Apple Music Tidal Quobuz

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mr_bill

Apple Music Tidal Quobuz
« on: 11 Sep 2022, 04:01 am »
Are they really different in sound quality?

James, you use Apple Music direct from IPad to Dac.
Do you notice differences in audio quality versus streaming of the other two?

James Tanner

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Re: Apple Music Tidal Quobuz
« Reply #1 on: 11 Sep 2022, 11:27 am »
I think some of the differences that folks hear have to do with the interface you are using - with USB - which I use with my Ipad Pro - the DAC determines the quality rather than the Source.

With Streaming I use the direct Ethernet connection from my router and remember that Qobuz offers 192/24 whereas Tidal offers 44/16 so make sure you are listening with the same resolution.

As to the differences between Tidal and Qobuz I find it difficult to tell. Sometimes I fool myself into thinking I hear a difference but if I do it blind it usually is 50/50.

I do bind tests here when customers come over and have the same file from Qobuz - Tidal- a Download - and a ripped CD copy ... and again with everyone - its a 50/50 guess.

james

PS - when you hear people making statements that a so and so quality amp or preamp or DAC or quality streaming service 'blows away' another there is something amiss.

dB Cooper

Re: Apple Music Tidal Quobuz
« Reply #2 on: 11 Sep 2022, 12:02 pm »
^ Agree with James Tanner. Amazing how many 'night and day' differences are only audible when the listener knows what (amp, preamp, DAC, streaming service, cabling etc) they are listening to. Klaus from Odyssey gave a talk at a show where he said that 90% of what we hear as the 'signature' of our sound system(s) comes from the transducers (phono cart, speakers, headphones. IMHO he's right. BTW I have been a subscriber to all three services mentioned in the OP.


One exception might be the problems with MQA (which is used by Tidal) exposed by the tests contained in the video linked on this page: https://www.realhd-audio.com/?p=7258



mr_bill

Re: Apple Music Tidal Quobuz
« Reply #3 on: 11 Sep 2022, 03:33 pm »
I think some of the differences that folks hear have to do with the interface you are using - with USB - which I use with my Ipad Pro - the DAC determines the quality rather than the Source.

With Streaming I use the direct Ethernet connection from my router and remember that Qobuz offers 192/24 whereas Tidal offers 44/16 so make sure you are listening with the same resolution.

As to the differences between Tidal and Qobuz I find it difficult to tell. Sometimes I fool myself into thinking I hear a difference but if I do it blind it usually is 50/50.

I do bind tests here when customers come over and have the same file from Qobuz - Tidal- a Download - and a ripped CD copy ... and again with everyone - its a 50/50 guess.

james

PS - when you hear people making statements that a so and so quality amp or preamp or DAC or quality streaming service 'blows away' another there is something amiss.


Thanks for the info James.
In your experience is Apple Music with IPad connection equivalent (close enough) in sound quality to what you get streaming Tidal Quobuz?

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Re: Apple Music Tidal Quobuz
« Reply #4 on: 11 Sep 2022, 06:16 pm »
Yes with Apple Music I download my favorite albums and songs onto the IPAD and use the IPAD as the source component into my BR-20 DAC - USB.

There are reports out there that Apple Music is not Bit Perfect - but it sounds fine to me.

james

timind

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Re: Apple Music Tidal Quobuz
« Reply #5 on: 12 Sep 2022, 12:54 am »
Are they really different in sound quality?

James, you use Apple Music direct from IPad to Dac.
Do you notice differences in audio quality versus streaming of the other two?

You also have the issue of whether or not you're listening to the same master on the different services. The mastering can have a significant impact.

mr_bill

Re: Apple Music Tidal Quobuz
« Reply #6 on: 5 Nov 2022, 03:01 pm »
Yes with Apple Music I download my favorite albums and songs onto the IPAD and use the IPAD as the source component into my BR-20 DAC - USB.

There are reports out there that Apple Music is not Bit Perfect - but it sounds fine to me.

james

James, what usb cable do you use between IPad Pro Usb C into BR20 usb standard input? 
Or do you use a C to A adapter?

James Tanner

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Re: Apple Music Tidal Quobuz
« Reply #7 on: 5 Nov 2022, 06:37 pm »
C to B from the new IPAD Pro




zoom25

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Re: Apple Music Tidal Quobuz
« Reply #8 on: 5 Nov 2022, 08:33 pm »
Qobuz - no idea as it's not available in Canada.

Apple Music isn't the most suited as while I do have iPhone/iPad, MacBook/iMac, I still have PCs that I use for HTPC and desktop. Apple Music also has issues with bit perfect and sample rate switching.

I've auditioned Amazon Music and Tidal, and chose Amazon Music for the sound quality and some other reasons.

Tidal is NOT all lossless. Anything 24 bit or any track/album that comes with the Master label will be lossy and have that MQA sound. It doesn't matter whether you have Hifi or Hifi Plus, you're either getting the full unfold, or partial unfold of MQA for those tracks labeled as Master.

Read this as it explains fully: https://goldensound.audio/2021/11/29/tidal-hifi-is-not-lossless/

With Tidal, you only get lossless for albums/tracks that were uploaded in 16 bit and don't come with a Master label. Those 16 bit lossless non master songs on Tidal will sound identical to your CDs or other lossless services like Amazon/Qobuz. However, anything that has a Master label, which a lot of new releases do, you simply cannot hear them lossless like they were originally made, regardless of the TIDAL tier subscription you have or your gear.

If you want lossless like intended, avoid TIDAL. There is a definite sonic signature to MQA, and it is one that I do not like over long listening periods. It can maybe catch your ear and sound decent for awhile, but IMO it starts sounding fatiguing, compressed, and artificial after some time. The regular lossless is easier on the ears and brain over time and correct sounding without an edge.
 

James Tanner

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Re: Apple Music Tidal Quobuz
« Reply #9 on: 5 Nov 2022, 10:44 pm »
Hi

I have never experienced any sample rate issues with Apple Music on my wired IPAD?

james

PS - I do have Qobuz in Canada as an industry accommodation for testing etc.

zoom25

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Re: Apple Music Tidal Quobuz
« Reply #10 on: 5 Nov 2022, 11:34 pm »
I don't use iPad or iPhone (iOS) for serious listening so I'm not sure how the (automatic) sample rate switching happens in iOS. I use either my iMac or NUC running Mac OS and Windows 10. On Mac OS, from what I understand, there is no automatic sample rate switching that happens when using Apple Music or even Amazon Music (but I have a reasonable solution for that, which I'm fine with).

In Mac OS, under Audio Devices, you specify the sample rate such as 44.1, 48, or 96 kHz. This typically comes preconfigured as 44.1 by default on Mac OS and 48 kHz is the default on Windows. The point is that particular sample rate is what remains chosen and that's the sample rate going to your DAC. In Apple Music and Amazon Music (which I have a solution for), when you play a song with a sample rate that is the same as the sample rate selected in Audio Devices/MIDI settings, you will get bit perfect playback. However, if your DAC is selected to 44.1 kHz and you play a 48 or 96, you will be getting resampling.

Ideally, the sample rate of the device should be changing automatically to match the sample rate of the song, so you get perfect playback with all your 16/24 44.1/48/96 tracks. This is what happens with Roon and is one advantage of using Tidal within Roon. You will be assured of getting proper and automatic sample rate switching.

This doesn't seem to be the case with Apple Music on Mac OS. At least it wasn't awhile back when I was searching for this issue and solutions. Both Apple Music and Amazon Music don't have automatic sample rate switching. This is a common requested feature.

Amazon Music does have exclusive mode and you can specify the sample rate in the device in a way that will give you most compatibility for bit perfect playback without any resampling. It's best to leave the DAC at 44.1 for Amazon, so that way 16/44 and 24/44 play perfectly (which is what most tracks are). Amazon app recognizes your device sample rate selection of 44.1 and the tracks that are 24/48 and 24/96 tracks are typically presented in their 16/44.1 version instead.

Lucky you for having Qobuz! I wish I had the option to try it out, especially within Roon. Although the pricing of Amazon Music with Prime and annual membership instead of monthly makes it a strong contender by itself.

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Re: Apple Music Tidal Quobuz
« Reply #11 on: 5 Nov 2022, 11:54 pm »
Yes the IPAD and IPhone both switch the sample rate on the fly - that's why I use the IPad instead of the IMac
Probably does not matter a lot but the other advantage of the IPad is the power is battery.

james

zoom25

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Re: Apple Music Tidal Quobuz
« Reply #12 on: 6 Nov 2022, 12:09 am »
That's good to know that the iOS does automatic switching. I wish Mac OS also did it.

How does your setup look like in terms of distance and cabling? USB cable from the iPad to the DAC? How long is the cable. For a desktop or nearby portable setup, that seems straightforward. However, I'm trying to imagine sitting on a couch with the iPad running a cable at least 3-4m long to a TV/audio rack. Is that what you are doing?

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Re: Apple Music Tidal Quobuz
« Reply #13 on: 6 Nov 2022, 12:53 am »
I have a 15 foot USB cable (so I can sit in my listening chair) - the advantage of USB is the digital signal is sent in 'packets' and are reassembled at the DAC end therefor no issues with length of cable. So the quality of the DAC determines the performance level of the system.

I believe the longest recommended length for USB is 18 feet.

james

PS - tonight just for fun I put the IPAD 3 feet from the DAC and used a 3 foot USB cable and from the listening chair just told "SIRI" to change to the next music track. :icon_lol:

zoom25

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Re: Apple Music Tidal Quobuz
« Reply #14 on: 6 Nov 2022, 11:31 pm »
Yeah I've used a 15 foot Belkin Gold USB cable as well in the past. Same setup like yours but instead of an iPad, it was a MacBook Pro at the couch. I didn't like having the wire running on the ground across the room. It's fine if you are by yourself, but not suitable with others in the room as you may end up stepping or tripping on the cable. Secondly, then you'd also sometimes need to get another power cable involved to charge the iPad or laptop. It's just more wires. That's why I switched to a small NUC in the cabinet feeding the TV and DAC. I might consider a LPS for the NUC down the line. No wires and having to worry about whether batteries are charged or not, or battery degradation of components over time. I use a Logitech K400 all in one wireless keyboard from the couch. Very lightweight and well made, the battery runs for year plus.

Do you pre charge the iPad before use to make sure the battery lasts the session, or can you charge the iPad as well during use while sending audio out via USB with the use of a splitter?

Using Siri to control the music is neat and always good to have for tasks such as skip/rewind/play/pause and specific song playback. I haven't tried it with Amazon yet, and don't know if it's available with the other services, but on Spotify you can control remotes quite easily. So you could leave the iPad plugged in and at the rack. Then simply use a phone to control the iPad with the exact same interface. Does it work that way on Tidal, Qobuz and Apple Music as well?

But yeah using the iPad as an audio source is a neat idea. I haven't even looked it up but can guarantee there are people out there that try to optimize the performance from an iPad by say downloading all the music offline and then turning off the Wifi and going to Airplane mode to reduce noise. :green:

Still rocking the iPad Air 2. I've been waiting on regular sized iPads to come with OLED/Mini LED.

I've also settled with USB over AES/SPDIF and other synchronous systems that are more sensitive to changes. I find asynchronous USB to sound more correct and it's a great baseline sound out of the gate without any optimization. While USB does win, at least in all my setups, I still find them to be affected sonically by upstream decisions.

For USB cabling, I stick with generic 5-6 feet USB cables and they sound right and relaxed. I also have a 1 foot Audioquest Forest that I've used time and time over the years, but I always stash it back in the drawer after a few hours. It plays perfectly without any gaps and have used it for large and continuous data transfer with zero issues. However, it definitely sounds different and makes me feel not right with a sense of uneasiness. Not sure if it's the cable construction or the short length. I've noticed the same thing with my various 1 footer AES and SPDIF cables (Mogami 2964, Gotham GAC-2 AES, Grimm TPR, Mogami 3173). Their longer version 6-10 foot version sound more relaxed and correct for each. The 15 foot Belkin Gold USB also had a slight impact on the sound. I am willing to overlook it for AES and SPDIF as they are usually implemented in synchronous systems. However, it was strange to see asynchronous USB also being somewhat sensitive to these cabling changes.

Similarly, putting an Audioquest Jitterbug in front of the NUC or iMac makes a very clear change in sound and presentation. Whether the change is better or worse, or more or less accurate is not the real issue to me. I found it concerning that even the asynchronous USB that should be clocking internally is still somehow impacted by these cables and filters. I'm hopeful that the new DACs nowadays have resolved these issue. I haven't kept up with newer products and tinkering devices as of late. With Amazon Music and lossless music, it's been more than satisfactory. The curated playlists have finally caught up to Spotify. I haven't collected digital downloads or used Roon in some time. Just back to the music.

GSDaudio

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Re: Apple Music Tidal Quobuz
« Reply #15 on: 10 Nov 2022, 05:12 pm »
Do you need an iPad Pro with USB-C to make Apple Hi-rez work or can you use the 10th Gen iPad which also has the USB-C connection?  Can't find the answer using google.

Thanks,
Richard

James Tanner

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Re: Apple Music Tidal Quobuz
« Reply #16 on: 10 Nov 2022, 06:07 pm »
I have used the basic IPad as well and my Iphone 12 with no issues.

There are adapters for using Ipads and Iphones without  C

I have a couple of Newsletters on it - email me if you want a copy - jamestanner@bryston.com

james

GSDaudio

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Re: Apple Music Tidal Quobuz
« Reply #17 on: 11 Nov 2022, 02:47 pm »
Thanks for the info James!

I almost went out and bought a new iPad.  Now I'm running an old iPad Air 2 that has a bad battery and stream to my 3.14 using shareport-synch.  I keep the iPad plugged in so I don't have worry about the battery dying.

I'm not sure I need to get the camera kit cable for hi-rez files.   99.9% of my music taste is with songs made before 2000 so 16/44 is fine.   Plus, the only hi-rez I've found on Apple Music so far is Classical which I'm not a serious listener of.

Cheers!
Richard

vonnie123

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Re: Apple Music Tidal Quobuz
« Reply #18 on: 11 Nov 2022, 10:47 pm »
My Qobuz Sublime subscription expires today.  Going to let it lapse.  Qobuz has been a great service, but decided to pair it back.   Still have the basic Tidal 16/44.1. 

vonnie123

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Re: Apple Music Tidal Quobuz
« Reply #19 on: 11 Nov 2022, 10:53 pm »
Now I'm running an old iPad Air 2 that has a bad battery and stream to my 3.14 using shareport-synch.  I keep the iPad plugged in so I don't have worry about the battery dying.
 
Cheers!
Richard

Apple just completed battery service on my five old standard ipad (5th gen)  Apple technicians will check the battery capacity (which can be done remotely online or at a store).  If it’s under 80% and is out of warranty, you pay $99 plus tax for a replacement new/like new ipad.  It will be the same generation device.  Picked up my new ipad in store within a few days of the assessment.

Depending on location, Apple will have replacement devices 3-5 years after the last production date.  (California is five years)