Which audio format to buy?


Want to buy audio files on nugs.net
Which should I buy to get the best quality?


The attachment shows the available options to buy.

The second attachment are the available options on Qobuz Sublime.

What can your DAC handle? No sense buying files that exceed the ability of your DAC.


That is a very confusing set of options. But if I were to guess:

  • MP3 doesn’t even list the bit rate and I assume you don’t want lossy.
  • MQA is also lossy so take that one out too.
  • HD adds only to price.
  • ALAC and FLAC are the same resolution as CD, but the latter is uncompressed (most probably WAV).

I would go for FLAC. It’s widely supported, fully supports metadata and saves bandwidth and storage space. But again, I’m just guessing, so you might want to ask them what those actually mean or buy something and see what you get.


@John_Aiello I have an ADI-2 DAC fs

I second @Marian_Trandafir’s FLAC suggestion. FLAC and ALAC are both lossless compression (no information is discarded). I would personally go with the FLAC as it’s more widely supported but it doesn’t matter; you can convert between FLAC and ALAC without any quality loss.

1 Like

Great. What are it’s capabilities? Can it do higher resolutions above 24/192?

Ignore those who say not to buy MQA because it is lossy; they either don’t understand MQA themselves or are ignoring what the format does. MQA does not lose any audio data, it compresses by eliminating inaudible noise, so it reduces bit rate while retaining audio. This is a far cry from MP3, AAC and similar lossy formats, which use entirely different methods.

I recommend MQA, but important considerations for you regarding Nugs are what your DAC supports and the percent of material available on the site in these various formats.


Get the FLAC version, it’s lossless, open source, and has the widest compatibility.


RME does not support mqa, so don’t bother with that. The other upside is that you won’t get any issues caused by MQA-upsampling of PCM either, which impacts the performance of many DACs on the market.

I found 24/192 to be very good when I was running an RME ADI-2 FS. Qobuz offers a reasonable catalogue of such material to stream and also to purchase.


The only and best choice: FLAC 192/24, it is not available then 96/24.
In fact, the higher the sample rate the better, your DAC can deal with 384 klhz/24 bit.


I always use FLAC and I have found a Qobuz Sublime subscription to be a great deal if you are looking to delve into purchasing Hi-Res music, they offer up to 24/192. The Hi-Res is half the price of a 16/44.1 CD, so depending on what you purchase, you can get the Hi-Res version of a CD for as little as $6.99.


Since that requires sublime, there’s a break-even point. If you don’t buy that much music on Qobuz, it’s not worth it. I sometimes find what I want on Bandcamp, and sometimes the CD is cheaper on Amazon.


Hardware support is a big issue. I’m fully confident that any device I’ll be interested in buying today or decades from now will support FLAC. MQA could go either way, especially with more lossless streaming services entering the market. Storage is cheap, no reason to lock yourself into a proprietary codec. Besides MQA is larger than 16/44 which covers audible range anyways…


That is true, but I have Tidal and Qobuz coupled with my Roon, so I already have a Qobuz subscription.
That being the case, the Sublime subscription has already saved me the difference of the Qobuz Studio Premier versus the Sublime subscription price. I recently purchased nine Hi-Res CDs and saved $68.00 for higher quality. RIP Dusty Hill and Charlie Watts.

1 Like

I don’t think retaining very low level ultrasounds (under -100dB or so) sprinkled with idle tones and other quantization artifacts makes for higher quality. I hope one day all formats will cost the same and they won’t use this artificial distinction to lure people into higher subscription rates. If they want to tier, they should find other ways.

1 Like

To each their own, I hear a clarity/separation difference and I do enjoy it.


Then buy FLAC with the highest sample rate.

There would be another very important aspect: if several masterizations are available for the same album, then listen to them and do NOT buy those that are victims of loudness war (even if they have a higher sample rate).


Cool guys, Thanks!!!

1 Like

Hey Joe, not sure what level of understanding you have of all that was mentioned above. Asking the question you asked makes me think you’re new to all of this stuff. The thing is, not all albums you may want to add to your digital collection are available in the formats mentioned above. So, my opinion is buy what ever the best option is for the music that matters to you. Don’t let the fact that the album you want isn’t available in 24/196 or whatever the latest spec is keep you from making the purchase. It simply doesn’t matter. What matters is the music! If you’re able to purchase as a 24bit file, do so. If it’s available as a flac option, great, get that. If it’s only available as a mp3, try to find a CD version and rip it to flac or just stream it. Good luck on getting all this figured out!


To me, Hi-rez has appeal in that the original recording might (or might not) have received special TLC. But in practical terms, FLAC is fine and I cannot detect any difference between a CD quality and hi-rez version of the same work. But the caveat there is that the hi-rez version might have been a re-master so is potentially better. Even MP3 does not sound bad, but I would recommend FLAC as a better choice so agree with others. I’ve no opinion about MQA.

In all this the quality of your DAC is fundamentally important but the final AQ will only be as good as the weakest link in the chain and that is unlikely to be the album and its recorded format.