Top Sound Quality?

Casettes? Nah. Reel to reel, now we’re talking.

But seriously, streaming takes a lot of the fun out of the listening experience for me. It’s that I’m lazy…

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Had r2r, great SQ but a lot of work and upkeep and media prices are crazy.
Seriously you need to hear a vinyl rip on a metal cassette tape on a top flight Nakamichi tape deck…I have made folks jaws drop here…

I know. Problem is that tapes are fragile.

That is a valid point but fairly easy to replace still, unlike that rare first pressing vinyl that every time it is played is wearing out…

Because neither Tidal nor Qobuz are very precise in telling you which master they are offering, and there are significant SQ differences between (re)masters, you need to make absolutely sure that you use the same master for comparison, and it is very hard to find examples of which you are 100% sure.

One of those ‘sure thing’ masters is the remaster of The Colour Of Spring by Talk Talk, because I know that there has been only 1 remaster of that album. So that is what I used for SQ comparison. I have it on my NAS as a cd-rip and as a HiRes download, Tidal was offering it as a normal ‘hifi’ resolution stream as well as an MQA encoded hires stream, and Qobuz had a normal resolution stream of it as well as a 24/96 HiRes stream.

The order of my preference was: (good to best):

  1. Tidal
  2. Qobuz
  3. Local file CD Rip
  4. Tidal MQA [unfold to 24/96]
  5. Qobuz HiRes 24/96
  6. Local file HiRes 24/96 download

But in practice you will rarely have the chance to make an informed comparison. But overall, I do like the sound quality of Qobuz better than Tidal’s, but local files still sound superior.


Nice comparison Max and thank you.

I did a mini comparo last night.

I remember one cd I ripped a couple of weeks back that took forever and never got above 4x rip speed which indicated to me it was fixing multiple errors along the way ( scratches, pits, dust who knows?)

Anyway I cued up the original CD which is fed into my dac over spdif coax vs the ripped file fed via ultraRendu by usb to my dac and got them both started within about 1/2 second of each other.

This was then fairly easy to flip back and forth between the two versions for instant comparison although the slight level change was disconcerting at times.

Although subtle I did think the rip had more air and upper bass and mids, especially on the vocal side of things.
Not conclusive by any means though and still very subjective to equipment, cabling and my old ears!

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Fixing? I don’t think ripping software works that way. It may read the same sector multiple times if it gets read errors, trying to get a majority vote on what the bits are. It may submit a checksum of the track to AccurateRip to see if others got the same value. But it doesn’t fix errors.

The ripped version may still be preferable to the CD player version, for hard-to-read discs. It simply has more time to retry the reads giving it a better chance of getting the right values off the CD.


Just my choice of verbage that sounded good in my head when I wrote it.
Yes your explanation is much more technically accurate.
But in my mind it is still " fixing" the one time read errors that may occur on a strictly playback cd read.

  1. Qobuz Hi Res streams
  2. CD rips
  3. Tidal 16/44 streams
  4. worst is Tidal MQA