How do I know if Sonos is streaming lossless music from TIDAL?

  • 11 February 2016
  • 18 replies
  • 33938 views

Userlevel 2
Badge +3
Hi guys,

On the iPhone APP I can choose what quality I want to stream the music. I have the HiFi Subscription and should be able to stream TIDAL HiFi - Lossless FLAC 16bit/44.1kHz. (Flac 1411 kbps - Lossless). Do I need to do something to be able to stream on that quality? Does SONOS support the 1411 kbps Stream? Is there a way to check how many kbps is being sent to SONOS?

Thanks guys!

This topic has been closed for further comments. You can use the search bar to find a similar topic, or create a new one by clicking Create Topic at the top of the page.

18 replies

Userlevel 7
Badge +21
Usually Sonos will use the highest quality level that a service provides. In TIDAL's case, if you are a Hi-Fi subscriber, you will get the Lossless FLAC audio. If you were only a Premium subscriber, you would get 320Kbps AAC.

BTW, the bitrate for FLAC is variable, depending on the complexity of the audio at any moment in the track. 1411 Kbps is, I believe, the highest possible bitrate for 44KHz/16 bit audio, but average for most FLAC tracks tends to be in the area of 900-1100Kbps.

Sonos doesn't offer any way to check the amount of bandwidth being used that I'm aware of, but some routers offer a graph or chart showing speed use. Just make sure there isn't much else going on with your network, or you might see numbers that are higher than you're expecting (like if someone were streaming a movie or TV show while you're listening). Again, keep in mind that FLAC has a variable bitrate, so you probably won't see 1411 Kbps (or ~1.4 Mbps), but more likely will see around 1000 Kbps (or ~1 Mbps).
Userlevel 2
Badge +3
MikeV,

Thanks for the Reply, it was good to know that SONOS will get automatically the best quality available.

If anyone else know if there is a way to check the bitrate let me know!
Userlevel 2
Badge +3
MikeV just to let you and the community know I did the check following the router traffic like you suggested on spotify i got 288Kbits in average and on tidal 1040Kbits so its working as it should the Hi-FI.

Thanks once again!
Badge +2
If you can't tell the difference by listening then it probably doesn't matter.
If you can't tell the difference by listening then it probably doesn't matter.

Haha, exactly! So many who claim "night and day" differences, but I sincerely doubt they could hear the difference if it were 320K AAC.
If you can't tell the difference by listening then it probably doesn't matter.

Haha, exactly! So many who claim "night and day" differences, but I sincerely doubt they could hear the difference if it were 320K AAC.


"Night and day" differences that are so subtle they can only be heard if you spend tens of thousands of dollars on "audiophile" gear and you are a "trained" listener.
I once jumped on the FLAC bandwagon...I fooled myself for a bit (until my harddrive started overflowing). I honestly can't tell the difference. I guess I'm just not a good enough listener.
Userlevel 7
Badge +21
The direction this topic is turning reminds me of this test NPR did... They took samples of six tracks at three different quality levels (128K MP3, 320K MP3, uncompressed 16/44KHz WAV) and you're supposed to pick the lossless one.

http://www.npr.org/sections/therecord/2015/06/02/411473508/how-well-can-you-hear-audio-quality

Good luck! 🙂
This is a misleading test for majority users not playing to a high fidelity system. BTW, my new sonos connect chokes on streaming tidal uncompressed tracks...dumps unbuffered tracks every 20 minutes...not a tidal or bandwidth issue. Only happens when streaming from the sonos connect.
This is a misleading test for majority users not playing to a high fidelity system.
The usual throwaway comment on the subject that is so common even today.

I have yet to see a controlled level matched double blind listening test using the most expensive audiophile rig in the world to pick differences between something like a good 320 lossy codec and lossless files, derived from the same CD. I haven't seen one for even the 256 Apple lossy codec.

Or for that matter between a 320/256 lossy against hi res with bit depth and sampling for the latter going as high as it can get today. 48/384? - perhaps even higher by now!
I have the HiFi Subscription and should be able to stream TIDAL HiFi - Lossless FLAC 16bit/44.1kHz. (Flac 1411 kbps - Lossless).
I am very happy with Apple Music on all my zones, some of which have residual audiophile gear, so I am also curious about this - what is the advantage of paying the premium for such a subscription over the standard offering? Unless it is also something on the lines of more music availability/choices, or no advertising, why isn't this just a rip off?
I found Spotify To be the best streaming app with best music library and interface. If they offered lossless I would go back in a heartbeat. I chose tidal for lossless even though the streaming interface is clunky and with an inferior music collection (deezer Is worse). Try this...choose a favorite song from a cd ( my friend chose Santana) , then play it on a 5.1 100 watt channels or better sound system. 1st Spotify, sounds good...then try same song from tidal... sounds real good crisper tweeters and more defined mids and bass tighter subbase
Then play from your cd for the best sound. Tidal is closest to real cd quality. Then compare cd to Spotify...sounds like someone left a wet t-shirt on you speakers
I'm "new" to Sonos...my "Legacy" system (In my ATL Home Office) ) I can hear the difference on my B&W 805's with DSD and FLAC (Tidal-Hi-Fi) vs. Spotify being feed from my components (Legacy) system. On My sonos (rest of the house) I can't tell the differences (can't play any ProStudio Master/DSD) at all between the streaming of Spotify, Tidal or Apple.

Additionally, Sonos Connect amp to the B&W 805's streaming Spotify vs. tidal is barely noticeable (and I mean barely).
fwiw I currently have Tidal HiFi, Google Play (cancelled, just the last few days), Apple Music (iTunes Match AAC). I can hear the difference on my Play1(x2)+sub system, and clearly can hear it on my Audeze Sine headphones. It depends on the source material and what/how/why you listen. I'm also a musician and have nearfield monitors for mixing. Those are downright painful on some lossy compressed source. In comparing identical tracks from the same album, I will always be able to hear more detail on the Tidal stream with less harsh treble content. But I'm usually listening for subtleties - initial attack of finger on string, breaths, harmonic warbling of note decay, etc. For good music, I find that I can listen to the same tune dozens of times and hear new things - with good source material (CD or Tidal). With mp3/aac, much less so.

It really depends on your listening environment and goals for enjoying music. If it is background music, then frankly compressed files are fine. If you're doing critical listening, then lossless is better to my ears. Neither is a "better" way of listening - people are different.
Userlevel 7
Badge +15
I've been trialling Deezer Premium + for a month and just paid for a years subscription.

Sounds on par with my lossles FLAC cd rips, and 40+ million songs to choose from.

Using a Playbar 2x Play 1's and Sub.
Badge
This is a misleading test for majority users not playing to a high fidelity system.
The usual throwaway comment on the subject that is so common even today.

I have yet to see a controlled level matched double blind listening test using the most expensive audiophile rig in the world to pick differences between something like a good 320 lossy codec and lossless files, derived from the same CD. I haven't seen one for even the 256 Apple lossy codec.

Or for that matter between a 320/256 lossy against hi res with bit depth and sampling for the latter going as high as it can get today. 48/384? - perhaps even higher by now!
Badge
You know, a lot of you guys really don't get a few things about digital audio. Sample rate and bit depth and streaming bit rate and apparent listenable differences really depends on the PROGRAM MATERIAL. Take for example WELL RECORDED acoustic piano. The difference in quality with higher bit rates and sample rates is very apparent. With synthesized and electronic instruments you won't hear any difference and with poorly recorded material, sometimes lower sample rate and/or bit depth can actually sound better. If you listen to crap, it will sound like crap at any sample or bit depth.
Sigh.