Tidal skipping in South Africa

I subscribe to Roon and Tidal and am based in South Africa. I have a 200mbps Fibre internet connection. When connected to any servers in South Africa where ping is less than 5 ms and download speed approx 195 Mbps Tidal stutters often and skips to the next track. This happens if I play Tidal through their own app. If I connect to a VPN (Hotspot Shield) and connect to servers in South Africa the same thing happens. If, however, I connect to a server in the USA, even though ping is up to 480ms and speed about 165mbps the skipping does not happen and I can play music through Roon for many hours with no problems whatsoever. I have tried this out repeatedly with the same results every time. I’n not a gamer so this sort of latency does not bother me in any practical sense but I’m amazed that Tidal streams perfectly whilst latency 100x faster gives problems if the servers are in this country.Can anyone provide a reason why Tidal streaming to South Africa is a problem seemingly irrespective of which servers you connect to in the country? Note this is not a Roon problem but am hoping someone who also stream Tidal through Roon may know what is happening here?

The route (path) you take is going to make the difference. I’m not sure which OS but each has their own version of traceroute.
Basically. On Unix. traceroute www.tidal.com

You should notice a very divergent path when using a VPN to the US and regular paths to SA. You are sending UDP packets when listening to audio which have no resends if they get dropped. gaming is TCP and would resend hence latency being an issue. Here the number of hops will matter.

resending the same traceroute command MAY result in a different path. Routing adapts based on traffic and their closest peers.

If you’re on a Mac you can run traceroute from the Terminal app.

traceroute tidal.com

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tracert.exe on Windows to round it out.

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Thanks very much for the explanation. My core is a MacBook Pro 16” M1 Max 32 GB RAM and running latest version of MacOS Monterey. By running traceroute in Terminal i see vastly different routes to Tidal depending on my standard Telkom local network and the VPN to the USA. is there anything I could do on a Mac to optimize the route or is using a VPN my best solution? Reason I ask is that a VPN adds yet another cost I don’t particularly want to have. Thanks again.

The short answer is: “nothing you can do without becoming a networking pro or acting like one in a way that might endanger your other internet activities”. VPNs can radically change your routing tables, sometimes in desirable ways - as you’ve discovered - and sometimes in undesirable / performance destructive ways. Changing routing tables is not a great pastime for civilians like you and I. Others’ opinions on this matter may differ.

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There is nothing much you can do to determine the route of a packet.

You can write Tidal and let them know their infrastructure needs some love, enclose traceroutes? A closer Point of Presence? I’m not suggesting you automate it and send an email of the traceroute daily, but I am not saying no don’t do that, either. :slight_smile:

But beyond that. Not much.

Traceroute to tidal.com won’t be any use as the ports and routes for the audio streams are not http IIRC.

You are of course correct. It will give a good enough idea of what the differences are though. If a real trace is wished for someone could pass in the appropriate flag and port.

Contact your provider. It is up to him to fix the routing in its network. You are just the last one in the chain and beyond using a vpn you can’t change the routing.

But to be honest I don’t believe the provider will do anything about its routing.

Yes, I’ve tried for over a month for my ISP to address the issue and nothing has been done. They deny there is a problem. Tidal also claim the problem is with my ISP not them so there’s nothing Tidal can do - they did suggest the VPN route.

I am also in South Africa. I am not aware of your issue .

I am not at home at the minute I will check when I get home . Unfortunately 3 Jan :scream:

Thanks. I have a feeling the problem may be restricted to my ISP only - Telkom. I’ll probably end up canceling with them and going for another ISP. I’m just not sure which one to go with yet…

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Just in case anyone may be interested: I cancelled with Telkom, my ISP,
and gone with another one. They gave me 500 Mbps fibre for the same price I was paying for 200 Mbps. The skipping no longer happens - I doubt this is just because of the increased speed as even on the slower network connecting to a high latency VPN also resolved the problem. So if you’re having this problem in South Africa it is almost certainly a problem with your ISP.

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Thanks for the update.

Were you able to compare the trace route of the old isp to the New one? It’s mostly academic interest, but it’d be interesting to see what was going on.

Anyways, important thing is you have music!


I have sent a PM