New TIDAL tiers and MQA

This may belong in a separate thread, but: what other services? :slight_smile:

1 Like

Confusing, but I think he means this from a programmers perspective. The “services” might be various API(s) from Tidal itself, and not “services” in the sense of other streaming companies.

I think you are getting confused between Roon and TIDAL today (or at least yesterday), and “future TIDAL”.

TIDAL has just made available an extra non-MQA tier of subscription. It only seems to be launched in Australia right now. My guess it’ll come everywhere soon enough, but I am only guessing. This is brand new, and unless you are already paying less for TIDAL than you were last week, you are still on the “MQA” tier, regardless of what setting you pick in Roon.

As for me saying that you can turn off MQA streams in Roon, I made no such claim. The only claim I made was that if you turn off Core Decode in Roon and it’ll stop Core Decoding in Roon.

Switching to HiFi instead of Master only instructs us to tell TIDAL what to get. Tidal has been treating both as the same for many tracks, and in some cases, they even will deliver lossy AAC when you ask for Masters or HiFi. None of this is new, and none of this applies to the new 3-tiers of TIDAL subscriptions.

If you are trying to get non-MQA streams out of TIDAL, at the moment (unless you are in Australia), there is no way to do so reliably.

If you are in Australia, presumably you can switch to the new “middle” tier and get no MQA streams. I don’t have access to that new tier, so I can’t tell you for sure, and as far as I know, no one has reported information either way.

Once this is available to us, we (and others) will absolutely check on this.

5 Likes

I can’t speak to that by contract, but even if my hands weren’t tied, I wouldn’t say anything until it was released.

No, what @DeLub thought I meant is what I actually meant.

4 Likes

That’s great to hear - hopefully you are referring to a smaller service I already subscribe to…

1 Like

I had exchanges with a poster on Stereo.net.au in order to test exactly this. He created a brand new Tidal account on the new Hi-Fi tier here in Oz and then tested through Roon to check out the signal path. Here is my cross-post to Roon community summarising:

4 Likes

Thanks for asking the relevant question. I will ask some of the SBAF Australian members to test to verify…

2 Likes

Please let me know if I can help. I’m happy to setup a Hi-Fi tier sub on one of my secondary email addresses for testing purposes - I can easily cancel it before it charges.

It’s really important that the conclusions are shared so that everyone knows exactly what they are going to get before they make any commitment on plans etc.

I’d be more than happy to have the findings that a.dent (SNA poster) had, that I had input to, overturned if it brings further clarity.

All I think any of us can ask for is a bit of transparency and honesty.

2 Likes

If this is true, that’s quite bad behavior on Tidal’s part. IE., selling a CD lossless plan, but giving those customers the folded 44.1 MQA instead. A folded MQA is NOT the same as the normal non-MQA 44.1.

6 Likes

Thing is, it isn’t just poor behaviour, I believe it is potentially breaching consumer law (entirely dependent on the “lossless” moniker and its interpretation). I will leave the absolute conclusions on this to those far better qualified than me.

Giving every opportunity to be shown that the test findings were flawed, and giving every benefit of the doubt here, but it is hard to have faith when at every turn we seem to be only getting half the story. This comment is equally applicable with both Tidal and MQA.

3 Likes

Hmm. Why is everybody assuming or wanting the Tidal quality setting to make Tidal give you a different album (or in Roon terminology, Other Version), in particular a version that does not even exist (or have been removed) in their streaming catalogue?

The introduction of HiFi Plus merely creates a lower Non-Plus price tier such that people are restricted from Master quality setting if they pay less. I claim that you get the same thing from a HiFi quality setting regardless of HiFi Plus or Non Plus subscription.

The following is what I expect:

If you choose a MQA CD album (e.g. Joni Mitchell “Blue” 16/44.1) you get MQA CD at both HiFi quality setting and Master quality setting, regardless of HiFi Plus or Non Plus subscription. The MQA CD can be decoded.

If you choose a 24-bit Master MQA album at 44.1kHz delivery rate (e.g. “2L - The MQA Experience (Compilation)”, Master quality setting gives you 24-bit and can be decoded. HiFi quality setting gives you a 16-bit truncation (aka MQA CD) and can still be decoded but with less SQ, regardless of HiFi Plus or Non Plus subscription.

If you choose a 24-bit Master MQA album at 48kHz delivery rate, Master quality setting gives you 24-bit and can be decoded. HiFi quality setting forces it to become 16/44.1 so this MQA album can no longer be decoded as MQA. (This is harder to prove.)

That being said, I’m happy to be proven wrong. I want people to have access to the format they prefer, including PCM / MQA / DSD. (But not floating point WAV, since we don’t support it. :sweat_smile: )

1 Like

If the user chooses a MQA CD album, 16/44.1 FLAC is indeed lossless containing the MQA CD.

People may try and argue this point, however anything MQA is not technically lossless. MQA can’t and doesn’t even say they are lossless any more anywhere.

Peter, I think that we need to be precise with the terminology. Because MQA CD is a real physical media format – never mind its Japan limited market and questionable reason for existence.

MQA CD has been derived from a higher rate master and is 16 bit 44.1 kHz before unfolding/upsampling. Yet 16 bit 44.1 kHz streaming MQA is not necessarily the same thing as MQA CD – and probably not at all. Rather, that CD quality streaming MQA has not been derived from a higher rate master but is a bog standard 16 bit 44.1 kHz CD master that has undergone some MQA pre processing and authentication/upsampling code embedding.

AJ

1 Like

There are some albums that were available in Masters and are now in HiFi.

Not if it’s a downsample of the “HiRes” MQA file, which is what people seem to be suspecting, in the sense that a lossless encapsulation of an MQA CD file wouldn’t normally decompress to 16/44 but to something higher, and it also wouldn’t be lossless either at distribution (that infamous 13 bit thing) or at whatever it decompresses at, no ?

Your thoughts seem relevant Peter, but the quote surely must be a misconception? Or, i am misunderstanding…

I can see two scenarios using MQA in a reasonable way; The first is using the previously available 24Bit containers and actually using only bits 17-24 to store the upsampling/unfolding information and the remaining 16 bits containing the very much untouched original 16 bit master. This is not how it’s working i believe, i dont think you can ignore the extra bits and extract a lossless (technically) RedBook equivalent.

But the bigger issue is where MQA signalling is crammed into the 16/44.1 RedBook format. Tell me i’m wrong, but i see no possibility to store more information in a 16/44.1 PCM bitstream without compressing or discarding [parts of the original content]?

2 Likes

I was responding to the point of consumer law. If somebody tries to take a “lossless CD” streaming service to court, it will need to be defined what a lossless CD delivery is. Then a label tells the court this is exactly what they provide to the streaming service, since nowhere is it written a label has obligation to provide the same version as the physical CD to a streaming service (in fact they are often different, google Universal audible watermark) and the users actually get a bit perfect stream of that, do you still have a case legally? Of course I’m not a lawyer, this is just an imagination, and I may very well be wrong.

5 Likes

This was exactly what i was alluding to, Peter. The “lossless” label would define the breach of consumer law or not. It would likely come down to the very source of lossless being assumed as the first digital master used to release to market (physical CD or redbook equivalent). MQA could be said to have exactly that, but only if MQA was used to produce the initial release to market. The technicalities of discarded information could well be treated as moot if they were discarded prior to the point in time the master release is created. Where it is done after the fact e.g. as the creation of a separate, secodary MQA-master using the first digital master, this is a brand new hornet’s nest…

It’s a total mess where countless albums exist, and have digital lossless masters prior to MQA’s existence. The obvious loophole I can see here is going back to the analogue masters and producing an MQA-master from those. I’m not sure if this has ever been done or not - it certainly can’t be the norm due to the pace of converting old releases to MQA and the batch approach of conversion that would be the expected method with such a huge volume of material to get through.

Regarding Tidal’s 3 tier system and the legalities mentioned above, you sign up to any service (Tidal in this case) based on their terms and conditions which lays out what is on offer and what you can expect. So in the case of Tidal, I am signing up to what I consider the superior sound of MQA where it is available. Other will sign up for another tier, but it’s Tidal’s offer, if you don’t like it, don’t buy it. They offer what they offer and it’s up to them.
If a title is removed from the MQA platform for any reason, that will be covered in the terms stated. I just have to accept this. Should I really want a particular recording in a particular format, then it’s up to me to purchase this outright. (That’s what we always used to do anyway) CD’s 4 for £1.00 in charity shops these days…

Streaming is the future, it isn’t perfect, it comes with compromises and fluctuations but it makes music available in quality (MQA or Not) and quantity unknown until recently in the history of recorded music…

5 Likes