Is Tidal ditching CD format for MQA?

Noticed a few Tidal releases this week that were only available as mp3 and mqa - no cd 16/44.1 version offered.

Is this going to be a thing?

If so, as much as I’ve enjoyed Tidal I’ll be taking a look at Qobuz if/when it’s ever available in the US.

Also, check out the mqa resolution on this. Lol!

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Bring it on I say, can’t get enough…


Up until recently, I have found a handful of releases that were MQA only. However, in the last 2 months or so I have noticed more new releases that were only Master Quality Adulterated (i.e. no 16/44), so one wonders if this is an intentional move or just sloppiness in back end data management. I suspect the latter since the effort to foist this “end to end” rent seeking, lossy, DRM trojan upon the general music lover and the “audiophile” in particular has been a fail. One feels for Roon and other vendors who thought the $cost$ of implementation would be an overall plus to their bottom line…


Oh, and check out:

Either Qobuz has implemented “MQA cd” or Roon is glitching and reading standard 16/44 content as MQA, passing it through the “Core Decoder”, and then passing it on to the end user.

I saw that earlier. Troubling. Maybe the labels are pushing it for future drm and so that’s all they are providing for some titles to test the waters.

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Or maybe it’s just a business decision. The wants and needs of most Roon users, certainly the vocal ones on this forum, don’t appear to match the wants and needs of the general public.

According to this Digital Media News article from January of this year Spotify now has over 200 million monthly users, Tidal has a couple million users and according to a recent post here Roon is approaching 100,000 users. Of Spotify’s 200 million users over 100 million are thought to be using their free “ad supported” service.

Spotify’s Audio Settings page from September of 2018 says their best format only available to paid users is 320kbit/s with users of their free service maxing out at 160kbit/s.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion of MQA, I listen to it every day and am happy with it. I’m assuming that in terms of audio quality things fall out like this from lowest to highest:

Less than CD - 320kbit/s or less
CD Quality
Hi-Res - 24/88.2 or 24 /96
H-Res - 24/176.4 or 24/192

If all of Spotify’s 200 million users are happy with less than CD quality and more than half of them are happy with much less than CD quality I can see how Tidal might decide that an MP3 offering will satisfy most of their users and that an MQA offering will satisfy most of the rest. The few ( relatively speaking ) who want higher quality streaming may have to look elsewhere. Fortunately for some Roon users they now have Qobuz if they are lucky enough to live in a supported country.

Everything has a cost. The more versions you have the more storage and backup you need. Higher bandwidth offerings require more internal network capacity and more Internet bandwidth.

As I understand it none of the streaming vendors are making money today and the small ones like Tidal and Qobuz have to wonder if they will ever get to be the size of someone like Spotify and if they should expect to be profitable at that size if Spotify is not.

Just my opinion … Tim


The original compatible flac container is still there to be played, just choose to not decode MQA.


But the problem is that MQA CD is a lower resolution version than Redbook CD.


Is it though? Does the loss of a bit or two in resolution destroy the enjoyment of listening?

Even though the non-MQA flac are supposed to be the same as a CD, I don’t always find this to be the case. Could be different masters, hard to know.

I don’t mean to be critical or suggest your’e not doing this but sometimes I know I need to remind myself it’s about the smile it puts on my face while listening and less about the technology that got us here.


Weird because I see the same album appearing as 16/44 CD resolution, and thats how it plays. No other versions are available. Great album choice :grinning:.

That is weird. I only see the mqa version with the billion hz sampling rate. Are you in the US?

Given how new the above release is I doubt there is more than one master so what have you gained with the MQA version if played on non-MQA equipment? So basically if MQA becomes the only version and you don’t have a MQA decoder then you are getting a modern day MP3.
As long as the choice is there then everyone can be happy but the problem is that the record companies will make that choice for us and the one that makes them the most money will be the winner.

I played some tracks and they did not show up with MQA processing:

I played some tracks from his Together At Last album from 2017 and it is MQA.

Thanks for posting about this album, added both to my library. Radio play after this album is playing some artists new to me that I like very much.


Just a note, that storage cost at streaming companies are trivial to their bottom line, and that MQA requires more storage/bandwidth then the equivalent 16/44

It is a good Album in MQA or not.

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I have no particular knowledge of any streaming providers costs for anything in their environment but I suspect that however small the incremental cost to store process / stream anything it works out to real money when multiplied by 40 or 50 million.

I understand that MQA’s requirements are more than CD quality but I’m also assuming replacing CD quality with MQA might result in more streaming of the less than CD version.

Bottom line … I don’t know why this album showed up as MQA and not CD although it seems it may be CD after all.


Yep… it looks to be mis-labelled. It says it’s MQA, but plays as a regular flac on mine.

Then there’s this. Mqa has infected Qobuz, too. Sad.

This definitely got @Chrislayeruk frothing at the mouth :grin:

I’m in Canada if that is causing the apparent difference in resolution options???