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Tidal vs Spotify

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by krismusic, Sep 5, 2015.
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  1. krismusic Contributor
    Is it logical that I reckon that I hear a difference in SQ between Spotify and Tidal?
    Spotify Premium claims to be 320 Kbps.
    I cannot appreciate the difference between 320 and lossless.
    It seems to me that it is possible that Spotify is streaming at a lower bitrate than they claim.
    Anyone else found the same?
  2. sonitus mirus
    I don't know anything about how Spotify obtains their Ogg Vorbis Q9 (320 kbps) and Q5 (160 kbps) files.  Maybe Spotify "cheated" with some of their high quality streaming songs by upconverting? If you can record a song and look at the wave form, it cold be that some tracks have been upconverted from 160 kbps to 320 kbps.  Any song with frequencies above ~17kHz would show an abrupt cutoff if the file was originally encoded at 160 kbps before being upconverted to 320 kbps.  
    It would be very difficult to objectively test the two streaming services in a fair method without any bias.  
    Edit: I wanted to mention that the possible cutoff frequency of a 160 kbps lossy file is not the only problem.  Many of us cannot hear anything close to 17kHz, but oftentimes transcoding from lossy to lossy can introduce artifacts at frequencies that could be heard by nearly anyone.
  3. Shembot
    I can easily hear the difference between Spotify Premium (320kbps) and Tidal. Spotify sounds more bloomy and less defined to me. This leads me to believe that they might be re-encoding an already compressed source, since 320 kbps MP3 should be indistinguishable from 16bit/44.1kHz.
    I can't, however, tell the difference between Tidal and Apple Music, which is as it should be -- 256 kbps AAC and 16bit/44.1kHz should also be sonically indistinguishable. I've heard that Apple Music encodes on the fly from lossless source files, but I'm not sure that Apple has explicitly said they do that. Either way, I find Apple Music and Tidal to both have audibly better quality than Spotify Premium.
  4. castleofargh Contributor
    apple makes sure to leave a little something to limit clipping on decoding, at least I remember reading something like that. maybe spotify doesn't and stuff real close to 0db signal end up clipped on your gear?
    would be cool to have sample recording of all sources, probably not enough to be sure of anything because of many variables, but might as suggested give us a hint about what's different, and make sure things are different in the process, with volume matching and away from the risk of the device messing up some decoding more than others.
  5. sonitus mirus
    Apple does a great job maintaining the highest quality audio with their AAC versions.
     I love the Google music service with their 30+ million streaming songs and the ability to upload up to 50,000 of my own songs that are seamlessly incorporated into the Google library shuffle system along with genre, artist, album, and song radios.  And while the Google Lame MP3 320 CBR files sound audibly transparent with the equivalent CD to my ears, I can see that the AAC format is technically superior to MP3, and I would prefer to use this format if I could find a streaming service that worked as well as Google's does for me.  
    Unfortunately, Google transcodes any uploaded AAC file to an equivalent bitrate MP3 file (up to 320 kbps).  I have the Beatles stereo box-set from iTunes and the CDs.  I allowed Google to upload the iTunes AAC 256 versions of the songs, and then I downloaded these converted songs back to my PC.  I was able to successfully pass an ABX between one of these Google converted MP3 256 files and the CD-ripped FLAC version 12/15 and 13/15 times in 2 consecutive tests with the song "In My Life" from Rubber Soul, focusing on Ringo's bell strikes on the ride cymbal.  I deleted all of the Beatles iTunes tracks from Google and ripped Lame vbr -0 MP3 files from my CDs.  These were left untouched by Google when I uploaded them, and I cannot hear a difference with these versions in an ABX test.
    trellus and castleofargh like this.
  6. krismusic Contributor
    It would be very interesting if someone were able to ascertain exactly what Spotify outputs.
    Tidal HiFi is audibly superior to me but I don't like its UI. Maybe that's just me being dense.
  7. frodeni
    On the right gear, the difference is clearly audible. So if you usually hear differences between gear, you should hear this one as well. If you know what to listen for, that is.
    As for PC, Spotify do not support ASIO, while Tidal does. If you go Tidal Hi-Fi on top of that, you do not need much gear to hear the difference.
    Or put in a broader perspective: The difference is just as great as changing from mid range gear, to higher end gear. The difference is greater than going from a low end cable to the highest end cable. In short, if you do not hear this difference, hi-fi is not for you.
    Typically, the church of denial, is all over people hearing the difference. But the difference is documented quite well.
    Also, the Spotify lossy compression, loses parts of the music that is less characteristic for voices and instruments. A perceived increased in clarity and separation, is a common experience, going from lossless to lossy. Mp3 is designed to do just that, and OggVorbis obviously has much the same effect.  This effect is not that easy to pinpoint on lower end gear, and easy to get wrong.
    For the fruity gear, I simply do not know. I am all about candy and Android. The difference is like night and day, with the Note3 and the MM400. The headset did cost me about the same as the mobile phone. I did try plenty of headsets for that mobile phone, but only the MM400 exposed Spotify for real.
    I would also like to point out the obvious: Spotify is ten times greater as to point you to potential new music to listen to. For ordinary people, with ordinary gear, I would point them to Spotify for that reason alone. Compared to Spotify, the Tidal App is lacking on all fronts but SQ. I actually used Spotify to find new music, then added that to my Tidal playlist, just prior to writing this.
    trellus and istvanumeszaros like this.
  8. sonitus mirus
    I don't want to come across as being contentious, but can you provide any documentation that demonstrates that anyone is hearing a difference?  
  9. sonitus mirus
    You could record the 2 streams using Audacity and save these as FLAC files to ABX with Foobar2000.  Simple editing to make sure the start and end times are identical would be necessary, but the ABX plugin will be able to volume match the files.  Also, in Audacity you could check to see if the Spotify files are just Q5 (160 kbps) files that have been reencoded to Q9 (320 kbps) by looking at the frequency response graph.
  10. frodeni
    That did not take long.
    Well, you see, lossy compression, well, no nice way of putting this, it is lossy you know? Like by definition? I simply hear some that is documented to exist. Is that so hard to believe?
  11. sonitus mirus
    Maybe, but night and day?  And what of your claims about differences with mid-range and high-end gear?  How do you define the two?   How are these audible differences measured?  Same goes with your claims about different cables.   Your recent posts seem to be nonsensical to me.   I will simply bow out and ignore your comments going forward, as I have no confidence that any further dialogue will be beneficial to either of us.
  12. frodeni
    Well, I will try hard to respect your opinion. And to listen to your reasoning. If you only could serve me a single point I was not aware of already.
    And no, there is no point in great cables for Spotify, but for Tidal there sure is.
  13. castleofargh Contributor

    what the hell is that post supposed to mean?
  14. frodeni
    Likewise, what do you mean by yours? Probably just a few statements that are unfamiliar to you in my post. Given your response, I am not that surprised such statements are not typically shared in here. Give it some thought, and rephrase your question.
  15. Walderstorn
    I'll copy/paste my opinion (and girlfriend) about tidal premium vs spotify premium, maybe it can help:
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