While there is no shortage of online music streaming services, each service has its own quirks. For instance, YouTube Music, Pandora, Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal – all works on any smartphone or desktop, has millions of songs, support smart speakers, and usually come with premium plans that let you stream music on-demand, ad-free. However, most of these online music streaming service lacks one big aspect – audio quality. And that’s where Tidal comes in. Tidal is among the few music streaming services that let you stream high-quality “lossless” uncompressed tracks, along with Amazon HD.
To put it in perspective, here’s a comparison.
|Max Quality||Spotify||Apple Music||YouTube Music||Amazon Music||Tidal|
The difference might be awfully low but as the number grows apart the amount of data loss increases. It is often more prominent in quality headphones and DACs.
Should It bother you?
Depends. Our ears are not particularly used to the difference until we’re very careful. If you aren’t using a DAC (Digital to Audio Converter) it’s possible you are not listening to the intricacies. But there is a long way to go ahead and immersing yourself in the world of possibilities, well, eventually you might become an Audiophile. So get a DAC and see the difference yourself. If you’re still curious here are more details on the loss of data in different formats.
How to get Tidal outside supported countries
So if you’ve finally decided to invest in proper hardware and listening to High-res music streaming, here’s a guide to install Tidal, we’re sure you’re excited.
Before we get started, we need to install the Tidal app on our smartphone. There is a possibility that you wouldn’t find the ‘Tidal’ app in the Play Store. Fret not, you can easily sideload the APK to surpass the country restrictions. Simply search Google for “TIDAL APK” or click on this link to download it for APKMirror.
Once you downloaded the APK, tap on it to install it on your phone. In some cases, you might be prompted to allow installation from unknown sources, enable and manually install the APK. To do so, follow the steps on the screen.
Once done, you will be able to install the ‘Tidal’ app on your phone. But, there is still one problem. You won’t be able to log in, as Tidal is not officially available in your country.
To fix that, you can need to use a VPN and switch your IP address to that of a country that Tidal supports. For this instance, I’ll switch to the United States. Here’s the best free VPN that we recommend at TechWiser.
Keep in mind, this is only a one-time process, once you create a Tidal account, it’ll automatically get assigned a US account (or whatever country you choose). Next time onwards, you can simply log in to your Tidal account from any device, without using a VPN.
Once you switch to the US server, go back to the Tidal app. You’d be welcomed with a Tidal’s Sign-up or Sign-in screen.
Sign-up if you already aren’t a member. You can do that by entering your email and type a suitable password and continue. Create your account by entering your birthday and click sign up.
Then select the plan you want to buy. There are two options – Tidal’s premium service costs $9.99, while the HiFi plan will cost you $19.99 per month. There is a 30-day trial period which you can cancel anytime. So we highly recommend taking HiFi subscription because it’ll open up better streaming quality.
In the next step, you need to authorize your credit card or PayPal for automatic payment once your 30 days trial ends. In our testing, you can use any credit card or Paypal account from any country, it doesn’t have to be from the U.S, like in case of creating a U.S Amazon account.
Done and dusted. Now that you’ve installed TIDAL, let’s talk about using it to the fullest.
In-built Streaming Quality
Go to My Collection, and select a setting from the top-right menu.
Then scroll down to Quality and select Streaming, You’re given an option to choose from Normal to Master. Both of these options will let you stream without using much data, so if you have a slow connection or limited bandwidth this one might be the right one for you. Else, we have HiFi and Master.
It’s equally easy to install on an Apple device, available for iOS 11 and later. The user interface for both Android and iOS are the same. The only problem that you might encounter is the availability (country-wise) on your App Store, fret not, click here for a workaround.
After you’ve installed just sign-in and follow the same steps as Android.
Things to know
High Fidelity (HiFi) Sound
While MP3 cuts out details, HiFi works with a format called FLAC. When you select this option, you get uncompressed audio tracks (CD Quality). Imagine the little intricacies an artist added, maybe extra thump on the guitar or really soft background vocals. FLAC lets you listen to the track as the musician would mostly want you to.
TIDAL has partnered with MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) to deliver studio audio quality. It was first introduced in desktop but slowly rolled out to other platforms. Imagine if mp3 retains 10% of the information, MQA captures and reveals 100%. Though the option to select is there in the app itself, a dedicated DAC plus a good pair of headphones will only be able to bring out the beauty of this format.
Pro tip: Having a device that has MQA enabled will enhance quality. Check out compatible devices, here.
Whether you’re an audiophile or a casual listener, good streaming makes sense for everyone. In the pool of streaming music platforms, TIDAL reaches a point where it still is for a specific audience and user base. Call it ignorance or casual behavior, the truth is people don’t really focus on the streaming quality.
Personally, that is exactly what makes it a really good option. It is tailored for audiences and sure will add exclusive content with time. It is a platform which not only boasts of the large database but good video content.
So if you already have a DAC and good pair of headphones or you’re merely looking to experiment. Tidal is a great way to jump right into it.