Spotify vs Tidal - initial review

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steve_1979

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eengineer said:
Anyone took and passed the test?

http://test.tidalhifi.com

I got 0/5 *clapping*

I did an interesting test. I ripped a song twice to lossless wav and 320kbps aac. In audacity I subtracted the compressed file from the lossless file to see what was left: not much. Some high frequency transient information (high hats) and some minor singing reverb information.

Very interesting.
 

fr0g

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Leeps said:
And if you happen to be among those who can't tell the difference between Spotify & Tidal, well just be chuffed with yourself at the tenner a month you save. But I'm willing to pay the difference, and I'll be the first to admit that I probably don't own the most revealing system on the planet, but it's still worth it to me.

Have you tried a blind AB test ?

This was the killer for me. I heard a distinct increase in clarity when I first tried it. I went through the songs I usually use to test and felt there was a positive advantage.

Until that is I did this blind. At that point I couldn't really tell.

As I say, I think it's placebo.
 

fr0g

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eengineer said:
Anyone took and passed the test?

http://test.tidalhifi.com

I got 0/5 *clapping*

I did an interesting test. I ripped a song twice to lossless wav and 320kbps aac. In audacity I subtracted the compressed file from the lossless file to see what was left: not much. Some high frequency transient information (high hats) and some minor singing reverb information.

I got 2/5

The null test with lossless is meaningless by the way. Lossless in part works by removing inaudible sound, stuff that is obscured by other music. So it's highly probable that something will be left behind that is audible when the obscuring music is removed.

Null tests that are meaningful, imo are when testing high definition against standard lossless, which in the tests I have done so far have shown there is nothing audible in what is left behind.*

*When null testing HD against the same track downsampled to 16/44.1

AFAIK the best test for comparing lossy to lossless is still ABX. And at 320 Kbps AAC I doubt there is anyone who can pass.
 

davedotco

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The interesting thing here is that, whilst the blind ABX test is quite convincing as to the effectiveness of hi-bit rate compressed audio I am more 'comfortable' listening to lossless.

This is exactly the same effect that I get when listening to a wired as opposed to a wireless system. I know the results should be, 'effectively' the same but to me, they are not, quite.

In some respects I am a fairly uncritical listener, mostly I have no problem listening to the music and ignoring the hi-fi, but when I do think about it, the feelings expressed above remain.

I am reasonably convinced that these are pyscological/psychoacoustic issues, but they are damn difficult to shake. I know I am susceptible to such effects (I think most people are) but they are difficult to test.

My own experiences about the effects of speaker cable of unequal lengths have been tested and I understand that I only hear a difference when I know the cable lengths are different, if I do not know, there is no problem. However even having proved that I can not tell the difference, to this day I still have to use speaker cables exactly the same length.....!
 

drummerman

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davedotco said:
The interesting thing here is that, whilst the blind ABX test is quite convincing as to the effectiveness of hi-bit rate compressed audio I am more 'comfortable' listening to lossless.

This is exactly the same effect that I get when listening to a wired as opposed to a wireless system. I know the results should be, 'effectively' the same but to me, they are not, quite.

In some respects I am a fairly uncritical listener, mostly I have no problem listening to the music and ignoring the hi-fi, but when I do think about it, the feelings expressed above remain.

I am reasonably convinced that these are pyscological/psychoacoustic issues, but they are damn difficult to shake. I know I am susceptible to such effects (I think most people are) but they are difficult to test.

My own experiences about the effects of speaker cable of unequal lengths have been tested and I understand that I only hear a difference when I know the cable lengths are different, if I do not know, there is no problem. However even having proved that I can not tell the difference, to this day I still have to use speaker cables exactly the same length.....!

A very good post.

It doesn't proof anything but shows that this (and other) hobbies can be more than 'just' science, as important as that may be.

Another example; There is a lady that bought an expensive racing bike to do some crit races. She did ok but didn't achieve what she thought she should. Thinking about changing her bike the loss would have been to great financially so she contacted custom paint sprayers specialists to have the frame re-sprayed to her liking. Done so she won the next two races. (Cycle Magazine 2015).

Coincidence?

Who knows and that's the great thing. You can explain most things scientifically but not everything.
 

fr0g

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drummerman said:
davedotco said:
The interesting thing here is that, whilst the blind ABX test is quite convincing as to the effectiveness of hi-bit rate compressed audio I am more 'comfortable' listening to lossless.

This is exactly the same effect that I get when listening to a wired as opposed to a wireless system. I know the results should be, 'effectively' the same but to me, they are not, quite.

In some respects I am a fairly uncritical listener, mostly I have no problem listening to the music and ignoring the hi-fi, but when I do think about it, the feelings expressed above remain.

I am reasonably convinced that these are pyscological/psychoacoustic issues, but they are damn difficult to shake. I know I am susceptible to such effects (I think most people are) but they are difficult to test.

My own experiences about the effects of speaker cable of unequal lengths have been tested and I understand that I only hear a difference when I know the cable lengths are different, if I do not know, there is no problem. However even having proved that I can not tell the difference, to this day I still have to use speaker cables exactly the same length.....!

A very good post.

It doesn't proof anything but shows that this (and other) hobbies can be more than 'just' science, as important as that may be.

This is true. Where it becomes contentious is when recommendations that cost people money that are also irrelevant in practice - That is why me and all the other "objectivists" get on the cable, HD, supports etc bandwagons.

HD is pointless. I have done at least half a dozen tests now and it is pretty obvious that HD adds nothing in terms of human-audible sound quality.

Lossy vs Lossless - Much more difficult to scientifically test, as the "null test" cannot work here. ABX is the only way. However I am convinced a well-ripped CD at 320 Kbps is indistinguishable from lossless. I have tested a few people on what I consider a revealing setup and nobody can tell them apart. I have seen one published pass on 320 Kbps MP3, but with little to back it up other than the person's word...However it does leave a splinter of a possibility that someone trained to hear the difference may just about be able to? Saying that, it has zero effect on soundstage, separation, bass, treble, sibilance etc. And honestly I am now convinced enough to have MP3 or AAC as my main source.

Analogue cables - IMO make no difference that is audible providing they meet at least minimum specs and providing they haven't some crazy electrical properties. The idea that a silver lining makes any difference is laughable.

Digital cables - Zero difference providing they work

Supports - Useful for a record deck. That's it.

Blue ray players playing back blue ray through HDMI - Pretty much identical from the cheapest £40 deck to the crazy priced exotica. The only possible differences can be extra processing or the way they handle the compressed data.

Transports - Zero difference unless the manufacturer has messed something up.

DACs - Certainly differences, but not worth a damn once you have a well implemented example.

Jitter - Irrelevant
 

SteveR750

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fr0g said:
drummerman said:
davedotco said:
The interesting thing here is that, whilst the blind ABX test is quite convincing as to the effectiveness of hi-bit rate compressed audio I am more 'comfortable' listening to lossless.

This is exactly the same effect that I get when listening to a wired as opposed to a wireless system. I know the results should be, 'effectively' the same but to me, they are not, quite.

In some respects I am a fairly uncritical listener, mostly I have no problem listening to the music and ignoring the hi-fi, but when I do think about it, the feelings expressed above remain.

I am reasonably convinced that these are pyscological/psychoacoustic issues, but they are damn difficult to shake. I know I am susceptible to such effects (I think most people are) but they are difficult to test.

My own experiences about the effects of speaker cable of unequal lengths have been tested and I understand that I only hear a difference when I know the cable lengths are different, if I do not know, there is no problem. However even having proved that I can not tell the difference, to this day I still have to use speaker cables exactly the same length.....!

A very good post.

It doesn't proof anything but shows that this (and other) hobbies can be more than 'just' science, as important as that may be.

This is true. Where it becomes contentious is when recommendations that cost people money that are also irrelevant in practice - That is why me and all the other "objectivists" get on the cable, HD, supports etc bandwagons.

HD is pointless. I have done at least half a dozen tests now and it is pretty obvious that HD adds nothing in terms of human-audible sound quality.

Lossy vs Lossless - Much more difficult to scientifically test, as the "null test" cannot work here. ABX is the only way. However I am convinced a well-ripped CD at 320 Kbps is indistinguishable from lossless. I have tested a few people on what I consider a revealing setup and nobody can tell them apart. I have seen one published pass on 320 Kbps MP3, but with little to back it up other than the person's word...However it does leave a splinter of a possibility that someone trained to hear the difference may just about be able to? Saying that, it has zero effect on soundstage, separation, bass, treble, sibilance etc. And honestly I am now convinced enough to have MP3 or AAC as my main source.

Analogue cables - IMO make no difference that is audible providing they meet at least minimum specs and providing they haven't some crazy electrical properties. The idea that a silver lining makes any difference is laughable.

Digital cables - Zero difference providing they work

Supports - Useful for a record deck. That's it.

Blue ray players playing back blue ray through HDMI - Pretty much identical from the cheapest £40 deck to the crazy priced exotica. The only possible differences can be extra processing or the way they handle the compressed data.

Transports - Zero difference unless the manufacturer has messed something up.

DACs - Certainly differences, but not worth a damn once you have a well implemented example.

Jitter - Irrelevant

Agree with most of this, though as someone else pointed out valve amps vibrate somewhat, and you might want to isolate that from your TT.

Only if it's kept below audible levels, otherwise it is relevant. In practice, any half decent DAC is capable of sufficient jitter rejection.
 

fr0g

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SteveR750 said:
fr0g said:
Supports - Useful for a record deck. That's it.[/b]

Jitter - Irrelevant[/b]

Agree with most of this, though as someone else pointed out valve amps vibrate somewhat, and you might want to isolate that from your TT.

Only if it's kept below audible levels, otherwise it is relevant. In practice, any half decent DAC is capable of sufficient jitter rejection.

Yes, Valve amps. Of course they add an audible distortion all of their own which some people seem to like :)

As for jitter, I can't remember where but I saw a good example of a test for the audibility of jitter and at levels way higher than normal it was inaudible, but I'd agree with your adendum :) Ultimately it's yet another solution for a problem that doesn't exist that's been exaggerated in order to tweak more money from OCD audiophiles.
 

chebby

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fr0g said:
As for jitter, I can't remember where but I saw a good example of a test for the audibility of jitter and at levels way higher than normal it was inaudible, but I'd agree with your adendum :) Ultimately it's yet another solution for a problem that doesn't exist that's been exaggerated in order to tweak more money from OCD audiophiles.

This BBC R&D test report from 1974 on the subjective effects of jitter on audio is interesting...

(.pdf file)
 

drummerman

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One thing annoying me about the latest updated version of Spotify Premium is that it launches as a start-up item on my windows based laptop, probably to update itself. The previous version didn't do that and I chose to update (or not) upon notification from Spotify and I chose when to start the programme. It is possible to disable it but the next time Spotify is used it automatically re-instates itself in the start up list.

I hate it when programmes such as this take it upon themselves on how to integrate. (The programme itself isn't starting itself but parts of it are now part of system configuration 'start-up items'.

Not good.
 

steve_1979

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drummerman said:
One thing annoying me about the latest updated version of Spotify Premium is that it launches as a start-up item on my windows based laptop, probably to update itself. The previous version didn't do that and I chose to update (or not) upon notification from Spotify and I chose when to start the programme. It is possible to disable it but the next time Spotify is used it automatically re-instates itself in the start up list.

I hate it when programmes such as this take it upon themselves on how to integrate. (The programme itself isn't starting itself but parts of it are now part of system configuration 'start-up items'.

Not good.

You can turn auto start up off in the Spotify preferences menu.

If you have any other programs that you want to stop auto starting on boot up you can turn them off too. Just type "msconfig" into the Windows start menu then click on the 'Startup' tab and you can select what programs you want to automatically start up when you turn your computer on.

This is also a useful tool for speeding up Windows too stopping any other non essential programs from running in the background when you boot up your computer. But be Warned! Be very careful which ones you select because turning off essential programs will totally ****** up Windows (which is why Microsoft hide this tool away from the avarage user).
 

drummerman

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steve_1979 said:
drummerman said:
One thing annoying me about the latest updated version of Spotify Premium is that it launches as a start-up item on my windows based laptop, probably to update itself. The previous version didn't do that and I chose to update (or not) upon notification from Spotify and I chose when to start the programme. It is possible to disable it but the next time Spotify is used it automatically re-instates itself in the start up list.

I hate it when programmes such as this take it upon themselves on how to integrate. (The programme itself isn't starting itself but parts of it are now part of system configuration 'start-up items'.

Not good.

You can turn auto start up off in the Spotify preferences menu.

If you have any other programs that you want to stop auto starting on boot up you can turn them off too. Just type "msconfig" into the Windows start menu then click on the 'Startup' tab and you can select what programs you want to automatically start up when you turn your computer on.

This is also a useful tool for speeding up Windows too stopping any other non essential programs from running in the background when you boot up your computer. But be Warned! Be very careful which ones you select because turning off essential programs will totally ****** up Windows (which is why Microsoft hide this tool away from the avarage user).

Cheers Steve

msconfig is what I use to keep check on start-up items.

I must have missed the option to turn the auto start off in the Spotify menu. I'll check it out thanks
 

msboon

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Andy Clough said:
Official response from Tidal:

"Gapless Playback is a function we have been very keen to integrate into TIDAL from Day 1, it is high on our Product Team’s agenda. The team has been working very hard to deliver this functionality, and although outwardly a simple feature, technically it poses many challenges, so unfortunately this is not a function that will be quickly integrated."

Just to say that I do get gapless playback playing Tidal via my Bluesound Node (using the Bluesound ios app). Prsumably that's because BluOS supports gapless playback.

Mike
 

Leeps

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Hmmm, interested in your post Mike.

At present I'm using Airplay to my AVR as the method of getting Tidal to my system, but as I'm considering upgrading my amp in future to one that probably won't have Airplay, I've been very interested in the Bluesound Node as a wired method to feed Tidal to the amp.

How do you find the Bluesound OS in general and the Bluesound Tidal app in particular? Do you use the analogue or digital optical output of the Bluesound? What are your feelings on using the Node?
 

msboon

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Leeps said:
Hmmm, interested in your post Mike.

At present I'm using Airplay to my AVR as the method of getting Tidal to my system, but as I'm considering upgrading my amp in future to one that probably won't have Airplay, I've been very interested in the Bluesound Node as a wired method to feed Tidal to the amp.

How do you find the Bluesound OS in general and the Bluesound Tidal app in particular? Do you use the analogue or digital optical output of the Bluesound? What are your feelings on using the Node?

i use the digital optical out into an arcam irdac mainly because I had the DAC in my setup before I bought the Node (I used it with the Sonos Connect I had before the Node). However, the DAC in the Node itself is supposed to be pretty good - I just haven't tried it because I'm happy with the irdac's sound. I have the Node in the living room and a Pulse in the bedroom.

The Bluesound iOS app is fine although probably not as slick as the Sonos app - no doubt it will improve with time. Tidal is integrated into the Bluesound app and works well although the are some oddities (it doesn't handle EPs and singles particularly well and artist radio is not currently supported). It would be nice to be able to use the Tidal ios app in a similar way to spotify with spotify connect (which bluesound supports by the way unlike Sonos). It's easier to find the curated content in the ios app.

I'm really happy with bluesound though.

Mike
 

Leeps

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Thanks for that Mike, that's helpful. It's likely I'll be using the Node's internal DAC initially, so we'll see how it goes.

On a separate Tidal issue, I had my worst experience so far last night with Tidal (actually, my only bad experience), so we'll have to see how things progress. It's been a completely smooth service for the few months I've had it. But last night there was an upgrade to the iOS app, which I did. It was very spluttery and jittery all evening (until I gave up).

It's not been like this before. I can only assume Tidal's servers were overwhelmed with the US re-launch yesterday. My other concern was an additional feature which was added in the update yesterday. If you have Hifi quality, you now have the option to select adaptive quality (can't remember exactly the name of it - I'm at work today). This does make me a little suspicous. Adaptive to WHOSE bandwidth? Mine or theirs?

For me, I'm not interested in their cheaper £10/month 320kbps subscription. I want to stream at full fat hifi resolution. I'm just a little concerned at the timing of this additional feature. Did they anticipate that the only way of handling the extra demand with the re-launch would be by selecting this option? (I had to de-select it to ensure hifi resolution streaming, which subsequently stuttered and crashed, despite a 50mbps cable internet service).

I really hope Jay-Z hasn't spoiled a service that I was previously happy with. I'll obviously report on how things go over the coming days. Let's hope it was a blip.
 

msboon

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Yes I noticed the new "adaptive" streaming quality feature. However, I don't use the ios apps for streaming as I stream via the Bluesound app and that is always lossless. I do use the ios app on my iphone in the car but mainly in "offline" mode.

I'll be monitoring the performance of Tidal via the Bluesound app post the relaunch but I can honestly say that I have never had any issues to date streaming Tidal via Bluesound - no buffering or skipping of tracks and tracks play pretty much instantaneously when selected.

Mike
 

drummerman

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steve_1979 said:
drummerman said:
One thing annoying me about the latest updated version of Spotify Premium is that it launches as a start-up item on my windows based laptop, probably to update itself. The previous version didn't do that and I chose to update (or not) upon notification from Spotify and I chose when to start the programme. It is possible to disable it but the next time Spotify is used it automatically re-instates itself in the start up list.

I hate it when programmes such as this take it upon themselves on how to integrate. (The programme itself isn't starting itself but parts of it are now part of system configuration 'start-up items'.

Not good.

You can turn auto start up off in the Spotify preferences menu.

If you have any other programs that you want to stop auto starting on boot up you can turn them off too. Just type "msconfig" into the Windows start menu then click on the 'Startup' tab and you can select what programs you want to automatically start up when you turn your computer on.

This is also a useful tool for speeding up Windows too stopping any other non essential programs from running in the background when you boot up your computer. But be Warned! Be very careful which ones you select because turning off essential programs will totally ****** up Windows (which is why Microsoft hide this tool away from the avarage user).

Ok, did switch automatic start-up off in the spotify preference selection ... and it still appears as start-up item in system configuration/msconfig. Tried several times.

Not happy. Contacting spotify.