high-quality 16-bit Tidal streaming music service rises, challenges Spotify and Qobuz

posted on Wednesday, 29th October 2014 by Steve May

Multi-room  Hi-fi  Streaming 

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A new higher fidelity music streaming service has launched in the UK and US, providing an alternative to Spotify and a challenge to rival high resolution streaming outfit Qobuz. The new Tidal service streams at 16-bit 44.1kHz 1411 Kbps in FLAC/ALAC, making it comparable to CD. Aside for streaming at four times the rate of a 320 Kbps service, it’s unique in offering subscribers both music and video content, and will come integrated on a range of hardware. At launch 34 equipment partners have been signed up, including such familiar CI and AV brands as Anthem, Astell & Kern, AudioQuest, Bluesound and NAD, Dan D'Agostino, Definitive Technology, Denon HEOS, DTS Play-Fi, Dynaudio, Linn, McIntosh, Meridian, MartinLogan, Paradigm, Polk, Sonos and Steinway Lyngdorf. Such hardware support clearly positions Tidal as a viable in-home alternative to CD playback.

The launch catalogue is reasonably substantial, claiming a library of 25 million-plus tracks, bolstered 75,000 music videos. Supporting labels include Sony Music, Universal and Warner, plus some independent contributors. The service is ad-free but costs £19.99 monthly. There are apps for iOS and Android devices.

TIDAL CEO Andy Chen (pictured below) maintains that music is only part of the package. Features include curated album spotlights and  artist interviews, news articles, playlists and a revolving focus on labels and sub-genres. He says the aim is to “educate, entertain and enrich the music experience.”

Inside CI has been trialing the service and has been very impressed with the audio quality available. In a home environment it’s a definite improvement over Spotify. Of course for mobile users, benefits can be outweighed by other mitigating factors. For integrators though, it’s a great service to offer clients. It should be noted that 16-bit streaming audio does not compare to 24-bit file playback in terms of quality, but it is indicative of an ongoing hi-fi renaissance. 

Andy _Chen _Tidal

Also read:
Primare outs BD32 MkII audiophile Blu-ray player
Dynaudio intros Focus XD active loudspeakers
Multiroom Bluesound system targets Audiophile 2.0

Steve May

Inside CI Editor Steve May is a freelance technology journalist, who also writes for T3, TechRadar, Home Cinema Choice and ERT (amongst others).

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