Tidal FLAC vs. Qobuz

Does the recent change by Tidal, from MQA to FLAC make Tidal the better choice for streaming?  Or, since Tidal only seems to offer FLAC on its own app and not the BluOS defeat the purpose since you need to transmit by Bluetooth instead of ethernet?  

Currently, I stream from Tidal over direct ethernet cable to a Bluesound Vault streamer, to a McIntosh amp and Revel speakers.  I have a trial membership to  Qobuz but I find Tidal has a much better catalog.  Since Tidal added Flac I thought it would be the obvious choice moving forward, but isn't the point of FLAC defeated since you need to send wirelessly from the Tidal app over Bluetooth?


Tidal has a better catalog? Here is what I found: 

Tidal Music Library

For Tidal, it offers more than 100 million tracks and 650,000 music videos in its library. Users can find music on the Tidal sections like albums, explore, and so on. Besides, it offers more than 25,000 Hi-Res audio quality songs.

Qobuz Music Library👍

While Qobuz owns over 100 million audio. It has more than 424,000 Hi-Res tracks and over 60 million tracks in CD resolution. And you can search on Qobuz for the tracks you want to listen to. Yet, you can't find podcasts, audiobooks and other kinds of content on Qobuz. That's because Qobuz is only a music streaming service.

According to the data of the Qobuz or Tidal catalog, it seems that Qobuz and Tidal have a similar number of music library for users to enjoy music. But if you want to stream more Hi-Res tracks, you can go to Qobuz.


I don't know about you, but that 17 times as many hi-res tracks makes the decision easy for me. 


Mclinnguy, Maybe it has something to do with genre.  I mostly listen to classic rock, and I ususally see many more mqa and flac options with Tidal, while Qobuz has more flac, but then a LOT of cd options in their catalog.  When offered a choice between Qobuz cd vs. Tidal mqa, I go with Tidal.  

@mojo771 I prefer Tidal as well primarily because of the music genre. I have listened to Tidal and Qobuz back to back on music I like I preferred Tidal.

There are several folks I know who prefer Qobuz for music quality - my take away is go with what works best for you.

My hope was that Tidal would be the clear favorite now, since they started streaming flac as well, but my question is, is it comparable to Qobuz flac if you need to send Tidal flac wirelessly over Bluetooth from the Tidal app, instead of streaming thru the BluOS like you can with Tidal mqa.


MQA is the reason I left Tidal. Once Qobuz was available in Canada I was happy to leave that garbage behind. Don't miss all the rap suggestions either. 


If you like Tidal catalog better then stick with Tidal. IME, you won’t be able to truly appreciate Qobuz high resolution catalog unless you upgrade from Vault. I used to own Vault, it’s a good starter streamer/ripper with very good app.

Tidal has a better catalog for hip hop, rap, metal, and anything less than 10 yrs old.  Qobuz has a much more extensive jass, classical, rock, country and anything esoteric library.

I found the quality the same and chose qobuz based on library and presentation. Tidal kept trying to change my musical taste.  BS.



I  actually started looking for a new streamer but I really like the BluOS so now I'm looking for a DAC.  I test drove the Rose 150 streamer/dac but it didn't sound much different and I like the bluos better.  Many reviews on the Rose talked about the beautiful screen, but I don't need a beautiful screen since I use the Blu app.  I have received many suggestions - ranging from a $600 dac to a 10k dac, but my local dealer only has the Rose.  So I would need to buy some DACs knowing that I'm going to test drive and then return all but one.  I hate to do that.


Lately I have found that the high res FLAC files on Qobuz sound way better than MQA on Tidal, for most things.  The "Studio Master" MQA often sound quite good to me, but on most of the classic rock I stream, Qobuz is far superior in my view.  I have both now but planning to move on from Tidal.  

For example;  ELP -

Qobuz has 9 HiRes and 21 cd options. 

Tidal has 43 mqa, 23 flac, and 16 cd options


I really liked the BluOS app. It’s a very versatile app with plethora of options to stream. That’s one thing I missed with current App. By all means, keep the Vault and get a better DAC. As others have reported, you can also improve Vault’s performance by upgrading its power supply plus good quality SPDIF cable. 

As far as picking a DAC, search online and keep an eye on used market here and on USAM. I am confident you can find something within your budget and to your liking. It’s a bit of work but well worth it. 

Good luck! 

Besides the catalog, what about the SQ (hi-res vs hi-res)?

Previously I was with Tidal and I switch to Qobuz when available in Canada re SQ (note : I do not have a MQA dac and when I was with Tidal, I prefer Tidal Redbook versions to MQA versions most of the time as MQA always sound un-natural to me. So, when I said I preferred Qobuz SQ, I was comparing Redbook Tidal to hi-res Qobuz).

Now, as Tidal hi-res is Flac, I was wondering... How do they compare?

@mojo771 I’ve being streaming FLAC files via BluOS for a few weeks now. Support came in their 4.0 software release. The FLAC files sound great. MQA competes, but I think overall the highest bit rate FLAC is better - better separation, soundstage, crispness without being harsh, etc.

So far no one has answered his question. And I’m not sure I know the answer but I don’t think you should be using Bluetooth at all regardless of streaming source. Via the BluOS app you control Qobuz or Tidal by selecting them within the app.

And as a happy Node user, consider a Teddy Pardo LPS upgrade. Not much $ and a nice little upgrade. I use a Denefrips Pontus ll 12th DAC into a McIntosh MA352 integrated and Revel floor standers that sounds great to me.

OP, if supported by your device (Smartphone, Tablet), you could connect your BS Vault via Toslink or RCA Cinch. Or using a DAP (with Android OS) which offers Line out and/or SPDIF out.

If using Bluetooth, the devices should support aptx HD or similar. Otherwise, I can imagine that lower BT standard would be the bottleneck regarding SQ.


@chocaholic Thanks for pointing out the original question.  I agree that it seems counter productive to use Bluetooth. I know that you can listen to Qobuz and Tidal through the BluOS app, but I think you can only stream mqa through the BleOS app but need to go to the Tidal app to get flac level streaming, and I thought the only way to connect it to the Vault was through Bluetooth.  But maybe there is a wired option?

I just read a bit about the Denefrips you suggested and it sound like a great addition to my system.  I've been looking for a new DAC but haven't found the right one yet.  BTW, what Revel speakers do you have.  I had the Revel F208 and recently got the Studio 2.    I also have the Niagara power conditioner instead of the Teddy.  

I have F208’s also…using stereo REL subs with them. Don’t want to hijack your thread but are the Studio 2’s profoundly better?


Are you sure it's sending the audio data via Bluetooth? If you're using TIDAL Connect with the Vault, then it's using Wi-Fi not Bluetooth.

“I know that you can listen to Qobuz and Tidal through the BluOS app”

Correct and this is the best way to stream music from any of the embedded music services within BlueOS App. As long as you have Tidal HiFi Plus plan, you can stream up to 24-bitt/192 kHz flac files. 

@yage Honestly I'm not sure if its wifi or Bluetooth.  But its still wireless flac vs the mqa direct wired streaming when I use the ethernet to the Vault.  So I think wired mqa is still better than wireless flac.  But maybe we need an audio engineer for a definitive answer.


I started with Tidal when Jay Z owned it.  Then I tried Qobuz.  I ran both for a year.  Just cancelled Tidal.  Qobuz has a more diverse selection of jazz, classical, and other types of music.  Many are in Hi Res.  Their version of Aja 24/192 and sounds fantastic.

I still buy CDs, SACDs, and really good vinyl release (Analogue Productions, Atlantic 75th, and UHQR).  So, I use Qobuz to preview new releases that I may buy, and music that I want to listen to expand my horizons.

I get the upgrade bug now and then.  This week I bought a Bricasti M3 DAC to replace my Chord Qutest with SBooster LPS.  I haven't listened yet, but I'm expecting a leap in SQ.

My 2 cents: upgrade your DAC and/or streamer.

a linear power supply (teddy pardo)is different from a audioquest power conditioner. They do two completely different things. Did your dealer, let you take home the rose to demo? I asked this because usually when you go from $1000 product to a $4000 product you would noticed a demonstrative difference in the sq.

I’m confused, which is somewhat normal these days, but isn’t the whole purpose of Tidal Connect is that you pass off the streaming URL directly from the Internet to the Bluesound Vault via the Ethernet cable from your modem/router? No lossy Bluetooth should be involved at all. Parker65310 said, "Support came in their 4.0 software release.", so maybe you should look into that if needed.

I mean, if a $219 WiiM Pro Plus can do this task, surely the Bluesound Vault can too. 

I have two Node 2i's and one Vault in three different places. I've never known them to be connected via Bluetooth. WiFi, yes, but not BT, I'm currently in front of my Mac Studio which is hardwired into my router, as is my Vault. Just for the fun of it, I turned off BT on my Mac, opened up the Mac BluOS app, and played music via Qobuz. No BT involved at all. 

My kids like Tidal better for EDM and RAP.   I also think their interface and song suggestion algorithms are pretty sweet.


They are missing some Dylan albums which is really lamo.  They just don't sound as good as Qobuz.  There MQA was just nasty.  


Tidal has a new high res service which I haven't tried.   I am paying 10 bucks a month on Qobuz, it is $20 on Tidal - BUT Tidal's family plan (up to 6 people) is $30 per month and it appears that you DO NOT have to live in same house.  Qobuz you MUST LIVE under the same roof for their family plan. 


Tough choice.

@gkelly I did demo the Rose 150, but I was in the middle of changing the entire system - amp, pre, speakers, t table etc, so maybe I didn't give the Rose a fair chance.  Since then I have done more research and it seems like much of the hype around the Rose was the screen and there were better stand alone dac's at that price.  In addition, I like the BluOS better than the rose OS.  So now that I have the system i want and have started using both Tidal and Qobuz, I want to start looking at dacs again.

I think I can add  to this conversation and clear up a lot of  confusion..

Had a Node 2i at one time. Bluetooth is not involved when you use the BluOs app nor is it when you use Tidal Direct app. With either method, the music is via wifi to the streamer and then internal DAC of your Vault. The only difference is  the control app. With BluOS you have more than one way to control it. With an Ipad/Iphone  as your control device, you likely will prefer the BlueOS interface as it shows a better multiple album view appearance with than Tidal Direct. With a laptop, (Mac)  as a control device, they are similar.

Upgrading the power supply of the vault will have some benefit, getting a better outboard DAC will also have some benefit. To my mind the Bluesound products are a good entry point into the streaming world and their chief attraction is the low cost and ability to control multiple vaults/nodes/powered speakers in multiple locations.

If you only listen to your main system then you can improve much with a better streamer and DAC but you will loose the BlueOS operating system. Each streamer has it's own operating system. My first upgrade from the Node was a Lumin Streamer. I currently use an Auralic and prefer the user interface to the Lumin. 

Had tidal right when it came out...loved it. Then I started getting error messages regarding multiple users. Tried to debug it. Dumped tidal, went to qobuz. Have not looked back, and that was probably 3 years ago. I have 2k+ CDs ripped to flac. Qobuz & ripped cds via Roon takes care of it all flawlessly. Don't underestimate the greatness of Roon....btw I have a Teddy ps on my RME. Really widened the soundstage quite noticably


A couple of hopefully on target comments.

I upgraded my Node 2i by adding a PD Creative Linear Power Supply board. And then offloading the DAC function to external DAC's. First SMSL SU-9 and then upgrading to a Gustard R26 ladder DAC. All significant improvements in SQ. And the Node is hard wired to the router with an audio quality switch. No Bluetooth or WiFI in the "stream".

To the discussion of App interfaces; BlusOS vs whatever. The best solution is to subscribe and use Roon. It is heads above everything else; for sure Tidal (which I stream) or BlueOS. Yes, it's an additional fee/subscription. But when my Roon Core was done for several weeks I had to rely on the other two apps. So clumsy in comparison.

Once the Core was back up and running (I use both Roon apps on an iPhone and MacBook) I was so happy, grateful. Because it makes accessing your streaming and local library so easy and discovering new music and information about it is so readily available. Roon makes my whole system so available. I listen so much more than I did before. It's an essential tool to any serious audiophile. I think almost as important as the other physical components; streamer, DAC etc. Try the free trial as see for yourself. That's what I did and was immediately hooked!

Again just my personal and humble experience!

Ive been emailing Tidal support and Bluesound support for clarification.  It seems like the BluOS app only streams Tidal as high as mqa and the only way to get flac from Tidal is through the Tidal CONNECT app and NOT the BluOS app.  So I can stream wired through the BluOS at mqa quality OR I can use the Tidal connect app to get flac, but only connect wirelessly.  So I thought Tidal had solved the flac issue but if its only wirelessly then I will need to stay with mqa or go to Qobuz on the BluOS app.

@gkelly I admit I bought the Niagara without knowing the diff between the PC and a LPS.  Can you give me a simple explanation between the two?

A power conditioner, regulates voltage, reduce noise, and filters out electrical disturbances. it can be electronic or transformer-based. Power conditioners are similar to power strips, but are designed to filter noise and interference. A linear power supply is a power supply circuit that converts electrical energy to provide a stable direct current(dc) output. it consist of a step down, transformer, a rectifier, a filter circuit, and voltage regulator. Linear power supplies our designed for low noise and are often considered quiet. They are used to replace low quality SMPS (switch mode power supply)often the wall wart for your DAC, streamers or whatever equipment that uses one. So both are necessary when one is a trying to achieve good sound. Now mind you that apparently there is some new technology to where the SMPS is just as good as a linear power supply so you have to be aware. But I don’t think we are in that kind of dollars world yet.

I can stream wired through the BluOS at mqa quality OR I can use the Tidal connect app to get flac, but only connect wirelessly.  So I thought Tidal had solved the flac issue but if its only wirelessly then I will need to stay with mqa or go to Qobuz on the BluOS app.

@mojo771  You can get hi-res FLAC from Tidal's own desktop apps (Mac/PC) on USB output.

On 3rd party streamers, only a few vendors so far have completed updating their software to support Tidal hi-res FLAC (I know of Linn, Volumio and Lumin). Roon says they are working on it, and no doubt BluOS is in progress as well.

I’m using Amazon.  It is only music as far as I can tell and it has I don’t know how many high res albums, but it seems most of what I listen to is high res.  I listen to mostly Jazz and I have never not found an album on Amazon that also wasn’t on Qobuz. I just recently dropped my Qobuz account because I really couldn’t find much of a difference in titles or sound.

All the best.

Post removed 

I had both Tidal and Qobuz and for my preference I stayed with Tidal going through Audirvāna for best sound quality. I find Tidal is easy to search and has lots of music that I like in Jazz, blues,vocal jazz,pop,soft rock and etc….

OP's comment  01-06-2024

'So I can stream wired through the BluOS at mqa quality OR I can use the Tidal connect app to get flac, but only connect wirelessly.'

Why is wirelessly the only option? Thanks for elaborating.


The Bluesound Vault has an ethernet port for connecting directly to the router.  But the only way to get the Tidal flac is through the Tida Connect App and not the BluOS app.  Theres no way to directly connect my android phone or pc to the Vault, so it needs to be wireless.  

Hopefully, mspot is correct and Bluesound will correct this and Tidal Connect flac will be integrated into the BluOS like the Tidal mqa is.

In the meantime, I can keep both Qobuz and Tidal.


After doing some more reading, I think @moonwatcher is most likely correct - the app acts only as a remote control when TIDAL Connect is used. This means that the audio data is sent directly to the Vault over your wired network connection and the app only sends commands to the streamer for playback / volume / etc. This is similar to how Spotify Connect and UPnP / DLNA works. An email to TIDAL support should clear up the technical details.

@yage I've been emailing Tidal and Bluesound for days now and it appears the only way to get flac is through the Tidal Connect app and not the Bluesound app that is imbedded in the Vault.    The BluOS integrated in the Vault is limited to mqa.  But maybe they are working on another upgrade.


Yeah - most likely they are. If you don't want to use two apps for music playback, then I guess you're stuck with MQA rather than pure PCM. Otherwise, there's no reason to panic since the Vault supports TIDAL Connect.

@mojo771 I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for a BluOS update for Tidal FLAC, since Lenbrook now owns MQA.

What's the problem with using Tidal Connect? It has a few more features that are not available on the BluOS app. (Also note that a lot of MQA on Tidal has still not been converted to hi-res FLAC).

I would like to ask, are you more concerned with ease of the application or sound quality? If application is your main concern, then you’re done. No need to have any further discussions. But if sound quality is the main concern, one is going to have to give up some comfort and learn the new system. I remember going from Spotify then to Amazon Music then having box that can let me play Qobuz. It seemed that when I went from each service, the options became less. But the sound quality increased. Just a thought

@mojo771 if you are streaming via Bluetooth then really it doesn’t matter what streaming service you use. You’re sending lossy audio to your streamer. That’s a waste of money so might as well cancel your tidal and just use free Spotify or the cheaper Apple Music or Amazon music. 
As to the catalog, I find albums and artists on Tidal that don’t exist in Qobuz.
I listen to rock, jazz and classical. One example is a band I discovered thanks to Roon radio feature…The Stimulators. Only exists on Tidal. They have several tracks that are really good and all of their albums are recorders well. 
There are more examples. However, Qobuz has a larger selection of high res music. If you only care about library selection, I would stick with Tidal. 

The upshot is Tidal seems to be abandoning MQA and moving to FLAC. But for now, much of the catalog is still available in lossy MQA. I have Tidal but none of my DACs support MQA so I’m glad for this development. Also note that MQA has been rebranded by the company that bought them out to another acronym I can’t recall right now. MQA might have had a purpose for about 5 years or so when the Internet was mostly DSL in speeds, but now, with people getting down 100Mbps or more, there’s little reason to use it anymore at all. I don’t "hate" it, but just see it as a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist anymore. Thinking the current licensing scheme adds about $5 to $10 to a DAC, no biggie.

Once Qobuz ever has a "Connect" app and streamers support it, I’ll give it a shot, but for the most part, I’ve been happy with Tidal. Even Deezer would be cool if they too had a connect app to make life easier.

I converted from tidal to Qobuz earlier this year. I still think MQA sounded better than flax on Qobuz. I also think that tidal has more music that I like: prog rock, jazz, blues, rock, jazz. I used the free program when I went to Qobuz that used my Roon database entries (ripped and tidal) and loaded all the Qobuz songs into Roon that I had in tidal. After this, I received “unavailable” errors next to many Qobuz songs that means the artist restricted these songs in Qobuz, but tidal did t have these restrictions. 1 album with 9 songs had 5 that were “unavailable”. 
If the Best Buy/tidal fiasco wouldn’t have occurred, I would still be with tidal.