I produced a video some time ago comparing Tidal with Spotify. I argued one possible viewpoint that, although there is a difference, under everyday listening environments (in the car, walking to work etc.) it’s not really going to be significant. In response to that, David Kobza commented and laid down a well constructed argument from both the perspective of an audiophile and an everyday listener.
“Tidal all the way. What the critical difference is for viewers here to be clear about is whether or not your playback system is up to snuff in ways audiophile-friendly. I have several playback systems as most people do out there i.e. my phone, my car stereo, my iMac that’s not integrated with my home listening system, and my home hi-end system. Each one differs in their own way and that can be on a track to track listening experience.
Tidal on the home system, which consists of McIntosh tube amplification, VTL preamp, Martin-Logan speakers etc. is HIGHLY revealing. Now that can be good or annoying, depending on the quality of the recording and the format used in the audio document encoding process. With the ‘Class A’ (I’ll label it) quality recording and encoding, Tidal is going to clean-up here. Hands-down.
The devil (or the difference) is in the subtle spatial and dynamic nuance and overall presentation of the music or audio (I listen to everything from The Stooges to Vivaldi).
Transients (sudden dynamic shifts in volume or instrumentation) are palpably EXCITING, not JARRING or sonically perturbing. The overall timbral accuracy of instrumentation is clear and unambiguous, which makes the separation of individual instruments/voices recorded easy to discern and appreciate. These aspects for me, are what I hope for in any playback system but know are not to be expected in car systems or phone or transistor radios, so my ears let go of that fact in order to ENJOY my listening to my favorite song on the radio or what have you.
I’m not a whiny audiophile whose life is on set on critical disappointment when I don’t get a glockenspiel that lacks the floating in air sparkle in a COMPOSITION that moves me. I am however very aware and appreciative of what actual acoustic timbral inflections produce live so when I’m listening through a top-notch hi-end system, I am looking for that same experientially satisfying thrill. Tidal most closely reproduces these critical differences on a system created for ACCURATE reproduction of REAL instruments live.
Most average music listeners haven’t even heard music through such systems so they lack any contextual wherewithal to make any conclusive evaluations other than it sounds ‘good’, or ‘listen to that bottom end’ or conversely, ‘I don’t like that’ or ‘sounds OK’ etc. all due respect. They just love the music and the efficacy of sonic punch to discern what ‘kicks ass’ or what ‘sucks’.
But those initiated into true high fidelity audio reproduction are aware of the spatial cues that come from analog-and until somewhat recently, digital high resolution audio playback. Hope that helps anyone making sense of all the varieties in which people approach and appreciate music in their lives. God Bless.”
Thank you for the comment David.