What Has Happened To Tidal?

As I have mostly been listening to UPnP since upgrading firmaware to 4.6 on my NDS, tonight is my first proper extended listen to Tidal and it is sounding very good, better than I remember pre 4.6.

I would be interested to understand if 4.6 had any update within it intended to improve SQ of Tidal rather than just addressing Tidal stability. Maybe someone from the 4.6 beta testing team can say if Tidal SQ was part of the 4.6 evaluation.

Anyone else heard an improvement on Tidal post 4.6 update or are my ears playing tricks on me?

Original Post

I’d guess that as both UPnP and Tidal (internet) use the LAN ethernet input into the streamer they will share the same path via the SHARC processor into the streamer’s DAC and benefit (or otherwise depending on your point of view) from the DSP upgrade in the 4.6 firmware.

sjbabbey posted:

I’d guess that as both UPnP and Tidal (internet) use the LAN ethernet input into the streamer they will share the same path via the SHARC processor into the streamer’s DAC and benefit (or otherwise depending on your point of view) from the DSP upgrade in the 4.6 firmware.

That would make sense as the level of improvement (significant) from the 4.6 update I hear on UPnP is equivalent to that via Tidal streaming.

I was 'trialling' albums on Tidal this evening which I am considering buying on CD and was listening to 'Smoke and Noise' by Chris Jones and Steve Baker and was struck by the quality old Chris' guitar (and when he slides his acoustic guitar it is intoxicating) and vocals and Steve's harmonica. Every track was so entertaining. This is a superbly recorded live album and listening to it I just had to visit the River and buy the CD.

Having paid a reasonable sum for a fine album on CD, I thought 'why did I do that'? This is the first time I have questioned the need to possess the CD over listening on Tidal, it was that good. Anyway, I will get the chance to do a direct comparison of CD vs Tidal of the same album post 4.6 update.

Is Tidal now beginning to challenge the SQ of ripped CD? Interesting times.

Nigel, having the CD ripped to NAS is that little piece of insurance if the external (internet) network drops or tidal drops or whatever. I certainly do believe less CD's are purchased with the opportunity to review online but there is a nice feeling  having the physical copy on hand when needed.   Then again maybe it is just and age thing and habits are hard to break.....

Look forward to your comparison and your thread reporting the results.

I’ve found Tidal on my NDX to sound better than it used to, as well. Possibly not quite up to local streming standard, but certainly good enough to enjoy the music rather than just have a quick listen prior to potential purchase. Reliability is not quite as good as I’d like, though, with the odd dropout still occurring. 

Tidal is a really excellent service for casual listening and reviewing,  I've been a subscriber for three years since I owned a UnitiQute 2 but I would never use it as a primary source or streaming of any kind for that matter unless it was streaming ripped CD's.

The £750 I have spent on the subscription over the three years could have bought me over 200 CD's on the used market almost two a week infact.  Those ripped CD's would be a lot easier to access, quite possibly sound better and I would also own a hard copy tucked away safely in the loft.  If I really wanted to review an LP I can do that for free using Spotify so that once my CD collection has reached a certain level I will be cancelling my Tidal account and spending that cash on Vinyl or CD's to rip.

I currently have a Hi-Fi (FLAC 25/96 only) subscription with Qobuz via the external Chromecast Audio device. Upgrading to Vodka Toslink and updating to 6.4 have led to a substantial SQ inprovement as well - almost to catch up with Tidal, but not quite yet. 😝

Chag -

Tidal on 272, after 6.4 update, is how Tidal should sound. I'm very happy with it, but ripped CD and Hi-res downloads on USB stick have the edge. Still researching NAS/UPnP, and may buy in future.

I think perhaps some of the music on Tidal is ripped from inferior CD's?

 

I certainly don’t find Tidal apt to just background  music. I have deliberately created playlists with the same track on NAS and Tidal and could not tell them apart when swapping btw tracks in the playlist. And that was even pre 4.6. Apart from the awful aesthetic taste of the owners inflicted upon you the moment you log in (prompting rushing for shelter to the “My Music” section) it’s great; Tidal is at least 30% of my listening. 

Nigel - I try my hardest to avoid audio neurosis and then you do this  

So I only stream through my Qb but listened this morning to a couple favorites and to be honest I couldn’t tell any difference.  But will listen again with the curtains drawn and lights out.........there is a risk with this strategy............you may never hear from me again.......

Chag... posted:

I currently have a Hi-Fi (FLAC 25/96 only) subscription with Qobuz via the external Chromecast Audio device. Upgrading to Vodka Toslink and updating to 6.4 have led to a substantial SQ inprovement as well - almost to catch up with Tidal, but not quite yet. 😝

Chag -

I don’t know to which extent Chromecast may prove a limiting factor when comparing Tidal (native integration) vs Qobuz (non native).

I stream Qobuz to my NDX using the “mconnect” app which provides native integration for both Tidal and Qobuz and am extremely happy with the sound quality (not to mention the prevalent musical taste). I was about to create a post on this when I noticed it has been mentioned in a recent thread (but I have the impression it has gone rather unnoticed).

DrPo posted:

I certainly don’t find Tidal apt to just background  music. I have deliberately created playlists with the same track on NAS and Tidal and could not tell them apart when swapping btw tracks in the playlist. And that was even pre 4.6. Apart from the awful aesthetic taste of the owners inflicted upon you the moment you log in (prompting rushing for shelter to the “My Music” section) it’s great; Tidal is at least 30% of my listening. 

Same for me. Just like the firmware upgrade, some people seem to like the sound of Tidal and others experience it as much inferior to CD rips. I have tried switching from one to the other on the same track and can't tell the difference (on tracks I know to be the same master and bit rate of course). People who transcode to WAV from FLAC would need to take this into account as it might cause a variation if playing a Tidal FLAC versus a transcoded rip. I am also lucky enough to have Roon and have just gained the ability to benefit from Tidal's MQA library (around 10,000 albums I am told). It's early days but it does sound very promising and Roon integrates Tidal and my own library seamlessly. Maybe it's partly Roon that levels the playing field between rips and Tidal.

Given they sound identical to me (and some others including DRPo) it seems there may be some variation in how Tidal is delivered to the streamer, whether in the home network or the internet between Tidal and the modem. Another clue is that I never ever get drop outs on Tidal, even prior to the latest firmware update, and I only have a 6-8mb broadband speed. I believe  S-in-S has done some investigation that points to frame rates as a key variable.

All this goes to show you can't be dogmatic about these things.

I am not saying Tidal (HiFi version)  as yet even equals the SQ of ripped CDs. What I would suggest however is that the difference in SQ has narrowed with the advent of 4.6 firmware to the point that the advantage of ripped CDs (whatever that 'advantage' is to the individual) might be outweighed by the vast choice of albums available from Tidal which we could never afford to own in CD format.

I am sure many will remember the time that even the suggestion that we might give up our treasured vinyl collection in place of shiny disks that sounded tinny, sharp and thin compared to the black stuff, was outrageous. Then, once we had accepted CD, we are supposed to give up those same shiny disks in place of downloading hi-res versions we are supposed to store, worse still borrow CD files from somewhere in the ether (streaming) for a monthly fee! You have got to be kidding!

As I say, interesting times and never say never.

NB, I am feeling in provocative mood this evening!

Guys, has anyone else been experiencing Tidal instability, this last week? I have had no problem for the past year but since 29th April, I have not been able to listen to a complete track. I Know of one more Naim owner experincing  this behaviour. Have there been more incidents?

Frustrated.

Harry

i have had a few cases where Tidal streaming displays a behavior of "insufficient buffering" (i.e. track goes on for 20', stops for 5', resumes, stops again ... etc)

in all of those cases it was fixed after restarting my airport express 

I've done all of the restarting stuff but the Tidal dropouts are horrendous. I did have a post a while ago about Tidal problems - the key takeaway was that the software update could fix it (potentially). 

Anyway, while I waited for the software update, the dropouts reduced dramatically so I was then a happy camper. However the dropouts have now manifested as pauses in the middle of playback - quite intolerable. 

I will add that the issue persists on my Mu-So as well (ps - the NDS is wired and the Mu-So is wireless). 

Really hope Naim can help sort this out asap.

Chickabaddyshortshanks posted:

I've done all of the restarting stuff but the Tidal dropouts are horrendous. I did have a post a while ago about Tidal problems - the key takeaway was that the software update could fix it (potentially). 

Anyway, while I waited for the software update, the dropouts reduced dramatically so I was then a happy camper. However the dropouts have now manifested as pauses in the middle of playback - quite intolerable. 

I will add that the issue persists on my Mu-So as well (ps - the NDS is wired and the Mu-So is wireless). 

Really hope Naim can help sort this out asap.

Exactly. Now I don’t get the .stopped play. message. It just drops out for 5 secs Anne pops back on. I can’t believe this is a stray incident. 

Harry

I don't think the Tidal drop-outs are a Naim issue at all. I have also been getting a lot of dropouts since the beginning of May, streaming through my Bluesound Node2 in Singapore. Not all albums but seems like at least half I listen to are suffering. 

Maybe Tidal changed something around the beginning of the month.

Most of my listening is Tidal HiFi. Great SQ improvement with 4.6 on my 272. No dropouts, but I'm still getting occasional 'stuttering' between tracks, ie stream flips incessantly between end of track just played and start of the next track. Have to stop and restart play to resume. Not sure if this is an android app issue though.

DrPo posted:
Chag... posted:

I currently have a Hi-Fi (FLAC 25/96 only) subscription with Qobuz via the external Chromecast Audio device. Upgrading to Vodka Toslink and updating to 6.4 have led to a substantial SQ inprovement as well - almost to catch up with Tidal, but not quite yet. 😝

Chag -

I don’t know to which extent Chromecast may prove a limiting factor when comparing Tidal (native integration) vs Qobuz (non native).

I stream Qobuz to my NDX using the “mconnect” app which provides native integration for both Tidal and Qobuz and am extremely happy with the sound quality (not to mention the prevalent musical taste). I was about to create a post on this when I noticed it has been mentioned in a recent thread (but I have the impression it has gone rather unnoticed).

I too stream Qobuz using "mconnect", but into nDac. Happy with SQ, but what is frustrating is that you appear not to be able to access any CD booklets via mconnect which can be done streaming Qobuz direct. (Why I don't do this is a long story and was reported previously...issue with current Qobuz update using IOS (IPad)). Accessing booklets, particularly for classical music, to my mind is a big plus for Qobuz. Also, far better selection of jazz and classical than Tidal. My hi-fi dealer also feels that SQ on Qobuz is a little better than Tidal.   

Update from my side. Starting last Sunday, the pauses have reduced very significantly. That said, it does occasionally raise its head, which is terribly annoying to me (Tidal accounts for 97 percent or more of my listening). 

Over the past few hours today, I have had 3 pauses so far.

wonder if it's worth dropping a note to Tidal.... I suspect Naim is not going to say much here but it would be good if they could persuade Tidal to get its servers to behave properly. I have heard (anecdotally) that other streamers may be facing similar issues with Tidal.

I don't get dropouts or pauses on Tidal whilst listening on my Klimax DS/1 or microRendu based systems.

I have no idea if the issue on Naim streamers is anything to do with recent software updates, but I have recently (post software update) begun to suffer occasional pauses and dropouts while listening to Internet Radio on my Muso.  

DrPo posted:
Chag... posted:

I currently have a Hi-Fi (FLAC 25/96 only) subscription with Qobuz via the external Chromecast Audio device. Upgrading to Vodka Toslink and updating to 6.4 have led to a substantial SQ inprovement as well - almost to catch up with Tidal, but not quite yet. 😝

Chag -

I don’t know to which extent Chromecast may prove a limiting factor when comparing Tidal (native integration) vs Qobuz (non native).

I stream Qobuz to my NDX using the “mconnect” app which provides native integration for both Tidal and Qobuz and am extremely happy with the sound quality (not to mention the prevalent musical taste). I was about to create a post on this when I noticed it has been mentioned in a recent thread (but I have the impression it has gone rather unnoticed).

Please could you, or anyone, explain how you stream Qobuz to the NDX using mconnect? I found the app and the Qbs show up, but not the 272. 

Addendum: not all stramers are “visible” in the “play to” tab - I read somewhere the technical requirements but don’t recall where and what ... I have tried with other (non NAIM) products and they were not visible in the “play to” tab so it could be that the 272 and NDX architectures  differ in some subtle way that plays a role here. You may also try a couple of refresh’s ... ocassionaly the NDX does not show up but a refresh fixes it.

however mconnect is still no5 perfect in that it does not support booklets within Qobuz (which for me is the USP of this streaming service...)

Thanks. I initially tried mcontrol, which only showed the Qbs and not the 272. I’ve now installed mconnect lite (the free one) and it lets me stream my Qobuz purchases to the 272. Presumably if I subscribed to Qobuz I could stream everything, so it would be worth taking a free trial. The sound quality of the streamed purchases is pretty good, and certainly way better than when I tried a Chromecast dongle. Mconnect seems pretty easy so I wonder why more people are not using it. 

Well, I’ve started a month’s free trial on Qobuz and can stream their catalogue happily. It’s sounding ok on a quick listen. I’ll compare to locally stored music later on. It’s not as slick as using Tidal in the Naim app, but maybe it’s a case of needing to get used to it. 

ok, good to know and eager to hear your impressions of streamed/locally stored files. I do wonder why not more people use mconnect but realized lately that some vendors who don't want to get into the vagaries of developing their own app (like Metronome) are quite open about recommending it

Thanks for highlighting this, it's come at a good time as I have received a 3 month 3 subscription with a Yamaha Musiccast player that we have bought for the conservatory system (the Musiccast is a bit like a Sonos Connect) so have activated this and will see how it goes.

After my 3 months I may activate a Tidal trial again as I have one spare from our splurge on Muso QB's last year that I haven't yet activated!

Bart posted:

Maybe I'll take on another free Tidal trial.  When I last listened to their high quality service, well over a year ago, it was like listening to 128kbps mp3's to me.

Certainly worth a try, I’ve found myself enjoying Tidal more over the last couple of months on NDX. I wouldn’t say it was ever as bad as 128 MP3, but it certainly used to fall quite a long way short of CD rip quality. 

On a related issue, sometimes, when you pay double for lossless quality, you still get a lossy AAC stream, so it’s worth checking this on the app. I have noticed this less frequently of late, but it still happens. 

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