Higher rate of Tidal files than Qobuz?

I am comparing files between Tidal and Qobuz.
All 16 bit/44.1 kHz FLAC.

MConnectHD also lists a rate of Kbps, which I guess is the rate of data transferred.

Some have the same data rates, but some I’ve noticed so far are higher for the Tidal files.

E.g. War Orphans by Bobo Stenson Tidal 712 Kbps vs 644 for Qobuz.

Tidal 944 Vs. 907 Qobuz Chick Corea ‘Work’ from the LP Trilogy.

Any idea why there’s more data from what seems to be the same recording from the same record company?

Perhaps they use different FLAC compression rates.

1 Like


But there’s not a consistent proportion or absolute difference between the rates on Tidal and Qobuz.

Sometimes they’re the same, sometimes the Qobuz rate is lower.

I haven’t yet noticed one where Qobuz is higher, but then I haven’t compared many.

Hi @JimDog

This comes down to the compression setting on the FLAC encoder.

Apps that display FLAC data rate are often a bit misleading as the amount of data to compress 1secs worth of audio on a lossless encoder varies based on the audio content. For example 1sec of near silence will take less than 100kbit/sec to encode, while a complex classical piece might peak to 1000kbit/sec. It’s a case that as its lossless you need as many bytes as it will take to capture the original data. Hence, the data rate will wander around as the track plays.

What is more important on lossless streaming services is it a 1st generation copy from the original master? Primarily:

  • Some labels watermark material for streaming services.
  • if it’s an n’th generation copy it may of bounced through n’th ADC->DAC conversions, DAT tape copies, etc. before it made it to the streaming service. This is quite common for music mastered in the 90’s and their albums have been published by different labels.
  • Has it been remastered? In my experience remastered albums can either be fantastic or a complete disaster and not a lot in-between. Often streaming services end up with the remastered versions.

Best regards

Steve Harris
Software Director
Naim Audio Ltd.


Thanks Steve

So my take outs from that are that:

  • a fixed kbps data rate for a whole track is not measuring the changes in the datastream - it’s just some kind of average rate or initial rate or similar - a token rate, not a live changing measurement of the data transfer rate.

  • that any differences in these numbers for the same recording of the same LP streamed from Tidal vs Qobuz as a 16/44.1 FLAC file don’t tell me anything important about any real difference between the technologies or SQ of the 2 services?

And, yes, the quality of the copy is crucial.

For example, the Paul Bley LPs on both Tidal and Qobuz include wonderful copies/recordings/masterings of, e.g. ECM albums and some of the Steeplechase LPs.

Also some older material that sounds quite bad or very bad. It’s not always clear to what extent this is because it was originally badly recorded, or has since been watered down as copies are made.

And many record labels releasing versions of his earliest recordings for which the copyright has expired with made-up LP names and covers to make them sound like new original LPs.

So a very mixed bag.

That’s interesting.
So what app/device are you using to look at the data transfer rates of the 2 switches?

When you say ‘dynamic info’ do you mean the second by second live data transfer rates passing through the switch?

Do you happen to know what the MConnectHD SW does as processes files from Tidal?
Does it send flac or wav to the 272?
Does it somehow relieve the 272 streaming board of some of its processing duties?

I wonder if it is worth trying capturing the bitrate at the same point in the track, and if still different do it several times with each router, and again the same point in the track, to see how consistent it is.

@Analogmusic - please let me know on this thread about how you know MConnectHD can send hires files via upnp (it’s relevant here but just thread drift over there).

Also, does anyone know whether there is an audible difference if a 272 is sent 16/44 Qobuz or Tidal files via upnp (e.g. by the MConnectHD app) vs the Naim app sending those exact same 16/44 files?

Or should they sound exactly the same?

@Analogmusic -
FYI, I asked Conversdigital support (who makes the MConnectHD app):

“If I am playing hires files from Tidal on my MConnectHD app, what format does the app send to my hifi streamer/dac?
Does it send Flac out, or wav?
And what processing does the app do to the Tidal files?”

And they answered:

"The music files in Tidal server, including MQA tracks, are delivered directly from the server to your audio, as they are.

In Tidal, the MQA file is in FLAC format, so your audio receives FLAC files.

The app does not do anything for the delivering process, unless app plays the music by itself."

that’s very useful clarification

for Tidal MQA 24/48 I am getting that on my streamer (not in MQA format though) but not sure why the 272 will only accept 44.1/16?

I think all Naim streamers read (Tidal) MQA files as 16/44.

the jury is still out on MQA though…

I haven’t heard an MQA dac, so can’t comment on what that might sound like.

My sense is that MQA is generally a ‘nothingburger’ - an overly complex way to pack and unpack audio data for transport.

It just happens that I am stuck with Tidal (not Qobuz) as my sole source, and all Tidal hires files are encoded as MQA.

But Tidal 16/44 sounds great in my system, so it’s not a problem for me.

1 Like

Both cloud streamers use FLAC, and there are different levels of FLAC compression optimisation you can do. The higher quality (in terms of efficient) compression will consist of smaller amounts of encoded data… but typically requires greater CPU processing power to achieve than a less efficient FLAC compression, which would use more data in the encoding.
This is assuming the masters are the same,
So it could be Qobuz are consuming more processing resources streaming than Tidal to create more efficient FLAC streams.
Don’t confuse with MQA which is a different source file altogether. Typically where Tidal has a MQA processed file Qobuz offers the unprocessed equivalent in PCM as higher definition.


There’s additional processing in MQA but I’m not sure I really like it. I have an audioquest Dac that has MQA capability but I prefer my chord mojo with non MQA files

Tidal will detect that the device does not support MQA, and automatically send a regular 16/44 stream instead.

I would tend to agree with this, I’ve tried Tidal MQA through a Dragonfly Red and Shure SE846, also the first unfold of MQA via Roon into NDX2. It just doesn’t get my foot tapping, and I was happy to stick with 16/44, until Qobuz 24 bit arrived, and that does raise the bar.


Yes but my streamer does not decode MQA either but gets the 24 bit 48 KHZ version (which is non mqa)

However strangely enough when listening to the same songs a few times I tend to prefer the non-mqa files when decoded on my Chord Dacs.

Chord DACs don’t support MQA… so clearly they can’t play a MQA file other than in a rudimentary compatibility mode, which will sound poor. (Which I think you know)
Ali, canyou explain why you find that strange? You might be mis understanding something… unless it’s tongue in cheek :grinning: