Tidal adds 24-bit 96kHz master-quality streaming to its HiFi plan

Posted 06 January 2017 23:28 CEST by Seán Byrne

The music streaming service Tidal is the first to offer master quality streaming, which it describes as “an audio experience exactly as the artist intended”.  Tidal Master songs are streamed in 24-bit audio at 96kHz, compared to the 16-bit audio at 44.1kHz as used on Audio CDs.  Customers who have the Tidal HiFi subscription can avail of the master quality streams through the desktop application.

Tidal has partnered with MQA which provides the audio codec, capable of delivering the high-resolution master stream using the same bandwidth as Tidal’s existing lossless HiFi streams.  Further information on the MQA codec is available here.  Tidal currently has over 30,000 master tracks from Warner Music Group, including music from Coldplay, Beyoncé, Jason Derulo and even older albums such as from Madonna, Phil Collins and Tom Petty.  These albums can be accessed through its desktop software by going into “What’s New” and then into “Masters” in the albums selection.

Tidal Masters albums

When music streamed in the Master format, ‘MASTER’ will appear next to the playback time indicator:

Tidal Master indicator

Up until now, Tidal has been one of the few music streaming services that offers lossless music streaming across its entire library, however, it charges a higher subscription fee of $/€19.99 per month for the lossless streams, which it calls its Tidal HiFi subscription.  Its lower tier Premium subscription plan streams music in up to 320kbps using the AAC format.  Both subscriptions also provide access to a large library of ad-free music videos.

Tidal has increased the trial period to 60 days for those interested in trying their Tidal HiFi service which includes access to the master streams and they plan making the master streams available through its mobile apps at a later stage.  According to Pitchfork, a few other music streaming services including Pandora, Rhapsody and HD Tracks are considering offering high resolution streaming.

MyCE Resident
Posted on: 06 Jan 17 23:27
If it wasn't recorded originally at 24/96 it's not HD audio no matter what bit bucket they put it in so it's not going to sound ant better then CD quality recordings and the file will be bigger for no gain at all.
2 Agree

MyCE Resident
Posted on: 07 Jan 17 04:17
Yeah, reality check: If it's lossy compressed then its not "master quality" anyway.
0 Agree

Senior Administrator & Reviewer
Posted on: 08 Jan 17 21:06
After trying the Tidal for a few weeks (30 day trial), I've decided to cancel it over its app.

Initially when I installed the app, it kept throwing up authorisation errors. When I tried downloading songs for offline playback, it told me it could not authorise my phone for offline playback. I then tried the 'Authorise this device' option and it told me it is already authorised and finally when I tried deauthorising it, it said it could not deauthorise the device.

So I contacted their technical support and they came back saying to log out and log back in and that seemed to do the trick and lasted until about a week ago.

Now when I listen to music in the app, the first song will play fine and the next song blares out like a very heavily overloaded amplifier. I tried several troubleshooting steps including clearing the app cache, etc. but ended up with the same blaring noisy audio once a track ended. It sure gave me a jump the first time it happened while I had headphones on!

So it's back to Google Music, especially with the 4 month trial period which it surprisingly let me avail of despite cancelling my subscription just a few weeks ago. It also has its bugs and not quite high fidelity, but at least does not throw up authorisation error nonsense or try deafening me when it goes wrong.

For anyone with high end audio equipment, don't try connecting your phone/tablet to it with the Tidal app as I'm fairly sure blaring clipping noise and high end audio gear don't mix well...
0 Agree

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