I’m a music lover with very eclectic tastes, so I’m always excited to try out new streaming music services to see if they can keep up with me. I was especially interested in Tidal, with its offering of lossless hi-fi quality music tracks. I’ve been testing out Tidal’s hi-fi subscription for a couple of weeks, and have been delighted with the quality of sound and everything else the service offers.
In March 2015, rap star and entertainment mogul Jay Z unveiled his plans for Tidal, the streaming music and video service he purchased for $56 million. One of Jay Z’s goals was to create a music and video offering that would be majority owned by artists. To that end, he rounded up the help of other recording artists, including Beyoncé, Rihanna, Madonna, Kanye West, Nicki Minaj, Jack White, Alicia Keys, Jason Aldean, Daft Punk, and Arcade Fire. This is an astounding lineup of backers in an industry that has historically been controlled by record executives, not the artists making the music.
Tidal’s library includes 75,000 music videos and more than 25 million tracks of audio. If you subscribe to the premium plan, you get those tracks in real CD quality audio with 44.1kHz/16 bit files streamed in either FLAC or ALAC compression formats, depending on what device you’re listening on.
In addition to the music itself, Tidal also features a wealth of information about the songs and artists you’re listening to. Information from Last.fm and Discogs is rolled into Tidal, providing you with comprehensive artist and album details such as biographies, detailed album reviews, and other editorials.
The service itself is very easy to use, allowing you to search by genre, artist, album, or song to build your playlist. If you have playlists from other streaming music services, a partnership with Soundiiz allows you to import those into Tidal. Soundiiz allows you to convert playlists to Tidal’s service from Deezer, Grooveshark, YouTube, Last.fm, Qobuz, SoundCloud, Rdio, Spotify, Napster, Xbox Music, and directly from files.
Tidal’s interface is intuitive and beautiful, and the music controls stay with you at the bottom of the screen no matter where you explore. Tidal provides for seamless listening across mobile, tablet, desktop, and network players. Tidal’s app is available for the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, and there is also a Web interface for listening from Macs and PCs. On top of that, Tidal is integrated into high fidelity network players including Sonos, Bluesound, Linn, Auralic, Mirage, Squeezebox, Amarra sQ, McIntosh, Wadia, Electrocompaniet and Meridian.
Is Tidal for you? The answer to that question is: it depends. Tidal’s pricing for lossless hi-fi music is pretty steep, so it won’t be worth it if you do not have the audio equipment to properly enjoy it. If you do have a high quality sound system, though, it’s definitely worth a try. You can sign up for a 30 day trial subscription here, and then decide if you want to keep paying $19.99 a month for all the lossless music you can consume. Even if you can’t justify the hi-fi subscription, Tidal’s premium $9.99 offering still gets you access to the huge library of music along with the curated editorial information. Tidal’s service rivals and even exceeds the standards that Spotify has set for the streaming music niche. You can also subscribe to Tidal through in-app purchases, but as we noted in another article, that is a more expensive option than subscribing through the Web page.