About Tidal HiFi

Owned by Aspiro, Tidal HiFi is an online subscription service that claims to stream music in lossless, high fidelity sound, along with high definition music videos, exclusive articles, interviews, and other content. And because Tidal’s music is CD-quality, they claim you can expect a crisp, clear sound without fuzz; or what they call a “fully detailed, richer sound.”

In a nutshell, whether you’re using a smartphone, tablet, desktop, or home music network system, Tidal HiFi claims to bring you the best possible music experience.

Crystal clear, CD-quality sound wherever we go? Where do we sign up? Am I right? Not so fast. Before you decide to enroll in Tidal HiFi’s streaming service, there are some things you should know.

Let’s start with the nitty gritty details.

Tidal HiFi by the Numbers

Tidal HiFi’s streamed music is claimed to be lossless, or 1,411 KBPS (we’ll talk more about this in a moment), compared to the 320 KBPS found on competitors such as Spotify and the 256 KBPS on iTunes radio.

Once you’ve signed up for Tidal HiFi, the company claims you’ll gain access to more than 25 million tracks in FLAC format (iOS devices use ALAC, although at the same 1,411 KBPS), in addition to 75,000+ music videos. In fact, the company claims it would take more than 140 years to listen to their entire library.

When listening to Tidal, If you find a song, artist, or album you like, you’re able to “favorite” it by pressing the nearby star. Then, you can categorize your favorites in any way you like (alphabetically, chronologically, etc.). Finally, based on your listening preferences, you’ll be able to explore new artists through automatic recommendations. In fact, the built-in audio search even allows you to learn about music you hear on TV or the radio.

Tidal HiFi is ad-free, and can be listened to on any Tidal-enabled device, including Android, iOS, and desktop models, whether you’re online or off.

But for all of us non-audiophiles, what does this really mean?

What Does “High Fidelity Sound” Mean?

Merriam-Webster defines high fidelity as, “the very good quality that some recorded sounds or copied images have.” How Stuff Works puts a finer point on it by stating, “An audiophile would tell you that a good hi-fi system would reproduce sounds that were identical to the original sound. In other words, a hi-fi system would pick up every nuance of the original performance.”

Whichever genre you’re into, this basically means you’ll be able to experience the full scope of the music, as was intended by the musicians who made it.

But now that we’ve covered high fidelity, let’s talk briefly about lossless.

Are Tidal’s Music Files Really Lossless?

The non-technical explanation: While Tidal’s files may begin lossless (1,411 KBPS), by the time they reach your device, the quality may be reduced by up to 40%-50%. Granted, this is still quite a bit higher than the file quality you’ll experience with most other streaming music.

The technical explanation: Taken directly from Tidal HiFi’s FAQ: “Since PCM [Pulse Code Modulation] has a variable bit rate by nature, our experience from our testing is that a lot of repertoire is in the region of 700-900 kbps. So if you compare with AAC 320, you are looking at doubling plus some. But remember that if bandwidth is not an issue, decoding a lossless file is much easier – so the general experience is actually quicker than with AAC.” For even more information about lossless, Tidal provides a great video explanation, including audio examples.

The Equipment-Sound Quality Connection

Imagine that you still have one of those old boxy TVs from a couple decades ago. For some reason, you decide you want to hook up your Blu-ray player to it and watch your favorite action flick.

Halfway through it though, you decide you’ve had enough of the small screen. So, you switch the Blu-ray player back over to your state-of-the-art 64” flat screen TV and start it up again.

Consider this: Of these 2 options, which one do you think would provide better sound and a crisper image? In other words, which would offer a more complete experience? The more advanced equipment, of course.

Well, when it comes to streaming audio, the same principle applies. While the Tidal HiFi’s content may be of higher quality, you’ll only be able to experience this difference if you’re streaming it through high quality hardware (e.g. headphones, speakers, in-home sound systems, etc.).

For the sake of argument, let’s go ahead and assume you have higher-end audio equipment. But just because you can experience this sound difference, does it necessarily mean you’ll appreciate it?

Are You an Audiophile?

And audiophile is someone that is “enthusiastic about high-fidelity sound reproduction,” and who wants to “capture the experience of a live musical performance in a room with good acoustics, and reproduce it at home.” Depending on how much of an audiophile you are, you can spend many thousands of dollars in pursuit of this perfect sound, although “it is widely agreed that this is very difficult and that even the best-regarded recording and playback systems rarely, if ever, achieve it.”

We bring this up because, while many of us could rightly be considered passionate music enthusiasts, this doesn’t mean that we have the ear to discern (or appreciate) the differences in audio streamed through Tidal HiFi, or that of a competitor. The good news is that it’s easy to discern if you’re an audiophile (although you probably already know this).

What Are Tidal HiFi’s Listeners Saying?

Because Tidal HiFi is breaking new ground with their streaming service, they’ve certainly received a lot of media attention, including a fairly detailed write-up in Forbes, who was very complimentary of the service from almost every perspective. However, they ultimately concluded: “Can you justify paying more for your music streaming each month? My advice is simple. If you’re using it just on a phone, probably not.” In case you skipped over it, this relates back to the audiophile section above.

In addition, What HiFi? gave Tidal a 5-star rating, where they noted that it provides CD-quality sound, a large library of music, useful curated content, and an intuitive design. However, they also noted that Tidal’s CD-quality music isn’t available on all platforms; that playback can be sluggish; and that gapless playback is not available.

Rain News noted, “A fully-produced wall of sound on Tidal offered a little more range than you’d hear from the same track as an MP3 [such as an extra twang of a bass string or the full ring of a piano key], but nothing that wouldn’t already be lost if listening with cheap headphones.”

Finally, reader comments on ComputerAudiophile.com appeared to be almost wholly positive, citing true HiFi sound, no audio drops, and ease of use. Likewise, this Reddit thread can provide some good insight into the pros and cons of Tidal’s services.

Tidal HiFi Pricing & Refund Policy

If you want to give Tidal a try before you buy, the company offers a free 7-day trial. Once this trial ends though, Tidal HiFi’s services will cost you a pretty penny at $19.99 per month.

In fact, Tidal HiFi’s competition includes popular streaming apps such as Spotify ($9.99 per month to upgrade) and Pandora ($4.99 per month to upgrade), which means that, at best, it’s 200% more expensive than its closest competitor.

Note: You can search online for “Tidal HiFi vouchers” before signing up, which could provide you with some extra savings.

There isn’t a refund policy listed on Tidal’s website or in their Terms & Conditions, and the only method of contacting the company is through an online contact form.

Is Tidal’s High Fidelity Music for You?

Chopping to the point: If you’re into quality audio and have the equipment needed to fully explore recorded music, then Tidal HiFi’s CD-quality streaming audio may be worthwhile.

Outside of this select group of aficionados though, it might be the case that average, everyday listeners won’t be able to tell much of a difference (if any) between their current streaming audio and the audio provided by Tidal HiFi.

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17 Consumer Reviews for Tidal HiFi

Average Consumer Rating: 2.3
Rating Snapshot:
5 star: 5 4 star: 0 3 star: 1 2 star: 0 1 star:  11
Bottom Line: 24% would recommend it to a friend
Showing 1-11 of 17
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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Cheats!

    • Middlesex, England,
    • Feb 7, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    Please DO NOT subscribe to this service. They are CHEATS.

    I signed up for a 30-day free trial and was presented with two plans; a monthly £19.99 plan and a 6-month £16.99 plan where they would charge me for 6 months upfront. On the page where they asked for my credit card details, they say that they won't take the money until my free trial ends. When I look into my account, I see my account ends in 7 months i.e 30 days free trial plus 6 months subscription. However 3 days later, I got charged the entire £101.94 for 6 months.

    I contacted them within the free trial period for the refund, but they rudely refused, saying that it's stated in their terms that since I am on the value plan a refund can't be issued. I will be contacting my bank and reporting the transaction as unauthorized. Please save yourself the agony and go for other services. These idiots have poor customer service and are cheats!

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 2 out 2 people found this review helpful

    Terrible support

    • United Kingdom,
    • Jan 18, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I purchased my first title for download. After the first song had downloaded, it stated my download limit had been reached and refused to let me download other tracks or to try again.

    I raised a support request and received no response until a day or so later, and it was closed without explanation. I questioned this and was told me download limit had been reset, although this had no impact.

    As I was getting nowhere with Tidal support, and slowly at that, I purchased the music I wanted from one of the other lossless sites. I was able to easily and successfully download it from their competitor.

    I asked Tidal for a refund, sending screen captures to prove I had not been able to download the music from them and also proving I had purchased it elsewhere since.

    After days of persistence, Tidal's response was "we don't do refunds." Since then, they do not even respond to my emails or support requests.

    The experience I have had is one I would expect from a back-alley contraband dealer. I am utterly shocked and appalled.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 3 out 3 people found this review helpful

    Horrible customer service.

    • Las Vegas, NV,
    • Dec 20, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    Bad company! I downloaded Tidal basically as soon on as it hit. I have had an account for over a year now.

    One morning I awoke for a workout only to find my whole playlist, which took me about (I believe) two years to make, was completely gone! I never missed a payment, and Tidal took my payment this month and basically refused to restore my playlist and told me to send my info to disconnect my account!

    What about all the money I’ve already invested, one, and two, where is my refund for this month of December!?

    Highly disappointing and, on top of all of that, when you do have technical problems or an issue like this, you have to go back and forth, corresponding only thru email and there is no person to speak with. Even the emails seem to be generic, automated answers. Beyond unacceptable, especially considering how much the monthly payments are!

    I’m waiting to see if Tidal is going to make this right and correct this problem. I don’t want to lose my playlist and all the money I already put into this company. So far, feels like a total rip! I downloaded from the website also and later found out I was supposed to receive six (6) months free from my carrier, which was never mentioned.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 2 out 3 people found this review helpful

    Customer service is abhorrent

    • Los Angeles, CA,
    • Sep 1, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    Tidal has been an all around terrible experience for me. I originally downloaded it for the trial and canceled it halfway through the month, even taking a departure survey to explain why I didn't like the service (runs slower and has less selection than Spotify).

    My card was charged the following month, so I got into contact with customer service. I only received extremely scripted emails blaming me for not receiving an email confirmation of my unsubscription when several landing pages already said this. They have NO PHONE SUPPORT. I went through about ten correspondences and it was the worst customer service I've ever experienced.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • 1 out 3 people found this review helpful

    So glad Tidal exists!

    • Charlottesville, VA,
    • Sep 19, 2016
    • Verified Reviewer

    Howdy,

    First, I'd like to point out that I am very much not a fan of Jay Z, and on top of that I'm fairly sure I would not like him as a person, either, if I met him (though this is based on past actions and what little I have seen of him as potrayed in the media). Regardless, I've been using Tidal Hi-Fi for about half a year now, and I love it.

    I am not as OCD about getting a perfect live performance sound as probably most audiophiles are, but I do have a phone with a high quality DAC and headphone amp built in (the LG V10) and a couple pairs of very nice headphones (Sennheiser HD650 studio headphones and Noble Audio 3 universal in-ear monitors). With iTunes and Pandora I was getting decent sounding music for a good price, but after trying Tidal I was blown away by how amazing music from my phone could sound.

    Now, I couldn't recommend Tidal's Hi-Fi service to someone with a cheap fair of headphones, and I would be hesitant to even recommend it to someone using Bose (and certainly not Beats) headphones. I doubt you would be able to hear enough of a quality difference to justify spending $20/month. If you have a computer/phone/device that is capable of driving a good pair of headphones or a good set of speakers, though, then it's certainly worth the time it takes to try it out for a week. Just remember to cancel your membership before the free trail period is over if you don't want the service.

    It is also worth noting that Tidal offers a "normal" service using standard lossy compression (I think it's 320kbps AAC) for $9.99, now. I'm not sure how it stacks up against the other streaming services, though, because I have only been listening to Hi-Fi quality tracks since switching to Tidal. I do like the interface well enough, though it took some getting used to, and I don't make much use of Tidal's ability to suggest new music that I might like. It is possible other services would be a better value to you if they have a more intuitive interface or a better suggestion engine and those things are more important than sound quality.

    I hope this helps!

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • 5 out 9 people found this review helpful

    Tidal has charged my debit card without authorization!

    • Longwood, Florida,
    • Feb 19, 2016
    • Verified Reviewer

    My experience with Tidal HiFi so far is a bad one. I was attempting to pay my phone bill, but my credit card was declined, and after further investigation, I saw that Tidal HiFI had charged my debit card without my consent. I want my money refunded ASAP!

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 5 out 7 people found this review helpful

    Tidal rocks

    • New Jersey,
    • Jan 7, 2016

    I am a 55 year old audiophile who misses vinyl. I have been dreaming of a service like Tidal for years. This is as close as you can get digitally. Thanks Tidal for bringing this to us old ears who appreciate great sounding music. I have been listening to albums I have not listened to in years. Thank You. I feel like a kid in a candy store.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • 6 out 14 people found this review helpful

    Scam, fraud, rip off.

    • Pittsburg, PA,
    • Dec 22, 2015

    Just like a bunch of other reviews before me, this service is used simply to steal money from our credit cards.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 6 out 12 people found this review helpful

    Fraud

    • Franklin, TN,
    • Oct 8, 2015

    This charge showed up on my credit card and it was not authorized. I've disputed the charge with my credit card company, and now it shows an additional charge that is pending for the next month. I did not authorize this service and didn't download the app.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 1 out 2 people found this review helpful

    FWA Is Not Playing For 2 Days.

    • Sep 28, 2015

    I've enjoyed the nice sound and the ability to only get Wayne's FWA from Tidal, but it hasn't been playing for two days. B.S. I'm not happy. I pay a high premium for half a working business. Fix your stuff Tidal or I for sure won't renew my subscription.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 4 out 9 people found this review helpful

    Fraud

    • San Diego,
    • Sep 21, 2015

    Fraudulent charge on my credit card for the last 4 months from this company. BEWARE! Tried going to their website but they don't even have a customer service phone number.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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