Discovering and understanding

high quality sound

High Quality sound is part of our DNA: our mission is to make you listen to the music the way it was conceived, played and recorded.

Many people still ignore how much compression robs music of the emotion and depth it should bring. Respecting sound means understanding the words that describe it. It also means fighting against the sometimes deceptive misuse of its lexical field: High Fidelity, HD, HIFI, Lossless, CD Quality, Hi-Res - We will help you find your way.

What is high quality sound?

Definitions of the terms that scare you are given in the glossary

Before getting started

Sound is the vibration of a fluid in the shape of waves, a vibration felt by the human ear. That is sound as heard in its natural, analog state. Reproducing this sound implies capture and then restitution. Computers and digital technology have completely transformed our approach to sound capture and restitution: we now speak of digital audio. Our job at Qobuz is to give you access to the most faithful music reproductions, as digital audio can offer you both good and bad reproductions.

MP3

Named for its format, the MP3 is a compressed lossy audio file: it contains less data than the original files. The compression process entails the loss of many aural details, especially the harmonics of higher-pitched sounds. This results in pronounced quality loss, but also in small storage space. With improved internet connections, part of it's interest has been lost.

Lossy compressed format • Bitrate: from 128 kbps to 320 kbps • Resolution: 16-Bit

CD Quality

CD Quality comprises a number of formats (FLAC, ALAC, WMA Lossless...) offering lossless compression at a certain resolution and a certain sampling rate (16-Bit / 44.1 kHz -) which are identical to those used by the CD, defined according to the Nyquist-Shannon theorem. This nondestructive compression method reduces the file size without changing the original quality. Its bitrate is over 4 times higher than MP3's.

Lossless compressed formats • Bitrate: up to 1411 kbps • Resolution: 16-Bit

Hi-Res Audio

Hi-Res (as in High-Resolution) represents the apex of digital audio. These files - obtained through lossless compression or uncompressed - deliver better sound quality than a CD. They are encoded in 24-Bit, at frequencies that can go up to 192 kHz - these are actually the same files that are used in recording studios.
They therefore offer a much more accurate, faithful and respectful reproduction of the work of artists and sound engineers than any other audio file format. Moreover,the listening intensity and richness has no comparisonwith MP3 files or even with CDquality!

Uncompressed or lossless compressed formats • Resolution: 24-Bit

Qobuz: quality first

Going against the all-MP3 approach that has emerged in recent years, our mission is to offer all music lovers the listening comfort and excellence that both music enthusiasts and audiophiles deserve. Out of consideration for the music, for artists and their works, and for all who contribute to it.
It all starts with your choice of quality for music downloads and streaming.

Available streaming
formats:

  • Qobuz Premium: MP3 320 kbps
  • Qobuz Hi-Fi: CD Quality
    (FLAC 16-bit / 44.1 kHz)
  • Qobuz Sublime: Hi-Res 24-Bit
    (up to 192 kHz) for your download purchases and CD Quality for the entire catalog.
See our Unlimited Subscriptions

Available download
formats:

  • Formats using lossless compression: FLAC, WMA Lossless, ALAC.
  • "Raw" formats, without compression or loss: WAV, AIFF.

(You may also download your purchases in lossy compressed formats - MP3, WMA, AAC, OGG -but only if you have very good reasons to do so!)

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The music value chain:
for an optimal experience

The finest aural experience is provided by a number of different actors, each one responsible for a link in the chain. Qobuz strives for the same levels of excellence on all links.

Artist, Studio and Mastering

We do the preliminary work with recording studios, in partnership with record labels and film studios, to obtain 24-Bit Hi-Res files with an identical sound to that of the engineer’s studio master

Transfer & File Control

We take special care with regards to the conformity of the audio files sent to us by our suppliers: sampling frequency, resolution…we seek to oust any cases of upsampling and other such adverse practices.

Apps

We develop applications which must meet the same requirements by offering the best possible sound quality, whilst remaining simple and enjoyable to use. At Qobuz, format is not the only ingredient that dictates quality.

Equipment

Our Hi-Fi editorial team regulary test, dissect, compare and recommend the most suitable Hi-Fi equipment for enjoying Qobuz quality, for all budgets. We also work with the biggest brands to integrate our applications with them.

Discover why Qobuz is unique…

How to enjoy music in Hi-Res?

There are as many possible configurations as Hi-Fi equipment brands. Here are some Hi-Res configuration possibilities that will allow you to fully enjoy all the quality that Qobuz has to offer

    • Source

    • DAC

    • Powered Speakers

    • Source

    • DAC

    • Amplifier

    • Speakers

    • Source

    • Player
      (Google Chromecast, Bluesound Node...)

    • Powered Speakers

Here we don’t cover cables, NAS, network drives, or other advanced Hi-Fi configurations, so that we remain accessible to the entry-level audiophile! If you really know your Hi-Fi and want to go deeper in detail, our Hi-Res Guide is definitely for you.

And what about CD Quality (16-Bit FLAC/44.1 kHz)?

Unlike Hi-Res audio (which is encoded in 24-Bit), CD Quality has a 16-Bit resolution. It is supported by most devices on the market (computers, smartphones, tablets), without the need for extra equipment.

  • Source

  • Speaker

  • or

    Headphones

Discover the list of Qobuz approved retailers

Glossary

Resolution (bit) and sampling rate (kHz)

  • 24-bit

    Resolution

    (Bits)

    Dynamic range

    Resolution is expressed in Bits. It determines the accuracy of a sound's dynamics - in other words, the number of values a sound can take. The higher the accuracy of a sound's dynamics, the more perceptible aural variations will be, and the deeper a sound will seem. Sound becomes deeper and more dynamic. In 8-Bit, a sound can have 256 different values. In 16-Bit, it can have 65,536 values - and in 24-Bit... 16 777,217!

  • 192 kHz

    Sampling rate

    (kHz)

    Sampling rate

    Sampling an audio signal consists of measuring a signal's amplitude at regular intervals, which are predetermined by the sampling rate. The latter is expressed in kHz (kilo-Hertz). The higher the frequency/rate, the most faithful and accurate the transcript will be. CD quality (44.1 kHz) collects 44,100 samples per second. In Hi-Res, this rate can reach 192 kHz (6.5 times more than a CD!).

The most common audio formats

  • "Lossy" compressed formats Definition

    Destructive compression that reduces the file size by suppressing sound details, actually degrading the original quality. (MP3, OGG, AAC, WMA)

    MP3 : The most common format on the Internet, developed in 1992.

    OGG : A format based on a patent-free algorithm, whose quality is equivalent to MP3s

    AAC : The format chosen by Apple as an alternative to MP3s

    WMA : Proprietary format developed by Microsoft

  • "Lossless" compressed formats Definition

    Non-destructive compression that reduces the file size without degrading the original quality.

    FLAC : The most common lossless format on the Internet, patent-free and massively used

    WMA Lossless : Lossless version of the standard WMA format developed by Microsoft

    ALAC : A format developed by Apple in 2004, usable by everyone since 2011

  • Uncompressed formats Definition

    Uncompressed audio is the most faithful to the original file quality.

    WAV : A format that can contain uncompressed audio, developed by Microsoft & IBM

    AIFF : A format that can contain uncompressed audio, developed by Apple

  • To go further: the DSD Definition

    DSD is an 1 bit encoding format with a very high sampling rate (2.8 MHz or 5.6 MHz), based on the Delta Sigma conversion, where only signal variations are coded. It is actually an alternative to PCM (Pulse Code Modulation) - the conversion method used on all previously mentioned formats.

  • Codec, format Definition

    Digital audio formats are commonly identified by their encoding. The encoding indicates the number of bits in which the file is encoded and its sampling rate.

    A codec (coder-decoder) is the hardware or software element that converts the original digital audio file into the chosen format (encoding) and that enables its reading (decoding) in order to transform it into an audible, analog sound message.

  • Bitrate Definition

    Bitrates (used to describe MP3 or other lossy compressed files) reflect the flow of binary data (or bits) per second. A 320 kbps bitrate corresponds to the transmission of about 320,000 bits per second (kilobits-per-second). It can be constant (CBR) or variable (VBR).
    For CD quality or Hi-Res files, bitrate is calculated as follows:
    Sampling rate x number of bits (16 or 24) x number of channels (2 in stereo)

  • DAC Definition

    Simply put, a DAC (Digital to Analog Converter) is an external sound card that is connected to a computer or a smartphone. Its role is to convert digital audio data into analog signals - which, when amplified, become audible.

    The advantage of using a DAC is to overcome the poor quality of recent mass-market internal sound cards, which rarely support Hi-Res 24-Bit files.

    Discover our Hi-Fi testbeds
  • Network Drive Definition

    The purpose of a network drive is to replace CD, SACD or Blu-Ray players. Once connected to the speakers, it establishes a connection with the local network (usually via Ethernet or Wi-Fi) and can reproduce various audio streams:

    • - On the local network, it can access all audio files stored in various household devices (PCs, smartphones, tablets, iTunes libraries...)
    • - Sur Internet, il permet d'accéder à des services musicaux (comme Qobuz 😊) et ainsi bénéficier d'un très (très) large catalogue.

    Most network drives also have a built-in DAC, allowing them to play files in Hi-Res 24-Bit quality.

    Discover our Hi-Fi testbeds