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What is Tidal? Everything you need to know about this music service

The options to sign up for a music service at streamingThey are numerous. Between Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play Music, Amanzon Music and many more. But if you are looking for one that in addition to a music catalog at the height of the best but with better sound quality, we suggest you try Tidal. This service offers music in high fidelity, without loss of quality. We tell you what Tidal is and all the advantages and disadvantages that it presents with respect to the competition.

What is Tidal?

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Tidal is a music streaming subscription service in streaming with a catalog of about 60 million songs, some of which are exclusive. Also offers podcasts, music videos, live concert recordings and playlists selected by professionals. Like most of the services of streaming, is accessible on a wide variety of devices, including computers, smart phones, tablets, smart speakers and platforms such as Apple TV and Android TV. But two main elements allow Tidal to stand out in the space of music in real time.

First, Tidal is owned by a group of musicians, not a corporation. Currently, the service includes Alicia Keys, Arcade Fire (Win Butler and Regine Chassagne), Beyonc, Calvin Harris, Clifford “T.I.”. Harris, Coldplay, Daft Punk, Deadmau5 and Jack White, among other "artist owners." Tidal says that this ownership structure not only helps to offer music and exclusive events to its subscribers, but also allows them to pay more money to artists: “Tidal pays the highest proportion of royalties vs. income to the creators of music of any service of streaming, and the same fees are paid to the artists, regardless of whether they are signed by an important record label, an independent label or not at all, ”says the company.

Secondly, in addition to its premium basic subscription level that allows listeners to stream audio at 320 Kbps (more or less of the same quality as Spotify, Apple Music and others), Tidal has a more expensive “Hi-Fi” option which makes the entire catalog become audio without loss of quality (the same as a CD), and a limited catalog of high-resolution music called Tidal Masters. For a while, this feature made Tidal one of only two high-resolution transmission services available to US subscribers. (the other is Quobuz). However, as of September 2019, Amazon Music also offers high resolution audio and CD quality with its Amazon Music HD service.

Tidal and Amazon Music HD are now caught in a battle to possess the title of the service of streaming of higher quality. Then we explain the differences.

How much does Tidal cost and what is included?

Tidal has two subscription plans: HiFi and Premium. The price of each depends on whether you meet the requirements to access one of the Tidal discounts. There is no free subscription, but Tidal offers a free 30-day trial for new subscribers.

The Premium plan offers you unlimited music without ads on multiple devices, as well as access to exclusive Tidal X events live. You can create new playlists, import your existing playlists and download songs and videos to listen to or watch offline.

HiFi subscription offers you the same features as Premium, but with CD quality without loss of sound for all tracks transmitted using FLAC 16bit / 44.1kHz, and access to high resolution recordings of Tidal Masters. It is also the level that offers a limited selection of Sony 360 Reality Audio and Dolby Atmos Music tracks.

An individual subscription to Tidal, regardless of plan, allows you to stream music to one device at a time (online mode); however, up to five devices can be used in offline mode simultaneously. Family plans offer you a total of six user accounts.

Individual plans

  • Premium: $ 10 per month
  • HiFi: $ 20 dollars per month

Family plans

  • Premium: $ 15 dollars per month
  • HiFi: $ 30 dollars per month

Plans for students (only for the US from 16 years of age, with proof of your student status)

  • Premium: $ 5 per month
  • HiFi: $ 10 per month

Military plans (only for the US)

  • Premium: $ 6 per month
  • HiFi: $ 12 dollars per month

First aid plans (only in the US)

  • Premium: $ 6 per month
  • HiFi: $ 12 dollars per month

How does Tidal Masters work?

what is Tidal

Tidal Masters is a collection of tracks that can be transmitted in high resolution audio, using the MQA codec. It starts with the same 24-bit / 96KHz audio as FLAC files without loss, but the MQA cdec employs a special compression that dramatically reduces the bandwidth needed to transmit a high quality file.

This is where Tidal's high resolution option differs from that of Qobuz and Amazon Music HD. Both services use FLAC 24-bit / 96kHz to offer high resolution audio and these files are huge. If you intend to transmit high resolution audio through a mobile data connection (and you have no unlimited data), Tidal will allow you to transmit more music before reaching your limit.

To listen to Tidal Masters in full quality you need a device and software that support the MQA format. The Tidal application for iOS, Android and desktop operating systems is an easy way to start, but for a true listening experience, it is better to look for a third-party audio system that is compatible with Tidal / MQA, such as BlueSound, Meridian or Roon.

Keep in mind that the true high-resolution audio quality depends largely on the last pieces of the audio delivery chain, that is, the digital-analog converter (DAC), the amplifier and the speakers / headphones. If any of these elements is not high quality or is not compatible with high resolution audio, you will not get the full high resolution experience.