Distorded sound when streaming Tidal

Sorry for the long post (and for English mistakes, I normally speak French) - If anyone can help me with my technical issue, which does not seem to be related to ROON itself. But since this community shows an extraordinary level of knowledge, I am taking my chance!

ISSUE DESCRIPTION. When streaming Tidal on my system, on some tracks I hear some disturbed trebel (let say in the area of 4KHz +/- 1KHz). It is difficult to describe - it reminds me the sound of dirty (dust) needdle playing a record. For example, I hear that crysp on Ella high notes. I also hear it on some cymbals (rides, for example). Sometimes it is more obvious; sometimes it is subtle.

PATTERN. I have not been able to identify a pattern on when it happens. It could be on 16/44, on 24/192, and everything in between. It seems more frequent on MQA (what ever the resolution). Week ends, week days, day time, night time, none seem to have influence (I was thinking power grid pollution)


Tidal HIFI + FLACs on hard drive
NUC I7 (7th) with ROCK/ROON, USB connected to:
IFI micro I-Link USB to S/PDIF converter (24bits/192KHz capable), connected to S/PDIF of:
Audio Alchemy DDP-1 (Preamp and DAC + external power supply), driving A and B:
A: Audio Space AS-3I (tube amp EL-34) integrated amp that drives Reference 3A MM speakers
B: MiniDSP (low pass @ 80Hz) that drives Simaudio W4150 solid state amp that drives DIY subs

-ROON Issue: Tested Tidal outside ROON (on a laptop) - no improvement
-Faulty Speakers (tweeters). Tested two other sets - no improvement
-Faulty DAC/Preamp - tested with a different DAC (Moon 100D that can only accept 24bits/96Khz) - no improvement
-Faulty amp - tested with a solid state amp - no improvement
-Faulty USB converter - not really tested but streaming directly from a Lumin M1 shown the same problem - no improvement
-Faulty NUC - tested streaming from a laptop - no improvement
-Noisy outlet (AC supply) - tested a few power cords ($100 to $200 each) + connected to different outlets + added power conditioner ($400ish) - SURPRISE! 50% improvement mainly due to using a different outlet in the same room ($2 type of outlet).

  • I also tested streaming directly and from my NUC to a Lumin M1 at my cottage (different power grid, different network, different speakers) - no improvement perceived
  • I tested streaming from my hard drive (tested different quality) connected to the NUC - the result is no issue, no distortion - only distortion in Tidal.
  • I tested streaming from Spotify (highest quality but still a low streaming rate compared to Tidal) - the result is no issue, no distortion
  • LAST TEST: in ROON I decreased Tidal quality from HIFI to the next lower level (forgot the name) - distortion seems to be gone completely or almost (but I am loosing overall sound quality).

I suspect a mismatch between equipment but I am surprise to hear the same issue with different equipment (Lumin M1) in a different location (my cottage). I also suspect that the internet quality and supporting hardware may be the cause (low speed at the cottage and poor CAT5 in-wall cables and poor switch at home).

Do you have any suggestion for the cause or a test to propose? I searched internet everywhere and nobody seems to have experienced something similar… HELP!

Thanks to those of you brave enough to read to the end!

Find a friend or relative who has time to spare and has a good internet connection. Take all of your equipment to their place, set it up and see what you hear.

For the tracks that you heard a distortion, could you repeat playback of those tracks and are they 100% reproducible at the precise same time positions?

In Roon Tidal setting, try the quality setting and avoid Master for the experiments.

For Tidal tracks, please focus on those non-MQA tracks, and music not from Universal Music Group.

Try Qobuz.

Do you hear the distortion on TIDAL content when it is downloaded (via the TIDAL app) to your device, rather than streamed to it?


Thanks for the suggestions - I will try tonight. Since my initial post I tried numerous things, including the most succesful one; I restarted with a very simple setup that was previously working - a laptop operating on its battery and streaming Tidal to my IFI and Audio Alchemy DDP-1. At full Master quality everything was fine. I then moved my NUC with ROON/ROCK in my basement and used the laptop (still battery operated) as an endpoint (bridge). It was generally OK with a few exceptions. Later last night I connected the laptop with its wall wart (battery dead) and lessoned again. This time it was far from perfect with less important distortion then a few days ago but still present on some tracks. Example: on Ella and Louis Summertime, at the beginning of the track when you hear the violont ensemble, just before the trumpet starts, I can hear obvious distortion.

Tonight I will try playing with Tidal quality and focus on specific moment I hear the distortion.

Addition: I realized last night that I have the “CODEC Missing” message. I see the codec in the codec folder but it does not seem to be recognized. I do not know if it could be related to the distortion I am hearing…

Tim, I have not tried but it would not cost me much to experiment. I will try doing it tonignt. Thanks for the suggestion.

Correction to a previous statement: my NUC is a 7I7DNHE - this is a 8th generation and not a 7th as previously described. This means USBs are gen 3 - any compatibility issue with USB3 that anybody would be aware of?

Hi @alain_bolduc,

For this aspect, you should look over our ROCK Codec guide. You will need to unzip the file twice (I suggest with 7zip)until you are left with just an ffmpeg file in your Codec folder like so:

I have also shifted your post into the #roon:tidal category, since as you mention that this issue occurs in both the TIDAL app and the Roon app.

It sounds like it could be a hardware issue, but it’s strange that when you reduced the quality the behavior went away.

I would confirm if you were actually playing the same version of the album or if when you reduced the limit if Roon was selecting another version that didn’t have these distortions.

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Thanks Noris. I will explore more tonight and comeback to you later or tomorrow. No issue in moving the thread.

Many revelations tonight… i asked my spouse and my youngest daughter (both very musically inclined) to validate if they hear the same issue as I do. Three test tracks we focus on : opening voice on Biko (Melt, Peter Gabriel), opening guitar on Dear Rosemary (Wasting Lights, Foo Fighters), violon ensemble at the beginning of Summertime (Ella and Louis). They heard the same (ouf, i am not crazy). We tried different configuration, no improvement. Then my wife made me realized that a few weeks ago I elevated my speakers by about 6 inches and as a result high frequencies were lounder… hum, overemphasis of the sound that bugs me. Ok, speakers back on previous stands - good improvement.

Then corrected the roon codec issue and unplud laptop (back to battery operated). Listen again to all those tracks - better but far from great. Then my daughter asked if she can lesson to those tracks on her cell phone with headsets (direct from spotify, no roon, no tidal). And she said “i am hearing the same issue!”!!! My conclusion: my system is overemphazing a sound that was there.

With the codec correctly installed, speakers back to their original position, with special attention to equipment location (NUC in the mechanical room, endpoint battery operated, etc), tracks that are well recorded are perfect, but cheap stuff (mass market rock - hello Mr Bon Jovi!) sounds awefull, whatever the source or format.

Where do I stand? Acceptation, i guess…

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One last thing to try. Please shut down Roon, shutdown NUC and laptop. Unplug their wall warts from the AC. Use your Lumin M1 and Lumin app to stream Tidal without the presence of any PC. Unplug all other non-essential power supplies from the AC including phone chargers. See if it still sounds the same.

If your conclusion is correct, you may consider room correction, starting here:

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thanks Peter. i will try with my Lumin this week end (it is at my cottage). concluding that my system is overemphasing some sound, i concluded that proper room correction shoul hopefully help. My Umik-1 and I are ready for some measurements!

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