Experience high-quality audio with Master Quality Authenticated albums, immersive audio formats such as 360 Reality Audio and Dolby Atmos Music, and expertly curated playlists.
Tidal is a music streaming service that promises to unite artists and fans. It distinguishes itself from other services by offering lossless streaming if you go all-in with a Tidal HiFi membership. While music content is the priority, users are also provided access to original video series, podcasts, and music journalists—though podcasts are extremely limited.
It promotes itself as the streaming service that puts the artist first. Various celebrities, like Jay Z and Beyonce, own equity in it. While artist empowerment is a core tenant of the platform, so too is its commitment to benefiting fans. Artists provide members with exclusive digital content and experiences through the Tidal X program.
How to Use Buy Tidal HiFi
Tidal offers two applications, one for mobile and one for desktop use, both of which are similar to competing platforms’ interfaces. The home screen presents a banner of the featured content, some of which are platform exclusives. Just below the banner is your recently played media followed by suggested new tracks and albums. The curated and featured playlist suggestions continue for a few more thumb scrolls.
Tapping away from the home screen brings you to the explore tab. Here, you’ll find featured artists, different genres, and then suggestions based on your preferences. If you’re hosting a party or going to the gym, you can also select from the “Moods and Activities” curated playlists.
Music playback, creating playlists, and more
Once you select a song to play, the playback display pops up. You’re afforded basic controls and options like shuffle and loop. You can also cast to connected devices like the JBL Link Bar. If you tap the three stacked circles located in the bottom-right corner of the display, a Spotify-like menu pops up whereby you can add the song to a playlist, your collection, share it with a friend, start a “Track Radio,” view the credits, and more.
The credits feature is the best I’ve seen. It’s quickly available via an “i” icon, whereas with Spotify it takes a bit of digging to access. Like the rest of the Tidal app, the credits layout is attractive and easy to understand. Plus, by tapping on a contributor’s name, you can view other projects they’ve participated in. This is a great way to discover similar, yet different sounds.
Oftentimes, I’ll Google search an album’s producer and research their other projects. It’s great to see Tidal simplifying that process, allowing members to conduct a similar inquiry without leaving the app.
What are the different streaming qualities?
Tidal HiFi, the membership I used for this review, allows access to four streaming qualities: normal, high, HiFi, and Master. Normal reduces data usage and is good for anyone with limited bandwidth or a slow internet connection. High quality strikes a fine balance between data usage and sound quality by streaming at 320kbps over AAC. The most interesting qualities are HiFi and Master.
HiFi recordings are CD-quality lossless FLAC files, which essentially means that no data is lost when transmitting the audio to your ears. This means you’re benefiting from 44.1kHz/16bit audio files, which is plenty of data for our brains to decode. To take full advantage of this, you’ll want to equip your ears with some fine headphones rather than your cheap backup earbuds.
Master Quality Authenticated (MQA) is available. This audio codec promises high-resolution (96kHz/24bit) audio delivered via FLAC or WAV file. Any media labeled as MQA under Tidal means that it was directly authenticated by the artist. Initially, MQA was only available on desktop but has since been made available on the mobile app, too. MQA availability is limited. Taylor Swift’s song You Need to Calm Down streams over Master quality, but her first banger, Our Song, isn’t Master-supported.
Performance and features
For this review, I used Tidal’s HiFi streaming plan and tried several different listening configurations with CD-quality and Master-quality tracks, including plugging a pair of Grado SR80e headphones into a new MacBook. I also compared Tidal’s HiFi streaming to Apple Music and Spotify to get a sense of the quality difference.
Does Tidal’s audio quality sound good? You betcha. But, as is the case with products like camera lenses or top-of-the-line TV sets, once you pass a certain threshold, the differences in quality are tougher to notice.
Still, the thing that struck me the most about testing Tidal’s HiFi plan is how much I hated going back to normal streaming after listening to its lossless quality. During active listening, the resonance of drums and cymbals vibrate, white bass and other string instruments linger on full strums. Smaller, less noticeable sounds pop just enough to appreciate their contributions.
With that said, these improvements over standard quality streams can be subtle. If you haven’t previously listened to lossless audio through gear capable of reproducing its fuller sound, the first thing you’ll likely notice is improvements in background clarity — not in the main instrumentation front and center.
The reason most music streaming services largely cap their quality at 256 or 320kbps lossy audio is because you can still hear the bass drop just fine at that lower quality. But, going beyond that level in data transmission, bit-depth, and sample-rate is like going from looking through a clean glass window to removing the glass altogether so no imperfections are in the way of your view.
Basically, it’s like the difference between listening to a really good recording and actually being in the room. It largely sounds the same, but there are lots of minor details that sparkle and breathe throughout a song.
I listened to a lot of the recommended Master-quality selections, like John Coltrane, Norah Jones, The Beatles, and Elton John. I also listened to newer songs from Billie Eilish and the “Westworld” soundtrack. All of this lossless music offers roughly the same effect. When presented at this quality, aspects related to how each track was recorded or what kind of room they were recorded in begin to play more of a role in how the songs sound.
These are all benefits that I think people who take the time to listen actively, with the right equipment, will notice. The question then ends up being whether you’re the kind of listener who wants to take that time.
Outside of playback through my Grado headphones, Tidal also sounds great on a second-generation Sonos Play:5 speaker. On the Tidal app, you’re able to choose available speakers in your home, and the app will then select the best quality possible. If you select& AirPlay, you’ll notice the quality indicator reverts to “Normal.” A higher-end wireless speaker like the Play:5 is able to produce the full range of Tidal’s CD-quality tracks for more richness and clarity in songs.
To fully take advantage of Tidal’s HiFi performance, the ideal listening scenario is sitting in a quiet room with wired headphones while you remain purely focused on the sound. For the absolute best playback, you’ll also likely want to invest in a good quality DAC, which will optimize the audio processing from your playback device.
Of course, that’s not how most people listen to music and that’s why the service’s HiFi subscription simply isn’t for everyone. It’s for enthusiasts and those who will notice and savor the nuances. More casual listeners and people with less expensive audio gear, however, will find it much harder to appreciate Tidal HiFi’s benefits.
Besides its collection of CD-quality and MQA songs, Tidal HiFi also offers a selection of 360 Reality Audio and Dolby Atmos tracks. These features use “object-based spatial audio technology.” What this means is that songs and performances are essentially remixed in a virtual surround sound environment.
This 360 audio can be effective for live performances to make it feel like you’re there, but overall it feels gimmicky. Still, I think a lot of people listening on decent headphones will be able to hear a difference and appreciate the effect — maybe even more so than the expanded range offered by CD-quality and Master-quality songs.
What does HiFi mean on tidal?
High-fidelity sound is uncompressed music files. … With a TIDAL HiFi subscription, you have the ability to stream millions of tracks in lossless quality. Lossless content is uncompressed CD-quality music; you hear the music the way the artists intended for their content to be heard.
How good is tidal HiFi?
Here’s why: Tidal’s more than 25 million music streams can sound significantly better than rival companies’ streams. That non-compressed 16-bit, 44.1kHz FLAC audio is pretty damn good. … Even better, Tidal offers a Masters collection to HiFi subscribers who use the Tidal mobile or desktop apps.
Are all tidal songs Hi-Fi?
Not all tracks are hi-fi quality
Can I download songs from tidal?
Offline Mode on Android – TIDAL. You can save files directly to your Android device instead of streaming via a network connection using Offline Mode. This allows you to access your favorite content when you cannot connect to the internet. Albums, movies, videos, shows, and playlists can be saved Offline.
Can you purchase music on tidal?
If you are not an existing TIDAL subscriber, please create an account to save your purchases. To purchase your favorite album, you will enter your payment information, make your selection, click on the price button next to the album then follow the prompts to complete your transaction.