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When tidalhifi released yesterday it got my interest peaked in quality music again, one thing has lead to another and now I'm questioning the best source to find my media. Streaming, downloading, sacd etc....... I just wanted to get some general or specific advice of where to look. I prefer owning music over streaming but can do either.


Setup
PC with onboard sound: hdmi
Denon 1712
Klipsch vf-36 vc-25 (will get vr-14 or equivalent in future) older 12" klipsch sub (kw something?)


So I want to know what format to seek out and what equipment I should be getting. I like a lot of electronica and rock with a few other genre's now and then so I need a good selection available, what searching I've done for high quality audio of any format has shown me a very limited selection with none of the artists I prefer.


Can I get some input or a direction to go?
 

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Tidal has actually been out for quite a while. They just announced that they will have a lower-quality tier of service now for half of the price of their normal quality tier.


There are a few things that you have to determine before you move forward.


1. Does your preferred artist(s) even record using high-resolution equipment. Most do not
2. If they do, do they record to PCM or DSD
3. Does your existing equipment that you want to keep support high-resolution. Your current speakers do not. Will you replace them?
4. Do you want stereo only or multichannel


Currently the way to get good output from high-res material is to go from your computer, through a program that supports hi-res playback, to a driver that gets around the limitations of your operating system audio, out your usb, to a usb digital to analog converter, to your preamp/processor, to your amp, to your speakers. All items along the way have to support hi-res playback, otherwise the sound will not be bit-perfect. In other words any break in the chain will cause the music to no longer output what was originally recorded.


Most people don't want to pursue that given that most "hi-res" music is just really standard resolution recordings stuffed into a bigger "hi-res" box.


Tidal is not hi-res, just lossless standard resolution. There is currently no high resolution streaming service.
 

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You won't get better sound quality than you will with a CD. You may get a multichannel presentation or maybe even a better mastering of the recording, but you won't get better sound quality simply because of a different format.
 

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From what I see they stream FLAC 16 bit - 1411 kbps...?

If so that is just CD quality, not hi-res.

Of course compared to low bit-rate mp3 it is "hi-res"
 

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From what I see they stream FLAC 16 bit - 1411 kbps...?

If so that is just CD quality, not hi-res.

Of course compared to low bit-rate mp3 it is "hi-res"
They stream at about 411kbps so it is not even really CD quality. It is not close to high-resolution nor do they claim it to be.
 

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You won't get better sound quality than you will with a CD. You may get a multichannel presentation or maybe even a better mastering of the recording, but you won't get better sound quality simply because of a different format.
If the original material was recorded on equipment that is capable of capturing higher frequencies and higher dynamic range than 44.1khz at 16bits, and the material is available at the levels that it was recorded at then, yes, it will sound better than the same material presented in CD red book format. That is, as long as the equipment being used to play it back is also capable of reproducing what was recorded.
 

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Bit rates are for the most part a marketing fantasy, FLAC has a lower bit rate due to lossless compression, ie the music is restored to the full bit exact redbook standard on playback.

Source and mastering do matter a LOT. Hanging around the Steve Hoffman forums has been a VERY expensive trip, but with simply amazing musical results. Name a musical genre and I or others should be able to suggest some versions that might be ear opening.

BTW I really like a lot of the older Klipsch speakers, using a set of vintage Forte right now, working at making space for a pair of CF-4 Epic's.
 

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With Tidal file conversion process keeping in mind their music files are sourced from truck loads of mostly 2 ch 24/41 -1:1 (uncompressed ) studio master hdd replications from the labels :

24/41>16/44 Truncation is a reduction of digital word length e.g.,removing bits of data (reducing bit depth) to reduce file size some people incorrectly call it down sampling (sample rate reduction ) in the case of 24/41 > 16/44 whereas 24/96 > 16/44 would include some down sampling and bit depth reduction .

An 8 bit sample contains 256 steps of information ( loudness or amplitude points on a digital wave form representation ) whereas a 16 bit sample has 65,536 a 24 bit sample has 16,777,216

IOW most of data lost in the 24/41>16/44 file conversion are only amplitude or loudness steps whereas perceptual encoding AKA lossey compresssion mp3,AAC discard huge amounts of bit depth data and significantly reduces the sampling rate at the same time and *significantly degrades the accuracy* of the finished product as compared to the loss less source file.


AFAIK audible artifacts below the lower Nyquest rate and within 16/44 bandwidth or particularly the lower Nyquist rate within the Nyquist–Shannon signal sampling and reconstruction of a bandwidth -limited signal theorem 16/44 (when done right e.g.,sourced from 1:1 finished digital studio master archives and not altered for replication is generally free of audible artifacts and more accurate than analog vinyl / tape playback ( and those limitations )

16/44 covers the entire range of human hearing with a potential noise floor of ( -96dB) or equivalent dynamic range at 20- 22,500 Hz .
16 bit dynamic range potential is 96db and 24 bit is 144db 16/44 is plenty for playback.


24/41 to 16/44 is a common conversion used in 2 ch recording optical disc replication (RBCD) or specifically CD with 24/41 having more loudness steps in a digital wave form representation for mixing and editing but a very similar (inaudibly insignificantly different sampling rate .) at 16/44 RBCD .

24/41 Studio master files can be truncated to 16/44 and remain encoded in .WAV loss less or re encoded to FLAC *lossless audio compression codec * to further reduce file size by not reducing bit depth audibility and * slightly reducing * sample rate and removing no audible data in the process these reductions are restored at playback whereas mp3 is not .


Commercial CD and file 2 ch downloads are *usually truncated studio masters additionally re mastered in post for replication with compression
(raised noise floors ) and hard limiting added for uniform loudness levels (and or additional loudness ) both with significantly reduced dynamic range and the potential for significantly increased thd +n audible distortion as well .

Whereas Tidal direct 24/41 > 16/44 truncated digital studio masters are not
're mastered and compressed for replication but only truncated and *lossless audio compressed* to FLAC for reduced file size without audible compression artifacts and the audible degradation that comes with that .Think Telarc direct to Disc vinyl ( in a way )
The advantages over a commercial CD should be obvious .

e.g., TIDAL ~ 16/44 flac = up to 1441 kbps and the best mp3 is 320 -328 kbps .

Tidal's FLAC files stream at up to 1411 kbps, as opposed to Spotify Premium's 320 kbps,
 
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