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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.

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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?

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