What service do you use for music playback?


I signed up for Tidal on New Year’s Day for their promo of $1.99 for 3 months of Tidal Hifi. I’ve been a Spotify Premium user for years. The Tidal desktop app doesnt seem to like my Monolith THX amp but the webplayer works fine. I’m not sure if the genre recommendations get better, but Tidal in my limited use, seems to advertise a lot of music I don’t care too much about (hip hop/rap) as well, so from the outside looking in, it looks like it doesn’t cater to me. I find the quality maybe a tad better sometimes over Spotify, but I don’t know if it’s enough to justify paying double the price per month on a family plan.

The interface looks really similar though, which is nice. I will continue to try out both side by side and see what I like.


Since Tidal is Jay Z’s product, I would not expect that to change anytime in the future. I am not a huge fan of the Tidal interface, especially when you compare it to how easy Spotify is to use along with Spotify’s much better pre-made playlists.

Because the A&K SP1000M has Tidal though, I have been using a lot more Tidal lately. I find its much more painful to build a proper music library though but that may just be the millennial in me haha.


The TIDAL application isn’t fantastic for actual music discovery. And it definitely pushes some very specific and limited genres in terms of what it actively promotes. I find it’s best used as a streaming source and do the actual “discovery” part with other tools.

At home I use Roon as the interface, so TIDAL’s contribution there is simply whether things shows up in searches or in the rich metadata linkages that Roon enables - which are very rich from a discovery perspective. The “My Music” catalog in TIDAL gets populated from there, so when I’m using the TIDAL app (on mobile devices such as my phone or the A&K SP1000M) I don’t wind up browsing much and am just selecting from my existing album and playlists.

I don’t actually find Spotify to be any better for finding new music - though it certainly has a broader selection in what it actively surfaces. The problem I have there is that an hour of listening via Spotify has me turning down the volume, so I tend to only go there anymore if it’s the only place I can find an album that someone has recommended to me so I can have a proper listen before I wind up buying a lossless copy/CD version of it.

I’m hoping the imminent US launch of Qobuz gives me the last bit of streaming coverage that I still keep Spotify around for, and does so in a lossless form to boot, with pending Roon integration, so I can ditch Spotify (that, or they need to get their lossless program going pronto).


When lossless streaming Redbook quality came to Deezer, I signed up for it so I could use it on my home Sonos. Eventually I turned that off and got the TIDAL Hi-Fi product. I think that TIDAL has more music in some of the obscure areas that I like to explore. I do like having MQA also. While I’m equally happy with a real high-resolution stream without MQA, It’s nice to hear better than CD quality delivery.

And as @Torq points out, the Roon interface is a suitable alternative - if you’re willing to pay for it.

I can’t decide if the lifetime membership for Roon makes sense. It’s the same as 5 annual memberships, and with the pace of change, will I still want Roon 5 years from now?


I agree with what you are saying about Tidal but Apple Music rarely pushes anything new and Spotify, while it does push new, it also pushes a lot of blah as well as generic versions of popular songs in hopes of saving a buck. Personally I search out best new albums every so often in different genres and get recommendations from blogs, magazine articles, etc. I tend to enjoy the music recommendations this way a lot more than something pushed to me.


Have you tried it yet? I just checked the TIDAL app on my CHUWI HiPro9 Phablet, and yep, you can check MASTER for streaming. I have not seen any documentation. Will it do the first unfold? Can I plug in an MQA DAC and complete the unfold? If I use the Roon “controller” app, will it show the audio chain? All things I’ll have to try soon, but I have work tomorrow.


To amplify on @taronlissimore 's comment, yes it “advertises” a lot of urban, but there is also plenty of other stuff. Browsing the MQA material, there are many many classic rock choices, 80s rock, classical, and jazz. The overall catalog is surprisingly deep in some areas. I can journey from Reggae back to Calypso, back to 1940’s and even 1930s afro-Cuban music. Carmen Miranda AND her influences are well represented. You can spend months exploring 1950’s latin invasion, and I was able to delve back into Argentine folk music. That’s a pretty reasonable depth.

What the service DOES need is a good advanced search form. (Or failing that to let me construct SQL queries or even RegEx searches). Yes a good search form. That would list artists, dates, versions, and recording quality, sample rate, and if it is available on MQA or High Definition.


Thanks for the all the feedback!

I’ll continue to test between the two. I’ve been mostly just listening to Spotify, and then finding what I really like and then going out and buying used CD or records and ripping it to use on my portables and using the physical media at home. Still use Spotify for discovery though, and I do like that. All my friends use Spotify as well, so there’s the sharing social aspect that I like.

I haven’t paid too much attention to Roon like I mentioned a few months back. I pay a lot for various subscription services now for movies, streaming music, and other things on top of regular cable TV so I would like to limit how much recurring payments I am making. Can’t use everything! :slight_smile:


I’ve got to say I am a big Spotify user and also a great fan. It does everything I want and having tried Tidal albeit for a limited period I couldn’t justify the extra cost for very little gain. That’s not to say it may be just what someone else is looking for.


I’ve tried to like Tidal a few times, but I can’t get around the interface and limited choices. Personally, I find that the Spotify “Discovery Weekly” knows me pretty well-- but I’ve taken the time to upvote/downvote it’s choices over the last year. If only I could get an invite to the Spotify lossless service, I’d be set.


I use Google Play Music because:

  1. Bundled subscription including YouTube Red is relatively cheap
  2. I can play it through USB Audio Player Pro on Android, which lets me apply DSP

Catalog size, sound quality and native apps are all fine too.


Yes, that’s very close to my reasoning. It’s my primary, every-day service. BTW, they call it “YouTube Premium” now, not “Red.” The software is stable on my Apple and Android devices, but their recommendations aren’t great.


Most of my high quality content is ripped and stored on a large mirrored hard dive managed by iTunes/Apple Music. DAC out to dedicated headphone amp. Streaming wise; Can’t beat the depth of Apple Music for finding stuff, and discovery (especially using their Create Station feature - off of a song you like). Also really like the convenience of Airplay to send content to different audio systems I have in different rooms - all managed from an iPad (while sitting on the couch :slight_smile: ). I use AppleTV boxes to be the interconnects (at each audio system). Tried Tidal, but dropped it (poor UI, limited library).


Tonight I tried using TIDAL on my Android phablet (Android 8 CHEWI HiPro9). It was set to Master quality, and I connected the xDSD DAC via the USB C port. I played a selection that I know was MQA. It had very good sound, but I could not find where in the app that it was possible to verify the stream was undergoing the 2nd unfold in the outboard DAC.

Anyone else who tries this, please post results and what you tapped to find the output chain.


I have been doing some quick ABX with Spotify Extreme vs Tidal Hifi/Master and I really do like Tidal over Spotify. It seem’s like Spotify’s playback in general is “louder” by at least 10-15dB on my amp to volume match. Tidal seems to have better dynamics than Spotify as well, which helps with detail retrieval. It’s very subtle, and I’m sure people who aren’t so picky would not notice.

Now all of that said, the Desktop Application isn’t working right for me. I can only stream in Normal or High playback, but once I switch to Hifi or Master options, it just doesnt play anything. The web player works for Hifi, but not Master. So I don’t know what’s going on.

I am streaming it now through my Pioneer XDP-300R and it seems to work fine.


You make an interesting point. I’d never considered the apparent loudness of a streaming service, but it must affect dynamic range somehow.

Perhaps some others might weigh in with a technical viewpoint.


Not necessarily. I recently went through a process of adjusting the volume on my mp3s so that peaks reach 0 dBFS. I did this because at listening time I have to apply negative pregain for my EQ which reduces amplifier headroom and I wanted to leave myself as much room as possible. What’s surprising is that some albums had peaks that were as low as 8 dBFS prior to me bumping the gain. This doesn’t give them any more dynamic range, it just makes them quieter.

P.S. As a rule it is advisable to target peaks for 3 dBFS to leave room for additional processing in the output chain without clipping, I just happen to know that I don’t need that in my setup. Also, my source archive remains at the original volume :wink:.


Doing some more playing around with the M-Scaler, and wanting to see it if can turn Spotify into something that I actually want to listen with more frequency, I found that it STILL doesn’t have a way to talk to anything other than the default system audio output on macOS.

There have been requests in to address that since at least 2012.

I think it’s the only audio-focused application I have on any machine at this point which is limited in this way. Working around this requires third-party software, and some unnecessary fannying around. All because they don’t want to add the extra line of code to specify a specific Core Audio registered output, and the trivial code to enumerate and allow selection of that by the user.

Don’t see keeping Spotify around any more. Qobuz should replace it coverage wise, and that’ll wind up working with Roon (where Spotify still don’t want to know). The older I get, the less I’m willing to make accommodations to support bloody-minded/non-customer-focused business decisions.


My question is, will ROON be around in 5 years? 8? 10? Do I spring for a “lifetime” subscription?
Maybe I should buy my 4 year old grand-niece a lifetime subscription.

Harrumph! Grumble - I haven’t even read their docs. Is it Lifetime? In Perpetuity? Can I name a beneficiary?


I was on the fence with Roon and decided to go for one year to see how much I would use it and if I like it. Signed up in July '18 (about 6 months ago)… I absolutely love it. I think the best use of Roon isn’t that I stream to multiple devices at once, but that in each of my listening areas - Home Theater, 2 Channel Listening Room, Workout area, Headphone set up, and office - are all synced at the same time. I can also use cheaper streamers for areas where I don’t care about sound quality as much (my workout area and Home Theater) and more expensive streamers for high quality listening. Everything works so efficiently and snappy. I was using Airplay before but now I only use Roon - no annoying 2 second pause and the music sounds so much better (uncompressed). Further, I can use a computer or a streamer and streamers are way better for sound quality (check out the Auralic Aries & Aries Mini). Plus Roon includes a rating and review on pretty much every album out there which is cool as well and their radio service helps you discover music in your own library. It’s really a great program and I’m probably going to buy a lifetime membership soon. I actually asked them about what would happen if Roon shutdown and they explained it would still work so that’s pretty cool. Those guys are really committed to Roon and it’s far and away better than any other program. I still use iTunes just as a media storage organizer and to rip CD’s because it’s easy to change metadeta in the program but I rarely listen to music out of iTunes.