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  1. #1
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    Why does Tidal flacs sound better than e.g. Deezer flacs?

    When I recently read What hifi's review of Tidal, I was surprised to learn that Tidal, according to What hifi, sounded better than Deezer in hifi mode. Aren't we all raised to believe that flac is flac, it is lossless and thereby end of story? Apparently not.

    The strange thing is, I even noticed this myself having tested Deezer hifi and Tidal hifi side by side, before reading the What hifi review. But, as flacs are flacs, I simply ignored my own hearing, thinking I must imagine things. What I thought I heard, but ignored, was that Tidal sounded clearer, crisper and with more drive to the songs, in summary; more engaging. And before you rave about Tidal using hi res files in Master mode, I played both streaming services in hifi mode only - for a fair comparison.

    So, what to think? Uncle Google to the rescue, and lo and behold, apparently I am not alone, in thinking that flacs are not just flacs, and certainly not as "lossless" as you might think, as this scientifically more substantiated article seems to conclude.

    So, what to think? How can Tidal deliver better sounding flacs? And do you agree that they are? Are they cheating, somehow using a magic enhancement potion when transcoding?
    LMS 8.1.1 on Synology 213+ NAS. 3 x Squeezebox Touch with external Rega DAC.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Greg Erskine's Avatar
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    By definition FLAC is lossless. You can convert back and forth without error.

    In your Tidal vs Deezer example, there is no guarantee source used for the generation of the FLAC was the same, so the resultant FLACs may be different.

  3. #3
    Senior Member chill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by navlefnuller View Post
    So, what to think? Uncle Google to the rescue, and lo and behold, apparently I am not alone, in thinking that flacs are not just flacs, and certainly not as "lossless" as you might think, as this scientifically more substantiated article seems to conclude.
    Forgive my skepticism, but an article that uses the perceived height of an instrument as a proxy for sound quality, and never does a bitwise comparison* of the WAV files that they claim get successively worse, is not what I'd call 'scientifically substantiated'. Seems like a perfect opportunity for 'imagination' to create an effect.

    * Maybe they did, but I gave up reading.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by chill View Post
    Forgive my skepticism, but an article that uses the perceived height of an instrument as a proxy for sound quality, and never does a bitwise comparison* of the WAV files that they claim get successively worse, is not what I'd call 'scientifically substantiated'. Seems like a perfect opportunity for 'imagination' to create an effect.

    * Maybe they did, but I gave up reading.
    Yeah, they lost me on that height thing as well, but still... I will do some more testing tonight.
    LMS 8.1.1 on Synology 213+ NAS. 3 x Squeezebox Touch with external Rega DAC.

  5. #5
    Senior Member philchillbill's Avatar
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    Do accountants who use lossless compression like WinZip or WinRAR to compress their Excel files wonder if the rounding of decimals is different when they re-expand compared to an uncompressed original? Maybe they should !

    Perhaps the audiophile industry could expand its horizons by targeting a different audience of gullibles unable to understand the meaning of the term LOSSLESS.

    Lossless is simply a delivery channel that guarantees that what goes in comes out unchanged. Completely unchanged. If what comes out of 2 lossless channels sounds different then what went in was different to the same degree. Thatĺs all. Different master, different equalization, funky DSP processing. Thatĺs where we should be looking to explain the differences, not the transmission channel...

  6. #6
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    My reading of that article is that they found a flaw in the Jriver FLAC creator - perhaps an overwrite of something when coming across large embedded artwork.
    If they can repeat the problem (if indeed it is one) using different FLAC tools then it would have some more credance.

    A software fault might be a reason for Deezer sounding different to Tidal - but I also suspect that the starting point (input) was different.
    Paul Webster
    http://dabdig.blogspot.com
    Author of "Now Playing" plugins covering Radio France (FIP etc), PlanetRadio (Bauer - Kiss, Absolute, Scala, JazzFM etc), KCRW, Supla Finland, ABC Australia, CBC/Radio-Canada and RTE Ireland

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