DirectStream Performance with CD Quality Streaming services?

Interested in adding a DirectStream but I heavily use CD quality streaming services - Qobuz and Tidal. Will I hear a substantive difference in using the the DS DAC with these services? Or, do I need physical CDs (or rips that I did myself) to gain much?


The DS will do an excellent job of retrieving detail and ambiance from 44.1k material no matter how delivered. In fact it doesn’t really know where the bits come from.

Music streamed at true 44.1/16 will sound just as good on the DS as CDs you rip yourself.

Please report back if you try it!

I use Wimp HIFI (Tidal) which streams flac-coded 44/16. Quality is decent and sometimes close to redbook standard, but compared with my music library or transport playback of the same source the quality does not impress me. The sound is blurred, with bloated bass and soft sounding. I am pretty confident that my Aries or DS is not to blame. I think it is either the transcoding or the online streaming itself that is to blame.

I would say it depends how you listen to your local music and how to Tidal…

Just a few moments ago I have commented on this subject in other thread of this forum - for me the Tidal streamed via Squeezebox coax sounds much worse than the same track played via the Bridge from local NAS…

Streaming from my tweaked Mini was nice not as good as ripped CDs I thought.

I’ve been using Tidal through my Directstream since the end of December. Initially I was using a Sonos Connect and, while it sounded great, streaming my ripped CDs via the bridge sounded a bit better, but just a bit. I picked up an Auralic Aries a couple of weeks ago (music through it sounds better than the bridge) and the difference between my ripped CDs and Tidal is indistinguishable. To me, both sound the same and both sound great.

IMO, Tidal is one of the best things to come around in ages. For the price of about 1 1/4 CDs a month or a hires download, you have more CD quality music available than you’ll ever be able to listen to in your lifetime. Combined with the Directstream, it’s near audio nirvana.

Murrayb said I picked up an Auralic Aries a couple of weeks ago (music through it sounds better than the bridge) and the difference between my ripped CDs and Tidal is indistinguishable.
Thank you for your feedback on to Aries regarding SQ bettering the bridge. I will probably consider buying one :)

If you won’t mind I would have few further questions :)

Do you have the Aries LE or the higher version of Aries ?

How do you connect it to the DS and what cables do you use ?

Regarding my squeezebox setup, I was using USB (I think it’s Triode’s EDO mod) with some generic USB cable and also coaxial SP/DIF with generic digital SP/DIF cable. Also SBT display is turned off during playback. USB sounded a bit better than coax. Maybe I can yet try better USB/Coax cable, but I would not expect it would improve that much the SBT SQ to get on the Bridge quality level…

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I have the Aries Extreme with the linear PS and the Femto clocks. I connect to the DS via AES using a WireWorld Platinum Starlight cable. I replaced a SB Transporter that I happily used for many years and I can’t believe the difference. I also stream Tidal and it sounds good but it does have network congestion and dropouts from time to time, so I prefer streaming from my NAS. I use Tidal for finding old music that I haven’t gotten around to ripping from my LPs or to discover new music.

Maniac, I have the Aries Extreme as well. After seeing a few comments on it on the usb thread elsewhere on the site, I got a jcat usb cable to link the Aries to the Directstream. I’ve been lucky using Tidal as I’ve experienced very few dropouts. It has been great to read about an album and a couple of clicks later be listening to it.

+1 listening to Tidal on the DS via Auralic Aries Extreme (w/ latest Aries 2.1 firmware). I have this setup and Tidal sounds wonderful on the DS. Ethernet and USB cable upgrades with accompanying burn-in are a must for this combo to sound its best, but when combined with the Pikes Peak firmware release, the sound is fantastic. Ted really knocked it out of the park with the latest firmware… 44.1k sounds amazing on the DS. Live concerts sometimes have startling quantities of detail and a wide soundstage with strong tight bass. I have a PWT, and I have to say the sound quality I’m getting from Tidal with the above setup is comparable. It did require upgrading the full USB/Ethernet digital cable chain all the way to my broadband router to take it over the top. I have lots of audio on my NAS, including high-bitrate and DSD, but the sheer volume of titles available on Tidal has been a game-changer for me.

Re: cabling, right now I’m using Pangea USB-AG to good effect for $99 1m (24-gauge solid-silver conductors, special geometry in twist to reject RF, plus triple shielding). I’m intrigued if some of the more expensive USB cables would yield even better sound, but I haven’t personally done a bake off… Ethernet is recently upgraded from CAT5e to CAT7.

I can’t wait for Tidal to roll out high-bitrate MQA streaming later on this year (hopefully supported in time by the DS). In the meantime lossless CD quality streaming still sounds fantastic on the DS. They do have scalability growing pains as I get glitching in playback once in a while (fairly bad this past weekend but good as of this evening), but hopefully those issues will be solved as they get a better handle on scaling. They can use all that cash from JayZ to rack some more servers and improve their server-side caching. :slight_smile:

Let’s get back to “CD Quality Streaming services.” (Jtrimm, your post was still on topic. :) )

To talk Aries, please post in the Aries tips thread.

The Aries specific posts have been moved to the Aries Tips and Tricks thread.

I have been streaming Tidal for the last two weeks. I am having the opposite problem. Tidal pften sounds better than my local streams from my own repository. It might just be the tonal balance of the system, but it sounds great. So much so, that I will be testing the difference between flac and wave under JRiver with the DSD. I A/Bed the two with my PWD, but I have changed my system a bit since then. It could be that the improvement I used to hear streaming waves from the server with my PWD is now a detriment with my DSD. It doesn’t make sense that it would, but then again, it never made sense to me that it sounded better with waves in the first place.

I notice that I am also seeing audiophile network switches and such being advertised. I laughed when I saw them, but of course, I have had to reasses such feeling about many things in the past when I couldn’t deny what I was clearly hearing.

This audio stuff can be really confusing.

Drew said This audio stuff can be really confusing.
That is probably one of the few statements that we all can agree with!

I have made several changes to my system that were small (although audible with careful listening): a better quality network switch, linear PS to run the NAS, the switch, and my Windows computer (audio-only), and upgraded ethernet cables, better isolation between components and rack. I have concluded that the effect of these small changes is cumulative. They may seem minor individually, but together they bring to system to a higher quality. At least that’s how I make sense of some of this.

I’m on the two-thumbs-up side for Tidal through the DS. I’m streaming it using Amarra for Tidal, which sounds fantastic (but is annoyingly flaky).

So far, no single Mac package has local library management plus Tidal support along with an Android remote-control app, so I’m using JRiver for local music and A4T for streaming.

I either play Tidal via Roon to the DS, or use PureMusic over iTunes. In my experience, PureMusic/iTunes is much better than Tidal/Roon. Even playing exactly the same album from my library sounds different depending on the two approaches.

To make things more even, I’ve started using HQPlayer to process the signal from Roon/Tidal. It comes close to PureMusic/iTunes, but not for critical listening.

Why there is a difference is beyond me. According to posts from both Roon and Ted, they should sound equivalent, but they don’t.

Streaming TIDAL via Bridge II sounds excellent.

I used to have SQ issues with TIDAL streaming through my laptop. Amarra for TIDAL didn’t help much and the interface was clunky. Uptone Regen w/Curious USB cable helped a lot, but streaming TIDAL via Bridge II sounds excellent, and I no longer need a computer attached to my DAC.

When using TIDAL, does anyone else’s DS display 44.1khz/24 bit? I thought everything on TIDAL was 16 bit.

mtsars said When using TIDAL, does anyone else's DS display 44.1khz/24 bit? I thought everything on TIDAL was 16 bit.
Mine portrays 16 bit for Tidal but 24 bit when I stream Pandora. This happens whether I used my Squeezebox server or Logitech Media Server. I've always wondered why this is.
mtsars said When using TIDAL, does anyone else's DS display 44.1khz/24 bit? I thought everything on TIDAL was 16 bit.
If you've used any volume control in the streaming application or the OS that will change the number of non-zero bits in each sample. Also any other processing by the OS can change the number of bits. The following How To explains how to use the bit perfect test to see if the OS is changing things and it has some advice for options to check for: