Qobuz Hi-Rez Not Necessarily the Best Sound


I stream Qobuz using Roon into a Bricasti M1SE DAC/Streamer into a Benchmark HPA4 headphone amp and then into various Kennerton or RAAL headphones.

Lately I have been comparing different versions of recordings on Qobuz.  For instance, lately it has been Depeche Mode but also Pink Floyd, Steely Dan, and Supertramp.  Oftentimes there are several versions of titles, usually Hi-rez files of 24/192 or similar, versus the standard 16/44.1 resolution versions.  Sometimes there are remastered versions in various resolutions.  

Quite by accident I have found that the highest resolution versions are not necessarily the best-sounding versions, often preferring the remastered and/or standard resolution recordings.  Today, for instance, I was listening to DM's A Broken Frame.  The 24/192 sounded a little sharper with perhaps a little more detail and spaciousness but was amazingly dynamically compressed.  The difference was not subtle.  Going from the 24/192 to the 16/44.1 remastered version was going from a bland recording to one that came alive.  I guess it goes to show that higher rez files are not necessarily superior sonically.

Anyone else found this to be the case in their streaming?  Thanks.



Thanks for jumping in. It seems this conversation has melded down to “hi-res” streaming service offerings vs the real thing, whether that source be a physical copy or a file of the original.

I’ve never been a believer in MQA- read a lot about it and decided not to participate but since you’ve brought it up what are your thoughts on how it compares (in ideal conditions) to that of the real deal? 

@designsfx I am agnostic to the debate about the virtue of MQA other than I think it is getting an undeserved bad rap on Audiogon regarding sound quality. IME relative sound quality is always determined by the quality of implementation regardless of format.

Assuming the “real thing” is live music, my thoughts are that MQA can provide a listening experience as close to that of live music as can reproduced music on any playback format. They all fall short of providing a perfect suspension-of-disbelief listening experience, yet the best implementation of each can get in the “spooky real” zone. How close each comes to being a convincing replication of the source event has much more to do with the recording and mastering quality of the media than the format and, of course, the quality of the reproduction chain is important. As the latter becomes increasing more accurate and revealing, the limitations of the former become the obvious ceiling for achieving truly convincing and satisfying reproduction of recorded music.

Have you tried listening to the same tracks with and without Roon? Roon has a 'sound' which knocks the edge off the sound quality due to its processing power requirements in some cases imho.

@rogerstaton  Since I use a network streamer I need to use a network player like Roon to play Qobuz on my network.  Originally I used a USB cable from my laptop into my DAC but found that playing music onto my wifi network sounded a whole lot better than using a USB cable with all the noise in my laptop.  I also use a small amount of EQ using the Roon parametric equalizer to account for the open baffles of my RAAL SR-1b headphones.  My original concern centered around the fact that Qobuz hi-rez files are often compromised soundwise and that the late remastered versions and standard resolution files sound significantly better.  Thanks.

When the red book 16/43 standard came out, the only means of delivering it was a laser reading a spinning disk.  Now that data can be inexpensive my stored and accessed with no moving parts, why would their be any benefit to the disc?  Is the image better watching tv live than stored on your Dvr?  I was excited to hi reZ improvements in sq with higher sampling rates approximating the analog curve.  Used to check each song on roon for sample rate and bit after a great sounding sample, and frequently it was 44//16.  Was surprised how many of my favorite live performance are 44/16.  Digital audio hardware has caught up to its potential in the last ten years.  Enjoy it rather than trying to flush out difference in sound from activities occurring at the speed of light.