Tidal HiFi Plus – High Res paradise?

Tidal HiFi Plus – High Res paradise?


Tidal has started to roll out High Res content in FLAC format. Will audio lovers, in possession of a Tidal HiFi Plus subscription, benefit? We investigate.

As reader of Alpha Audio, we assume you know what high res is and wat the difference is between FLAC and MQA. For those who do not know, a quick primer.

A crash course in music file formats and quality

In CD quality, 16-bit music files are written with a sampling of 44.1Khz. That means that 44100 times per second a ‘picture’ of an audio signal was taken, and that picture was written to a file in 16 bits.

High-resolution music files, also called High Res or HD, are stored in 24 bits with a sampling of 44.1Khz, 48Khz, 88.2Khz, 96Khz or 192Khz. There are even higher values in bits and Khz, but those are used in studios, for consumers this is not so relevant.

Music files can be stored in different formats, just as you can save a piece of text as a Word file or as a text file in Notepad. Until now, Tidal exclusively used the MQA format for High Res music.

MQA is a closed format, not every streamer can read it just like that. The special thing about MQA is that if the software and the DAC in your streamer does not understand MQA, the file will still be played back at CD quality.

FLAC is a widely accepted and used open format. All streamers can play FLAC up to the bitrate they support.

The company behind MQA has gone into administration, usually the precursor to bankruptcy. Tidal is now adding music in FLAC format and in its August app update made generally available.