New to this forum, so please go easy
I've been a Spotify subscriber for many years - it is what it is, and has been fine for reasonable quality mobile streaming. I have a Hi-Res setup in the house - downstairs I have an Onkyo NS-6130 network streamer which unfolds and decodes MQA to 24/192 and on the computer I have a Meridian Explorer2 DAC which does the same. To get the full-fat experience, I have a pair of Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones which operate WAY beyond my hearing to 40KHz.
So, I'm now using Tidal on the 3-month trial, listening to the higher quality streaming audio and of course, very much enjoy the quality and extra detail, sound-stage and musicality of the content. I have however noticed that some of the tracks are really distorted - they seemed to sound very poor quality to me, even at 24/192. This puzzled me - I was expecting a very clear, distortion-free listening experience.
To investigate, I analysed the sound and found that the songs which came across as distorted were clipped - they had very flat areas in the waveform where the signal seems to have been attenuated (shown in the attached picture). The audio was captured from the DAC and the volume maximum was -3dB. Now, not all tracks are like this, but those that sound distorted seem to be - this particular track is Up&Up (Track 68649386 on Tidal - sorry, can't post links yet!) but it is not unique. If I capture the waveform from Spotify, I see the same - flat peaks on the waveform in the louder passages of the song. If I take the DAC out of the equation, and disable MQA - same.
Does this mean the master of the album is such that the audio level goes beyond 0dB? If so, I really don't understand the reason for this, as it just sounds distorted and poor quality.
Do others have the same experience - can you hear the distortion and if so, has anyone looked at the waveform and have you had similar findings to me?
Thanks for your help!!