Tom's Guide Verdict
If audio quality is important to you and you're concerned about artist remuneration, then there’s only one place to put your subscription money.
Superb hi-fi sound
Dolby Atmos and Sony 360 Reality Audio support
Excellent curated content
Useful performance-boosting features
Clear artist remuneration policy
No annual subscription plan
Free tier lacks headline features
Needs hi-res-capable components to fully appreciate audio benefits
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Starting price (p/m):$9.99
Offline mode (no ads):$9.99 (HiFi); $19.99 (HiFi Plus)
Student price (p/m):$4.99 (HiFi); $9.99 (HiFi Plus)
Family price (p/m):$14.99 (up to 6 accounts, HiFi); $29.99 (up to 6 accounts, HiFi Plus)
Library:90 million tracks
Type:Web browser and mobile app
Format:16/44.1 to 24/192 FLAC and MQA
Tidal may not be as popular as Apple Music or Spotify, but it is the go-to streaming platform for HD and hi-res music. It has more than 90 million tracks that you can listen to in CD-quality sound, along with 450,000 videos and plenty of exclusive content (e.g., livestreamed concerts, podcasts). No music app matches this level of curation, nor do they offer better artist remuneration than Tidal ($0.013 per stream). Then there’s the unrivaled audio quality.
Tidal offers several of the most innovative audio formats to deliver lossless, hi-fi audio streaming. Everything from FLAC and MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) file formats to immersive sound technologies such as Dolby Atmos and Sony’s 360 Reality Audio are supported. You'll need a subscription to enjoy Tidal’s biggest perks, and though plans are pricey, you’re getting a fantastic value to hear songs the way artists and studio engineers intended.
Read our full Tidal review to discover why this is one of the best music streaming services (opens in new tab) around right now.
Tidal review: Price
Much like its competitors, Tidal has tailored subscription plans available on the music platform’s homepage. It is one of the few music apps to come with a free tier. However, headline features are reserved for the HiFi ($9.99) and HiFi Plus ($19.99) monthly plans, plus there are plenty of other benefits that make a Tidal even more worthwhile (opens in new tab).
The Family plans start at $14.99 per month, and lets you add up to 5 additional accounts.
Students are eligible for a 50% discount, bringing the price down to as low as $4.99 per month. And U.S. first responders and military personnel are eligible to receive a 40% discount on subscriptions.
Pricing between Apple Music, Spotify, and Tidal is similar. Apple Music currently charges a dollar extra for each similar plan, while Tidal requests a few dollars more for its premium HiFi Plus tier. Spotify offers an annual plan for $99.99 (normally $9.99 per month), which saves you $20, and Apple Music has one for $109.99.
Tidal does not currently offer an annual plan.
Signing up automatically gifts you a 30-day free trial at no charge.
Tidal review: Availability
Tidal comes as both a mobile and web application. Apple users can download it to their iOS (iPhone, iPad) or OSX devices (MacBook, Mac desktops) via the App Store. Android users can do the same through Google Play. There’s even a PC version available for download in the Microsoft store (opens in new tab) to use on Windows-operated machines.
A plethora of devices support Tidal, including many of the best wireless speakers, best phones, best smart TVs, best streaming devices, and best smartwatches. Mercedes-Benz owners are also able to stream Tidal content at the highest quality through the Mercedes me Portal by way of Bluetooth or the Mercedes me Adapter (for models built after 2002 without connected functionality).
Tidal review: Features
Features are what make Tidal a sonic streaming juggernaut. The headliner is MQA, a lossless format used to stream hi-res Master tracks at a whopping 9,216kbps, which is available to HiFi Plus subscribers. Two other features bundled with this package are 360 Reality AudioandDolby Atmosspatial audio integration.
Tidal has the largest MQA catalog available. Not everything on the platform is a Master recording, but you can still get CD-quality sound at 1,411kbps when setting HiFi as the streaming option. CD-quality audio comes as standard with all Tidal pay-for subscriptions.
There are several features worth checking out on the platform — Tidal just hasn’t marketed them well. For instance, Exclusive Mode allows the music program to take control of your device’s DAC and automatically tweak frequencies based on song selection. There’s also Tidal Connect to instantly pull up the service on wireless speakers for hi-res playback over Bluetooth, AirPlay, or Wi-Fi. Those are just two of many ways to improve your Tidal listening experience.
Tidal tracks and videos can be downloaded to your phone for offline listening, in any streaming quality. More enticing is the amount of exclusive content available, which consists of concerts, curated mixes, discovery radio stations, podcasts, and shows. It would have been nice if Tidal let you transfer music libraries and playlists from other streaming services. Luckily, there are third-party apps for that (we recommend Soundiiz).
No platform does curation better than Tidal. The algorithm-generated recommendations are spot-on; most personalized music and video mixes favored my listening habits. The Explore tab simplifies searches, thanks to a beautiful interface and seamless navigation. Categories and menus are assigned properly and not cluttered together. My Daily Discovery is another solid tool for finding new artists and songs.
Other standard features worth mentioning are playlist creations and social media sharing.
Tidal review: Sound quality
The Tidal music app delivers excellent sound on all platforms. Mobile users can stream content over their cellular plan or Wi-Fi at different streaming speeds. Normal (96kbps) and High (320kbps) stream over AAC, which most devices support. HiFi (1,411kbps) achieves CD quality.
However, Master (2,304 – 9,216kbps) is the ultimate way to experience Tidal, pulling every bit of information and detail from a recording and packed into MQA formated tarcks. I felt the vibration on drums and percussive instruments. Strings demonstrated exceptional reverberation that extended and faded smoothly. Most importantly, MQA brought out the subtle nuances in complex recordings; the cowbell on Blue Oyster Cult’s “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” and heavy breathing on the intro to Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” were very transparent.
Tidal will automatically switch to HiFi when playing non-MQA recordings, maintaining the highest streaming quality possible.
Of course, you'll need high-quality headphones to fully appreciate from the lossless of hires audio files that Tidal can deliver, and we recommend looing to our best headphones for audiophiles for our pick of the finest models for superior sonics.
Chances are, though, that you’ll be listening wirelessly via Bluetooth. So investing in the best wireless earbuds or thebest wireless headphones will ensure the highest audio quality starting point before it's compressed into an audio codec that can be handled by Bluetooth wireless to the earbuds. Remember to make sure that your playback device is set to output the highest output resolution.
You can still get satisfying audio from some of the best cheap wireless earbuds, depending on the model. I’ve used the hi-fi-capable Donner DoBuds One to test Tidal tracks and was impressed with the detail and reproduction when listening on the High setting.
My iPhone 14 and MacBook Pro provided hi-res goodness, though music sounded better on Android devices. LDAC codec support likely played a significant role, but I noticed cleaner music presentation when listening on my Google Pixel 6 Pro with the Sony WH-1000XM5.
Immersive sound formats like Dolby Atmos and spatial audio are nothing new to music streaming services. Apple Music does both incredibly well. I would place Tidal below it.
Dolby Atmos tracks dished out emphatic sound. Lows, mids, and highs were clearer and more impactful on orchestral-heavy tracks. A Dolby Atmos-compatible device is required to hear this content. Switching to my Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra 5G granted better results, especially after enabling these Samsung Galaxy phone sound improvement tips.
360 Reality Audio gave instruments and vocals more authenticity. Apple Music has the upper hand with spatial audio since the AirPods Max and AirPods Pro 2 support dynamic headtracking for fuller 3D sound. Sony headphones and earbuds do not.
HiFi and Master tracks carry lots of info, and streaming over your cellular plan will devour data. Streaming over Wi-Fi will limit buffering and squeeze as much detail out of tracks.
Tidal review: Verdict
Ingenious features, stellar audio format support, terrific artist remuneration, and the largest collection of hi-fi tracks available place Tidal atop the music streaming app throne. Both audiophiles and casual listeners receive a lot for the subscription price, which although high, is better overall value when compared to most other rival plans.
More: Want to get the most from your Tidal HiFi subscription? Make sure you know about these 10 hidden Tidal features to make your streaming experience sound even better. And check out the free Rewind app that lets you travel back in time to any year in music.
A lifestyle journalist with an affinity for consumer products, Alex has over a decade of experience and has worked with popular publications such as Complex, Thrillist, Men’s Health, Gear Patrol, AskMen, and Hoop Magazine. He currently focuses on audio, reviewing the most coveted headphones in the market for both Tom’s Guide and Laptop Magazine.
1 CommentComment from the forums
1- you don't subscribe to a streaming music service to listen loseless music, you want to listen your playlist in loseless music and tidal provides only 30% of HR files on my experience using the service on my playlist , so you aren't getting the all package.
2 - you need to buy extra software to listen HR music on any platforms android , iOS , windows or Mac because there's no device that plays HR natively , every platform repsamples the audio to lower resolution
3- you need WIRED headphones / IEMs
4- listen to losseless music on BT earphones / headphones is the same as listen Spotify , no matter how good the BT headphones are, BT codecs have heavy limitations , I don't think you can get much more than 96khz on most devices using LDAC .
5- MQA files are not losseless files and nobody cares about MQA, sorry
6- Tidal algorithm is getting better but not the best in the world for certain , it keeps suggesting the same tracks over and over like you don't have any alternative left on that huge library
7- HR files are so big you will struggle to listen to music if your internet isn't the best and don't even think to use your mobile data unless it's unlimited(Video) Tidal Music Review 2022 - Can it Compete
So does it matter ? , NO , tidal have a very nice service and I personally use it and enjoy it but let's stop this no sense losseless music no one can hear the difference and please stop writing so many ridiculous bs, there's too many technical imitations and issues to even bother with loseless music
Is Tidal HiFi good enough? ›
Tidal is an excellent listening experience, despite the high cost of entry. Curated playlists, exclusive albums, video content, and master-quality audio make the service a stellar choice for audiophiles.Is Tidal HiFi actually HiFi? ›
What is HiFi sound? HiFi sound on TIDAL delivers large and uncompressed audio files by utilizing the format FLAC to stream lossless audio, making for a truer listening experience.Is Tidal HiFi Plus worth it? ›
In terms of the Tidal subscription plans, the highest level (HiFi Plus) does cost more per month than competitors' plans, but it comes with that Master-track level of sound, tons of exclusive music-oriented content, and the feel-good knowledge that artists are being paid better for their efforts.Is Tidal HiFi quality better than Spotify? ›
TIDAL HiFi Plus is more expensive than Spotify but has higher-quality audio. There are three different TIDAL tiers for subscriptions: Free, HiFi, and HiFi Plus. TIDAL HiFi costs $9.99, offers lossless files, and grants a few extra features.What are the pros and cons of Tidal music? ›
Pros: Tidal offers CD-quality and high-res audio (via HiFi Plus, its top-tier service). Cons: The cost of $20 per month is steep, especially when lossless streaming doesn't cost extra with the Amazon and Apple services.Do audiophiles use Tidal? ›
Tidal is one of the most popular music streaming services for audiophiles and hi-fi enthusiasts.Is Tidal worth it 2022? ›
It's brilliant value for a tenner, and offers excellent music recommendations. But if you're an audiophile at heart, Tidal's HiFi Plus tier is worth the premium. Its MQA hi-res tracks sound seriously fine. Just make sure your headphones are up to the job.Is Tidal HiFi better than Apple music lossless? ›
You can select lossless quality in your app settings. Because FLAC is closer to studio masters, in theory, Tidal's HiFi plan using FLAC lossless audio codec is better in audio quality than Apple Music's lossless music tracks.Does Tidal actually sound better? ›
Tidal's claim to fame is that it delivers true lossless streams at 1.4Mbps — legitimate CD quality, for all practical purposes — while Spotify tops out at 320kbps. Apple Music runs at a slightly lower 256kbps, but it uses a better encoding scheme, AAC, than Spotify's Ogg Vorbis.Is Apple music better than Tidal HiFi? ›
Tidal and Apple Music are both leaders in music streaming. To say the least, the Tidal vs Apple Music battle is a tight one. While Tidal has cheaper pricing options and offers artist-centered service, Apple Music has some cool features that you can't get with Tidal.
Is Tidal HiFi better than CD? ›
Comparatively, uncompressed CD-quality is almost 29 times higher – sitting at 1,411 kbps. Ultra high-resolution audio provided by services like Tidal are significantly more detailed again, reaching 9,216 kbps.How much is Tidal HiFi per month? ›
The standard TIDAL HiFi membership costs $9.99 USD/month. You get full access to the TIDAL catalog without interruption. You also get offline capabilities and access to TIDAL Connect and can stream music quality up to 1411kbps.Which music service has the highest quality audio? ›
As mentioned, Tidal offers the highest audio quality of all other music apps on this list. There are a total of 4 audio quality settings to enjoy: Normal: 96 kbps. High: 320 kbps.Can you hear difference between Spotify and Tidal HiFi? ›
Spotify offers more audio quality settings, including a 'Low' quality setting of only 24 kbps for those who want to conserve their data plans. However, Tidal takes this round hands down with its HiFi and Master audio quality settings.Who pays artists more Tidal or Spotify? ›
TIDAL ranks higher than both Spotify and Apple Music in terms of royalty rate and the direct artist payouts available on the platform. It's definitely worth weighing up your options when deciding which DSP(s) to upload your music to.What are the main disadvantages of Tidal? ›
- The cost: building tidal power plants is currently pretty expensive. ...
- Effects on the environment: tidal power plants aren't always good for the environment around them, even though the energy they produce is environmentally-friendly. ...
- Gaps between the tides: tidal power is not constant.
Most audiophiles prefer the sound of speakers, but headphones more accurately convey the true sound of a recording, says the Audiophiliac. Ex-movie theater projectionist Steve Guttenberg has also worked as a high-end audio salesman, and as a record producer.Is Tidal really master quality? ›
TIDAL Masters, also known as TIDAL MQA, is a program that allows you to stream Master Quality Authenticated (MQA) tunes. These tunes are hi-res with better than CD quality sound. MQA is a program that authenticates and delivers master recordings straight from the artist to the listener.What is the best music streaming service for audiophiles? ›
- Spotify. Best music streaming service overall. See at Spotify.
- Apple Music. Best alternative to Spotify. See at Apple.
- Qobuz. Best for audiophiles. See at Qobuz.
- Tidal. Best for compensating artists. See at Tidal.
- Amazon Music Unlimited. Best for Prime members. See at Amazon.
You can select lossless quality in your app settings. Because FLAC is closer to studio masters, in theory, Tidal's HiFi plan using FLAC lossless audio codec is better in audio quality than Apple Music's lossless music tracks.
Is Tidal HiFi CD quality? ›
The 'Tidal Premium' tier that offered 320kbps quality has now been rebranded as 'Tidal HiFi' and gets you audio at up to 1411kbps (i.e. CD quality) as well as offline capabilities and access to features such as Tidal Connect for £9.99/ $9.99 / AU$11.99 per month.Do you get Dolby Atmos with Tidal HiFi? ›
Now you can stream music in Dolby with a TIDAL HiFi Plus subscription on your Android mobile devices and compatible soundbars, TVs, and AVRs enabled with Dolby Atmos. Feel more clarity, detail, and depth in every song with Dolby Atmos Music.What is better than Tidal? ›
Given that Tidal's HiFi membership is the true competition in terms of sound quality, Qobuz wins out on affordability. On Reddit, some people preferred Qobuz over Tidal. Although the subscription plan of Qobuz is quite expensive, it is worth it for them, especially since it has a better audio quality.Which sound quality is better Tidal or Amazon? ›
Amazon Music HD's maximum available quality is 192 kHz. This goes up against TIDAL HiFi Plus's max of 384 kHz. It offers two standards: High Definition (HD) and Ultra HD. Amazon's HD songs stream in 'up to 850 kbps' and its Ultra HD songs in 'up to 3730 kbps'.Who has the highest quality streaming music? ›
As mentioned, Tidal offers the highest audio quality of all other music apps on this list. There are a total of 4 audio quality settings to enjoy: Normal: 96 kbps. High: 320 kbps.Is Tidal better than Apple Music? ›
Tidal and Apple Music are both leaders in music streaming. To say the least, the Tidal vs Apple Music battle is a tight one. While Tidal has cheaper pricing options and offers artist-centered service, Apple Music has some cool features that you can't get with Tidal.Does Tidal HiFi work over Bluetooth? ›
Tidal's catalogue can also be streamed over Bluetooth, AirPlay and Google Chromecast to devices that support those technologies. However, Tidal Connect comes with some unique features, like the ability to stream hi-res-quality Masters and even Dolby Atmos music, which those alternatives cannot.Do you need a DAC to listen to TIDAL? ›
Do I need to use a DAC while listening to TIDAL in Master quality? While TIDAL on iOS and Android can unfold part of the audio source natively, allowing for an enhanced listening experience by default, using a DAC will unlock its full potential and give you optimal performance.What songs are HiFi on TIDAL? ›
- Retrograde. James Blake. James Blake. ...
- You Win, I Lose. Supertramp. Supertramp. ...
- My Life. Dido. Dido. ...
- Cheers Darlin' Damien Rice. Damien Rice. ...
- Daydreamer. Adele. Adele.
- Oats In The Water. Ben Howard. Ben Howard. ...
- Insomnia. Faithless. Faithless. ...
- Crime Of The Century (Live At Hammersmith Odeon / 1975) Supertramp. Supertramp.
Tidal provides three qualities: 96 kbps (Normal), 320 kbps (High), and 1411 kbps (HiFi, lossless).