Radio playback chooses Tidal MP3 over Qobuz CD quality

I have noticed that when playing in radio mode if a track exists in both Tidal and Qobuz ROON will play the Tidal version.

The issue I have is it often selects MP3 quality even though a CD quality is available via Qobuz service.

Can ROON do something to prevent mp3 playback altogether via Tidal?



Have you got the Tidal Hi Fi account. I never see MP3 on Tidal myself.

Please share the exact track details. Are the identical releases of the same music?

The has been other tracks also, can’t recall exact titles but see the screen shots above for an example. Same Album Artist etc, one Tidal version and one Qobuz. ROON plays the mp3 version. I am sure a while back I selected for Tidal not to play any MP3 material within a setting. And yes I have a Tidal subscription for Flac quality music .

WTF, don’t how ROON Radio got from old school ambient to the following track but anyhow it is also MP3 and no other version available.

If you have music that’s only available in MP3 on Tidal, that’s all it can play. I only come across these rarely but this experience will differ for all based on our music preference.

See the screen shots, first bunch, same Album via Tidal mp3 via Qobuz Flac

I think the radio behavior as is is not optimal.
There should be at least a setting that plays primary versions only if there are more versions of an album.
This way each user can decide his primary version and what he wants to hear from radio.

There are more topics on the forum about this issue and I hope that the Roon team looks into it, that’s why I flag @support here.


Hey everyone,

I understand there have been some questions about why Roon Radio picks lower quality version of a song when higher quality copies of the same song are available.

First off, it’s important to understand that the goal of Roon Radio, generally speaking, is to pick the best possible music for you. These selections are based on what we know about you, and the content Radio started on (also known as “the seed”). A number of complex factors are involved in determining what the best song is, but the starting point is generally going to be relevance – Roon Radio is designed to play songs you love, whether you’ve heard them before or not.

So, the question we’ve heard a few times is, once Roon Radio has selected a song – particularly a song available in multiple versions – why would it ever pick a low quality file when the same song is available in a better format?

The answer comes down to the definition of “same song” – the high quality file on your hard drive may appear to be equivalent to a track on TIDAL, or you might think that the AAC copy on TIDAL is clearly matched to the CD quality version on Qobuz. And of course, you’re probably correct – those may be the same song, same recording, same mastering, etc. Roon may even mark the two albums as “versions” of each other.

But Radio is not picking albums – it’s picking songs. And albums frequently contain all sorts of different versions of a given song – outtakes, remixes, instrumentals, false starts, and so on. And so while Radio will always pick the highest quality copy of a given song, the criteria Radio uses for “equivalencing” two songs are actually quite conservative, because the alternative is not acceptable. A mistake here could cause real harm.

Say our system makes a mistake and matches a remix or outtake with the original. If the remix happens to be higher quality, no one using Roon Radio will ever hear the original, because our system always picks the highest quality.

So the system errs quite heavily on the side of caution – If Roon isn’t 100% sure that two tracks are the same, it’s going to consider them different. And so there will be instances where humans are easily able to discern that two tracks are the same recording, but our system is going to consider them different, in order to ensure we don’t mistakenly match up the wrong tracks.

This is not a description of our goals – this is a description of the current state of this technology. Improving our ability to accurately match tracks is an area of active research right now, and that’s not just to encourage higher quality Radio picks – there are a number of major improvements we are planning that depend on Roon being able to confidently say that all 10 versions of a song are the same recording. Accuracy in this area will improve significantly over the coming months and years.

For the moment, the system errs on the side of playing what it believes to be the best picks – when Roon Radio thinks it has the perfect pick for you, and that pick happens to be available in AAC, it’s going to play it. Because the alternative is rolling the dice, and potentially choosing a higher quality copy of a lower quality song.

I’ve noticed that some files on Tidal HiFi are ACC files too. However I have wondered about the resolution. Whilst your screen shots show AAC they also show 44.1kHz 24 bit which is greater than normal CD of 44.1/16. Does anyone know if AAC files at 44.1 kHz and 24 bit are lossless and are the same as a CD or 44.1/24 bit file?

Thanks for the detailed information Mike.
Is it simply possible to limit files to CD quality and above? I am sure a while ago that when using TIDAL app or desktop, can’t recall which, that I was able to select no ACC files. Surely I wouldn’t be to hard for ROON to create this as an option.


Hi Mike,

I understand your points and do not disagree.

However, it depends on the user how the library is assorted.
Again, if there are albums that Roon sees as the same albums, there should be a user setting allowing to play the „Primary Version“ of it. This way the user has made the decision which is independent from Roon identifying the „best version“ of a track, which can be wrong if it’s just based on resolution evaluation, agreed.

For those who want Roon Radio to pick every track then just skip this option - nothing to lose from your points explained, but a huge advantage for users like me.


MP3 is a lower bit rate, 320 kbps vs CD 1,411 kbps, while sample range is at 44.1

ROON shows the file as 24bit because of previous developments to the ROON.


How to program Roon radio to choose the best track available. Ex: 24bits / 16 for the same track available.

Thank you

Hi @Mario_Langlois,

I’ve moved your post into a different topic where this is being discussed. Please see Mike’s information above:

@Mike I’ve read your reply and understand the explanation, but it seems erratic in picking higher res versions. Your post says “Radio will always pick the highest quality copy of a given song”, so could you define what that means? If the equivalencing algorithm sees several versions of a song that meet its criteria for equivalent, what criteria does it use to select the “highest quality copy”?

Here’s an example: Two days ago I started a Qobuz playlist called Sun Songs, with Roon radio turned on. It played the list from Qobuz then randomly picked tracks from Tidal and Qobuz following, total about 115 tracks. I’ve gone into history and spot checked quite a few, most of which were a higher res version, but not necessarily the highest and not always the case.
Today it played tracks from FM Rumours, EC 461 Ocean Blvd, J Beck Blow by Blow and, of all things, Free Bird from LS. In each case it played 44/16 and I was able to select a higher res version under Versions. In fact Free Bird has 5 versions (4 discounting the live version) each under Tidal and Qobuz, 44/16, 48/24/96 MQA, 48/24/192 MQA, 96/24 and 192/24. So why did it pick 44/16? Are they really all different in some way?

Interestingly, after deleting the album from my library, I searched for Free Bird and the 44/16 version came up, not a high res version.

So here’s my request to Roon: Make it a configurable option to play the highest res version available when using Radio and when using Search, even (especially?) when the 44/16 version is what’s in my library.
I get that there are various permutations of the criteria, so I’m ok if I have to select filters for Tidal vs Qobuz, MQA or not, library vs streaming, AAC or not, etc.

PS- Enjoying Roon very much. It’s a superb product.


Hi Mike: About 3500 of the albums in my library are 96 or higher but I find that Roon radio appears biased towards Tidal versions and often serves up CD quality instead. Some times, of course, I get MQA 192 on Tidal with the full unfold on my Meridian system – so don’t put me down as an unhappy camper!

I agree. This happens quite a bit. Roon invariably picks Tidal versions of songs and completely overlooks my local library unless I have the option to only search library on. Even when picking from Tidal it doesn’t do a proper evaluation of resolution. Just now it played Peter Frampton’s Show me the way in CD quality from tidal when tidal itself had better quality versions. So whatever AI engine powers Roon radio definitely makes a hash of understanding audio quality. And I don’t really buy the argument of it trying to find the best song. It should definitely do that but then once it’s found it do a filtering based on quality. Why would it think a better quality version of a song is not the same song all things being equal is beyond my understanding.

Hi Mike,
I am reviving this topic, as I am a relatively new Roon user and just realized today that there is this feature that Roon Radio may choose a lower-res version of a song over a higher-res one, even if both are in the Library.
Your explanation helps me understand this behavior, and is appreciated. But I can think of a way to resolve the issue and it doesn’t seem (to me) like it would be too hard to implement.

First, when Roon Radio picks a song, that song is almost always part of an album. Roon is already able to show all the versions available of that album, pretty much perfectly. (Name changes may mess with this, on occasion, but mostly it works great). Now, you raise the concern about outtakes, remixes, etc. And it certainly is true that users wouldn’t want to always be fed some horrible outtake version of a classic song, just because Tidal stores it in MQA 192khz! So, caution is sensible. But how often does it happen that you get an outtake or remix that has the same title, artist, album name, and running time? Almost never, I would guess! Therefore, if Roon’s algorithm just added two steps: check the album name and running time, then look for the highest-res version of the song initially chosen by Valence for the Radio as long as it has the same running time (+/– 2 seconds or so).

Alternatively, Roon could enable a feature where the user asks Roon Radio to play the local file version instead of Tidal or Qobuz’s, whenever there is a local file with the same name and artist and album as what Valence has chosen. You wouldn’t even have to then check running time of the song, because if the Roon user has a file in their library that’s an outtake or remix, but the same artist and title, then (a) they probably like that version, and (b) if not, they deserve what they get - outtakes and remixes should labeled as such right in the title!