Tidal over Airplay vs. Naim App


Is anyone aware of a reduction in sound quality if Tidal is used over Apple Airplay vs. the Naim app? I think that high resolution audio formats (e.g. 24 Bit / 192kHz) will be down-sampled to 16 Bit / 44.1kHz (available as Tidal Masters) via Airplay; is this the case using the Naim app?


The last time I tried using AirPlay it didn’t sound quite as good to me as native Tidal. That was using regular 16/44 material, because AirPlay will not support higher resolution.
Naim streamers do not support MQA, so if you try to select an MQA track in Tidal, it will automatically stream a 16/44 version instead.

Thanks Chris. But Tidal is still preferable over, say, Apple Music as a streaming service for audio quality? That’s my understanding, however I’m a bit confused, as if you say Tidal will go 16/44 that is no different to Apple Music via Airplay - I actually had no idea that Naim streamers do not support the Tidal Master tracks. I had assumed they would given the partnership with the products.

Basically, I’m newish to streaming, and having purchased an ND5XS2 want to make sure I’m getting the most out of it (hence the previous query on another thread regarding a DAC upgrade; many thanks). This means choosing the best CD+ quality streaming service which I thought Tidal was.

I’ve just got home, emptied the living room of other beings and listened to the same track via my Apple Music Airplay & Tidal app via Chromecast, and the Tidal app sounds best to my ears, using the Chromecast feature on app itself.

Apple Music itself streams only AAC encoded music. To my knowledge, there’s no “CD quality” (16/44), not to talk about any HiRes.
Hence, from SQ perspective, its not a good choice. (Though Apple claims to do good job on mastering; which may be more important than technical specs of a stream in some cases. But of course a well mastered audio with higher bitrate and stuff will be better still. :wink: )

Apple Music, along with Spotify, Deezer and others, only offer lossy MP3 or AAC streams. Tidal offer these too, along with their lossless ‘CD quality’ service at a higher price, which I presume is what you are using. This service also offers MQA if your hardware supports it, although I have to say that to me, it didn’t sound any better than regular 16/44 when I tried it.
There’s also Qobuz, who offer a regular 16/44 service, and also a Hi-Res service which has lots of 24 bit material. That, to my ears, gives the best sound quality.


Agreed, a good 24 bit album on Qobuz with a ND5XS2 is a noticeable step up in SQ from Tidal or Qobuz CD quality

1 Like

Can you try playing Tidal through the Naim app? Chromecast isn’t the best for sound quality.

Actually Deezer has a hifi flac option, has for years.

How would you get that playing through an ND5XS2 if indeed you can?

Nothing wrong with Chromecast as a transport stream at all and can support hires. Infact using it for Tidal sounds pretty damned good on my Atom , also may result in a user getting the first unfold of MQA as the iOS and Android Apps do this for you.

I have a continuous problems with dropouts when streaming HiRes from Qobuz through Chromecast in my Nova.

Not sure if it has anything to do with my internet connection but since it works flawlessly through the Naim app I would not think so.

Runs smooth as butter for me from Tidal or Qobuz app no dropouts.

If I stick to Qobuz CD quality, it works fine without any issues.

The dropouts occurs when I stream HiRes.

Why would you use Chromecast if it works flawlessly from the Naim app?

1 Like

It does work. Thanks. What makes you say that about Chromecast, and would you characterise all platforms as losing sound quality through it? The native Tidal app has a much better interface I reckon

To my ears playing through Chromecast just doesn’t sound as good and it can’t play a 24/96 stream from Qobuz without constantly dropping out. Naim app for me, everything just works with that.

Well, under normal circumstances I don’t.

However a few days ago there were (well known) issues with streaming Qobuz through the Naim app and the only option to stream Qobuz was to stream it through Chromecast.

This topic was automatically closed 60 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.