Tidal is revamping its lossless and immersive audio formats

Big news for audiophiles: Tidal is shaking up its audio formats. Starting July 24th, Tidal will drop support for Master Quality Authenticated (MQA) and 360 Reality Audio formats. Going forward, the streaming service says FLAC will be the default for stereo, while Dolby Atmos will be the format of choice for immersive sound.

Tidal allows users to stream in three tiers of audio quality: low, high, and max. Low uses AAC files, which go up to 320kbps. High offers CD-quality lossless FLAC files. And Max goes beyond that, with MQA and higher-res FLAC files. The Max tier is where the decision to drop MQA matters — and probably isn’t all that surprising to longtime Tidal users.

Tidal was one of the few services that supported streaming in MQA format. The main benefit of MQA is that you can retain superior audio quality, but with a smaller file size than FLAC. The problem is that MQA files require special hardware or software to play files. What signaled MQA’s days on Tidal were numbered was when the service introduced a new HiRes FLAC format last year. (HiRes FLAC is just a fancy way of referring to a FLAC file that’s larger than standard CD quality.) Not only was this new format introduced, but Tidal then made HiRes FLAC the preferred default for Max quality streaming. Not helping matters, last year, the company behind the MQA format entered administration in the UK, or the equivalent of filing for bankruptcy.

Based on Tidal’s FAQ, it appears these format decisions were made to prioritize access and cost. For example, it says it picked Dolby Atmos because it has a wide range of “compatible devices, catalog availability and artist adoption of the format.” While many audiophiles enjoy Sony’s 360 Reality Audio format, it’s just not as widely adopted. Tidal also says it’s going with FLAC for stereo because it’s open-source, meaning artists won’t have to go through a third party. Also, unlike FLAC, MQA is a proprietary format, meaning licensing costs are involved.

For Tidal users who have MQA tracks or albums, those files will be automatically replaced with the highest quality FLAC versions that Tidal has available. This also applies to MQA files downloaded for offline playback. Meanwhile, 360 Reality Audio files will be grayed out and unavailable for streaming.

Tidal says it has “no further plans to change our audio format offerings.” However, the change comes soon after the company recently decided to lower its subscription price from upwards of $20 monthly to $10.99. It also decided to consolidate its HiFi and HiFi Plus plans into a single tier.

Source link

Denial of responsibility! NewsConcerns is an automatic aggregator of the all world’s media. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials, please contact us by email – [email protected]. The content will be deleted within 24 hours.

Leave a Comment