of NAD and PSB Speakers.. makes sense on the price now! I now have to purchase it to support my country! :) lol

Edit #2: Purchased one and should be delivered in a couple days! Thanks for the push all! :)
 
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