Sound Quality : Tidal Connect versus Tidal from Naim app

Hello everybody.

My system to start on first:

  • NAC 32-5 + Hicap + NAP 250 (Chrome Bumper)
  • Naim SBL speakers, Mytek Brooklyn Bridge streamer-dac, WHA Phantom LS cables.

My question is:

  • Have you noticed a sound quality loss on TIDAL played from the “TIDAL Connect protocol”
    on a NDX2 or ND5XS2 streamer, compared to the same TIDAL played from the NAIM app?
  • Do you know existing reviews that deal with it and could explain technically the gap?

Thanks for your feedbacks,

This from Steve might be helpful:

I.e., when using the Naim app, it tells the streamer an URL to play. Using Tidal Connect, the Tidal app tells the streamer an URL to play. In both cases, the streamer then fetches the data from the URL without involving the app, and if I understand Steve correctly, from this point on there is very little difference in the implementation

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From a past thread , here the comments of the Naim software director, Steve Harris : -« Hi All,

Lots of questions / comments etc. on Tidal Connect. Maybe i can shine some light on the subject.

Tidal Connect is an alternative way to play Tidal using their native apps rather than a third party solution. The app acts as a control point which talks to the TIDAL servers in the cloud and a ‘play queue in the cloud’ then drives the streamer on what to play next. So what’s hot and what’s not with this:

Pros:

  • Fully buffered lossless playback. Uses the 50MB cache inside the Naim streamer so most the time it’s playing from RAM. It’s about the same as the Naim native implementation.
  • Access all the new views and dynamic content of TIDAL. Doesn’t get out of date as TIDAL expand their system.
  • Reasonably fast response times - typically less than 1sec from action to something happening.
  • Ability to easily move Tidal playback from one device to another
  • Common app so no moving between TIDAL and Naim app as you move between devices.

Cons

  • Doesn’t integrate in with your local music library as a ‘music library extender’. aka - you have n’th albums of an artist locally and the Naim app also shows other albums and works from this artist (if using a Uniti Core or a Uniti Star server… or Roon)
  • Have to keep on picking the streamer as the output device from the device selection list on each listening session (much like Spotify).
  • Currently the masters section is only applicable for MQA enabled devices. There is no first unfold offered by the system and the TIDAL servers pick 16/44.1 equivalents. If this is important then the Qobuz offering of full fat hidef might be a better option to consider.
  • When doing a video, only the audio plays, the video stops playing. Unlike Apple Music + Airplay2 where audio + video are all in sync.
  • No product side resume feature, unlike Spotify. You must use the TIDAL app to move the stream between devices.

Overall if your music consumption is focused around TIDAL then this is for you.
If you use TIDAL as more as an extension of your own local collection then you’re probably better off with the current solution. At Naim we’re covering both use cases as some customers will prefer one over the other.

Also to put legacy streamer customers minds at rest, we are doing updates on the Naim native solution to ensure it has as many new TIDAL features as possible and the products are using the very latest API’s exposed by TIDAL.

To finalise I’ve attached a few screenshots of Tidal Connect working with an Atom. Enjoy! »

Hope that helps

Steve Harris
Software Director
Naim Audio Ltd.

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Key takeaway - there is no difference in SQ. It’s the same as switching remotes. :blush:

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