Qobuz

EricLeRouge

Active member
Jan 15, 2020
4
1
25
A few comments regarding Qobuz from a hifi perspective:

- Qobuz has a terrible quality control, and many of the so-called "masters" that are on the service are actually poor quality digital captures published by the french national library (BNF), from when it had its entire vinyl library digitized by a Belgian company about 5 or 6 years ago. Those BNF titles have been digitized in a a rushed studio, and they sound terrible, even compared to vinyl rips published on Youtube. In practice, the titles released in high resolution are those published by the main music publishers, and they should be roughly be the same for Qobuz and Tidal (or other services, obviously).

- Qobuz is a much more "messy" than Tidal, e.g. Qobuz tends to keep several variations and successive remasters of the same titles, which makes very cumbersome and annoying for the subscribers. In addition, some titles "disappear" of the main library for no particular reason, and sometimes they re-"appear" in the library, so maintaining a collection of playlists can be challenging sometimes.

On the (very) positive side - As far as depth of catalogue goes, Qobuz has (by far) the best classical and jazz catalogue. Having used Qobuz and Tidal for several years (4 and 2 years respectively), I can say that classical music is almost absent from Tidal, whereas Qobuz can really offer a wealth of versions from all major publishers, so exploring a composer or an opus in Qobuz is a real treat for the music lover, student, or musician. For anyone interested in classical music at all, there is simply no equivalent, and the cost of €20 for Hifi (CD quality) or €25 for Sublime (CD+Hi-Res) is a steal if you think about it.

- Qobuz has a much poorer customer support than Tidal, and this can be very frustrating for customers, but it allows for a lot more technical tweaks for the more technology-oriented users

- Smooth integration with Audirvana puts Qobuz on par with Tidal, and it makes it very easy to use with a Kef LS50W system for example, but it really shines in USB or LAN connection, so a sound comparison between Qobuz and Tidal should probably use exactly the same chain of software, cables, speakers, etc. In my experience, Qobuz has superior sound quality in many cases, in particular in classical / baroque / opera, as the files have not been "normalized" or boosted for more customer impact, which I think Tidal does in some cases (so in practice sometimes Tidal sounds 'louder', but not better)

The overall quality of the high resolution masters varies considerably from one title to another, and there is simply no "tracking" of the original source of the files made available. Some files are made available by the publishers with the original bitrate of the latest known remaster (sometimes with the watermarking included), in other cases the publishers have resampled the files, and sometimes it seems that Qobuz have resampled the files themselves (e.g. some files are available at 24/96 when they are not available at the same bitrate anywhere.

Overall, I think in the future audio enthusiasts will need to look "under the hood" and analyze the actual files made available on platforms such as Qobuz and Tidal, and possibly define some methodology for checking the integrity of the files.
 
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DREADZONE

Well-known member
Nov 8, 2009
8
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18,525
At the moment I have 3 music streaming subs: (1) googleplay @£7.99 (reduced price because I was an original subscriber) is good for vast catalogue - would discontinue because it is only Standard def, but has quite a few tracks not available from other two; (2) Tidal HiFi @£19.99 - unsure about the assumed improvement in listening experience with Masters: my system unfolds MQA up to 96kHz, and I do notice a nice difference with tracks that were originally mastered well . . . however, Amazon has given me a re-think!; (3) Amazon Music Unlimited HD £14.99 (but currently one month in to enjoying a 3 month free trial) - their HD tracks [CD quality of all material available in CD format] sounds very good, and HD Ultra [= anything above 16bit/44.1kHz, eg 24bit/44.1kHz, 16bit/48kHz up to 24bit/192kHz] sounds brilliant - certainly matching anything I've heard from Tidal Masters. I did a simple listening test with Fleetwood Mac The Chain (2001 Remaster) across both providers and both sounded excellent [the last 90 seconds of this track is a really good test in this genre].
So, jury is out on which to stick with long term; over the coming months I will weigh-up the catalogue merits of each provider. Also, I will examine Tidal's "transparency" with their MQA encoding for Master recordings vs Amazon HD's Ultra offering.
Anyone compared Tidal HiFi and Qobuz with Amazon Unlimited HD?
 

DREADZONE

Well-known member
Nov 8, 2009
8
2
18,525
<< The overall quality of the high resolution masters varies considerably from one title to another, and there is simply no "tracking" of the original source of the files made available. Some files are made available by the publishers with the original bitrate of the latest known remaster (sometimes with the watermarking included), in other cases the publishers have resampled the files, and sometimes it seems that Qobuz have resampled the files themselves (e.g. some files are available at 24/96 when they are not available at the same bitrate anywhere).

Overall, I think in the future audio enthusiasts will need to look "under the hood" and analyze the actual files made available on platforms such as Qobuz and Tidal, and possibly define some methodology for checking the integrity of the files. >>

Agree with above.

The actual recording of the artist is much more important than the playback quality, and it would be useful to know the source. If you want to compare one platform with another, good actual source material could include Steely Dan's catalogue as it was all engineered by Roger (The Immortal) Nichols and produced by Gary Katz - both perfectionists in purity of recorded sound - but unfortunately the fire at Universal Studios in 2008 may have destroyed some of the master tapes. Their albums Gaucho and Two Against Nature are pure quality in 24/96.
I'm part of the group that thinks, whilst 192kHz may benefit some recordings, the listener is unlikely to hear the difference in audio playback terms between 24/96 and 24/192 masters. I have done a few A/B tests with Tidal vs Amazon and both sound really good in 24bit Master/Ultra quality - noticeably greater clarity than HiFi/HD.
 

Ramborme

Member
Jan 14, 2020
2
1
20
I must be doing something wrong, I'm only paying $15 a month for Qobuz, I don't have a MQA DAC, as such I think Qobuz sounds better than Tidal, I dropped my Tidal subscription and picked up Qobuz, my only concern is sometimes it's slow to respond, I'm using their app on a PC, using a Schiit multibit DAC and the sound is great,
 

kenosha

Active member
Nov 15, 2019
4
4
25
I must be doing something wrong, I'm only paying $15 a month for Qobuz, I don't have a MQA DAC, as such I think Qobuz sounds better than Tidal, I dropped my Tidal subscription and picked up Qobuz, my only concern is sometimes it's slow to respond, I'm using their app on a PC, using a Schiit multibit DAC and the sound is great,
Same here.

To all who read Whathifi’s Qobuz review, I encourage you to give it a chance, sign up for the free trial period and compare it for yourself to your preferred hi-res streaming service.

I was a TIDAL subscriber for 4 years, joined Qobuz when it cut its price to $15/month, and spent a month comparing the two.

On my system (Cambridge CXNv2 streamer, Moon 340i integrated, KEF R3s), Qobuz hi-res sounds better than TIDAL masters, and Qobuz CD-quality sounds better than TIDAL CD-quality streams.

Qobuz‘s library is missing some of my favorite titles from TIDAL’s library, but the reverse is true, as well.

TIDAL’s iPhone app is a bit more polished than Qobuz, but not significantly so IMHO.

I’ve used Qobuz tech support only twice in the three months or so I’ve been a member, but each time they responded promptly and it was clear they read my questions carefully and had good answers.

I ended up quitting TIDAL, but I’m happy it still exists. The more choices in hi-res subscription services, the better for consumers.
 

jules153

Well-known member
Jul 7, 2016
6
0
4,520
I would defo go with Amazon HD, great value and huge selection, but I doesn't cast in CD quality (or above) to my Chromecast Audio so it's Tidal for me!
 

Jules42

Member
Feb 23, 2020
1
0
20
I usually use Tidal Hifi to stream, (and I'm not totally convinced by its hi def - it could just be louder), but I've just taken out a Qobuz trial.

As I'm listening now, Qobuz sounds on a different level.

Dynamism, soundstage, speakers disappearing, all the indicators of a much better source....

.....but it's not as 'sweet' as my system usually is, but the dynamics and involvement are way worth it.

As a result, I suspect that different systems will prefer different services as they probably have different characteristics at source.

Feel free to flame me....
 
Feb 6, 2020
4
0
20
I have had a Qobuz subscription for a couple of years, mostly listening to classical music but keeping an eye on other genres. The way "new releases" are presented is very clear and easy to navigate, whatever genre; this is quite sufficient to find and try new music, without any of the "if you like this, you might like this" recommendations on other platforms. [Admittedly, this is the main thing missing from Qobuz.]

For me Qobuz has the huge advantage that it very naturally displays music by albums, rather than individual tracks. I've found no other streaming service (and I have tried many) that is so well suited to classical music.

Every so often I think I should try Tidal, given WHF's consistent rating of this above Qobuz. Last time was two months or so ago - I paid for a month's subscription, and only used it for a day, finding its way of responding to any classical search extremely frustrating.
 

Albert35

Member
Mar 19, 2020
1
0
20
I have used Qobuz, Deezer (hifi), Apple Music and Tidal on different systems (devialet amp + wilson-benesch, android phone with wireless LDAC, astell kern + audeze, computer+hugo to devialet). My thoughts.

Tidal Masters and Qobuz High Res provide better quality only at the top configurations at home. When listening to background music or walking on the street, the difference is very small. Think about how you listen to music and the equipment you will use.

I don't hear much difference between Tidal and Qobuz when listening to THE music at home (not doing A/B testing or trying to spot differences). The difference is clear when listening to Apple Music and Deezer (some songs for the latter), better separation of instruments, more details, wider soundstage.

I prefer Qobuz to Tidal for the folllowing reasons.

1. As someone said, Tidal for jazz and classical is really bad. I am not into hip-hop and R&B where Tidal is stronger. They both seem similar for rock and pop with Tidal having a slight edge for country & americana.

2. Qobuz is album based while Tidal is playlist oriented. I prefer to listen to the whole album. As an example, Tidal has jazz playlists by instrument, period, singers, subgenre and so forth while Qobuz's jazz playlists are much more limited. Then Qobuz offers a better repertoire of jazz albums and they are easier to find.

3. Music labels are easy to follow in Qobuz, impossible in Tidal. There are 3 or 4 labels I follow and it is very easy to see new releases. Having said that, one could subscribe to the labels' mailing lists and get the new releases sent to the email box. Qobuz just makes my life easier.

4. Qobuz editorials are fantastic. They have long articles on albums, genres (eg. americana, flamenco, afrobeat, etc.), labels (I have discovered some great small labels thanks to them), singers, musical periods, etc. Great to spend a couple of hours reading the article first and then listening to the albums and songs selected to illustrate the article'. I could buy a classical, pop, jazz, rock or world music magazine, read the articles and then find and listen to the recommended albums and songs. Again, Qobuz just makes my life easier.

5. Qobuz metadata is better. I prefer it for jazz as it is easier to find out who is playing a particular instrument or the composer.
 

Leon Martin

Active member
Mar 19, 2020
17
2
25
Qobuz may be one of the best sounding streaming services out there, but that doesn't mean it is the best option for all.

Qobuz : Read more
What the review fails to mention is that you need a MQA DAC to fully unfold Tidal's Master files. Without one all you can get is the first unfold ie if using the app on PC. Having listened to both Tidal Master (fist unfold only on PC outputted via USB into the CXN V2 streamer) and Qobuz Hi Res via a CA CXN V2 streamer I couldn't discern any difference. Ultimately, native streaming Qobuz via the CXN gave me a much neater solution. It's a pity Tidal don't offer their Masters in PCM format also.
 

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