My Time With Tidal HIFI

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Today I cancelled my Tidal HIFI subscription, it was a decision rooted mostly in frugality and simplicity.  I still have a Spotify and my recently added Apple Music subscription between which I am currently struggling to find a clear winner.  There was nothing “bad” or “wrong” with Tidal,  their premium “HIFI” option sounds great and is what drew me to them in the first place.  I have what I would consider to be an audiophile grade sound system in my office consisting of a pair of beautiful Dynaudio Contour SE 1.3’s that I inherited from my father and a NAD D 7050 amplifier (which I love).  This is the type of system where the difference between a high quality MP3 and a lossless FLAC file is immediately apparent.  Honestly, on any half-decent sound system you can tell there is a huge difference in the soundstage between streaming MP3 and FLAC and I swear I can even tell the difference on my MacBook Pro’s internal speakers.    Unfortunately though, the amount of time that I actually spend sitting still in the “sweet spot” intently listening to music these days would be exaggerated at once a month, hardly enough to justify throwing $20 a month Tidal’s way.  The process of writing this post and revisiting the service did make me question this decision repeatedly as the quality of the HIFI subscription is best in class, something I value greatly. I may come back to Tidal one day, especially if they come out with a decent OSX desktop app.

Current Music Service Status (8/2015)  – I am currently attempting to use Apple Music as my main service and I am finding the deep integration with my iPhone to be a real bonus although I still miss my Spotify playlists and the app interface needs a few more iterations.

Notes from my experience with Tidal

Tidal with Sonos:  I used Tidal with my sonos system several times and I would like to believe that it was taking advantage of the “HIFI” level of my subscription but there is nothing in the settings that reassures me. Tidals site states that “As long as you have a valid TIDAL HiFi subscription it will automatically stream HiFi” but I struggled to hear the difference between Spotify and Tidal when listening to my default reference track “Hotel California (Remastered)”.  The biggest difference seems to be the “loudness” applied to each track, Spotify tracks play louder than Tidal tracks, and at top volume the spotify tracks did seem to clip in the mid/bass range where the Tidal tracks remained clean (my second reference track was “Bass Down Low” by DEV to test the low end).  As a general note on Sonos, I am continuously impressed by the quality of their speakers.

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Tidal Desktop App: Tidal did realease a native OSX desktop app back in October of 2014 but it was discontinued.  The app interface was awful and looks terrible on retina MacBook’s, but it does work. If nothing elsea dedicated desktop app gives me a little more confidence in the FLAC streaming than playing from the browser. You can download the app from links in this forum:  http://www.computeraudiophile.com/f11-software/tidal-desktop-app-mac-24012/

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