- As announced in April this year, TIDAL is now rolling out its new offering of hi-res audio content encoded in FLAC as an alternative to MQA.
It was the beginning of April 2023 when a statement from TIDAL caused a stir, namely that of Jesse Dorogusker, CEO of the music streaming service TIDAL. Dorogusker announced that in future the FLAC format would be used to offer subscribers to the TIDAL HiFi Plus service content in hi-res audio. This was particularly explosive because TIDAL had previously relied solely on the lossy MQA format from MQA Ltd.
The announcement by TIDAL also came just as it became known that MQA Ltd. had run into severe turbulence and therefore had to file for insolvency. The announcement of TIDAL as the most important partner of MQA Ltd. was therefore particularly explosive.
Hi-res audio via FLAC as an open standard
In this context, it was particularly exciting that the CEO of TIDAL suddenly praised FLAC for precisely those characteristics that critics of the MQA format have emphasised from the beginning as decisive advantages of FLAC over MQA.
Jesse Dorogusker spoke of FLAC being a lossless and open standard, a fact that is already obvious from its name: Free Lossless Audio Codec.
After TIDAL’s statement caused quite a stir in the industry, they were quick to try to smooth things over and to stand by MQA Ltd. in particular. They expressly emphasised that the new FLAC offer would not replace the existing MQA offer, but would be available in addition.
“In addition to MQA, we also support other high-quality and immersive audio formats because we are committed to music and because we want to enable fans to experience music as the artist intended. Today, more than 90% of our 110 million song catalogue is available in HiFi or better. TIDAL’s HiFi Plus plan includes FLAC, MQA, Dolby Atmos and Sony 360 Reality Audio. Regardless of the future of MQA Ltd, TIDAL fans will still be able to listen to MQA music already available on the TIDAL platform, whether streamed or downloaded.”Statement from TIDAL
TIDAL rolls out content in hi-res FLAC
But now the time has come, as announced TIDAL began making content available in Hi-res audio encoded in FLAC. The company speaks of over six million music titles that are already offered in Hi-res FLAC.
Depending on the subscription model, users can choose between content in lossy AAC with 320 kbps, content in “CD quality” with 16 bits and 44.1 kHz encoded in FLAC, and now also hi-res audio in FLAC with up to 24 bits and 192 kHz, but also content encoded in MQA (Master Quality Authenticated).
Prices and availability
Of course, the new offer does not change the pricing. Users of TIDAL HiFi Plus can now enjoy content encoded in FLAC format in addition to content encoded in MQA.
Getting to the point
It is a decisive step that TIDAL is now taking with the introduction of FLAC as a format for content in hi-res audio for TIDAL HiFi Plus, because even if the streaming provider still assures that the range of content encoded in MQA will remain untouched and thus continue to be available, the future of MQA Ltd. and its MQA format is uncertain, but TIDAL as well as TIDAL’s customers can ultimately – viewed soberly – be indifferent to this.
|TIDAL RELIES ON HI-RES FLAC FOR TIDAL HIFI PLUS