What service do you use for music playback?


I’m playing Weezer’s Teal as I write it – yes, it suffers from the choice to use fatiguing mono-volume compression during production. And then I went to the Dynamic Range DB website. This album has at most a 6 decibel dynamic range! (red code)


The Dynamic Range DB site is really depressing.

I’m deleting Teal from my library when it finishes playing.


Me too, I have recently started a subscription to Tidal HiFi. Although I really enjoy what Spotify offers. I want the best quality music I can get.


Ditto. Tidal . I don’t quite know why yet but my ears so far like it the best.


Ok I got my 2 month Tidal trial underway…and yes it sounds better, a lot better to my ears, compared to Spotify HQ. But not enough to give up the ease of Spotify and its UI and playlists.

But…but…ugh I hate the UI, it is really bad. To the point that I will be canceling after my two months and I’ll wait for Qobuz. I may pick up Audirvana+ soon too…but Roon might be the better investment in the long term.


I have grown used to the Spotify sound. I don’t exactly know what they do but it does sound different to other providers. Perhaps some of our more knowledgeable friends can explain to me why this is. I have a three month trial with Tidal for very little money. But I need to be able to justify that extra cost once I start paying for it. I know that source is so very important, perhaps the most important to be honest.

I suppose the only real way of ensuring that I get real quality recordings is to get the CD and make my own Flacs. I have done this with the ones I own but the vast majority of my current listening is done via Sites such as Spotify, Apple and now Tidal.


TIDAL does have a bad UI. Roon makes it almost tolerable.But that’s two subscriptions.


I went back to the beginning of this topic and did not see that anyone has experience Tidal Mqa files with a full hardware unfolding dac yet? I’ve listened through Audirvana and my ears enjoy with the 1st unfold.
I am considering the Mytek dac which does do the full unfold.

It would be important for me to hear other peoples experience with the full Tidal unfold dacs.


I have …

Including the little Meridian Explorer 2, Pro-Ject Pre-Box S2 Digital, the Mytek Brooklyn (and Brooklyn+) or Sony WM1Z.

As well as other units that require “software” to do the first unfold, and then handle the subsequent unfold and rendering in hardware, such as the AudioQuest Dragonflies and iFi Nano iDSD Black Label.

MQA content or not I did not care for either iteration of the Mytek Brooklyn. And at least with the first version, when I tried it, if you enabled MQA playback then it applied the MQA filters to ALL content, MQA or not, which did less than nice things to the end result. But that’s just me and if you’re interested in it then get an audition of it.

But, the first unfold is always done in software, even if it’s done within the DAC itself (it is often handled at the XMOS layer for USB DACs). The second unfold, done in the DAC, is also just algorithmic. The remainder of the rendering is a combination of software/hardware and is DAC-specific.

My ongoing experience with MQA remains that in the situations where it sounds better than simple Redbook PCM, on the same DAC, it is invariably down to different masters and not something that’s definitively-attributable to the MQA process or technology.


I wasn’t sure how or if I should respond because of the specific request for “hardware”. @Torq points out that the first unfold is always done in software, so I think I can say that if we are looking at hardware rendering only several here have been listening to MQA.

I’ve used both the Dragonfly Black and the iFi xDSD to listen to MQA content on Tidal. I find that I like MQA a lot when I’m listening with my old STAX headphones, and less so when using other headphones, although it’s pretty good with the Hifiman SE-560s and the Massdrop Sennheiser 6xx. I’m not being a headphone snob here. These three headphones are the best I have at being able to handle and reveal high quality input. I do not use “EQ” in general, and these headphones are just fine for MQA’s set it and forget it behavior.

With these headphones, I am also less prone to want to play with the sound on well mastered Redbook or better lossless music. Oh. Well-mastered is very important with MQA as well, because the choices in some production (and on TIDAL there is a lot of urban that has production values different than what my choices would be) does not work well with my ears and wetware.

When I use lesser headphones or IEMs, I’m happy to be able to reach for the tone controls. One of the reasons that I was questioning @Torq about his extended experience with the Schiit Loki. Even MQA can’t stop me from analog messing with the signal after it has produced it’s pristine reproduction of what some studio engineer in committee consultation with musicians think is the ideal sound.


I should be clear when I say that the “first unfold is always done in software”. It is, but where that software resides and executes can vary.

A full MQA decoder DAC can do all the unfolding, and the rendering. When it does, it is just doing the unfolding internally in its own software.

The TIDAL client, Roon and Aurdivana+ can do the first-unfold if desired. This allows non-MQA DACs to benefit from MQA (at least to the first unfold), as well as allowing for a simpler MQA DAC that just does the 2nd unfold and the rendering but still results in a fully MQA-certified output.


I don’t like that very much. Should be able to make a choice.

As always "Garbage in - Garbage out "


The Mytek implementation is (or was, at least) a bit odd.

You can make a choice … unlike most MQA-decoders in that you can elect to turn off MQA unfolding/rendering even for MQA-encoded content.

The problem is that for MQA vs. non-MQA content you shouldn’t have to make a choice. Ideally the DAC would simply only engage the MQA filters for MQA content and automatically disable them for non-MQA content. That’s how literally EVERY other MQA-capable DAC I’ve tried has worked. It’s not clear to me why that was the case.

Also, they may have sorted that out since I last had my hands/ears on one.


Been doing a bunch of A/B with Tidal Master and Spotify HQ…

Tidal Masters, they have a more pitch black background and clarity. Better and what I think is better instrument separation? I’m not the best at picking out/describing what I am hearing when it comes to this though. But I can say that the Tidal Masters are “better” now are they worth the asking price?

I think I personally like having the randomness of Spotify discovery…I tend to find a favorite couple of songs and move on, I almost never listen to an entire album in one sitting…(brain won’t let me, ANGTFT[Aint Nobody Got Time For That ;)] lol).

But as I progress I do think I need to have a solid quality lossless streaming service…I just don’t think it will be Tidal…Qobuz get here soon!!!


I can hardly wait. From what I hear it will be a rich alternative to Tidal. I’m not sure yet about music management yet.


Bear in mind that Tidal “Masters” are MQA encoded.

If being played back on a chain that does not include an MQA renderer or full-decoder (both of which are in the DAC) then the dynamic range is compromised by up to 3-bits vs. just using the “HiFi” version (16/44.1 lossless).

I could be wrong, but I don’t think the first unfold “restores” those 3-bits per sample of dynamic range and leaves that to the 2nd unfold/rendering.

The dynamic range compression there will make low-level details easier to hear, and make the whole track seem more vibrant and dynamic (which is why that’s what’s been going on in the loudness wars), but the reality is they’re just louder and there’s more detail and nuance in the non-dynamically compressed versions.

That said, there are quite a few Tidal “Masters” that are simply from better, well, masters, and even with no-MQA processing sound better than the regular versions.


I will have to play around with this… some more…

I do enjoy having a lossless source, and would like to explore the different options available to me. Audirvana seems like a good stop gap, I’ll have to give the trial a go…along with the trial of Roon…while I still have a Tidal trial

Edit: and just got into the Qobuz beta!!! very excited for this!

Edit2: I agree with @Torq I think after my one month trial the Sublime is probably the best way to go, as it can quickly make up for the extra money spent fairly quickly if you plan on buying music from their store.


Fun article to read comparing the top streaming services…

Edit: well a new wrench was thrown into the mix… with my Vet status I can get Tidal for dramatically cheaper…I now need to crunch numbers…

for the cost of Qobuz sublime I can have Tidal Hi-Fi and Spotify premium with Hulu…Damn it…good thing I still have a month to decide…


Don’t write off Tidal just because of it’s ghastly interface. The catalog is unexpectedly deeper, if hard to navigate. Using ROON, you can make a lot of the connections - it integrates with Tidal and I’m able to browse and explore effectively.

So if you haven’t downloaded a trial of ROON, you owe it to yourself to do so. I probably will get the lifetime subscription . . . knock on wood. <insert icon> person wearing Beats hitting self on head with mallet </insert icon>


I’m happy with the value of Google/YouTube music – hard to beat also having no commercials on YouTube. What the article says is true, as discovery is poor at best. And Big Brother Google recommends local concerts even though I explicitly turned off location tracking.


When I first got into the Qobuz beta, I was experiencing delays of anywhere between 5 and 10 seconds from hitting “play” to the music actually starting. A couple of weeks in, and it’s down to about a second, or the same as I see with TIDAL.

Still plan on keeping both.

Roon Radio, which has massively improved in the last release, combined with my local library, TIDAL and Qobuz, is already responsible for enough new album purchases to pay for the highest tiers of TIDAL and Qobuz for the next five years.

Looking forward to a music-focused, dedicated-listening, long-weekend …