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Network players and Qobuz application, CD quality and Hi-Res quality: let’s try to clarify the subject!

By Philippe Daussin |

Things were simpler a few years ago, as only Qobuz allowed for streaming in CD quality and Sonos was the only way to stream Qobuz, also in CD quality.

Since then, a lot of has changed and network players have opened up to Hi-Res audio formats, back then Qobuz was the first to offer the streaming in Hi-Res thanks to its Sublime subscription and the Sublime+ subscription.

Sonos, which was the first to integrate Qobuz in CD quality, saw over time the emergence of competitors that also offered our music service, in particular a Norwegian brand bearing the name of Electrocompaniet, whose ECM2 model was the first network player in the world to offer the Qobuz application in Hi-Res.

When there is streaming of Qobuz in Hi-Res, there is a network card compatible with Hi-Res, but it’s not always the case the other way around, as a network player compatible with Hi-Res which integrates Qobuz can sometimes only offer it in CD quality—this decision only depends on the will of the manufacturer.

In our testing grounds devoted to network players (or streamers), we always note whether Qobuz is integrated in CD quality or in Hi-Res.

It would seem however that the charts of network playback capabilities that we publish at the end of our articles are sometimes misinterpreted and confused with Qobuz’ streaming capabilities.

It is not the case, as these charts only sum up the inherent capabilities of the network card, regardless of the fact that Qobuz is integrated in CD quality or in Hi-Res. Furthermore, Qobuz is only streamed in FLAC.

Aside from Qobuz’ streaming, all Hi-Res files will be played by a network player compatible with Hi-Res, whether it is from the Internet or from a server on its Ethernet network, including the Hi-Res files downloaded on Qobuz and stored locally on a NAS server.

It is also worth noting that some network players display a strange behavior during gapless playback by not playing the next files in the queue when streaming Qobuz but by continuously playing the tracks of the same downloaded album stored on a local server.

We hope that this article will have shed some light on this somewhat obscure technical subject and that it will allow someone who wishes to purchase a network player to make their choice with full knowledge of the facts.

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