What is Tidal? Here’s everything you need to know

Tidal App AH

The road to being and audiophile is paved with money…. A LOT of money. You have to shell out for expensive equipment like DACs, amps, audio streamers, fancy microphones, thousand-dollar headphones, etc. Before you start selling organs to afford all of that, the first step is to find the right streaming service. Tidal is one of them. What is Tidal?

That’s what we’re here to explain. If you have questions about this service and what it has to offer, then you’ve come to the right place.

Since Tidal is an ever-evolving platform, we can expect changes to happen as time goes on. As such, we’ll update this piece as the platform makes changes. So, be sure to check back every now and then to see what’s new with this service.

What is Tidal?

Tidal is a music streaming service that gives you on-demand access to millions of music tracks. What makes Tidal stand out is its focus on streaming high-quality audio.

What most people don’t know is that several music streaming services don’t offer high-quality music streaming. That’s the case for YouTube Music and Spotify. So, if you’re a person who like their ears, then you might not enjoy these services. Services like Apple Music and Amazon Music HD offer the ability to stream high-quality music.

However, Tidal has a primary focus on delivering high-quality music rather than offering you a limited collection of high-quality audio tracks. So, it’s the go-to service for people who want bit-perfect audio.

Does Tidal cost money?

It’s a high-quality music streaming service, so that’s a no-brainer. There are three payment tiers to choose from. These prices are for the U.S. market. Prices will vary depending on your region.

The standard single-user payment tier costs $10.99/month + tax.. There’s also the option to add the DJ Extension (an additional $9/month). This will give users access to the individual stems for tracks to use for DJing. So, if you’re  DJ, then you’ll love that.

The next payment tier is the Family plan. This costs $16.99/month. You’re able to share your account with up to five additional members. With this payment tier, you’ll also gain access to clean playlists and curated content for kids.

Lastly, there’s the Student tier which costs $4.99/month. You get the same perks as the single-user tier. With this one, you’ll also gain access to curated study playlists.

Is there a free tier?

Unfortunately, no. If you want access to the platform at all, you’ll need to pay for a subscription.

How many tracks does Tidal have?

The platform boasts more than 110 million tracks. If you’re looking to hear the latest and great music from today’s top artists, then you shouldn’t have to worry. On the other hand, if you’re looking for more obscure music, then you might have some trouble. For example, the selection of classical music isn’t quite the best.

What audio formats does Tidal support?

Currently, Tidal supports both FLAC and MQA lossless platforms. These guarantee some of the best audio quality. However, there are a few things to note.

Firstly, not every track will be completely lossless. There’s a chance that some of the tracks might have been mastered and compressed by the platform. Also, it’s important to know that the platform automatically compresses music when streaming through Bluetooth.

Second, As of the writing of this article, Tidal supports both FLAC and MQA. However, on July 24th, 2024, the company will no longer support MQA files. FLAC will be the platform’s primary lossless format. There are FLAC copies of most of the MQA files on the platform. However, users might find some of their favorite files gone.

Along with MQA files, the company is also getting rid of Sony’s 360 Reality audio. This standard will be replaced with Dolby Atmos.

How can I tell what audio quality I’m listening to?

While you’re able to set the default audio quality across the platform, you’re able to see the quality of each track you’re listening to. Each track comes with a badge telling you the quality.

If you’re using the app, you’ll see it right under the timeline; if you’re on the website or desktop client, it will be on the right side of the screen right next to the volume. It will tell you the audio quality (Low, High, or Max) and it will tell you what format it’s in (FLAC or MQA). When you tap/click on the badge, you’ll see a little popup appear with the option to choose the audio quality.

Changing the quality across the platform

If you want to change the quality of the entire platform, you’ll need to go to the system settings. In the app, tap on the gear icon in the top right corner. On the resulting page, tap on the Audio & playback button. This will bring up the settings page for the audio quality.

You’ll be able to choose the maximum audio quality for when you’re streaming via mobile data and through Wi-Fi.

For desktop, click on the three-dot menu right next to your profile name. Click on the Settings button in the dropdown menu, and you’ll see the general settings page pop up. Up top, you’ll be able to choose your audio quality there.

Audio quality

Tidal is a platform all about audio quality. While most platforms only offer audio quality that’s good enough, Tidal has a range of standards to choose from. There are three audio settings to choose from.

Low gives you the most modest quality, and it’s best for people who want to save on data. Low is a special setting, as it gives you the choice between different bit rates. When you choose Low, you’ll be able to choose between 96kbps and 320kbps. The former is the best option if you don’t want to run your data.

High gives you CD-quality audio at 16-bit, 44.1kHz,. You’re getting a bit rate of 1,411.2kbps. It’s more than 4x the quality of 320kbps and 14.7x the quality of 96kbps. This is what you’ll choose if you want the best of both worlds between audio quality and data savings.

Max is the highest quality. As you could guess, this is the highest and most data-hungry setting. You won’t want to use it if you’re on a limited plan. With it, you’re getting audio at 24-bit, 192kHz (9216kbps).

Remember, if you’re using Bluetooth headphones, the audio will be compressed, so you won’t be hearing bit-perfect audio.

Can you download tracks using Tidal?

Yes. As always, you’ll need to connect to the internet every once in a while so that the platform can check if you’re still subscribed.

How to download tracks

This is a little counterintuitive. There’s no direct way to download a track on the platform. If you’re looking for a straightforward Download button, you’ll only see it for albums.

If you want to download individual tracks, it’ll take a few steps. Firstly, you need to go to a track and tap on the heart icon to add it to your collection. Then, tap on the profile icon on the right side of the bottom bar. This will take you to your collection. Tap on the Tracks button to go to your saved tracks. Right under the Shuffle button, you’ll want to flip the toggle to have the tracks download automatically when added to your collection.

As you can tell, this will be inconvenient for people who don’t want to have a collection and a library of downloaded content. However, that’s just how it goes.

What other content is there besides music?

Tidal isn’t a be-all-end-all platform, so you won’t have access to podcasts and audiobooks. However, Tidal does let you view videos. You’ll see music videos from all the top artists. You’ll also see music videos of old classics.

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