Tidal has launched a new feature called Master quality recordings that will deliver high-resolution audio streams to users of its $20 a month HiFi service. Tidal has offered users of its HiFi tier FLAC streams, which are CD-quality lossless streams that come through at 44.1 kHz / 16 bit. While FLAC is a definite improvement over AAC and MP3 files, it still doesn’t reach the quality of true high-res audio files.
The new high-res audio comes courtesy of MQA, an audio codec and company of the same name that can deliver high-res audio inside a lossless container such as FLAC or WAV, typically at 96 kHz / 24 bit, according to Tidal. That ability will allow high-res audio to be delivered to mobile devices without a huge drain on your bandwidth. To start, Tidal is only making the Masters available through its desktop app, but down the line, true high-res audio on your mobile device is a definite possibility.
Sources say Tidal won’t be the last service to announce a high-res audio push this week, so this may just be the beginning of the push into high-quality audio.
It doesn’t look like Tidal’s entire catalog will be initially available in Master quality recordings, but the streaming service says a number of labels and artists including Warner Music Group’s entire catalog is now available in Master quality.