Tidal will finally let you see which hi-res tracks are FLAC versus MQA

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Tidal's beta app for iOS showing a way successful FLAC format.Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Tidal‘s Hi-Fi Plus subscription tier precocious became nan first spot successful nan streaming euphony world wherever you could watercourse hi-res audio successful some FLAC and MQA formats connected your smartphone. Unfortunately, location was nary measurement to cognize which 1 you were getting unless you utilized an outer digital-to-analog converter (DAC). Tidal is now connected nan verge of correcting that error, astatine slightest partially: a caller beta of nan Tidal app for iOS now shows you nan format of your presently playing track, alternatively of nan fundamentally useless “Max” aliases “Hi-Fi” labels that non-beta users still see.

Audiophiles initially greeted nan news that Tidal would beryllium adding nan unfastened source, lossless FLAC format to its Hi-Fi Plus tier pinch enthusiasm. Many members of that organization person concerns complete MQA — nan format that had antecedently been Tidal’s exclusive prime for its better-than-CD value postulation (Max) tracks — and had been lobbying for FLAC for immoderate time.

However, when Tidal debuted nan caller FLAC versions, it came pinch respective disappointing caveats. You couldn’t select your searches by your preferred format, and location was nary measurement to moreover spot which format (or its bit-depth/sampling rate) you were getting unless you utilized an outer DAC. Unsurprisingly, audiophiles successful some FLAC and MQA camps were frustrated.

With nan caller labeling practice, nan visibility problem has been partially addressed — you tin now spot nan format — but you still can’t spot nan bit-depth aliases sampling rate. There’s still nary measurement to select by format (or moreover make 1 your preferred format), and there’s nary measurement to cognize nan format of a way aliases medium until you deed play it.

Eventually, these concerns will go mostly academic. Tidal’s caller argumentation is that erstwhile it adds a 24-bit FLAC type of a fixed track, that opus will nary longer beryllium disposable to watercourse successful MQA. It whitethorn return a while, but location will travel a clip erstwhile nan full Max postulation will beryllium exclusively disposable successful FLAC. When that happens, euphony fans will person 1 little logic to support paying Tidal Hi-Fi Plus’ monthly interest of $20 — almost double what Apple Music and Amazon Music complaint for their astir identical catalogs and format support.

Tidal app for iOS connected an iPhone 14 showing now playing surface pinch Max value track.When Tidal initially added FLAC, it only displayed MAX. Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

It’s clear that Tidal is trying to slow divest itself of nan MQA format, which carries licensing fees, successful favour of nan fundamentally royalty-free FLAC format. And yet, doing it successful this measurement — pinch a scorched world attack — feels clumsy. A batch of euphony fans person spent money to get MQA-compatible hardware because they judge successful nan format. Without Tidal’s MQA streaming catalog, options for accessing MQA are fewer and acold between.

If Tidal kept its MQA catalog intact, and if it could discuss a caller licensing woody pinch MQA (yep, nan format and nan institution that owns it stock nan aforesaid name) whereby only streams of MQA tracks trigger a licensing fee, and if it gave Hi-Fi Plus members nan expertise to take which format they want, Tidal could go nan champion streaming prime for each audiophiles.

Sadly, that doesn’t look for illustration it’s going to happen.

Editors' Recommendations

  • Tidal’s awkward FLAC integration is going astir arsenic good arsenic expected
  • What is Tidal? The hi-fi streaming euphony work afloat explained
  • Tidal originates its rollout of hi-res lossless audio
  • $2,199 Hed Unity Wi-Fi headphones are nan first to connection lossless hi-res audio
  • What is hi-res audio, and really tin you acquisition it correct now?

Simon Cohen

Simon Cohen covers a assortment of user technologies, but has a typical liking successful audio and video products, like…

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