Hi res options

Only just started to grapple with Hi Res, so forgive probably naive questions!

I’m running an ND555/1x555 PS DR, a Unitiserve and a CD555/1x555 PS non-DR. Just marshalled motivation to look into hi res. Is it correct that the Naim App doesn’t support Tidal Hi res? It seems so, but is somewhat baffling. So the only easy option is Qobuz? Started a trial with them but can’t find anything higher that 96kHz/24 bit, mostly remasters of old albums. Newer ones mostly 44.1kHz/24 bit. However I was surprised to find I preferred 44.1kHz/16 bit to the 96kHz or 88kHz or 48kHz/24 bit versions and was pretty ambivalent between 44.1kHz/16 and 24bit versions. I was expecting a revelation. Has anyone else found similarly? So Qobuz may not be worth the change from Tidal, at least for me; although it’s £90/year cheaper, there did seem to be just a few newer things not on it, a bit clunkier to use, and no family option vs Tidal.


You should be able to find and play the higher resolution material from both Tidal and Qobuz controlled from within the Naim app. I do just that on both services, they do have different tiers of service on both platforms so depending on your subscription that will determine what versions you have access to and can stream.

The music on Tidal that is ‘High Resolution’ is MQA encoded material which is a lossy format. The highest lossless resolution available on Tidal is CD quality.

Naim does not support MQA so it’s not possible to play ‘high resolution’ material from Tidal using the Naim app.

If you wish to stay with Tidal then it’s possible using Roon to access the higher resolution music as Roon can do what is called the first unfold which gets you mist of the way to access the file. The second unfold can only be done with supported hardware which Naim do not currently support.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as you can get true high resolution music from QoBuz which doesn’t undergo the MQA treatment and is lossless.

keep exploring
not all hi res LPs sound better
some are worse
some are not noticably different
Some are better

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Good point, I do use ROON which does get involved with the MQA sources on Tidal.

I must admit that having used both Tidal and Qobuz for some time that almost always I end up actually listening to material from Qobuz. Occasionally there are things that are on Tidal and not on Qobuz and there is the fact I have another system with a DAC that does full unfold of MQA so maybe that keeps me there also.
Also bare in mind that Qobuz create their own masters from source files rather then just re-encoding a CD master as can be the case. I wanted to give both Tidal and Qobuz a fair chance but I would say that after over a year of using both I’d lean towards Qobuz as my preference, all their higher resolution material is FLAC based as well so no compatibility or folding issues to factor in.

The only ”hires” I have heard where the sound clearly is higher resolution than redbook is some 352/24 PCM files encoded without using a digital filter.

I dont think this was due to the samplerate, more it was high enough to run without filter.

Listening wih a NOS-DAC (also without filter) was really encouraging for the future.

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Given that the CD digital spec had been calculated to be the highest resolution necessary to convey anything a human can hear, revelation would seem a bit much to expect… Yes, the reality may be that the calculations missed some aspects of reality, but understandably its more about subtle differences than anything dramatic.

Comparisons are also difficult because to be valid you have to be sure you’re comparing like with like, as it is not uncommon for high res and CD quality versions to be different masterings. But even when the same, 16/44 when done well can be very difficult to beat. My own experience When I have compared directly is that sometimes I can hear a difference, which I would describe as more of a feeling of space or ‘air’ rather than anything directly describable: yes, better but indeed subtle. But by no means all hi res sounded different to me, some indistinguishable, while indeed I have also heard high res sound worse, which I guess may be through different mastering (or even potentially a fake upsample). For reference my own experience is purely from music from on my own store, so is a direct comparison without any possible effects from internet transmission.

I have been dabbling with hi res for a few years now and even when I was using a Mac mini with optical into Ndac (which maxed at 96/24) and 202/200 I could hear a difference on certain recordings. It’s now more so with Ndac/555 and better amps.

The albums that I have found show fairly obvious improvement ( where i have original CD Rip by unitii core to compare) in no particular order:

Rumours - Fleetwood Mac (96/24)
Talk Talk - Spirit of Eden and Colour of Spring (both 96/24)
Smashing Pumpkins- Melon Collie (96/24)

I have not found the 24/48 files to be anything special over a uniti core rip and similarly when going to 192 files I do not get anything appreciable above a 96/24. That could just be my ears or limitation of my system of course.

Hi res is a nice bonus but as has been said very much dependent on the masters and the post production. Little can beat my core CD rip of London grammar for presentation to my ears.

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