Atom, Tidal, and Roon

Hi all

New here. Apologies in advance if this is in the wrong place or something that has been discussed a thousand times but I had a bit of a look round and couldn’t really see anything that answered a question I have in my mind.

I am about to take delivery of a Uniti Atom and Focal Aria 906 speakers. This will be a significant upgrade for me in terms of quality as for a few years we have just had Sonos speakers around the house which my wife really likes.

Most of the music I listen to is streamed. I presently have subscriptions to Spotify and Tidal “Premium” which is the lower priced option. I also have Roon. I would say that probably 80% of the music I listen to is from Tidal via Roon (and almost all of it is and will be when it comes to serious listening).

I have seen some conflicting statements about MQA and Roon and the Atom. There is some very useful information that has been posted by other users for which I am grateful, but I would be interested to hear what people do in terms of subscriptions - do Tidal users feel that it is worth paying for the more expensive package (£20 per month) with a system like mine?

Thank you in advance, I’m interested in real world experience rather than technical details.

Best wishes.

Welcome to the Forum!

…I do not use Room. I did run Tidal for a couple of years but switched to Qobuz last February when it became available in the US. I preferred the HiRes Files available on Qobuz vs Tidal. I have no interest in MQA and my Naim NDX2 supports HiRes files so it was a decision that works for me.

I did run a month long side by side with Tidal vs Qobuz before making my choice. My System, My Room, My Ears.

Good luck with your decision…

Have a Star, Roon and a sub to Tidal and Qobuz.

Tidal is sounding very good through Roon and I have the hi res plan.

But honestly I have a hard time hearing the diffs between the MQA and CD quality Tidal source.

Thank you for the responses so far, guys. Really interesting for me to hear your perspectives and very welcoming (I’m not sure I’ve ever signed up and commented in a forum such as this before). Be great to hear from others about their experiences in due course.

I used Tidal before, then switched to Naim and Qobuz, now using Roon.

The thing with MQA, Roon, and Naim is simple:

  • Naim app plays simply as CD quality when choosing an MQA track
  • Roon can do the first MQA unfold when playing to a Naim streamer (if you configure it so)

MQA as such is several things with different merits under one roof and is problematic from both a technical and more so from a cultural-political point of view. And Neil Young disagrees that it is reproducing his masters more faithfully. All in all, my personal point of view is better to avoid and support formats that are not encumbered by restrictions.

Regarding Tidal subscription plan, keep in mind that the Hifi plan for £20 is not just Masters (MQA) but more importantly CD quality. Without it, you get just lossy compression, albeit at good quality. Whether there is an audible difference to you between 320 kbps lossy and CD quality on your gear, only you can decide. If you have Tidal now, simply play it through the Tidal app - you can choose in the settings whether it should play CD quality or compressed (and I believe also in the Naim app by going to Tidal’ input settings). Else, rip a track from a CD and convert it to a 320 kbps mp3 on a computer. There are also websites offering comparison tracks to download.

(Personally, I certainly hear a difference even with 320 kbps mp3 and it is no question for me to go with a CD quality + hi-res plan, but I don’t have an Atom)

The best thing about Tidal is its app, in particular its automated playlists and Tidal Mix, etc, if you are into this kind of stuff (and better playlist mixing than Roon Radio by all accounts). The Qobuz app is very basic IMO. If you mainly play your own choices through Roon, in my opinion you are better off with Qobuz which costs now £15 a month and gives you CD and real hi-res

I don’t have an Atom, so this is of limited help.

  1. Sign up for a month or do a free trial - you can then see whether Tidal/Qobuz or Roon are for you.
  2. I used to have Tidal - moved to Qobuz recently and except for one or two artists (from ~2000 in library) all are on Qobuz - subscription is cheaper, I think quality is marginally better, and it’s not pushing rap at me all the time
  3. I like Roon, and now use everything through it. It’s good at integrating local and streaming files, has good discovery via Qobuz interface within Roon and especially via Roon Radio, and sleeve notes are great and excellent for finding new stuff. Worth the cost (which is not insignificant) IMHO.

Enjoy the Atom, it’s a great piece of kit. I had one which started me on my expensive journey recently :slight_smile:

Congratulations on your new purchase, you’ll love it!
Personally, I use Spotify family for general background stuff and music access for everyone in the house and that works really well on Spotify connect.
I have tried Tidal and it was OK but not for long enough to notice differences in the available catalogues in comparison with Qobuz, which is now my preference for my own personal musical listening.
If you’re a Roon user it’s probably a case of six of one and half a dozen of the other. If I am going to use the dozen analogy though, I’d describe Qobuz as a “ bakers dozen” because it sounds at least as good as Tidal, without the MQA faff and, perhaps more importantly, you can purchase through their online store. Albums are not guaranteed to remain on a streaming catalogue, so if I really like an album I will tend to buy it for the reason given, or at least have the option if I can’t obtain it on CD or vinyl.

Hi, to my ears a lossless service is the minimum acceptable standard for good sound quality on any Naim system I’ve heard. That includes the Atom, and perhaps surprisingly, even my Muso QB2.
I would strongly recommend trying Qobuz as an alternative to Tidal. At the moment you can probably get it for £15 a month as they dropped the price from £20 last year. This gives you lossless 24 bit material where available rather than Tidal’s MQA, and you can access all these options with or without Roon.
Don’t take my word for it though, do the free trial when you’ve got your Atom and decide for yourself.

Thank guys. All really helpful. The summary so far seems to be that I ought to have the higher quality streaming service (which I’m fine with) and then it’s a question of sticking with Tidal or migrating to Quoboz. I’ll mess around with both and see which I prefer. Thanks and best wishes.

If you decide to migrate to Qobuz and have a lot of favorites/playlists in Tidal, there is a web service called Soundiiz that will migrate them over, all you need is a one-month subscription for ~5 eur

Tip tip, thanks.

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