Qobuz not what I expected

David,
Well, a day after canceling Qobuz free trial, I’ve come to the same conclusion (unfortunately), i.e. that Qobuz does sound better with redbook recordings (using its Studio level and Roon). They’re smart to allow people to continue to use the remaining period of the free trial even after canceling. That’s what I did to learn of its better SQ. Don’t know why my early comparisons didn’t result in the same conclusion… So I’m probably on my way to renewing Qobuz subscription. And as someone mentioned, if artists are better off with Qobuz, that means something to me.
Jim Heckman

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I agree the base CD quality streaming does sound better to me.

Hi Jim,
Thanks for your post. It is good to have someone underscore the importance of supporting the artists. Though I cancelled my trial today, I hope to go back after waiting for a few changes. As much as I like Roon, the fact is that SQ is better when listening through my dCS app, though Roon is much better in all other respects. I find myself using both. Having contacted Qobuz to inquire, they are seemingly working toward expanding their compatibility with UPnP-based systems. It is also hard to imagine that we won’t see other improvements from Qobuz. So for now, I’m out while hoping to find good reason to return soon. Best, D

One thing to watch for when a/b comparing is that the levels are not matched between the two, and Qobuz (US at least) has not applied loudness metadata to most of their catalogue yet (more proof they just weren’t ready for launch, let alone charging full price) so even with volume leveling in Roon, it would be almost impossible to fairly a/b them without an SPL meter.

Personally, at least with loudness differences, i find they may sound slightly different, but one doesn’t seem specifically better, and it may be just due to the levels difference. At least in Roon. In their own players i feel like tidal may eq midbass slightly, muddying it slightly.

I like Qobuz a lot, it has served up some good stuff that I had never come across. I value new music discovery much higher than bitrates/ bit-depths. I do not miss Tidal pushing gangster rap titles in my face.

Qobuz does need work, hoping they make some progress- I expected dark mode and a few other enhancements by now.

I do too, but for my tastes Qobuz falls short and I was missing out when comparing with TIDAL–too many gaps in their catalogue. As a consequence, I have stuck with TIDAL … for now.

This is a myth … neither TIDAL app nor Roon screen emphasise Hip Hop/ Rap. Indeed TIDAL does a pretty good job making personalised recommendations the more you use the service.

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I think Qobuz is really great. I especially like the fact that you can also buy and download music. I’ll probably cancel my Tidal subscription, but I’m not 100% sure yet…

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Are you Qobuz US or Europe/UK? If the latter, what methods of music discovery have you been successful with? In the US version they just have playlists, no suggestions or anything like that other than the related artists, and other than the new releases playlists (which genuinely are good) they seem to never update them, and many of them are just copy/paste jobs across multiple genre categories (at least 5 Reggae related ones turn up in electronic, world, and R&B…there’s few actual lists overall.) Or is it Roon Radio turning up the new finds? If so, I find it mostly picks Tidal for me, and when it picks Qobuz, the same album is also in Tidal (and often with an MQA version, so I end up going into the versions for my library adds.)

There’s a playlist under electronic, the Kitsune Hot Stream…it was a good playlist for some different electronic music (Deezer also has a (working) version of this label’s list. Tidal has sub-lists but not the “hot stream” version.) It broke back in Feb right after launch (the same few tracks duplicated 1300 times.) I reported it. I followed up with them in March, they said they were aware of that problem. It’s now May, and it’s still exactly the same. I’m not quite sure what they’ve been doing in the past 3 months.

Like you I may keep them as lossy just for the new relese playlists in genres Tidal lacks, but, discovery was actually my original complaint about them - they’re the only service with less meaningful discovery, to me, than Spotify. Like you, discovery is my #1 criteria. Roon Radio is the #1 reason I took interest in Roon for that matter, hoping for a better radio/discover engine.

I mostly agree. Before you sign up for Tidal it looks all hip-hop focused. Though they’ve rectified that a bit, the front page is now a generic sophisticated streaming website. But when you first sign into the Tidal app, the “New Releases” featured are mostly hip-hop focused. The hot tracks, new releases, etc, etc are definitely hip-hop, leaning, at the top of the Tidal app, however that’s also a reflection of what’s popular now. Just like you’d see Guns & Roses in the front window of any record store in the 80’s even if you were only interested in Coltrane in the back of the store, the “front window” of Tidal shows what the kids are into…our section is in the back just like always. But once you use it a lot, scrolling past the first few rows to “recommended tracks” and “because you listened to” etc, etc, personally I find Tidal to be spot-on, and with more variety than the vaunted Spotify algorithms. It even does quasi-ok with classical, though that will be a weak point for any algorithm, just due to the nature of the cataloguing.

BUT it’s not quite a myth. The “front window” or “top bar” will always be hip hop, or whatever the current popular youth music is. I kind of like it. Qobuz feels like a used vinyl store for snobby audiophiles. Tidal feels like the modern shape of a normal record store from the heyday of record stores, warts and all, but the parts “for me” in the back room are the best hidden jewel in the shopping strip. Despite being a snobby audiophile, I kind of like the vibe of the latter more :slight_smile: It’s what I was used to in the day.

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You can also buy and download music from TIDAL.

No, you can’t buy and download music from Tidal.
Umm… I stand corrected. Thank you. You can!
Anyone done it?

https://store.tidal.com/

Yes I have bought a few albums via TIDAL, but they aren’t cheap in fairness. You can select MP3 or FLAC; FLAC is considerably more expensive in most cases.

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Very good descrition of the 2 services. Tidal has evolved very well and custom recommendations are now very good, for me better than spotify.
Qobuz reproduces the spirit of a record store or a rather snobbish music review, which seeks to guide its users and make the choices for them. The spirit of streaming and discovery is completely absent, except for some playlist, some of which are not accessible. You must clearly know what you want to hear. These are two services whose minds are very different. The biography of the performers is less complete than in Tidal
Another service not to be neglected Deezer, with a huge catalog and a CD quality largely sufficient, but not accessible in Roon.

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Absolutely, +1 on Deezer. I don’t know if they’ll ever adopt Roon support, but it seems at least plausible considering they’re the only HiFi streaming service currently that doesn’t support Roon, and they have always pushed at least hardware partnerships with their HiFi service. Right now they’re pushing the home speakers which is just silly for a hifi service. But their catalog does put Tidals to shame and rivals Spotify except in a few genres. Their discovery features are a bit worse than Tidal’s though, and they put all their effort into Flow which can be awful if you have varied tastes. No hifi on mobile is just plain weird though. They also have as much of or more than Qobuz for the Francophile and classical categories as the more established of the French streaming companies. I think if Deezer were to adopt Roon, a lot of Roon customers might switch to it. I still have my Deezer Hifi sub, and am debating between keeping it despite its’ Tidal overlap, Qobuz for the release playlists, or drop both of them and just enjoy Tidal. I still need Apple or Spotify for the genres none of the HiFi services service.

I am speaking purely to Tidal, and It is absolutely not a myth. It was an annoyance of mine for over 2 years using the service. And not to argue, lol- but I also find their personalization dreadful; especially when compared to a Pandora or Spotify.

On the upside, I find Roon to be making enormous strides with their ML/recommendation engine which has made it much more enjoyable for me.

Have good weekend everyone.

This is a myth … neither TIDAL app nor Roon screen emphasize Hip Hop/ Rap. Indeed TIDAL does a pretty good job making personalized recommendations the more you use the service.

I literally use Qobuz every day. I’ve never read any of the reviews there. I’m not interested in their playlists, either. I exclusively use this streaming service to discover new music. Whenever I find something I really like, I buy and download it. Almost all of the music in my library is locally stored. Works great for me… BTW, what’s wrong with the “spirit of a record store”?

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Qobuz, if used within Roon, makes streaming and discovery of music, both well known and totally unknown, extremely easy, adventurous, and an absolute joy. (So much so, I have added probable 200,000+ songs that were totally unknown to me). Until Qobuz, i didn’t hardly stream at all, and now I’m a stream-a-maniac!

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Yes, I know, and I’ve done that a couple of times. But for me Qobuz downloads are much cheaper (Sublime+ subscription).

But how are you discovering music? They have no discovery tools (in the US at least), so if you aren’t using the playlists and new releases lists, you have to already know what your’e looking for to find it. (Roon Radio aside. Even Qobuz support seems to kind of quietly agree that without Roon there’s really nothing on the discovery front…) But I haven’t seen the original EU/UK apps…it might be a lot more interesting there?

Their playlists are certainly all hip hop or “urban” oriented. I dislike their playlists overall. Qobuz’s are definitely better, but they’re so few and far between. But with Tidal I mostly use the recommendations engine and radio features which work out well. (and Roon Radio for both.) Yes, you do have to scroll past the hip-hop to get to the recommendations, though. Through Roon, though, it’s all irrelevant if you don’t seek out the hip-hop front page in the Tidal tab. Neither really allow browsing the whole database. If it’s not in a playlist or a recommendation you won’t see it. I’m not a hip-hop fan so I have no interest in it all, but it doesn’t really get in my way despite being “there” either.

What kind of Spotify recommendations come out superior to Tidal? People always rave about Spotify having the best algorithms, but for me, I’ve always found it to be excessively repetitive. It may find some deeper tracks than any other service but it forces you to listen to the same thing ad nauseum to do so.

This is simply not the experience I have observed over the past two years and I think it is incorrect to suggest otherwise without backing up what you say. Both Qobuz and TIDAL provide a rich and diverse music experience and the choice should largely come down how well each catalogue fits personal preference.

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