Now that Roon offers Qobuz integration it has become easy to do a SQ comparison between Tidal MQA or Qobuz HiRes. Making sure that the respective album release dates at both services are closely aligned (within 1-2 weeks) should also ensure that the releases come from the same master.
I have been playing around with this for the last days streaming tidal and qobuz over the Roon/AIR-integration (asynchronous, bit-perfect) to my Devialet Expert 220 Pro. I don’t use any DSP or filters and the sound is played over my B&W 802 D3 speakers. As the Devialet is not MQA certified the MQA files are unfolded within Roon (Only first unfold).
So, what sounds better?
To be honest my expectation was that Qobuz will win hands down as my Devialet DAC can not unfold MQA further and the uncompressed HiRes files from Qobuz should have the theoretical advantage.
That was not the case though. After comparing over 50 songs over several hours now (Classical, Jazz, Pop, Rock) I would have to call it a tie with maybe an even so slight advantages towards MQA.
As there is probably expectations bias involved (no blind test) I recruited my wife and younger daughter as well. They don’t have any clue about file formats and I didn’t elaborate on the setup at all.
I only asked them a simple question: does one sound better or do they sound the same? They were not forced to pick sides.
The results here was either a tie or slightly tilted towards MQA. Examples:
- The Doors, Riders in the storm: MQA better -> sounds a bit more realistic (the rain drops)
- Víkingur Ólafsson, Concerto in D Minor, BWV 974, 2. Adagio -> MQA sounds better as it is more relaxed
- Margo Price, Midwest Farmer’s Daughter -> was a tie, no difference
So what are your experiences?
I would like posts only from people who actually listened and compared in a solid set-up. I would also like to exclude a general format discussion; I am well aware that MQA might have some lock-in effects and is not open source.
I am curious what you think!