New TIDAL tiers and MQA

Well, that seems to be not the best thing for quality.


I bailed on Tidal a few months ago. They were too heavily invested in MQA and I could see this coming. Only subscribe to Qobuz now.


Some years ago I joined Tidal for Redbook CD quality streaming.
Like many others have noticed, once an album is MQA’d in Tidal the Redbook CD quality album is no longer available. In some cases it would appear that they are removing or hiding the FLAC ripped CDs available in what my Roon library displays!
This is what truly annoys me. The interference of and the lack of choice in using a cynical and somewhat dubious marketing ploy in order to listen to their content.
My equipment does not play some MQA albums very well at all and won’t be replaced in order to listen to something I don’t like both musically and as a business model.
I disabled Tidal the day I joined Qobuz in Australia to see if I’d be missing out on too much if I swapped services.
So far almost everything I had in Tidal can be found in Qobuz. In some cases there are albums available that Tidal did not have.
The knee-jerk offer from Tidal in Australia re it’s new tier is cynical, too little, deliberately obfuscating and does nothing to address the reason they will be probably be bleeding customers in this country.
I will be cancelling my Tidal sub this week and will be emailing them to tell them exactly why. I suggest everyone should do the same if cancelling theirs.
Hopefully they are on here in some capacity and are seeing what and why their subscribers are doing.
I wonder if a class action law suit would force the release of MQA information. Probably would have been better odds of success prior to Tidal being bought out earlier this year. Their current owner has way deeper pockets.

I think you’re probably way overestimating the proportion of Tidal subscribers that care…

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I’m certainly not over-bothered. In any event, I’m in Portugal so no Qobuz here to jump to anyway. The upside to moving here was that I could have my Tidal subscription at €13.99 instead of £19.99. The downside is trying to see past all the Portuguese new releases :grinning:


Update: So far so good. We haven’t missed Tidal at all. We have another week to go before our next billing cycle so there’s still some time to change our minds. But so far, it looks like Tidal is about to be gone from our services.


This is pure sophistry. You are creating definitions to make a point that doesn’t mean a thing and is orthogonal to your overall argument.

As I am certain you know, “lossy” is a term of art used to refer to various perceptual audio coding algorithms. The portion of the signal deemed “irrelevant” to the perception/recognition of the original sound is selected for loss. And as I am equally certain you also know, “lossless” refers to codecs that use data compression rather than perceptual audio compression algorithms. Your argument that “there is no such thing as lossless recording” is trivially true but irrelevant to the question of what MQA (and by extension Tidal) is up to.

(JJ Johnson has asserted that most listeners cannot distinguish between a lossy file at >160kbps and an original source recording; virtually everyone agrees that >320 is indistinguishable from an original source recording.) What is lost in an analog recording (tape) is not selected according to a formula; the loss is incidental to the limitations of the technology. No one thinks that what is lost in an analog recording process is irrelevant, nor is an analog recording indistinguishable from the source of the sound recorded nor does ANYONE refer to it as a “lossy” recording format. That is not how anyone uses the language. The meaning of words is conventional but not radically relative or infinitely malleable.

So, if Distributor X converted an mp3 file into a PLAC (some “Proprietary Lossless Audio Codec”) or used some other marketing argle bargle to suggest that it is now a special type of lossless audio file and sold it to the public as such, any sentient language user would correctly say that Distributor X is being DECEPTIVE.


Not exactly. While FLAC and ALAC are compressed and considered lossless, AIFF and WAV are uncompressed formats and also considered lossless.

I was responding to another user and the quotes you pulled are now taken slightly out of context but… besides that.

I agree with your assessment of my statements when taken out of context.

For argument though…

But it is.
Specifically with regard to analog tape speed. The speed at which the tape moves when recording directly impacts sound quality. This could be considered the same as “bandwidth” or “storage” in digital. More tape, better sound quality, more cost. It’s still an algorithm just not one of mathematical formulas to determine which bits we want to keep.

When DAT first came out I remember long debates about how “lossy” DAT was compared to reel-to-reel. This was “loss” of resolution from an analog tape format to a digital one. Would you consider DAT lossy? (maybe depends on the DAT sampling mode?)

Spot on. And, this has already happened when early HDTracks (and others) were found to be upsampling to higher bit-rate files to sell at a higher price. That’s lossless to lossless and it was still deceptive. I’m not defending Tidal… it’s deceptive. I just like to argue about sometimes.

Again, good response; thanks for that.


I think the behaviour of serving up the 24/44.1 (MQA) stream may have something to do with how Roon requests streams. I’ve observed the same behaviour myself (Tidal Australia subscription, quality set to Hi-Fi and MQA Core decoder disabled.) In the case of the Led Zeppelin album I do indeed receive the 44.1 MQA stream.

However, using Volumio with Tidal connect and the Android Tidal App set to Hi-Fi quality I receive a 16/44.1 stream. This has so far been consistent after a few hours testing.

I can test some specific tracks if you like.


Appreciate the offer, but I’m satisfied that the Tidal and mqa between them are not playing an honest game already.

I’m out. Have been for a couple of months now and Qobuz is everything that Tidal was not.


Same. I’m seeing more and more 44.1 MQAs appearing in so called “Masters” - authenticating as “MQA Studio 44.1khz” and unfolding to 88.2 - which makes me wonder where the extra MQA “signalling” data is coming from.

Exactly, same here.


They replaced 1000’s of PCM files with 16/44.1 MQA versions when MQA is detected it instructs to upsample no doubt to push any aliasing their filtering system creates, non MQA users just get the a pseudo non 16bit file so Hifi users are not getting PCM 16/44.1 in these cases, a bit of a mess really


A bit of a mess indeed!
I’d assume the whole point of “MQA” at a minimum is to serve up a 24/44.1
I did some more testing with Volumio on a recently released “MQA Master”.
First 2 images show Tidal Connect set to Master, then HiFi - indicating a 24/44.1 and a 16/44.1 stream.
Third image shows same track on QOBUZ - 24/44.1

My initial thought is why bother stripping 8 bits off the 24/44.1 MQA (or the original 24bit FLAC) unless it’s to create a point of product differentiation.

Is that you, Dilett*******?

There is 16/44.1 MQA aka MQA CD.

It happens when you choose a MQA album but set (or restricted by subscription) the quality to HiFi, I believe.

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I agree. Although, I think some of this might be Roon specific.
Has anyone tested if Tidal is serving up MQA CD - ie 16/44.1 with MQA signaling?
Unfortunately I don’t have any MQA enabled hardware.

The MQA 16/44.1 are sourced from 16/44.1 CD masters.

MQA-CD are usually sourced from high resolution digital masters.