In the current battle of music streaming services, few other than Apple Music come just a little closer to the throne that Spotify continues to unquestionably occupy. But neither the latter, nor other well-known competitors such as Amazon Music or Deezer, offer high quality audio in the style of Tidal, which from the beginning has used it as one of its main selling points.
Now that HiFi or HiFi sound comes with a significant price increase, and is that if you pay only 9.99 euros per month for a normal Premium subscription, you have basically the same that all competitors offer you, but if you sign up for Tidal HiFi for 19.99 euros per month, that is where you get the true benefits. At Genbeta we have been testing precisely that plan for several weeks and quite intensively, to tell you how the service is currently planted and if it is worth paying for it.
27 SPOTIFY TRICKS – Control all your MUSIC like nobody else!
Tidal in 2019 is very different from the Tidal of its beginnings
The first time I tried Tidal was back in 2015, when the company had been bought by Jay-Z and with a whole media campaign they relaunched the service promising the best quality of music and the best royalties for artists. The experience back then left a lot to be desired.
The desktop application was basically a clone of Spotify that lacked many of the best options that this service offered, and also you had to pay more for something that looked too green. I confess that for the next few years I was hardly curious about Tidal for just the first bad impression.
However, over the years the applications and the service have evolved a lot, and in 2017 they added perhaps one of their most attractive features: high-resolution audio or what is marked within the app as “Master quality“.
While the HiFi quality of Tidal offers music up to the same quality that we have in the CDs, that is to say, at 44.1 kHz, 16 bits and 1411 kbps bitrate, about four times that of the highest in Spotify; Master quality uses the MQA audio codec to deliver high resolution audio in FLAC or WAV format, at 96 kHz and 24 bits.
Although this quality is not available for all the discs of the platform, it does continue to grow, and also have created a wide selection of playlists containing music in Master quality so you can enjoy it.
You have access to this from mobile apps and from desktop apps, which are now available on most major systems: iOS, Android, Windows, macOS, and the web. The quality of all those apps has improved significantly over time, and the difference from that launch experience is like night and day.
Does it really sound better?
This is perhaps the most important point when hiring a service like Tidal HiFi, which is obviously a subscription that will primarily appeal to audiophiles and people who want more than that 320 kbit / s of “very high” quality on Spotify. In which case, those users may also have high-quality sound equipment.
And is that if you are going to listen to Tidal Master with the integrated speakers of your laptop or with 30-euro headphones, you are simply throwing money away. In order to appreciate and obtain that higher sound quality transmitted by Tidal apps, you are going to need more expensive and powerful equipmentTherefore, this whole affair is an expensive affair with which not everyone can or is willing to compromise.
With my more modest bluetooth headphones I have to say that I do not notice any difference between the highest quality of Tidal, that is, the Master, and the “very high” quality of Spotify, much less if I let the sound come out of the speakers of a Macbook Air for example.
Now when I use my best pair connected through the 5mm jack of the computer, the situation changes a little, but only a little. The sound does not feel “louder”, it feels cleaner and clearer, but not on all discs, on some it is better appreciated.
For example, I had a sensational experience with ‘Abbey Road’ (Super Deluxe Edition), in Master quality it sounds indisputably better than in Spotify, while on the other hand, I do not notice any difference between the Master of ‘Lover’ in Tidal and the same album in “very high” quality on Spotify.
Where perhaps Tidal is better off compared to something like Spotify, is in consistency of quality, while in Spotify many times it happens to me that suddenly there is a drop in the quality of the audio, something that I have noticed more for a few months, and that could be due to some fluctuation in the connection, in Tidal it never happened to me, although I have used less time.
Is Tidal a viable option for someone who’s been using something like Spotify for years?
I have personally been using Spotify for over 10 years, and paying its premium subscription for at least six. This means that I have amassed an immense collection of data on my profilesuch as created playlists, saved albums, followed artists, compilations, etc.
What’s more, the service has had years to come up with an idea of my tastes and offers me appropriate recommendations that simply cannot be exported to another service. And this is where, no matter how much quality Tidal offers me, it is not viable or comfortable for someone who has internalized so much another service, moving, less if they would have to pay double.
The Tidal app is full of useful things that have pleasantly surprised meFor example, information and music credits have a greater role than in Spotify, they are not hidden after many clicks where you will never be interested in them.
The adition of music videos can be quite attractive to some users, there are almost a quarter of a million available, according to the company. There are also many interesting playlists created by the Tidal team, and the navigation is quite comfortable and easy to learn.
The applications are well designed and feature the expected sections from the top of the billboards, the news, rising stars according to Tidal, podcasts and shows, and the call Tidal X where they add exclusive artist events to connect with fans.
That exclusivity thing is also an interesting point, since Tidal has some aces up its sleeve due to the list of artists who have interests in the company and who release their music first on the platform, something that will be attractive to those to whom like the music of people like Jay-Z.
However, none of these things are “missing” on Spotify, and except for the better audio quality, there is simply nothing that will make me decide on Tidal as my new music service, nor does it sound better or anywhere near the quality of my music. vinyls, but that’s another matter.
Who is Tidal for
If you are a person who has not yet married any music streaming service, Tidal could be for you. If you are an audiophile who spends hundreds of euros on the best sound equipment, and you want to take advantage of it with the best possible streaming quality, Tidal HiFi is probably for you.
If you’re someone who doesn’t have years of playlists that you can’t import to another service like Tidal, and that you don’t want to do without, you’ll be fine. If you have the patience and time to build your entire music library on the platform from scratch, following artists, saving albums, and listening to music for months and months until the service starts recommending things you like and not a bunch of random things that don’t interest you, maybe Tidal is for you.
If you don’t mind that you can’t use Tidal with your Google Assistant and you have to stop yelling at the Home Mini in the kitchen to play you a song, or if you don’t mind that there are no applications for Xbox or PlayStation, much less for something like Linux, well consider Tidal.
Tidal in general is a good service, but the best it offers is not aimed at the general public, nor does it have to be at all. It is an alternative, especially the HiFi plan, for a niche of users that takes hearing a little more seriously, perhaps a bit snobbish.
If you’ve been happy with the regular quality that other premium services offer, there’s really no reason to switch, Tidal still has a way to go and new users will have a way to go with Tidal to get it up and running.
Either way, there is currently the possibility to try Tidal HiFi for free for 60 days so that you can evaluate the whole experience. It deserves a chance whenever you are not happy with the sound quality of the music streaming you currently listen to..