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Tidal Announces New Price Changes: MQA Now Comes at a Premium Price

Tidal; which was recently acquired by Jack Dorsey’s Square for $297 million in March, have announced new pricing tiers that let you opt out of MQA for less money.

Tidal Masters: Tom Petty

We knew that Spotify HiFi was going to have a significant impact on digital music streaming and now we’re finally starting to see that major changes are coming to all of the major streaming services. Tidal; which was recently acquired by Jack Dorsey’s Square for $297 million in March, have announced new pricing tiers which are being rolled out initially in the Australian market.

We expect to see these new pricing tiers hit N. America this year so it will be interesting to see how subscribers react and which streaming tier becomes the most popular.

The biggest change is that Tidal is now offering a new streaming tier that differentiates lossless CD-Quality (HiFi) from Hi-Res MQA/Dolby Atmos/Sony 360 Reality Audio (HiFi Plus).

Spotify HiFi is not a hi-res streaming tier but it’s clear that Tidal’s new owners can see the forest from the trees here. Hi-Res audio constitutes less than 10% of their streaming library and why turn potential subscribers off by pushing Hi-Res MQA down their throats if they have zero interest in the the format or no equipment to benefit from it.

Audiophiles have not necessarily bought into MQA either even with the availability of new DACs offering the unfolding and rendering technology required to benefit from its “sonic benefits.”

The reality is the Qobuz offers a substantial library of Hi-Res music without MQA and the price has not budged (for now) making it a seemingly better deal.

Tidal’s new three-tiered price structure now encompasses the following options:

  • Premium – $11.99 AUD a month with standard sound quality (320 Kbps)
  • HiFi – $17.99 AUD a month with lossless High Fidelity sound quality (1411 Kbps)
  • HiFi Plus – $23.99 AUD a month with lossless Hi-Res (1411 Kbps), Master Quality audio (up to 9216 Kbps), and immersive audio – Sony 360 Reality Audio, and Dolby Atmos Music

So if you don’t care about Hi-Res lossless, you can select ‘HiFi’ for $6 less each month and not have to lose sleep over 24/96, MQA, or requiring the technology to enjoy 90% of Tidal’s existing library of music.

it will be interesting to see how many people decide to opt out of their existing streaming tier that supports MQA and stick with lossless CD sound quality.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Peter

    May 3, 2021 at 12:10 am

    As Darko said:
    I wish Tidal would specify whether or not their new Hifi tier (one that dispenses with hi-res audio) will stream the original CD-quality FLAC or a CD-quality MQA equivalent. One of the advantages for streaming services in adopting MQA (that I recall from a few years back) is that they possibly only need to store one file per song instead of separate files for the hi-res, CD-quality and lossy tiers. In an age of heavy MQA-skepticism, Tidal’s vague use of ‘lossless’ and ‘1411kbps’ falls short on the clarity we need to know either way.

    WILL TIDAL SERVE UP THE TRUE UN-ADULTRATED CD QUALITY TRACKS, OR THEIR “MASTER” TRACKS CHOPPED OFF AT 16/44

    • Ian White

      May 3, 2021 at 12:33 am

      That’s a very good question and John is 100% right. There is a lot of change right now on a lot of the platforms and Tidal do need to clarify this.

      As a Tidal subscriber for the past 6 years, I need to know what’s going on as I don’t have a problem just keeping Qobuz and Spotify if I can’t get what I need at the right price.

      I’m not a huge MQA fan so I would prefer CD-quality FLAC.

      Ian

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