Question

Tidal settings for Sonos: Use HiFi or Master Quality?

  • 23 April 2019
  • 6 replies
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Hi. New to Tidal (but not Sonos) and have a simple question > In the Tidal settings is it best to select HiFi (lossless audio) or Master (the best audio experience)?

I know that Sonos does NOT stream the Master Quality Audio (MQA) offered by Tidal … but will Master Quality work on Sonos (via Connects & Amps) so I can use it via other devices (i.e. get MQA on BlueSound Vault) or do I need to set it on HiFi (to get lossless Flac 16 bit/ 44.1kHz) on Sonos?

The other way to ask this would be: Would Sonos automatically down sample the MQA hi-res files to CD-quality lossless?

Thanks! Could not find answer anywhere in forum or via the Tidal FAQs.

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6 replies

A while back I seem to recall that someone found that 24-bit MQA content from Tidal would play on Sonos. Certainly 24-bit FLAC files will play. However this behaviour is something of an accidental side-effect, and it's evidently been observed that the data is truncated to 16-bit.

Given this, there'd be no real point in sending MQA to Sonos as it would in fact be slightly worse quality than Red Book 16-bit due to the way the lowest bits are encoded. It should however play, so if you're after the convenience of a single source format everywhere I believe it will work. YMMV, so you'd have to try it.
This is the thread I was recalling:
https://en.community.sonos.com/music-services-and-sources-228994/connect-meridian-and-mqa-6764735
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Thanks Ratty! So I guess there is not an official answer tho there's some in-depth info on what happens. Time to A B it and decide.
A/B, as is usual in audio at home, may not be reliable for having more than one variable. How will you make sure of eliminating any heard difference arising because - admittedly a small possibility here - of different masters? And, more likely, one stream may have a louder setting, which will always sound better, even if just slightly louder.
In this case though if there is no cost implication to you, toggling back and forth and sticking to the one that sounds better would be simple to do.

In my opinion, no need to set to HiFi on Tidal app just for Sonos to be able to play.  Once you stream Tidal content to Sonos via Airplay, you will notice on the Tidal app that the “Masters”  label changed to “HiFi” by itself, a self downgrade for compatibility.

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In my opinion, no need to set to HiFi on Tidal app just for Sonos to be able to play.  Once you stream Tidal content to Sonos via Airplay, you will notice on the Tidal app that the “Masters”  label changed to “HiFi” by itself, a self downgrade for compatibility.

I’ve noticed the opposite. Assuming a song which is available as a “Master” version, with “Master” set as the streaming option in the Tidal app, when I select a Sonos speaker for output from the Tidal app, the maximum quality allowed by Tidal is “HiFi”- as you’ve noted. However, if I select AirPlay as the output from the Tidal app, and then check the box within the Airplay menu for same Sonos speaker, the maximum quality is uprated to “Master”. You can see this behavior occur immediately within the app with songs which are available in “Master” quality. Switching back and forth between the Sonos speaker and Airplay (to the same Sonos speaker) causes the song selected to be displayed as “HiFi” vs. “Master”.