Survival without Tidal

Now let’s be careful and respectful. The forum rules refer to competition and discourage any troublesome negativity. Rightly. We are not here to disparage anyone or the results of their hard work.
So I’m not going to mention the actual name of the well-established HiFi vendor that supplied my streamer. I’m just going to describe my reaction to their new announcement of dropping support for Tidal.


Apparently the Tidal API (Application Programming Interface) was changed to improve security, and it was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
I don’t know the numbers, and it’s not the sort of disclosure any company would normally make, but the whole world of software development is expensive and complicated.
Even for a scientific / engineering company that makes HiFi, the journey into the fast evolving world of networked streaming must be stressful.

But here’s the thing. Streaming is the source of the future. The business model of streaming is troublesome if you’re a musician, but CDs and Vinyl are not what is going to sell future HiFi. It’s streaming.

So what will happen to the HiFi company who cannot build the software development costs into their business model? I honestly fear for their survival.

Any thoughts?

They sell a relatively niche product in the steaming world. I can’t imagine Tidal usage is a big feature of that world for most users. Ergo, I think they have calculated correctly and will be okay.

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My understanding is that Tidal have less than 5% of the streaming market - they are a niche player. Plenty of other options out there. Wouldn’t put me off buying a streamer that doesn’t support Tidal.

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We’ll I am not a Naim user yet! In fact I own a Nait on a secondary system but my main system is about to be replaced by a full Classic Range Naim streaming stack, driving PMC Fact 8 speakers.

I think it’s appropriate to discuss here on that basis! But also I wondered if other Naim fans appreciate how well Naim has diversified to become a ‘mass market’ producer as well as a high end producer. The expansion of the business matters, not only for growth and profits, but perhaps to fund the software development costs which are shared across the range.

The shape of software costs is different to hardware. Once you’ve written it and got it working, there is very little manufacturing cost (!) you make it once and sell it as many times as you want.

So I’m really saying that one of the attractions to Naim for me (as a retired IT guy) is their commitment to a leading and consistent software platform with maximised sales and longevity to support Loyal users.


So two questions: Does anyone use streaming as their only source? (I do).
And what streaming sources are used by us all? Is it UPnP, or online services (Tidal etc) or both?
And if it’s online streaming, then how many choices are there? I would think that if you dropped Tidal you would only have a small number left?

I use a SBT streamer that I bought about 10 years ago. Manufacturer stopped production about 8 years ago and ceased supporting it not long after.

Yet I’m able to stream spotify, deezer, tidal and Qobuz.

I’m streaming hires qobuz into Ndac at the moment, and very good it is too. (And Qobuz came into existence after Logitech stopped supporting the SBT.

How is it possible? Firmware updates and plugins are provided by enthusiasts. :heart_eyes_cat:
And, a free third party phone app.

Given that members of the general public can make a streamer work seamlessly with four major streaming services, I would suggest that any decent HIFI manufacturer could upgrade the software of legacy streamers. If they wanted too. :thinking:


There will always be workarounds for gaps in capability of hardware or onboard software. Think transcoding uPnP servers, casting apps, third party hardware/software etc.

That’s really interesting.
I do indeed think that a good software environment should allow updates and extensions. The supplier who is dropping Tidal requires you to return equipment to the factory for updates (!). Whereas Others allow you to Install updates yourself at home, or do them automatically over the web.

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Yes I have started using a lot of streaming and see it as my main future music source. My frustration at the moment is that Naim do not support Amazon HD natively on their streaming products. Fortunately I haven’t yet committed large sums to a Naim streamer and then had the service withdrawn as you have, but I can understand your ire.
I would be sourcing an ndx2 and xps if my streaming issues are sorted with Naim kit.

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Streaming is my only source and has been that way for the last 5+ years. Mainly use Qobuz, supplemented with Spotify (family subscription which the rest of the clan use and which I use in the car and when travelling). Have trialled Apple Music, but prefer Qobuz and Spotify. Once Spotify goes CD quality I’ll have to seriously consider whether I really need Qobuz. I can’t hear the difference between CD and Hi-res.

In terms of manufacturer’s supporting multiple streaming companies, that’s all good, but actually what I value is the quality and reliability of their platforms. Better to support fewer streaming companies, but offer a rock solid platform.

I use Tidal and Qobuz. My child uses Tidal as it’s more reliable for downloads for offline listening than Qobuz but that aside if I lost Tidal I would lose a massive 18 albums not available on Qobuz. Of those, 13 could be purchased cheaply on CD and ripped to my streamer SSD.

So, no, not a massive loss at all.

Certainly agree that software is expensive to maintain on a constantly evolving hardware platform. I guess Naim have sadly terminated the much loved NAC N-272 on the principle that no one can afford to run too many incompatible streams of S/W development. But in the long run it’s the best thing for everyone.

Tidal and Spotify and the others know what we like, and their AI builds wonderful playlists with artists we would never find without them. As they become the curators of our virtual collections, I suspect that compatibility will be mandated by more and more HiFi customers. They will enter the dealer asking “Do you have something that plays Deezer well?” Or whatever streaming service they prefer.

My children are professional musicians and they have two subscriptions; one to play songs for the family including children, and another where they listen ‘professionally’ for reference tracks in recording or writing.

Tidal and Spotify et Al are Robotic curators as well as mere digital music repositories.

Virtually no one I know who does not have a hi-fi interest has ever heard of Tidal/Qobuz let alone many other ‘audiophile’ outfits.

Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music - that’s all they’re acquainted with and cheap/free is the main factor sadly.

I thought my system was sounding splendid for several hours this morning - it then dawned on me I was listening to a 128 kbps MP3 stream from Classic FM via Audirvana Studio. When the music’s good…


Well that’s exactly it isn’t it. I’ve stopped worrying about music resolution. Does it sound good? Does it make you happy?

We export a play list from the streamer to a USB and play it on a supposedly vastly inferior system in the car. Never reduced enjoyment for a moment.

Job done.


Which manufacturer? i don’t think it matters if you say.

In reality this is just an evolution for lack of ongoing support for audio which we’ve seen in other areas for some time.

I have several optical disc players, older AppleTVs which no longer support services such as YouTube due to API changes, my Samsung TV has lost support for several features and it’s only 5 years old.

I think you hit the nail on the head with Naim - as long as it’s feasible to support API changes on older hardware they will strive to do so and occasionally introduce new features on older devices.

If big players like Apple/Samsung/Panasonic/Pioneer drop support for internet based audio or AV apps, it seems unsurprising that smaller players can’t keep up or choose not to.

I don’t think that’s fair - the reason non-audiophiles use Spotify/Apple/Amazon is that they all offer perfectly good SQ (I struggle to tell the difference between 320kps vs CD or Hi-res) and are generally better interfaces and curators of music than the audiophile specialist streaming companies. It’s not because they are free/cheap, it’s because they provide a better service for non-audiophiles.

As audiophiles we’re in a very small minority that value the marginal SQ benefits of CD/Hi-res and are willing to accept smaller libraries, generally worse interfaces and poorer music curation. The average person would think, with some justification, that we’re a bunch of audio snobs paying more for something that we can’t actually hear.


Amazon HD is hi res.

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Hi all,

Based on Naim went through the pain of updating a 10yrs old platform to ensure Tidal et all would keep on working, so kit doesn’t go to the grave early, here are some of the issues we hit:

  • The chip manufacturer was out of business, so no new software stacks or support.
  • The module supplier no longer supported it.
  • The compiler ARM licence had expired and needed negotiation with ARM UK to make it work again. All automated systems were dead.
  • Nearly all engineers from that platform had moved on - luckily there was one key guy left.
  • The TLS https stack provider had gone out of business. We had to cut the old stack out and replace with WolfSSL and paid suitable fees. This was so TLS1.3 and latest cyphers will work when doing OAuth2.
  • Implement an OAuth2 stack on a codebase that has no concept of such things
  • Extend control API’s designed in 2009.
  • Update all the control apps.
  • Have to update Airplay2 to latest standard - not easy.
  • Soak up misc bugs and ensure we fix more than we break!
  • Full platform retest - about 22 product variants
  • rebuild jenkins build server (misc java components were failing on newer java versions), plus new signing certificates needed for installers

Overall, its tough stuff and the tech industry doesn’t last that long. Companies get brought, go out of business, software stacks go unsupported, tool chains stop working and so on.

Naim has built up a strong software team over the last 15yrs + have a lot of contacts in the industry to make the above happen.

Best wishes

Steve Harris
Software Director
Naim Audio Ltd.


That’s actually quite impressive.