Tidal “HiFi Plus” Introduced

Well, a bit off-topic. Do the artists earn more money if their music is streamed via the more expensive hifi plans?

Hooray, no more MQA! (in May)


Nope. You’ll be getting down-sampled mqa as proven above.


It would be interested to know if the lowest tier’s content is also generated from the MQA files? You have to assume so.

What a hot mess!


I absolutely did not say that. Please do not twist or misconstrue what I said.


Unfortunately this is true.

As soon as the ‘hifi plus’ change has rolled out here I will test this again. But yes, the Masters and “hifi” versions of a track are actually the same file. Just the hifi one has the MQA flagging removed so the DAC/Player does not recognise it as MQA.

For a track on tidal marked as “master”, there is no way to stream the lossless file.


So more marketing BS what’s your opinion of them going to add a lossless 24bit PCM stream

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This is excellent news. Was hoping they would do this. People who love the “premium” MQA sound can now pay the extra premium and the rest of us can enjoy our inferior industry-standard format sound.

I don’t think they will. From the info about the updates it looks like their 24 bit is just the MQA stuff, not lossless FLAC


So… does this summarize it?

Tidal Hifi plus = mqa
Tidal Hifi = mangled mqa so it looks like pcm

It seem another attempt to “prove” mqa is better,
while they don’t offer original pcms for comparison … but mangled mqas that look like pcms.


Science has never won a politically or corporate motivated decision because humans are flawed emotional creatures that way. MQA, at this point, can not be considered anything but the later. There is no technical reason that MQA should be a thing.

However, it will continue to be a thing because of Tidal’s great love affair with the format. We, as consumers, can embrace that or we can use something other than Tidal. My only hope is that Jack Dorsey, who is a fairly sane individual (my opinion based upon what he’s done professionally), can provide clarity through the love affair and set Tidal on a more honest path here.

On a personal note I will keep Tidal to fill-in the gaps at Qobuz. My next streamer or streamer/DAC will probably support MQA just because it seems everything up in the class of device I’m looking at already supports it. I’m not so upset about this whole thing that I feel the need to boycott the format. I do wish people would stop being so evangelical about it though. It’s not worth it and you’re not helping your cause. In fact, you’re actually reenforcing the fact that this is nothing but a love affair between two companies that you wish more people would fund.


At Master quality, Tidal MQA is delivered in MQA-coded FLAC 24/44.1 or 24/48 (unless there is a regional license restriction or some kind of human error involved). In places where there is Tidal HiFi Plus (i.e. Australia), you need the Plus subscription to get the Master quality. In the rest of the world, you simply need the HiFi subscription to get the Master quality if a HiFi Plus subscription is not offered.

At HiFi quality, Tidal delivers tracks in FLAC 16/44.1 (unless a regional license restriction that further downgrades it to AAC). Regardless of HiFi Plus or HiFi (non-Plus) (i.e. not the cheapest Premium), a user can manually set the quality to be HiFi instead of Master to get this.

The MQA ID3 tag is not essential for a properly implemented MQA DAC to authenticate and decode the MQA music, although there was a brand of streamer who did it wrong. Roon uses the tag for display purpose before actual playback. For the actual (tag-independent) authentication (and decoding for some supported devices) check the Roon signal path, and especially the MQA light in the DAC - this must be correct. I am not aware of any MQA hardware device getting that wrong.


Has anyone blindtested an mqa file from Tidal vs a non-mqa, and finding an obvious difference, that favors the non-mqa?
I don’t really understand the stream against mqa? To me, it sounds better than standard flac.
Current setup is fanless nuci7 with linear psu - Lumin D2 - xlr - rotel power amp.


Against is because we don’t want to be forced into MQA (for many reasons) but the response there is simply don’t use Tidal. The “problem” with “don’t use Tidal” is that response reduces, significantly for a lot us, the value of Roon. If I lose Tidal then, for me at least, I’d be forced into native apps as the music I want to listen to is on services that Roon does not support.

If it sounds better to you then use it and I think that’s the bit (pun intended) people are getting hung-up on. I am certainly not telling you that you shouldn’t listen to MQA. You should listen to what makes you happy and sounds best to you. But I’m an engineer… I like to get into the weeds on this stuff and these weeds smell funny and make my skin itch.


So this part of the info is just BS, talk about misleading the public

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Fully agree with you

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256kpbs mp3 has been found to be indistinguishable from lossless in peer-reviewed ABX testing, but something tells me people would be unhappy paying for something they’re not getting.


These pages are written by marketing people who understand little about the technicalities. If it makes you feel any better, we’ve reported that to TIDAL via a private channel.


Which paper?

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As a matter of fact I did and I still prefer lossless pcm without royalties over lossy mqa with royalties.
Mqa cannot handle timbre, and that’s very obvious when you know what to listen for.
(All lossy compression schemes cannot handle timbre !) I will not go on here about this, because it will lead to the next polarizing thread and moderators won’t like it.

The biggest issue are the false claims Tidal makes:

  • labeling mqas as “masters”, while those mqas are lossy reconstructed pcms
    (those pcms are the only ones deserving the label “masters” here)
  • advertising with overexagerated numbers 9216kbps which is impossible as an mqa is maximum 24/48k in size which means 2 ch x 24 bits x 48 kHz = 2304 kbps. (And then it’s not even compressed in a flac, so it will be less then 2000 kbps!)
  • misleading their customers by claiming mqa is the best sound, when they offer no real comparisons, only downsampled pcms or mangled mqas stripped from mqa signaling
  • aggresive marketing, denying scientific facts, making their own religion, some mqa cult…

If you want to make honest comparisons, you need to compare mqa with pcm from a true lossless platform as on Tidal you’ll only find downsampled or lossy versions to compare with. Of course mqa is “better”, when comparing apples with oranges, something mqa has been doing from the start, playing 24bit mqas vs CDs on shows… mqas that are 2.5x bigger.

And do check youtube. Goldensound made a great video describing all its problems. And I totally agree with it.