I didn't see it coming (Tidal replacing albums with MQA only)


4th time someone has posted this, I think.

Yep, I’ve replaced the external link with on to the existing topic on that subject so hopefully any subsequent discussion can continue there.

1 Like

MQA Ltd makes money directly through licensing fees to labels, software makers, and equipment producers, which apparently aren’t insignificant.
The labels are partial owners of MQA and the more it is used the more their stock in MQA is worth.
Both sides have an incentive for MQA to be used

hear, hear! This was one of the things i initially saw as an actual advantage of this debacle. Then they started bulk tagging/converting millions of tracks and it was very obvious that there is no provenance whatsoever in this, only money as usual. Greed once again rears it’s ugly head…

1 Like

I completely understand your point of view.

As someone who has had a largely positive experience with MQA masters on Tidal via Roon, I completely understand the position and feelings of those who don’t share those experiences on their systems.

Big strategic mistake by Tidal to remove standard 16bit/44.1 files from their premium service!


Is there any money made off each stream? If there is, then could see why they’d remove the cd versions. But also could be the simple reason it’s less confusing to only have one version available especially if believe folded version exactly the same as original cd version.

But yeah if I had a MQA setup I think I’d be very excited by this news but then somewhat confused by the 44.1k quality. Lead to believe MQA was about fitting in hires recordings in smaller package. What’s really happening with these cd quality ones? If previous cd was already their best copy, what’s changed? Applying the short minimum filters?

There is a payment per stream.
Ironically, taking a CD and putting it in MQA format results in a larger file than a standard CD file.

As far as I am aware, MQA make their money in licensing devices and not payment per stream.

If I am wrong here, please lay out the details as I would be good to know.

You will find, not even the artists/composers make anything much per stream.

So many CD grade MQA files exist because the masters are such. Especially from the early days of digital recording. Bob Stuart talked about this in a recent post. The idea that so much music can be in Digital high res is a fallacy unless you upsample it.

I was enjoying Songs in the key of life from Stevie Wonder and thinking how fortunate we are that it was recorded to tape allowing us the greater fidelity. It’s an 24/192 MQA transfer, had it been recorded digitally in those days it would have been compromised. Being recorded digital today it would have been equally amazing. Things have come along way in the digital recording world and from my listening experience, 24/48 is all you need.

As I wrote, there is a fee per stream to the record labels. MQA indirectly benefits from this, as it encourages use of the HW and SW licenses it sells.
Since it is also partially owned by the record labels and they profit each time an MQA file is streamed, this gives them an incentive to promote MQA files and to keep/promote their investment in MQA. Without this they might very well lose interest in the format and decide their MQA stock isn’t worth much.
MQA Ltd, till now has needed the injection of cash from the record companies to survive. The labels took MQA stock in exchange for the cash injections that kept MQA afloat. The stock isnt traded publicly, it has value only as long as the labels support it.

There is a fee to the record companies MQA or not. If MQA is increasing the amount of streams, that shows people are using it and as such the standard file is just taking up space and adding costs for no reason.
This is the Music Business after all…
All businesses need injections of cash as they start up. Again, that’s business

So, the standard files taking up space is the reason to remove them. But they have space enough for 2 or 3 different MQA versions.

Time will tell if this was a good business move for Tidal. At least my money they get only in part, because I have reduced my account to Premium as an answer to that move…

1 Like

I expect, Tidal are in a state of crossover at this time with regard to versions and decisions about it all, but one of the advantages of MQA is you only need one file… They may choose to offer more for many reasons non of us are privy to.

And what is the benefit of having 2 or 3 versions? Would it not be better to have also a non-MQA version? Give the customer a choice is most of the time a better move, for the customer not for MQA.

This is the scenario which the critics have warned against.
After the format is in the market, remove the freedom of choice. The next step can be to activate the DRM, so the music companys can gain full control.
Wait and see. Everybody who will say, this will not happen, should remember that removing ALL non-MQA for so many albums was also a scenario everybody said, will not happen.


I would have thought that Tidal have done their homework and this makes business sense for them. If people don’t want it and vote with their pockets I’m guessing Tidal will re evaluate. I don’t think Roonies or audiophiles are the main drivers in music distribution, if that were the case SACD and DVD-audio would have been far more successful in my opinion.


And this is what makes the reason for the move to MQA even more transparent, despite the incessant shilling.

As the OP, How are you getting on with Qobuz with Roon?

You really think they will activate DRM in the future?


What kind of DRM?

Really good. It’s £5/m cheaper than Tidal (£7.50/m if I take the annual plan) and I’ve probably lost less than 2% of my library after manually adding some of the titles Soundiiz didn’t carry across.

The only thing I have to get used to is Qobuz’ genre and new release screens which are different to Tidal’s in Roon. I somewhat prefer Tidal’s genre splits, but not enough to get upset about it.

Qobuz seems to be in a far stronger place with its library than it was 12-18m ago. This is what has surprised me the most.


On the subject of removing a significant amount of non-MQA content, I have said in an earlier post that I think this is a tactical mistake by Tidal. However, I’m now not so sure about this. I still think it’s a regrettable decision by Tidal even though I tend to like the MQA content on my specific system set-ups, but it may not really have any relevance whatsoever on a global front. After all, I guess that the vast majority of Tidal subscribers (as with the majority of Spotify subscribers) aren’t really interested (if at all) in ultimate sound quality of the music files they play. The vast majority of Tidal subscribers won’t have decent audio replay systems, won’t have a clue what MQA stands for, won’t notice the slightest bit of difference in respect of sound quality and even if they do they probably won’t really care.

Those of us (including most of us who post on this forum) who do have decent replay systems and are interested in high quality audio replay will hardly register in the marketing worlds of Tidal, Spotify or Amazon streaming services.

I am more interested in the views of people in this forum about DRM. There is as far as I am aware no intention for DRM (of any sort) to be rolled out by recording companies using MQA. However, could I ask those of you who voice concern or even anger about the prospect of the introduction of DRM:

DRM of course stands for ‘Digital Rights Management’:

Exactly what is it about the prospect of the introduction of DRM that so concerns or angers you?