Tidal vs CD rips..My opinion

So last night I compared some Tidal albums with the same ones I have in my CD collection ripped to uncompressed FLAC. I will say Tidal sounds pretty good. The big difference I hear is Tidal songs have more a digital edge to them. I won’t call them bright but there is definitely more high freq energy than my CD rips. I notice I can’t listen to music at the same volumes. The other big difference I hear is in vocals. My rips have a fuller, more 3d image. Tidal by comparison has a flatter presentation with vocals. This makes me wonder if the regular quality service would any different than Tidal hi-fi? Has anyone compared?

That being said, I still think Tidal integration with Roon is really nice and good way for me to explore music and “rent” music I think is decent but not good enough for me to purchaae.

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I have to agree with all 0f the above.but just try to imagine how a young person would even begin to gather the library many of us have, purchased over the years with disposable income. It would amount to many thousands of pounds/dollars/yen/euro etc
Quality streaming IS the answer. Young musicians need to be able to explore the history of music and this way, it is affordable.
The free services don’t make money and want to pay less into the system but IMHO this will be unsustainable. The music industry needs an income flow to survive and invest in the future on all levels. Wages need paying.
The Tidal/Roon integration is world class and the future for how things should be done. Subscribe, the music industry needs you.
Thoughts, Chris.
Somehow this has got into the wrong thread… hmmmmmm I haven’t looked for the differences.

You mean many millions of yen!

Kidding aside, you are right in that the sound is all that some generations will ever know. It’s a shame because better quality is possible but since they don’t know any better there will be no demand except from a small group.

As for the state of the music industry, I agree. I actually worked in the industry as an AR rep for a few small labels right after college. Everyone here loves music and want the industry to flourish. That being said, I love that artitsts can distribute their music by themselves. I personally spend a lot of my time and money on Pledge music, Bandcamp, CD baby, etc. To me the life force of music are the smaller artists that will never make it big yet it is them that to me make the most inspiring and creative music.

What was the original topic???

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Well, I like you support emerging artists. I volunteer at www.littlerabbitbarn.com and buy CD’s after gigs. I also go to a lot of live music and must say that I consider the best music is now to be found in small intimate venues.
Last night we saw Brooks Williams and tonight we are going to see Stephen Fearing.
I have posted some of our properly mixed videos in the appropriate section. We make this material available to the artists FOC too.
I can’t find the original post by someone who was finaly pleased he had gone for the Tidal intervention. Ahhhhh!

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@tboooe so, 18 months later, and presumably a lot more listening and comparisons, is your conclusion still the same? Is a ripped and played local file still different/better than the identical mastering of the exact same release streamed via Tidal?

For me, there is vanishingly little difference between a cd rip (using dBpoweramp cdripper to flac) and the equivalent file played from Tidal. Both sound the same in my system, and sound quality varies with the mastering quality. The best ones sound fantastic.


+1 for this.

Hi Jay. I think Tidal sounds very good compared to music ripped on my NAS. That being said, I believe in some instances my original files do sound a bit better, though the difference is very small. I am not sure what the cause of the differences are because I do not know how Tidal encodes every song so its impossible for me to know if I am listening to the identical tracks between Tidal and my library. Whether I am imaging things or not, I always prefer listening to my music versus Tidal if I have the option.

When I started using Tidal some time ago, I compared some albums I also owned as CD. I compared the (Tidal-)files with the CD rip on my computer and the result was: both were bit-identical. So, as long as you compare the same version/pressing of a CD, it will just sound exactly the same… :wink:


This. This is BY FAR the biggest difference, period. So many crap “masters” out there with all the dynamic range crushed out of them, even on Tidal… Wouldn’t matter if you were using tin cans and shoestrings for your playback equipment when the mastering is defective by design.

Ive’ been using Roon for a few years listening to my own ripped music.
Just recently I started to use Tidal and although it’s good sounding… it’s not able to match my CD’s
I presume that when listening to the same album with the same bit rate and depth ( info roon) Tidal and my own CD should sound identical ?
There’s a lot of info on Tidal on the forum but as we are now in 2019 perhaps things have changed ?

I have never noticed a drop in quality CD for CD. But that is my system and experience and I expect there are so many variables to consider. Then again, I haven’t been doing deliberate comparisons or analysis, I have just never entertained the thought. If the difference was huge for me, perhaps I would have. I have plenty of music in both formats and will stream artists over CD if I know them and bought music from them.

Thanks Chris,

Agree with you that it depends on many variables.
When listing to hard rock, or R&B style music I have to admit that I don’t hear the difference. It’s very noticeable to my ears when listing to “easy listening”, more the folk / country music style. A setting where you have A Singer, guitar / piano, with some percussion on the background. Often the background instruments become more hidden with Tidal.

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You have to ensure your listening to exactly the same pressing release. Can’t say I notice any difference between my own CDs and the same version on Tidal.

If you don’t have a way to confirm it’s the same master that would be the first thing I would suspect as being different. Tidal would likely have a remastered version of an album. And more often than not for the worse.

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I only have the album for my comparison, there’s no detailed info on Tidal about the source ( master)
I heard about the difference there can be in sound quality of the same album but I never had the opportunity to compare. Should it be that simple ?
That would also mean that there’s music on Tidal that has to sound better compared to my home CD correct ?

If you are pulling a file across the network either from the nearest caching server on the internet, or your local NAS there shouldn’t be too much scope for a difference in sound quality. Clearly there are those who may be able to tell the difference but I can’t. But I am busy re-ripping my CD’s to ROCK internal storage galvanised by the convenience of the ripping facility, and the fact that I am convinced that when they are stored locally I think they sound better. So essentially what we are comparing is files pulled across a network compared to the same locally stored file. I’m not going to claim I can tell the difference blind or that it is night and day. But I have heard one or two examples where I definitely hear subtlety that isn’t there otherwise.

that’s disturbing, since they ought to be identical. I wonder why the difference?, since both must be read in, spat out, and re clocked by the DAC.

Both ought to have the same jitter and whatever USB noise exists.

I need to perform a similar comparo, but that of course, demands Tidal :slight_smile:

I was also under the impression that Tidal vs CD they sound identical but they are not.
The thought brought up by Jeff that I’m comparing different masters is my only hook so far.
Perhaps I need to add qobuz to the mix and compare the 2 streaming sites with my CD ?

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IME Qobuz sounds regularly better than Tidal, I use both Streaming Services.