Is Tidal hifi inaccessible for most?

justinjured

Novice Member
Hi all.
Have been paying for Tidal hifi/masters but the more I look into this the more I believe the extra quality of this £20/month premium is pretty inaccessible.
I use via my android mobile and wireless ear buds and also via my laptop plugged into my cambridge amp via USB.
Sorry if this is obvious, but after looking into how to access hi res on your mobile you need either an external portable dac capable of converting the hi res signal whilst using wired headphones. Or via an LG phone equipped with a 32 bit DAC again using wired headphones.
With the laptop/amp option I think the sound is pretty poor compared to the same tracks on cd. This means the dac in the amp is doing very little to produce lossless/master quality. To me this means buying an external dac to act as a go between the laptop and amp.

Please correct me if I have misunderstood any of this, and if what I have understood is correct should Tidal be putting a big caveat on the hifi/masters product to inform users that accessing this extra quality is not a given, and there are several pre-requisites needed to be able to access this quality.

Thanks
 

Steven

Senior Moderator
I might or might not move this thread to to Music forum depending on the direction of discussion

Be aware while you are comparing the same track, you may not be comparing the same mastering. So not like for like. If you care about this subject the better mastering version even on Redbook CD > higher resolution version using a poorer master

In an ideal world you would have better mastering at all the different sample rates you the music consumer want, but we are not living in that world yet

To answer your question, I would not expect a laptop built in DAC to be very good. A budget £100 external DAC will trump it. There may be some laptops marketing a superior DAC option, but I would expect them to charge more

The DAC inside your wireless earphones are possibly better than the DAC inside the laptop 😎
 

justinjured

Novice Member
Thanks. Wasn't sure where to put the thread to be honest. Seemed to be part mobile thing, part hifi/streaming thing.
Think the essence of my question is trying to get at that being able to listen to master quality from Tidal is not that straight forward.
Thanks
 

fireandskill1

Active Member
There are more and more people that I personally know that pay the extra for Tidal HiFi whilst only actually listening to it via AirPods sound bars etc which seems pointless to me but 24bit / HiRes audio seems to be the "In Thing" for certain people at the moment,
Don't get me wrong it can and does sound great on the right equipment, the caveat would be an idea although I doubt marketing would want to restrict people subscribing to something they believe is better for them when in reality.......
You could have a pint of the best beer in the world but if you drink it from a dirty old glass it'll never taste nice.
 
Last edited:

Jaded1

Active Member
It's pointless if you are not playing through an MQA enabled set up and that is entirely different thread of it's own. Totally worth it if you do.
 

justinjured

Novice Member
Just wonder how many masters subscribers there are who are unaware of the need for advanced dacs to decode the signal. Personally I think Tidal should be more explicit about this, especially as the subscription is double the price of the usual premium rate.
 

Steven

Senior Moderator
"Advanced" is an imprecise adjective

I think Tidal and MQA are up front an MQA licensed DAC is required to playback Tidal MQA Masters
 

justinjured

Novice Member
MQA logo

In partnership with MQA, we’re bringing you the ultimate audio experience. With your TIDAL HiFi membership, listen to millions of master-quality songs on your iOS or Android device, and through your TIDAL desktop

Existing Members​

Master quality is available with a HiFi membership on iOS or Android devices, the TIDAL desktop app, and connected devices.
Download
Norah Jones
Norah Jones
Pick Me Up Off The Floor
The Weeknd
The Weeknd
After Hours
Lang Lang
Lang Lang
Bach: Goldberg Variations (Deluxe Edt. Studio + Live)
Fleetwood Mac
Rumours
John Coltrane
Giant Steps (60th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition) [2020 Remaster]
Marvin Gaye
What's Going On

Masters Albums​

Samples from a growing number of groundbreaking Master Quality Authenticated recordings.
Staff Picks - TIDAL Masters
Pop - TIDAL Masters
Rock - TIDAL Masters
Indie - TIDAL Masters
Hip-Hop - TIDAL Masters
R&B - TIDAL Masters

Masters Playlists​

Playlists with tracks only from the TIDAL Masters catalogue.

New Arrivals – Master Edition​

A mix of fresh MQA releases from your favorite artists.

Artist and Track Radio – Master Edition​

Sit back and tune in to more of what you like, in master quality.

Frequently Asked Questions​


What is TIDAL Masters?​


How can I listen to TIDAL Masters (Master Quality Authenticated recordings)?​


How do I upgrade from TIDAL Premium to a TIDAL HiFi subscription?​


Do I need to use a DAC while listening to TIDAL in Master quality?​


How much music is available in TIDAL Masters?​

Get Started
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TIDAL is the first global music streaming service with high fidelity sound, hi-def video quality, along with expertly curated playlists and original content — making it a trusted source for music and culture.
EN
© 2021 Aspiro AB
"Advanced" is an imprecise adjective

I think Tidal and MQA are up front an MQA licensed DAC is required to playback Tidal MQA Masters
I don't agree. Most dacs are not capable of decoding mqa and this is Tidal response to "how can I listen to Tidal Masters?' question:
...'available with ios or android devices, Tidal desktop app and connected devices.'
This suggests that it is decoded on ios or android devices. This is not true unless you have a LG phone with 32 bit dac inside.
 

Steven

Senior Moderator
Fair enough. Not everyone visits tech sites. I know about MQA but to be completely honest, have not looked at the tidal site. In the meantime I found some links for you


 

justinjured

Novice Member
Fair enough. Not everyone visits tech sites. I know about MQA but to be completely honest, have not looked at the tidal site. In the meantime I found some links for you


Thanks. That's really helpful
 

fireandskill1

Active Member
Just wonder how many masters subscribers there are who are unaware of the need for advanced dacs to decode the signal. Personally I think Tidal should be more explicit about this, especially as the subscription is double
We live in an age of research, I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t buy a new car without researching it on the internet, the same goes for the slightly more expensive streaming services, Tidal HiFi or Amazon Hi Res for that matter are no different, I don’t recall either of them mentioning that they’ll make a £200 pair of AirPods into studio speakers just by subscribing to their premium service, but unfortunately people seem to think that so they will happily pay it 🤷🏻‍♂️
 

Jaded1

Active Member
MQA logo

In partnership with MQA, we’re bringing you the ultimate audio experience. With your TIDAL HiFi membership, listen to millions of master-quality songs on your iOS or Android device, and through your TIDAL desktop

Existing Members​

Master quality is available with a HiFi membership on iOS or Android devices, the TIDAL desktop app, and connected devices.
Download
Norah Jones
Norah Jones
Pick Me Up Off The Floor
The Weeknd
The Weeknd
After Hours
Lang Lang
Lang Lang
Bach: Goldberg Variations (Deluxe Edt. Studio + Live)
Fleetwood Mac
Rumours
John Coltrane
Giant Steps (60th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition) [2020 Remaster]
Marvin Gaye
What's Going On

Masters Albums​

Samples from a growing number of groundbreaking Master Quality Authenticated recordings.
Staff Picks - TIDAL Masters
Pop - TIDAL Masters
Rock - TIDAL Masters
Indie - TIDAL Masters
Hip-Hop - TIDAL Masters
R&B - TIDAL Masters

Masters Playlists​

Playlists with tracks only from the TIDAL Masters catalogue.

New Arrivals – Master Edition​

A mix of fresh MQA releases from your favorite artists.

Artist and Track Radio – Master Edition​

Sit back and tune in to more of what you like, in master quality.

Frequently Asked Questions​


What is TIDAL Masters?​


How can I listen to TIDAL Masters (Master Quality Authenticated recordings)?​


How do I upgrade from TIDAL Premium to a TIDAL HiFi subscription?​


Do I need to use a DAC while listening to TIDAL in Master quality?​


How much music is available in TIDAL Masters?​

Get Started
Discover TIDAL
Account
Company
TIDAL is the first global music streaming service with high fidelity sound, hi-def video quality, along with expertly curated playlists and original content — making it a trusted source for music and culture.
EN
© 2021 Aspiro AB

I don't agree. Most dacs are not capable of decoding mqa and this is Tidal response to "how can I listen to Tidal Masters?' question:
...'available with ios or android devices, Tidal desktop app and connected devices.'
This suggests that it is decoded on ios or android devices. This is not true unless you have a LG phone with 32 bit dac inside.

Not exactly true although I get where you are coming from.

Only a select few DACS decode MQA but they are not exactly expensive and although LG are the only brand of phone to officially play MQA you don't need one if your external DAC (such as the excellent ZEN DAC) can decode MQA. Most S range Samsung phones (since the 9 I think) and most top tier Sony phones since 2019 can all play audio above 16 bit.

In fact when playing Tidal via USB audio pro (with the MQA add on) there is not a lot of difference between my Sony XZ premium and the LG V30 (with the LG V30 just about edging it)
 
Last edited:

wizball1974

Active Member
Hi all.
Have been paying for Tidal hifi/masters but the more I look into this the more I believe the extra quality of this £20/month premium is pretty inaccessible.
I use via my android mobile and wireless ear buds and also via my laptop plugged into my cambridge amp via USB.
Sorry if this is obvious, but after looking into how to access hi res on your mobile you need either an external portable dac capable of converting the hi res signal whilst using wired headphones. Or via an LG phone equipped with a 32 bit DAC again using wired headphones.
With the laptop/amp option I think the sound is pretty poor compared to the same tracks on cd. This means the dac in the amp is doing very little to produce lossless/master quality. To me this means buying an external dac to act as a go between the laptop and amp.

Please correct me if I have misunderstood any of this, and if what I have understood is correct should Tidal be putting a big caveat on the hifi/masters product to inform users that accessing this extra quality is not a given, and there are several pre-requisites needed to be able to access this quality.

Thanks
It's my understanding that Tidal's £9.99 subscription only gets you 320Kbps lossy streaming.

Paying for the extra (HiFi / Masters) is to get lossless content. Any android device can decode lossless CD-quality audio, so that doesn't seem to be inaccessible to anyone (and as per the above links, even MQA seems to have software support now).

So, to address the original question, I think Tidal are quite clear that people are choosing between lossy and lossless. The lossy stream probably would sound better on some equipment than the lossless on poor equipment - but that is true of all music sources.

With regards the observation about laptop vs CD; I don't have Tidal, so don't know how you would do this in that particular app, but you would need to ensure that the output is set to use WASAPI or ASIO, otherwise it probably defaults to the Windows audio subsystem, which potentially changes (downwards) the sampling rate of the signal sent (not sure how this would work with MQA in the mix).

Of course, depending upon how you have the CD player hooked up to your amp, it might just be that your CD player has a much better DAC than your amp does.
 

justinjured

Novice Member
It's my understanding that Tidal's £9.99 subscription only gets you 320Kbps lossy streaming.

Paying for the extra (HiFi / Masters) is to get lossless content. Any android device can decode lossless CD-quality audio, so that doesn't seem to be inaccessible to anyone (and as per the above links, even MQA seems to have software support now).

So, to address the original question, I think Tidal are quite clear that people are choosing between lossy and lossless. The lossy stream probably would sound better on some equipment than the lossless on poor equipment - but that is true of all music sources.

With regards the observation about laptop vs CD; I don't have Tidal, so don't know how you would do this in that particular app, but you would need to ensure that the output is set to use WASAPI or ASIO, otherwise it probably defaults to the Windows audio subsystem, which potentially changes (downwards) the sampling rate of the signal sent (not sure how this would work with MQA in the mix).

Of course, depending upon how you have the CD player hooked up to your amp, it might just be that your CD player has a much better DAC than your amp does.
Thanks for the replies. That seems to make more sense and answers the question about accessibility. For the laptop vs cd they are both using the same dac that is in the amp as the cd player is the cambridge cd transport(so doesn't have a dac) I might need to have a play with the sound settings in the laptop.
Thanks
 

Jaded1

Active Member
Thanks for the replies. That seems to make more sense and answers the question about accessibility. For the laptop vs cd they are both using the same dac that is in the amp as the cd player is the cambridge cd transport(so doesn't have a dac) I might need to have a play with the sound settings in the laptop.
Thanks

I'm not a fan of laptops for streaming (or computers in general) I presume you have downloaded the full Tidal app though and aren't streaming from the website?
 

justinjured

Novice Member
Yep, streaming from the app. Had a listen earlier and checked all the lap top and tidal properties/sound settings but still sounds poor compared to cd. Not a big issue but just it would be better. Like you say just think they are not great for streaming.
 

ozzzy189

Distinguished Member
Yup
Here's a really good MQA/Tidal review for those interested in understanding how MQA works:


HB
Yup , it’s a huge con
i prefer lossless flac and have downgraded to standard quality and I will decide if it’s worth keeping it or binning it in favour of Spotify, which currently costs me 15 quid a month for a family sub. 35 quid a month on music streaming is ridiculous imo.
 

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