Tidal aims to deliver hi-res streams using MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) technology – and at no higher cost than the existing CD-quality HiFi tier.

Pål Bråtelund, Tidal's strategic partnership manager, told What Hi-Fi? that plans to start streaming high-resolution files in MQA next year are well under way. This would launch with Tidal's £20 per month HiFi tier, which currently offers CD-quality lossless music. 

MQA technology, or Master Quality Authenticated, was launched by Meridian (but is now a separate company) and promises to package studio quality master files so they take up less space, making hi-res audio a viable concern when it comes to streaming and downloads. This will allow Tidal to deliver songs exactly how they were recorded in the studio - regardless of resolution size. 

Tidal and MQA have already shown that hi-res streaming is possible, with a successful demo taking place earlier this year in Oslo. Tidal will upgrade its CD-quality library to hi-res files first, before dealing with the rest of its catalogue soon after.

The first wave of MQA-streamed files will be available via Tidal's desktop platform, with the app (for Android and iOS devices) to be updated soon after.

MORE: Tidal and Meridian successfully stream high-res MQA files

More after the break

MORE: 23 Tidal tips, tricks and features

The news follows the launch of the Pioneer XDP-100R, which is the first high-res player to support MQA technology. The £500 Android-powered player is available now, but it won't be ready to play MQA files straight out of the box. A firmware update for the MQA support is due in the early quarter of 2016.

However, the player will come pre-installed with the Tidal app.

MORE: Pioneer XDP-100R is world's first MQA-ready hi-res music player

Tidal is currently in talks with the record labels to iron out the details, although the company has said it doesn't want to charge a higher subscription price than the current top tier £20 per month. The company admitted this could was subject to change, however, depending on the record labels' demands.

Tidal recently appointed a new CEO, the company's third in eight months, who revealed around 50 per cent of Tidal's subscribers are paying £20 per month for the HiFi, lossles-quality subscription tier.

We expect more details about the MQA and Tidal partnership to emerge at CES 2016.

MORE: MQA: What is it? How can you get it?

MORE: High-resolution audio - everything you need to know

 

Comments

Graham Luke's picture

Bah!

So no high-res for little Graham and his Sonos (see what I did there?)

I won't be be able to hear the woodworm munching their way through the neck of the second violin on that live Mahler recording.

How will I EVER live without that...?

joe23's picture

Late in the day

I wonder why this is taking so long. We saw exactly the same announcement around this time last year, and then exactly the same demonstrations at CES this year. Although I look forward to this, it's starting to feel a bit late considering how long this has been 'coming soon' for. MQA certainly sounds like an interesting format, but its marketing has been horrendous. I bought a Meridian Explorer2 DAC last year, but even as a customer of Meridian and owning an MQA enabled product, I don't have ONE SINGLE FILE that is MQA encoded. Not even a demo track. Meridian promised that MQA was coming in 2015 and now it's 'sometime in 2016', so you'll forgive me if I stop holding my breath now.

Also as far as the Tidal announcement is concerned, it's only hi-res if you have an MQA capable decoder. If you don't then you won't be getting hi-res. You'll get a resolution-reduced standard PCM version of the audio which will be somewhere around CD quality.

Tan Choon Yong's picture

The problem with tidal

The problem with tidal service is they are spending times too much on proprietary files which is expensive and do not work on most devices not like Apple Music  they basically works on most sound system coz they are industry ready files like m4a which already had a chance of getting into hi res in future without a requirement of upgrading your audio systems which most consumers are not into it coz it is costly.

Gadgety's picture

Tidal going MQA disqualifies them as my online source

I'm sorry but Pål Bråtelund and the Tidal crew are making a mistake, at least in the  short run. I've got multiple power DACs in my system and they will not be replaced just to get some unproven MQA DACs,and then five amps on top of that. No way. Just another pitch to make us buy stuff we don't need. I was all over Wimp. "This will allow Tidal to deliver songs exactly how they were recorded in the studio - regardless of resolution size." They could just stream bitperfect FLAC instead of this mumbo jumbo. MQA is not proven to be smaller files either, certainly not for 16/44, it's just their pitch. In addition MQA wrapping looks like it's just made up to watermark files, sort of like the DHCP2.2. This is an easy decision to make, I don't have to do anything. Bye bye Tidal.

Andy Clough's picture

Tidal/MQA

Gadgety

I would imagine (although I don't know for sure) that Tidal will continue to offer its 'standard' CD-quality lossless streams as well as MQA ones, so if you don't want to pay for the hi-res MQA streams, you wouldn't have to.

There has even been a suggestion that if the £20/month 'Hi-Fi' tier is given over to MQA, the CD-quality tier could cost a bit less.