Tidal adds hi-res audio streams with 'Tidal Masters'

Music streaming service Tidal has announced that, starting today, it will be providing MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) audio to subscribers of the Tidal HiFi package at no extra cost.

MQA audio is a technology that was launched by Meridian, but is now a separate company. It works by packaging music files in a smaller size, so will be easier to stream, but also allows it a higher level of detail.

The hi-res audio streams will typically be 96 kHz/24 bit, according to Tidal, as opposed to the 44.1 kHz/16 bit CD-quality streams on the hi-fi tier. This can be activated by going into the 'Settings" menu, and choosing the "HiFi/Master" quality under “Streaming".

Tidal Masters hi-res audio streams will only be available on the desktop version of Tidal for now.

Music available in the new format includes albums by Beyonce, Bruno Mars, Coldplay, David Bowie, The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Jay-Z and Joni Mitchell.

The upgrade is one that we’ve expected for a while. Pål Bråtelund, Tidal's strategic partnership manager, told What Hi-Fi? in 2015 that Tidal would have hi-res audio in 2016. MQA audio on Tidal was also demonstrated at CES 2016, but was subsequently delayed.

Tidal currently has approximately 4.2m subscribers, in comparison to Spotify's 30 million users; Apple Music currently has around 13 million users.

You can read more about the service on the Tidal website.

MORE: Tidal Masters review

Adam was a staff writer for What Hi-Fi?, reviewing consumer gadgets for online and print publication, as well as researching and producing features and advice pieces on new technology in the hi-fi industry. He has since worked for PC Mag as a contributing editor and is now a science and technology reporter for The Independent.