TIDAL Reviews

TIDAL is excellent, but you have to want lossless audio more than music discovery features.

about TIDAL and Spotify ·

After 18 months with Tidal, I switched away to Spotify. I don't think Tidal is bad. In fact, I think it's excellent. Here are my impressions.

WHY TIDAL IS GOOD:

Tidal's best selling point is its lossless quality audio (FLAC). Two levels of service are offered: for c. $10/month you get 320 kbps, which is the same audio quality as the maximum offered by Spotify, Apple Music and others in this market. For $20/month you get "Hi-Fi" or CD quality (FLAC-based). Committed audiophiles will definitely benefit from this and notice the difference on SOME tracks if you also have high-end equipment. Most people who listen on headphones that cost below, say, $300-400 won't hear the difference between the 320kbps and FLAC. The reason is that 320kbps is generally excellent anyway and modern tracks are recorded in a way that maximize the quality of the sound even at 320. (This is done by cutting off what is recorded/played back at frequencies above what humans can hear, typically above 16 kHz.) Multiple tests show that people very rarely hear the difference, even professionals. Nevertheless, I believe I have heard the difference on occassion between the same tracks offered at 320 and FLAC with top-of-the range headphones. If that's your bag, Tidal are just about the only service that offer lossless quality audio, and I think that makes them worthy of support.

Tidal gets a lot else right. It has a good client for Windows and Mac, the feel of which is very much like that of Spotify, perhaps even more attractive and intuitive to navigate. It has a good mobile app which lets you download tracks to listen offline (e.g. if you anticipate not having signal). Note that FLAC quality tracks will eat up a lot of your mobile's storage space compared to 320 kbps.

WHAT TIDAL GETS WRONG:

Tidal has the following disadvantages compared to Spotify, its closest rival:

  • No Linux client. This sounds petty, but Linux is gaining popularity and to leave behind all those users is not nice. You can listen to Tidal, even on Linux, via their web-based player by logging in through a browser. However, the FLAC-quality music is playable only though Chrome (not even Chromium/Vivaldi or other related browsers). That's very bad for people interested in preserving their privacy, because Chrome constantly phones home to Google and reports what you're doing. Tidal need to develop a Linux client. End of story.

  • The search function in Tidal's client/web-based player is not as good as Spotify's. If you mis-spell a band's name, Tidal will sometimes fail to find what you have in mind. Spotify is pretty snappy at finding the right thing.

  • Compared to Spotify, Tidal has a worse music discovery system. They have curated play lists organized by genre, and those are generally very good. But there are fewer of them compared to Spotify, and users aren't able to make their playlists public, which means Tidal essentially misses out on the social element of music discovery. By contrast, in Spotify I can make a playlist and make it public. Which means it then becomes searchable and I can thereby listen to playlists made by bands, friends and many others with a unique take on organizing collections of songs.

WHY I LEFT TIDAL FOR SPOTIFY

I am very glad that Tidal offer the Hi-Fi (FLAC-based), CD-quality music. I think more services should have this option for the higher price, if need be. I have certainly benefited from it. In the end, however, 320 kbps is 99% as good in 95% of cases in the situations I listen to music (walking outside, in my car, on computer speakers, etc.) The rare cases I would sit down with my high-end headphones and really listen were too rare for me to pay the $20/month, although I think hardcore audiophiles would do that more often and would benefit more than I did. Spotify have a Linux client (I use Linux, Mac and Windows) and I couldn't stand Tidal's Chrome-based solution. Also, Spotify's superior music discovery and public playlist system was the straw that broke the camel's back. I wanted to stay with Tidal... but Spotify's features outweighed Tidal's. If Tidal improved their search, made a public playlist feature and developed a Linux client (or let others do it via their API), I'd probably go back.


On a side-note: Tidal's service has been mired in controversy, quite a lot of which is superficial noise. For example, Tidal's weird and tasteless publicity stunts have nothing to do with the quality of the service. However, there are consistent rumours that Tidal is not doing well financially and that its days are numbered. I hope not or that, if it does die, one of the other major music streaming services will pick up the mantle of providing CD-quality audio.

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a great streaming service owned by artist👏

about TIDAL ·

Tidal is a moment that will forever change the course of music history

their mission goes beyond commerce, it goes beyond technology. Our intent is to preserve music’s importance in our lives and I am glad that something like this finally happened!

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