Qobuz & Tidal Music Streaming: Is High-Resolution Streaming Worth It?

Woman listening to music with headphones.

Why Audio Resolution Matters 

It all changed with the iPod when Steve Jobs promised the world we could store “one thousand songs in your pocket.” In order to fit that many audio files into a small, 5 GB device, Apple needed a way to compress audio files. 

The MP3 made music files much smaller—but at a cost. MP3s are considered a ‘lossy’ audio compression format, causing music to lose the details and depth heard on a CD. As music listening moved into streaming in the 2010s, popular services like Spotify still use MP3s—offering quantity over quality. 

But if you’re looking for a higher quality streaming experience, the best upgrade you can do for yourself is to subscribe to a platform that provides hi-res audio, like Tidal or Qobuz. Qobuz and Tidal music streaming are our preferred platforms at HiFi Buys in Atlanta—here’s why. 

SEE ALSO: New & Notable: Noble Audio Earphones with xMEMS Drivers

Sorry, Spotify Subscribers 

Although Spotify is the most popular music streaming platform in the world, it’s one of the worst in terms of audio quality. Sure, they have fun playlists and video graphics, but if you want audiophile-worthy listening, Spotify isn’t where you’ll find it. 

Why not? Well, all of Spotify’s music catalog is compressed. Even Spotify Premium files peak at 320kps—which is still four times worse quality than CDs. Meanwhile, platforms like Apple Music offer ‘lossless’ audio with AALC, Dolby Atmos, and Spatial Audio formats. Going even further, Tidal and Qobuz offer listeners 24-bit ‘studio quality’ audio, superior to even CDs’ 16-bit format. 

Why Hi-Res Matters 

Digital audio signals are a reproduction of analog audio sine waves. The more data you have, the smoother the wave will be, and the more faithful the end result will sound. Here Qobuz does an excellent job demonstrating digital audio sound waves and how different formats impact the quality.  

When you listen to compressed audio on Spotify, lost information will remove much of the emotional impact. Dynamic ranges are compressed, which means there is less of a difference in volume between quiet and loud passages in a song, resulting in less emotional impact. For example, bass notes might sound as loud as a piano or singing, making it hard to fully hear each element individually. 

Whether it’s fingers sliding on guitar strings or a performer taking a breath between words—these details are lost when you’re listening to compressed music. If you really want to feel like you’re in the room with your favorite musicians, the best upgrade you can make to your music system is switching to hi-res audio. 

Now’s the Time for Hi-Res Streaming 

In the past, it was difficult for music streaming services to provide high-resolution audio, as server storage was expensive and internet speeds couldn’t keep up. Now that hard drive space and internet speeds are less of a challenge, why are we still streaming compressed audio?

It saves Spotify money to offer only compressed audio to its listeners. But you can stream better-than-CD quality to your home speakers, surround sound, or headphones with Qobuz or Tidal music streaming. 

Try Qobuz for Two Months Free with HiFi Buys

We’re offering our customers two months of free listening with Qobuz! Use this link to sign up for free and try out hi-res music for the next two months.  

In our next blog post, we’ll be getting deeper into digital music and exploring Digital Analog Converters (DAC). Until then, visit us in Atlanta, GA to try out high-end audio for yourself!

One Firefly

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