Qobuz sound quality

I’ve recently started streaming using Qobuz and am very happy with the sound quality.
One thing I’d be grateful for is some feedback regarding servers.
I use an Innuos mk 3 Zen and was happy with the SQ. However when streaming CD quality on Qobuz the SQ appears to me to be better than the same quality through the Zen.
Is there an explanation for this perceived improvement?

It could be the Qobuz copy is closer to the original master recording or even remastered…bought cd;s could be taken from the umpteenth copy from the master. Perhaps others have some better ideas.

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I’d concur with that assesment, I recall a discussion with the folks from Qobuz at the Bristol HiFi show where he outlined the process of how they managed their library and creating their own copies for streaming from licence holder masters.
The source of the streamed version matters and Qobuz are mindful of that and are involved in the workflow accordingly.


Hi, its helpful we understand that companies like Qobuz provide the media on their service as provided to them by the major media distributors such as Universal Music Group, Sony Music, Warner Music Group and their subsidiaries. There are other specialist or independent distributors such as Landr, United Masters and many many more.

The organisations create and provide the digital media masters that are streamed after local encoding to FLAC, AAC etc by companies like Qobuz, Tidal, Deezer, Spotify, Apple Music etc

Now these media master files may well be different from the master files used in the production run for a particular CD release - not by much - but they could well be distribution mastered slightly differently - and so not really surprising there is sometimes an apparent difference between say a CD or its rip and a cloud streamed equivalent. By the same token different CD releases can sound different which is why CDs manufactured and released for different parts of the world may sounds slightly different from each other.

Increasingly however new releases have distribution streams that are in greater resolution than CD, often 44.1/24 and 48/24 being used as ‘standard’. The 44.1/16 as used by CD and earlier digital distribution masters is looking increasingly arcane, and where available is more likely to be an inferior decimated version for new releases.


Generally, Qobuz and other streaming sites have the latest remaster of each album - many of these are an improvement on earlier/original CD releases, others not so much. It could be that the OP was lucky and compared a rip from a poorly mastered early CD with a recent, well done remaster from Qobuz. The only fair way of making as assessment IMO is by comparing a CD rip with a Qobuz stream where the mastering should be the same - for example the recent Kate Bush remasters or the 2011 Queen remasters, both of which are available to buy on CD and to stream from Qobuz.

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Thanks for the feedback, I was beginning to wonder if I was hearing things having checked the settings.

Does your Qobuz subscription give you access to 24 bit material? Most of their subscription levels, at least in the UK, offer these at the same price as the regular 16/44.1 level, so perhaps you are getting some HiRes material that sounds better?

Yes, I have the higher resolution subscription. It’s just when I checked the 16 bit against my server Qobuz sounded better at the same setting.
But the responses have provided a rational for the better sound.

Just to be clear, I had assumed that you were comparing Qobuz with CD rips on the Zen, but reading your OP, it could possibly be that you were comparing Naim’s Qobuz integration with the Innuos Qobuz. That might be an interesting comparison to make, given that the consensus seems to be that Naim’s Tidal integration can be bettered by using it via Roon, BubbleUPnP etc.

Sorry for any confusion I was comparing a Zen rip with Qobuz CD quality for the same album.

I thought that was probably what you meant. I haven’t made any direct comparisons between local streams and Qobuz equivalents, but my overall impression is that Qobuz does sound very good, and better than Tidal when using both via native Naim implementation. Not sure why, or whether it’s down to Naim or Qobuz, but it’s all good.


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