• Lucid Owners Notice: Text messaging to Customer Care unavailable for two weeks starting the week of July 8th. Click Here for further details.

Some Basic SSP Questions...

Buffalo Bob

Active Member
Verified Owner
Joined
Nov 23, 2023
Messages
543
Location
Arizona & Washington
Cars
Pure AWD 19" No Aeros
Referral Code
CVXJ7QLE
I have SSP, and did try Tidal for a while, but I found the selection of music that takes advantage of Dolby Atmos to be extremely limited, and more 'new age' sounding than the more 'classic' rock that I like. So, I dropped Tidal, and just play my Spotify music, which does not seem to take advantage of the incremental audio that SSP provides. I also have a Beatles USB with all of their songs on FLAC files. They sound good playing in the car, but again, I note no incremental SSP difference. Is Tidal the only way to note a SSP difference? To be honest with you, I wonder if I don't have hardware issues in my car, as I find the sound to be OK for any car's basic audio, but certainly lacking (especially at the low and high end) for a $2.9k option. I know others have questioned their hardware, but is it hardware, or just that anything other than Tidal is going to be lacking. If it's the latter, I think I wasted my money. Thanks in advance for clarifying!
 
My current Lucid came with SSP on a trial basis. I was really hoping there wouldn't be a difference between the SS and SSP with Spotify because I'm not an audiophile and I didn't want to pay for the upgrade. But there is a difference. Without SSP, the sound is a bit tinny. There's a fullness missing, especially at higher volumes. So for me, even with Spotify or SiriusXM, SSP was worth it. If you have Tidal, obviously there's extra benefits.
 
Tidal Atmos just lets you take advantage of the height speakers independently. Music from other sources still gets to use all the extra speakers and extra power though, which should add a decent amount of depth. You just won't get the full spatial effects without Atmos. FLAC on USB sounds at least as good to me as tracks on Tidal. I'm in the same boat as you, Tidal in the car is mostly a trick to me and not for day to day listening, it doesn't have much of the (older) music I'd like in Atmos. I wish Lucid had the ability to play Atmos TrueHD from USB, since that's the form you can actually buy music in.

If it lacks depth, 1) turn up the volume, and 2) ask service to check if you need the woofer fix. I say to turn up the volume because to my ears, the Lucid system is balanced differently from the average sound system in a way that may not be obvious. It sounds to me like other systems "flatten" audio, so if you play a song quietly you still hear all the quiet bits. Lucid's system sounds more natural, so at 20% volume you'll barely hear all the quiet things in the background, but at 70% you can hear all the quiet things quietly, while the louder things still aren't blowing out your ears. That's just my impression, I'm sure @Bunnylebowski can explain it with facts rather than vague impressions.
 
Tidal Atmos just lets you take advantage of the height speakers independently. Music from other sources still gets to use all the extra speakers and extra power though, which should add a decent amount of depth. You just won't get the full spatial effects without Atmos. FLAC on USB sounds at least as good to me as tracks on Tidal. I'm in the same boat as you, Tidal in the car is mostly a trick to me and not for day to day listening, it doesn't have much of the (older) music I'd like in Atmos. I wish Lucid had the ability to play Atmos TrueHD from USB, since that's the form you can actually buy music in.

If it lacks depth, 1) turn up the volume, and 2) ask service to check if you need the woofer fix. I say to turn up the volume because to my ears, the Lucid system is balanced differently from the average sound system in a way that may not be obvious. It sounds to me like other systems "flatten" audio, so if you play a song quietly you still hear all the quiet bits. Lucid's system sounds more natural, so at 20% volume you'll barely hear all the quiet things in the background, but at 70% you can hear all the quiet things quietly, while the louder things still aren't blowing out your ears. That's just my impression, I'm sure @Bunnylebowski can explain it with facts rather than vague impressions.

Your second paragraph about not 'flattening' the audio might explain a lot of what I'm experiencing, as I don't tend to crank up the audio much. For example, in the Beatles song "A Day in the Life", there is a point where a wind-up alarm clock goes off. I don't think I have played that song on anything where I did not hear it, and yet I can't hear it at all in the Lucid.
 
I am not an audiophile so I could be completely wrong but I think the flattening you guys are referring to is compression that's caused by lower quality data files. The peaks and troughs are smoothed out the lower the audio quality. Full quality files experience more sound range so the highs are higher and the lows are lower.
 
@segb
Tidal Atmos just lets you take advantage of the height speakers independently. Music from other sources still gets to use all the extra speakers and extra power though, which should add a decent amount of depth. You just won't get the full spatial effects without Atmos. FLAC on USB sounds at least as good to me as tracks on Tidal. I'm in the same boat as you, Tidal in the car is mostly a trick to me and not for day to day listening, it doesn't have much of the (older) music I'd like in Atmos. I wish Lucid had the ability to play Atmos TrueHD from USB, since that's the form you can actually buy music in.

If it lacks depth, 1) turn up the volume, and 2) ask service to check if you need the woofer fix. I say to turn up the volume because to my ears, the Lucid system is balanced differently from the average sound system in a way that may not be obvious. It sounds to me like other systems "flatten" audio, so if you play a song quietly you still hear all the quiet bits. Lucid's system sounds more natural, so at 20% volume you'll barely hear all the quiet things in the background, but at 70% you can hear all the quiet things quietly, while the louder things still aren't blowing out your ears. That's just my impression, I'm sure @Bunnylebowski can explain it with facts rather than vague impressions.
You have a good ear. The “flattening” you hear in many cars if you’re listening to a decent quality sound source is often a compressor and limiter in the car’s DSP. This is not the same as “compression” like 256kb or whatever Spotify uses which throws out very quiet things where you’ll completely lose the tails on reverbs, violin bow details, room tone, etc. Compressors make the quieter sounds louder and duck the louder sounds if they cross a set threshold, reducing the dynamic range, and will “flatten” the sound some. Limiters meanwhile set a brick wall amplitude limit the car cannot exceed so that way you’re less likely to damage the speakers, but if the car has the limiter set at a certain dB and you’re trying to crank the audio louder, it will increase the volume of the quieter sounds while not raising the louder ones, working similar to a compressor, but compressors have ratios and attack times that smooth out the “ducking” you can hear, whereas limiters have a very fast attack times and no or little ratio between limted and not limited signal, and can raise up quieter sounds a lot if you turn up the gain. I think the Lucid DSP uses very little compression and a limiter that’s set pretty high because the gain knob in the car functions much more like a pro mixing console where the knob increases the audio in 2dB increments until it hits 96dB which is the max of the system, pretty much like a near to mid field studio is calibrated. I’ve noticed if the car is stationary and AC fan not too aggressive, the dynamic range of the car with Tidal or FLAC USB is outstanding, where extremely quiet things are audible due to the sensitivity of the speakers. But when you drive even though the car is quiet there’s enough NVH still to obscure the details, and because I don’t think the car’s DSP uses a very aggressive compression algorithm (I’m guessing here I have no authoritative information from them, just sounds like it to me) it doesn’t have a way to compensate much for the NVH added by driving and AC fan, so when you’re driving and you’re at 40-50% volume you’ll lose a lot of quieter things in the tracks.
 
Last edited:
Your second paragraph about not 'flattening' the audio might explain a lot of what I'm experiencing, as I don't tend to crank up the audio much. For example, in the Beatles song "A Day in the Life", there is a point where a wind-up alarm clock goes off. I don't think I have played that song on anything where I did not hear it, and yet I can't hear it at all in the Lucid.
What source are you using for playback? That’s one of my favorite songs of all time and I can definitely hear the clock. I can even hear the piano bench squeak at the end when Paul gets up at the end of the recording after laying out that massive piano chord underneath the orchestra rise that goes on forever.
 
Also on the nerd tangent of compressors and limiters, I must give a shout out to this device, the Distressor. We’d use this thing heavily in my old job. It would just make any audio source you put into it sound “bigger” and you’d hear more of the quieter details….and I still don’t understand the “nuke” ratio it has but put a kick or snare through that and you’ll feel like you got blasted with a sawed off shotgun. In a world of software plug ins that these days do an amazing job of audio processing, I still haven’t heard anything more effective than this beast, sorry Neve, SSL, Euphonix, UREI and Focusrite.
 
I found the selection of music that takes advantage of Dolby Atmos to be extremely limited, and more 'new age' sounding than the more 'classic' rock that I like.
If you're wanting some Atmos Classic Rock, check out this playlist I made. I try to update it as new Atmos mixes come out. With Tidal now $12 per month rather than the $20 it was, it's an even better deal to maximize the SSP system:

 
What source are you using for playback? That’s one of my favorite songs of all time and I can definitely hear the clock. I can even hear the piano bench squeak at the end when Paul gets up at the end of the recording after laying out that massive piano chord underneath the orchestra rise that goes on forever.
The USB flac files published by Apple records. All of their albums. That's why I was surprised not to hear the alarm clock.
 
Huh, the clock is pretty clear at 2:16 on the Atmos mix of Day in the Life. It’s quiet for sure, which is how it always was but I can hear that analog bell clock ⏰
 
Huh, the clock is pretty clear at 2:16 on the Atmos mix of Day in the Life. It’s quiet for sure, which is how it always was but I can hear that analog bell clock ⏰W

Well, this gets interesting. Here's my audio source, which I bought back in 2012. (Can't believe today's price!)


I copied all of the Flac files to a cheap USB drive that was lying around, and put that in the car. Do you think it's possible that a cheap USB drive would lose some of the details? I ask because I just copied the files to my Chromebook, and played them through my Bose QC-35 headphones, and I can't hear the alarm there either. (I can hear an unintelligible word that someone is saying right around 2:16.) So, it looks like it's not the car. Interesting indeed!

(I would try the original USB, but it's back at our winter residence in AZ.)

Thanks for your help!
 
I've got this from Tidal today:

"Hi,
On July 24, 2024, we’re replacing the music in TIDAL’s MQA catalog with FLAC versions. In addition to this change, we're removing all podcasts and music available in 360 Reality Audio. Learn how these changes will impact your Collection."

Good. I always thought that MQA is artificially enhanced.
 
If you're wanting some Atmos Classic Rock, check out this playlist I made. I try to update it as new Atmos mixes come out. With Tidal now $12 per month rather than the $20 it was, it's an even better deal to maximize the SSP system:


Thanks! Looks like I'll have to reactivate my Tidal subscription.
 
Do you think it's possible that a cheap USB drive would lose some of the details?
Nope. If anything a cheap old USB drive might make it load more slowly, but it's not going to lose quality.

If you're wanting some Atmos Classic Rock, check out this playlist I made.
Thanks for that! I've had that in my "collection" since I got the car. Not enough variety for me to listen to all the time, but it's one of the ones I use to show off.
 
Not enough variety for me to listen to all the time, but it's one of the ones I use to show off.
If you'd like more classic rock variety, here's a huge list of 'Max' quality classic rock:

And one for modern, hard rock:

Hopefully the switch to FLAC won't mess my playlists up 🤞🏻
 
Well, this gets interesting. Here's my audio source, which I bought back in 2012. (Can't believe today's price!)


I copied all of the Flac files to a cheap USB drive that was lying around, and put that in the car. Do you think it's possible that a cheap USB drive would lose some of the details? I ask because I just copied the files to my Chromebook, and played them through my Bose QC-35 headphones, and I can't hear the alarm there either. (I can hear an unintelligible word that someone is saying right around 2:16.) So, it looks like it's not the car. Interesting indeed!

(I would try the original USB, but it's back at our winter residence in AZ.)

Thanks for your help!
I just double checked the FLAC version on Apple Music (not the Apple records files but presumably similar?), which are the split 2 channel files. The alarm clock is still audible starting at 2:16 but it’s much quieter than in the Atmos version. As you probably know Beatles purists argue about the split 2 channel versions with the vox split either hard right or left etc, as I understand from George Martin’s “All you need is ears book”, which is a must read for any Beatles fan or audio engineering/music history enthusiast, those hard panned stereo files were an accident, not mixed that way in the studio. But it became so widely accepted they left it that way. But the Atmos version is really fantastic, while also inauthentic, it does what Atmos does, just gives you so much transparency. You really appreciate the slap reverbs on the vocal, Paul’s bass is fuller, and that acoustic guitar rhythm suddenly becomes more present, with TONS more orchestral detail, probably much closer to what it actually sounded like in the actual studio stage when Martin had them start all a different note and end on the same note, plus John’s voice in the center channel when he says “woke up got out of bed” is sooooo clean and present.
 
Last edited:
Also fun bit of trivia from George Martin’s book if you didn’t already know. Ever wonder why the Beatles early singles and many others from that era were under 3 minutes? Because at the time record lathes did not have reliable motors to allow 100% reproducibility in terms of speed which could result in pitch shifting, so they used the most reliable thing they knew of at the time: GRAVITY. The recording engineer would cue the assistant to release a set of weights, which would in turn drop similar to a grandfather clock and turn the record lathe at a consistent speed but the weights always reached the bottom by 3 minutes so the songs needed to be shorter if you were cutting a single track.
 
I just double checked the FLAC version on Apple Music (not the Apple records files but presumably similar?), which are the split 2 channel files. The alarm clock is still audible starting at 2:16 but it’s much quieter than in the Atmos version. As you probably know Beatles purists argue about the split 2 channel versions with the vox split either hard right or left etc, as I understand from George Martin’s “All you need is ears book”, which is a must read for any Beatles fan or audio engineering/music history enthusiast, those hard panned stereo files were an accident, not mixed that way in the studio. But it became so widely accepted they left it that way. But the Atmos version is really fantastic, while also inauthentic, it does what Atmos does, just gives you so much transparency. You really appreciate the slap reverbs on the vocal, Paul’s bass is fuller, and that acoustic guitar rhythm suddenly becomes more present, with TONS more orchestral detail, probably much closer to what it actually sounded like in the actual studio stage when Martin had them start all a different note and end ok the same one, plus John’s voice in the center channel when he says “woke up got out of bed” is sooooo clean and present.

Taking this SSP discussion even further (farther?) off the rails... I am not an audiophile by any means, but one thing about that crazy expensive Apple USB really annoyed me. My favorite Beatles 'song' is actually several songs in sequence toward the back of Abbey Road. Starting (I think) with Sun King and all the way through The End, the songs transition from one to another in a way that I found so seamless that it had to be deliberate. Apple's own FLAK USB chops them up distinctly, and that's the case whether shuffled or not. I avoid that part of Abbey Road for that reason.
 
Taking this SSP discussion even further (farther?) off the rails... I am not an audiophile by any means, but one thing about that crazy expensive Apple USB really annoyed me. My favorite Beatles 'song' is actually several songs in sequence toward the back of Abbey Road. Starting (I think) with Sun King and all the way through The End, the songs transition from one to another in a way that I found so seamless that it had to be deliberate. Apple's own FLAK USB chops them up distinctly, and that's the case whether shuffled or not. I avoid that part of Abbey Road for that reason.
Ah that’s a tragedy, I’ll have to check if it’s that way on Apple Music and Tidal. Tidal does a good job of transitioning from one song to the next if you have a good signal but I do know any USB audio playback in the car seems pretty rudimentary but maybe the latest OTA helped with that, I can’t tell as I lost my USB drive and haven’t had time to get another to re-load my music.
 
Back
Top