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Playback of files from a network vs streaming via the Qobuz application - Apple smartphone and Qobuz

We have selected part of a subscriber’s email regarding what appeared to him as a technical poser that he submitted us, and to which we had the pleasure of providing an answer, knowing that it could be of use to other people.

By Philippe Daussin | Qobuz & you | July 6, 2018
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Qobuz

[...]Regarding the PCM received by my DAC (a TEAC NT503), it displays the encoding (MP3, FLAC, PCM,…) and the sampling frequency, and thus Hi-Res files (albums) stored on my NAS are well and truly played from the Ethernet network in FLAC.

However, a Hi-Res album, the same, played from your desktop application 4.0.27-b011 with the DAC plugged in USB (TEAC ASIO driver) systematically displays PCM and the right sampling frequency. I see it as a problem related to Windows, which systematically decodes FLAC into PCM, a functionality that your application doesn’t allow to bypass.

Thank you in advance for answering this technical poser.

Best regards


Our answer

Hello, and thank you for your email,

Your words highlight the difference in modus operandi on a same device between the playback of audio files from the network versus via its USB input, the digital-to-analog conversion section being actually the same used in both cases.

As it happens, the network section from the TEAC NT503 will natively play the audio files on the Ethernet network (and even on the Internet), and this is a signal processor that handles the decompression if need be, but the manufacturer will choose what type of files will be decompressed (FLAC, ALAC, AIFF…), which we check and report at the end of the testing grounds of this type of devices, and some of them indeed display the type of compression and the sampling frequency during network playback, or PCM if it is an uncompressed file.

As for the Qobuz application for Mac/PC, it systematically streams the FLAC files and it also decompresses them, the files thus becoming again the original files, i.e. WAV files (also called PCM, or to be precise, LPCM, or Linear PCM). The subscriber then chooses the DAC or the sound card, or even the streaming mode to his Hi-Fi system (DLNA, GoogleCast) that he wants to use by going into the output devices.

Regarding DACs, several playback options are available, most of them being “bit perfect” (LPCM files preserved bit by bit), ASIO, WASAPI, Kernel Streaming (KS), aside from the Windows DirectSound mode.

Then, the player integrated into the Qobuz application sends to the selected DAC the audio flow in PCM via the USB connection, which explains the corresponding display.

The result and the display on the NT503 will be the same (PCM) if you play FLAC, ALAC or Lossless WMA files (three formats with lossless compression) with a software like Foobar2000, the latter even notifying you in a small window of the type of compression, the bit rate and the sampling frequency.

Best regards.


Hello,

I wish, in a month at the most, to buy the latest Triangle Sensa SNO3A for €400 rather than Bose speakers because, for the same price, I’m getting Triangle… The thing is, I have two or three questions.

These speakers are compatible with aptX Bluetooth. I am deep in the Apple environment and I know that Apple Music only “compresses” once, which gives pretty good sound results compared to its competitor. I’m then at an impasse, in which I have a choice between Apple Music and Qobuz.

Because for 10 euros a month each, how do I choose? I have an iPad pro that I bought 2 months ago and an iPhone 7 both in Bluetooth 4.2. Is it compatible with aptX or a completely different format, or just a slightly lower format?

Of course I will use these speaker for Hi-Fi, home cinema, etc. because I also have an Apple TV. Could you give me the most neutral advice on the 2 offers Apple Music and Qobuz, related to the equipment I own and the one I will buy.

Best regards.


Our answer

Hello, and thank you for your email,

First of all, congratulations on choosing a French brand for your speaker purchase!

We would give some clarification about the aptX encoding. It allows to encode files stored in a CD format (16-Bit/44.1 kHz) from a compatible device (list of aptX phones) and to send them via Bluetooth to a compatible receiver, like the Triangle Sensa SNO3A, which will reproduce them with a sound quality close to CD.

Therefore, with an iPhone, encoding in aptX is impossible, and furthermore, the two subscriptions you’re considering, Apple Music and Qobuz (Basic, obviously, since it’s 10 euros) wouldn’t allow it even with a device compatible with aptX, and the sound reproduction would be in both cases from lossy compressed files whose results would be fairly close, as Apple’s AAC is considered not bad, as is Qobuz’ MP3.

But none of these two subscriptions offers the Qobuz Hi-Fi quality (admittedly at €19.99, but in true CD quality) that you could send toward your Apple TV if it possesses a digital optical output, which would be connected to the optical input of the Triangle speakers, the Qobuz application for iOS being compatible with Airplay.

We hope we have been able to help you with your choice.

Best regards.

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