Tidal to launch hi-res audio streaming in 2016

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

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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

Kashfia Kabir
Hi-Fi and Audio Editor

Kashfia is the Hi-Fi and Audio Editor of What Hi-Fi? and first joined the brand over 10 years ago. During her time in the consumer tech industry, she has reviewed hundreds of products (including speakers, amplifiers and headphones), been to countless trade shows across the world and fallen in love with hi-fi kit much bigger than her. In her spare time, Kash can be found tending to an ever-growing houseplant collection and hanging out with her cat Jolene.