Getting the most out of Tidal Streaming (AppleTV vs other streamers)

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by freesole, Oct 10, 2018.

  1. freesole

    freesole Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    Hi All,

    Currently on the quest of improving my overall music enjoyment and given that I stream most of my music through Tidal on my AppleTV which is connected to my Oppo 105D via HDMI, I wonder if there is more that I can do to get a major improvement in sound quality.

    One option is to add a DAC between the Oppo 105D and my integrated amp (ie. a Mytek Brooklyn Dac + or Chord Qutest);

    Another option is to change my streaming source from the AppleTV to a streaming device.

    Of course the final option is to do both but if you had one choice, which would make the bigger difference?
     
    Leao likes this.
  2. Stereosound

    Stereosound Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    DAC. The source just provides the digital info. that needs to be converted to analog(which is what the DAC is for) so your ears can hear it properly to convert that to what your brain understands as music.
     
    freesole likes this.
  3. DyersEve726

    DyersEve726 Schmo Diggy

    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    I agree with @Stereosound in that I think you'd probably see more improvement from a DAC. However, I recently upgraded my digital source to an Allo DigiOne Signature with an Uptone LPS-1 for clean power and the difference was absolutely significant compared to using my PC. Some might tell you it's just ones and zeros, but my ears tell me differently. One thing to consider though is that you may get more bang for buck upgrading your source, as you might have to spend a pretty penny on a DAC that would be noticeably better than the one in the Oppo.
     
    freesole likes this.
  4. Joe Spivey

    Joe Spivey Your friendly neighborhood Spivey-Man

    Definitely the streamer
     
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  5. Doug Walton

    Doug Walton Forum Resident

    Location:
    United States
  6. head_unit

    head_unit Forum Resident

    Location:
    Los Angeles CA USA
    I thought that Oppo HAD a very good DAC inside :confused: Heck it was like $1200 new...
    Now, there was another website where they test a lot of stuff (dang the name is escaping me) plus a more recent article in I think Stereophile the gist of which is that HDMI is not a great audio connection. Bits are bits except when they get mishandled, or when processing is being done to the bits that you don't know about, or when the circuit allows power supply(s) to pollute into the analog portions thereof. Coax seemed to be the most recommended, not that I want to wade into coax cables personally. One test showed how a receiver carrying video through to a display polluted the audio at low levels. Now, that is the DECODED audio, not the "bits." Perhaps the processing gets over-taxed, and/or the physical board layout allows a kind of cross-pollution?

    Which Apple TV do you have? And what outputs does it contain?
     
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  7. Claude Benshaul

    Claude Benshaul Forum Resident

    being allergic to Apple products I have exactly zero experience with the Apple TV so my insight might be totally irrelevant to the discussion. I never felt comfortable with HDMI for audio streaming. Perhaps it's due to the fact that I was on the SDI side of the line during the great battle of digital video interfaces but the fact remains that HDMI is basically DVI which was originally designed for the transfer of computer graphics over short distances and that the audio portion was shoe horned together with HDCP content protection, in order to satisfy an industry that never treated its end user customers fairly or well.

    It's an over complicated protocol that relies too much on the integrity of the cable and the balance of signals to perform and while bits are bits, digital doesn't mean it either works well or not at all. That would be true if the signal was comprised of one pixel or a single data bit, but this is never the case. Video transfer problems are occasionally visible as green dots running across the screen and I would be surprised if less obvious problems didn't exist in the audio portion of the signal.

    So my advise is that if we are stuck with HDMI for video at least try to use a different interface for streaming music. USB is considered better and I tend to agree. It may be a personal bias or the placebo effect in full overdrive but in my case it makes music more enjoyable.
     
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  8. freesole

    freesole Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    The Oppo DAC sounds very good. That 1200 gets you a top notch Bluray and CD player though so there is more to it than just the sound quality but it is an area that it excels. I didn't know that HDMI wasn't a good connection for sound quality. I connect the AppleTV via HDMI to the Oppo because I use it for netflix and NHL TV. This is the version without the optical output unfortunately.
     
  9. cdash99

    cdash99 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Mass
    The Oppo also has the ability to stream Tidal directly, controllable via their phone app. Have you tried this as a comparison?
     
  10. cdash99

    cdash99 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Mass
    The Oppo has Netflix built in at a native level as well. They don't have the NHL though.
     
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  11. freesole

    freesole Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    Ah another reason is also the ability to stream Roon off the Appletv.

    I haven't used the Oppo for anything other than its bluray, sacd playback purposes honestly. I will give that a shot and report back. Still though, being able to stream through Roon has been a very useful aspect of the Appletv to date.
     
  12. DyersEve726

    DyersEve726 Schmo Diggy

    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    You might love the Allo transport I mentioned before. It's coax SPDIF and is a Raspberry Pi HAT. You can use it as a Roon endpoint, among other things. It has great flexibility since it's basically just a tiny Linux based PC with an easily swapped operating system (micro SD). It comes with a power supply for "dirty power", which powers the Pi, and a separate "clean power" input where you supply whatever you want (5v-9v). It's an affordable solution, even having sunk as much into the power supply (used) as on the player, and I think it sounds incredible. It doesn't have any native Tidal capabilities, but I'm assuming you're using Tidal integrated in Roon?

    Allo DigiOne Signature Player $315 new
    Uptone Audio LPS-1.2 $435 new
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2018
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  13. ishmaelk

    ishmaelk Forum Resident

    Location:
    Madrid
    I stream Tidal directly through the Oppo app. Before that, I used to do it with the Apple TV. The difference in sound is huge.
    I think the dac in the Oppo is fantastic. Sure, there are dedicated 1000 € dacs that sound better. But if you stream directly to the Oppo using their smartphone app, I don't think you're going to need any other dac.
    I even did a blind A/B test to see if my girlfriend and I could tell the difference between Tidal lossless and lossy, and with the Oppo, we could tell every time. Even my girlfriend, who never thought lossless made any sense, was convinced.
    There was a huge improvement in sound.
    With the Apple TV I couldn't really tell which was which, and even with a Musical Fidelity M1 DAC I found it very difficult to tell.
     
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  14. Joe Spivey

    Joe Spivey Your friendly neighborhood Spivey-Man

    A cheaper alternative to a costly linear power supply for the Allo units is purchasing two ifi power supplies. These are like $50 bucks each. Depending on your current state of 'clean' power, this might be all you need.

    I think using the DAC in the Oppo is good at the moment until you remove the Apple TV from the chain. If you feel like updating the DAC down the road, then that should be the next move...after the streamer. If you use Roon and Tidal, the Allo is a great option. Roon also instructs users to not use an Apple TV if seeking the best experience.

    Also the Allo units will need a ethernet connection as well. It's not advised to use a wireless dongle. I tried to use wireless with one of their dongles at it was not a fun experience.

    I also used an Apple TV (via HDMI) and noticed quite an improvement once it was gone.
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2018
  15. DyersEve726

    DyersEve726 Schmo Diggy

    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    I used the ifi for clean power while I figured out what to do and the improvement the LPS-1 made was bigger than switching to the DigiOne to begin with. To be honest, I could hardly tell the difference between DigiOne and my PC until the LPS-1 was added. Personally, I think the ifi was a waste of money.

    As far as wireless goes, I'm not sure what you're getting at. Why would you need a dongle? The Pi has built in Wi-Fi. I have the DigiOne connected via ethernet, but I run Roonbridge on a different Pi with a Hifi-berry DAC wirelessly with zero problems. I don't see how the DigiOne would be any different.
     
  16. Joe Spivey

    Joe Spivey Your friendly neighborhood Spivey-Man

    I'm sure the LPS can be worth it and I'm big follower of better power supply...at four times the cost it should be better. I noticed an improvement with just using 2 ifi power supplies thats why I suggested it. Most of it will depend on how clean one's power is anyway or if using a power filter as well. I'm not as familiar with the DigiOne as I use a USBridge and it needs a dongle for wireless capabilities. Again not advisable a least my experience as it flat out didn't work and Allo wasn't able to offer support. Not sure what was going on but no biggie as I intended to use ethernet anyhow. As for not being able to tell the difference between the Digi and a PC, I'm somewhat surprised given a PC can add a lot of unwanted noise. To each their own.
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2018
  17. DyersEve726

    DyersEve726 Schmo Diggy

    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    Just one on the clean side. I'm sure the ifi is better than just a regular old wall wart, and is cheap, so I get it. But from everything I read online, the supplied Allo PSU outperformed the ifi on the old DigiOne for most users, so I'm using that one for dirty and the ifi for my other hifi-berry dac. I doubt there would be much, if any, improvement by adding a second LPS for dirty. It's isolated from the clean side. I don't currently have the money for another one anyhow, since I just spent $1700 on a DAC :eek:
     
  18. Joe Spivey

    Joe Spivey Your friendly neighborhood Spivey-Man

    Well I believe the iFi PSU was better then the supplied Allo PSU from experience. I'd even consider it a marked improvement on the dirty side if currently using a cheapy Allo psu.
     
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  19. DyersEve726

    DyersEve726 Schmo Diggy

    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    I did buy the 5v version so that it could be interchangeable, but I haven't bothered to try because all I could think was "how could it get better than this?" lol. It sounds excellent as it is, but maybe I should throw in the ifi on dirty just to see if maybe I don't know what I'm missing.
     
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  20. Joe Spivey

    Joe Spivey Your friendly neighborhood Spivey-Man

    Hey it might be an improvement, it's might not. Can't hurt to try. I'm right there with you on enjoying a nice digital stream! It does sound great and I think the OP would greatly benefit from updating the streamer from an Apple TV!
     
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  21. DyersEve726

    DyersEve726 Schmo Diggy

    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    I just saw this edit. I didn't realize you had a USBridge. Indeed, the Sparky has no wifi. The built in wifi on the new Pi3 B+ works great and is a modern AC chip that can do 2.4 and 5ghz, no dongle required.
     
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  22. audiomixer

    audiomixer As Bald As The Beatles

    I stream lossless Tidal through my OPPO, via HDMI, and it sounds terrific!
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2018
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  23. ishmaelk

    ishmaelk Forum Resident

    Location:
    Madrid
    From the OPPO via HDMI to an external DAC?
     
  24. audiomixer

    audiomixer As Bald As The Beatles

    Yes, preamp.
     
  25. cdash99

    cdash99 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Mass
    Based on the various comments, I'd suggest that the OP try streaming using the Tidal app within Oppo first, prior to spending any $$$.

    Also, if it's an older model Apple TV, it might be possible to connect the ATV to the Oppo with an optical/coax cable, which will utilize the Oppo's DAC while retaining Roon control via ATV.
     

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