Qobuz Streaming vs Downloads

I just can’t shake the feeling that uncompressed AIFF downloads form Qobuz sound better than streamed FLAC files. Try it, and tell me if I’m crazy.

Same for me With wave format ( from nas) vs flac Qobuz streaming.

I think its not a streaming problem. I have always prefered uncompressed format (Waze,aiff) vs lossess format ( flac) .


You’re crazy. Not because you hear a difference but because you dare to vocalise it!:joy: They’ll be along soon to tell you how wrong you are!

Highly improbable given how flac works and Roon works with flac. But hey there is always room for debate.

Understood, but I’d be really interested in hearing from people who have actually tried a comparison. I’m perfectly willing to accept that I may have an over-active imagination, and yet…

Tried it many times as I was uncertain whether to rip CDs to lossless FLAC or WAV at first… also I ran comparison of lossless FLAC against a rather high-end Accuphase CDP playing CDs directly… could never tell a difference - the only source that sounds truly different (and better to my ears - but thats subjective) is Vinyl (IF done correctly)… differences between digital media (when lossless!!! - NOT mp3 or other lossy stuff) are marginal at best and I can’t hear any… certainly not between lossless FLAC, WAV or CDs via CDP.


1 Like

The bit that confuses me here is the reference to vinyl. I assume that you are not saying that all digital sources - including all DACs - sound the same, but rather that all lossless digital files played through the same DAC sound the same(?). By the way, does this also mean that you think there is no advantage in using word length/sample rates higher than 16/44.1?

1 Like

What I meant is that I hear no difference between a CD played via a decent CDP, a CD ripped to FLAC and a CD ripped to WAV when played through the same system (as I always used the same DAC)… I certainly do hear a difference between 16/44.1 (no matter whether played as FLAC, WAV or from CD) and high res - also between the former two and Vinyl… these are my personal experiences with different media sources.


I had the same thought way back in the days of Squeezbox, eventually I came to the conclusion some on the fly conversions were more hardware intensive than others, the Squeezebox didn’t convert WAV in the device it was native so much less activity in those little chips! But of course this is just a rationalisation to confirm perception bias - which is fine with me… :joy::blush:

I have it sounded no different to me. In Roon it makes even less sense as the core decompresses FLAC files to PCM before sending on to endpoint so you get the same end result as using WAV or AIFF for less initial data overhead. Flac is lossless and retrieves the same data as AIFF or WAV when decompressed. In some systems where this does not happen and this conversion is done on the endpoint then the argument goes that this could cause some difference due to the CPU cycles required to do it adding noise to the signal. I have tried this also in my squeezebox days and heard no difference. Some on Naim forums say they do and always set their servers to transcode. Its an old ongoing argument like so many others in the hifi world that are utterly pointless.

1 Like

Well, I’m not really making an argument. Just reporting what I hear - or think I hear - and wondering if others have the same experience. Finding a technical basis for a perceived difference is another matter.

Although FLAC and AIFF/WAV are both lossless, FLAC is compressed and needs to be uncompressed as the track is being played. This can lead to slight timing issues with a slight quality loss, IMO. There’s a reason why recording and mastering studios never use FLAC, and only use WAV or AIFF files.

More here: http://www.positive-feedback.com/Issue63/aiff.htm

FLAC is fine for streaming but if I really like an album and want to own it, it will always be AIFF or WAV for me.

Happy to accept you hear a difference. But as for the reason, maybe this is a question you should be asking the people who made your DAC, for surely there is no good reason why wav should sound different from flac.

maybe this is a question you should be asking the people who made your DAC, for surely there is no good reason why wav should sound different from flac.

It’s not in the DAC domain, it’s in the computer/server domain. The DAC accepts whatever raw bitstream in whatever quality it’s given.

Thanks Jerry, but the point of my post was to find out whether you (and others) also hear a difference, or is it really just my imagination. As ixo says, I don’t think it’s a DAC issue (if it’s an issue at all). For what it’s worth, I’m using a dCS Network Bridge into a Nagra Classic DAC.

How is this relevant when RAAT and USB move audio data asynchronously? Timing is controlled by the clock nearest the DAC.

1 Like

The reason why recording studios never use flac for recording is because you can’t edit a Flac file directly without unpacking it first wich leads to latency. That’s not a problem with normal playback on your stereo system but with multitracking low audio latency has always been of one of the biggest challenges in digital audio recording.

1 Like

The bottom line is was all have 2 ears and a brain and are capable of easily doing the test for ourselves: play the exact same track in FLAC and then AIFF (or WAV) and go back and forth and compare to discover if you can hear any difference.

I can, but recognize it will depend a lot on one’s own hearing perception and how resolving your system is too.

Even if I couldn’t tell a difference though, I would still store my files or make purchases in AIFF or WAV because disk space is so cheap these days, it just doesn’t make sense not to use them, versus a potential sacrifice however slight it may be.

For streaming, I have no problem with FLAC and FLAC makes a lot of sense there due to a much smaller file to stream.

Exactly. This is what I was hoping that people might do.

As I understand it AIFF & FLAC can store metadata about a track while WAV cannot so it might be best to avoid WAV if using Roon.