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