Audiophiles might turn their noses up at the sound quality offered by most music streaming services, but that’s only because they haven’t heard of Tidal HiFi. The service streams lossless FLAC files in a “Master Quality Authenticated” format which no other platforms can match.
Even if you are not an audiophile, the cheaper Tidal Premium is an excellent alternative to Spotify or Apple Music. It doesn’t offer the same level of sound quality, but you can also rest easy knowing that your favorite artists are well compensated. Tidal offers some of the best rates for artists in the streaming world.
So, what is Tidal, and are its Premium and HiFi plans worth it? Keep reading for everything you need to know or start your free trial by clicking below!
What is Tidal?
Tidal is a premium music streaming service. It launched in 2014, but it didn’t really hit its stride until 2015. It did this with a unique focus on artists, offering higher payment rates, and working directly with musicians to develop exclusive content.
In fact, Tidal is co-owned by several artists like Jay-Z, Beyonce, Rihanna, Jack White, Madonna, Daft Punk, and others. This small equity manifests as exclusive behind-the-scenes videos, early album releases, and concert live streams for the platform.
The streaming service itself has two separate plans: Tidal Premium and Tidal HiFi. The first is similar to Spotify and other platforms, with 60+ million songs available at 320kbps via AAC to stream for a monthly fee.
Tidal HiFi was launched in 2017, targeting listeners with higher standards for music quality. It’s more expensive, but it offers Master Quality Authenticated music files at 96kHz/24bit for some (but not all) of its content. No other music streaming services offer this, although whether or not the average music fan needs it is another matter.
How do you use Tidal?
Tidal has a simple and easy-to-use interface on its mobile app, desktop app, and browser-based Web Player version. The app launches into a Home section, which displays featured content and your recently played music. Scrolling down, you’ll also see recommended tracks, curated playlists, and more.
The next section, called Explore is where you’ll go to discover new artists and songs. You can browse by artist, genre, playlists, moods, activities, and more. One of the best features here is the Tidal Rising section, which is a great way to find up-and-coming artists from different countries around the globe.
Apart from that, you also have Search and My Collection areas, which are fairly self-explanatory. Note that My Collection does not allow you to upload your own music, although you can download tracks for offline play.
Once you choose a song, you can cast it to another device, add it to a playlist, share it, and more. Although it can stream to many devices, only some support HiFi sound via Tidal Connect. These include devices from Bluesound, Cambridge Audio, DALI, KEF, iFi audio, Lyngdorf, Monitor, NAD, and Naim Audio.
In the app, there’s also an option to view the song credits which is much more robust than most other platforms. It’s a great way to find similar music by producer or composer rather than artist. Often, this is the best way to discover music that best matches your taste.
Is Tidal worth it?
It can be tough to commit to a single music subscription service, but Tidal is worth trying on your mobile device or computer. Although it doesn’t have the same userbase as the big players in the industry, it matches or surpasses them in many other ways.
First of all, the catalog of 60+ million songs will have just about anything you could possibly want to listen to. Thanks to strong relationships with artists, Tidal might also be the only place you can listen to new albums from big-name artists like Jay-Z and Beyonce.
The experience of using the app and finding new music is also great thanks to curated playlists, enhanced track credit pages, and Tidal Rising highlights. The only noticeable absences are podcasts (although there are a few Tidal original podcasts) and some social features.
That said, Tidal HiFi is pricey at nearly $20 a month. Although it’s not unreasonable considering you gain access to extremely high-quality audio, the price shock might be too much for many casual listeners to get over.
Thankfully, Tidal Premium is much more reasonable at $10 a month. This is the same price as Spotify and Apple Music, making it a great alternative. No matter what your streaming requirements may be, Tidal is worth trying out with a 30-day free trial for both plans.
How much is Tidal?
Tidal has several different subscription plans, broken down into two major categories: Tidal Premium and Tidal HiFi. Each of these subscriptions is billed every 30 days, not every month, meaning it’s possible to be billed twice in one month (or not at all in February).
Tidal Premium, which offers standard streaming quality comparable to Spotify or Apple Music, costs $9.99 per 30 days for an individual plan. There’s also a family plan that includes up to five members on a single account for just $14.99 per 30 days.
If you’re a student, you can take advantage of a discounted price of $4.99 per 30 days. Military members and first responders can also get a discount at $5.99 per 30 days. Note that these discounts are primarily for US residents and may not available everywhere in the world.
For true audiophile quality though, you’ll need to get Tidal HiFi. This costs twice as much as the standard plan, at $19.99 per 30 days for individuals and $29.99 per 30 days for the family plan. Students can still get a discounted rate of $9.99 per 30 days, and military members and first responders pay $11.99 per 30 days.
Here are those prices again in brief:
- Tidal Premium
- Individual: $9.99
- Family: $14.99
- Student: $4.99
- Military/first responder: $5.99
- Tidal HiFi
- Individual: $19.99
- Family: $29.99
- Student: $9.99
- Military/first responder: $11.99
Is Tidal free?
Although there is no free level of service available, there are a few ways to get a Tidal subscription for free. The first is a simple 30-day free trial, which is available for both Tidal Premium and Tidal HiFi subscriptions. This is a great way to find out whether or not the service is worth it for you before spending a penny.
If you are a T-Mobile subscriber, that free trial is bumped up to three months. However, it’s limited to Tidal Premium and excludes the higher-tier HiFi program. Check out the best T-Mobile plans at the link below if you’re interested.
Tidal might be one of the few music streaming services with truly high-quality audio, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t more great alternatives out there. We’ve collected three of its biggest competitors (which won’t come as a surprise) and compared what they have to offer so you can make an informed decision before subscribing.
Note that none of the options below feature ultra high-quality audio, but there are a few minor services that can fill that niche. Check out Amazon Music HD, Deezer, or Qobuz if you absolutely must have top-notch sound quality.
Spotify is a name that just about everyone should be familiar with at this point. It’s the biggest name in music streaming, and with a free ad-supported plan it’s easy to get into. If you want to get rid of the ads, the pricing is the same as Tidal Premium at $9.99, with discounts for students and families.
There are two major things that set Spotify apart from other services. The first is podcasts. Spotify has invested heavily in the format, spending more than $100 million for the Joe Rogan Experience alone. It’s quickly becoming one of the best places to listen to podcasts, and Tidal’s podcast offerings are lacking at best.
Spotify also nudges out competitors with a host of social features. You can create collaborative playlists, share playlists, see what your friends are listening to, and more. Learn more about what Spotify has to offer at the link below.
Apple Music is another leading music streaming service, and it’s growing rapidly thanks to Apple’s impressive install base. Like Tidal, it’s subscription-only, although the service does offer several free 24-hour internet radio stations. Paid plans cost the same as well, but with no HiFi plan available.
Read also: Apple Music: Everything you need to know
Both services offer 60+ million songs, so you won’t have any trouble finding something to listen to. Apple Music also allows playback of local music (even on free plans), which is nice for those with extensive libraries from before the streaming era.
As part of Apple’s suite of services, Apple Music has a few extra perks. It’s tied into other Apple services like iCloud so you can listen to your entire iTunes library from the cloud. It’s also included in the Apple One subscription, which is a great way to save money for those invested in other services like iCloud and Apple TV Plus.
The last service we’ll be looking at is YouTube Music. It replaced Google Play Music (for better or worse) in 2020. It has a ton of music, including more obscure and hard to find mixes that aren’t available on Spotify or Tidal.
Read also: YouTube Music Premium review
Like YouTube itself, there’s a free ad-supported plan that includes every song on the platform. If you want to get rid of ads, pricing is the same as Tidal at $9.99 a month. However, it’s included in a YouTube Premium subscription at $11.99 a month, which also removes ads from YouTube videos.
If you watch a lot of YouTube, this makes it a great alternative to other dedicated streaming services. You don’t sacrifice much either, with the ability to upload your own music, share and create playlists, and more. However, there’s no option for local playback, and there’s no plan for high-quality music, either.
Q: Does Tidal have an equalizer?
A: No, Tidal does not have an equalizer in the app.
Q: Does Tidal have podcasts?
A: The service does feature some original podcasts, but the list is very small. It does not have popular podcasts like This American Life.
Q: Does Tidal pay artists more?
A: Tidal pays artists more than most streaming services, at roughly $0.00927 per stream. This is twice what Apple pays, and three times what Spotify pays. However, the service that pays the best is Qobuz, at $0.04390 per stream (via The Trichordist).
Q: When did Tidal launch?
A: Tidal launched on October 28, 2014, in the UK, the US, and Canada. It was expanded to five more European countries in 2015, and is currently available in 53 countries worldwide.
Q: Does Tidal have the same music as Spotify?
A: Tidal has a slightly larger catalog than Spotify, but it might not include as many niche artists. Still, 60+ million songs are enough music to keep your ears happy for decades.
Q: Can Tidal play on Alexa?
A: Yes! Support for standard streaming was added in 2018, but Master quality audio is not available. You will need to link the service in the Alexa app before listening.
Q: Does Tidal have lyrics?
A: Yes! You can read lyrics in real time on both the desktop and mobile apps.
Learn more about music streaming services: