What Is TIDAL and Is it a Streaming Service Worth Considering?
With so many music streaming services out there, it can be hard to find the one that works for you. TIDAL isn’t the biggest name in music streaming, but it’s definitely worth thinking about. Here’s why.
What Is TIDAL?
TIDAL is a Norway-based music streaming platform that is home to over 80 million “tracks.” Aside from songs, this number also includes recordings by classic and contemporary stand-up comedians. You can run TIDAL in a browser window or take it on the go with the free app.
How Much Does TIDAL Cost?
If you’re shopping around for streaming services, chances are you’ve got money on your mind. TIDAL is relatively special in that its price tiers are largely based on the highest available quality of the audio.
TIDAL offers a free version and two paid versions. However, both paid versions have thirty-day free trials. Here’s how they’re different.
The Free version has standard audio quality and ads. The audio quality isn’t disappointing, particularly if you’re listening through standard device speakers or bargain headphones anyway.
If you’re on a slow connection, you can even turn the quality further down to make the most of your data or internet speed. Thankfully, the ads aren’t painfully frequent or obnoxious.
With TIDAL HiFi, subscribers have higher audio quality, up to 1411kbps (“CD Quality”). TIDAL HiFi also removes ads, grants access to 350 thousand videos, offline listening, and some fancy social options like the ability to share your listening habits.
While the standard price for TIDAL HiFi is $10 per month, there are also available discounts for military personnel, first responders, and students.
TIDAL HiFi Plus
TIDAL HiFi Plus reaches audio quality of up to 9216 kbps and retains all the benefits of the HiFi package. Furthermore, the artists that you stream the most get up to 10 percent of your prescription fee, so you’re not just supporting TIDAL but also your favorite artists.
TIDAL HiFi Plus is $20 per month for most listeners, but again, there are discounts for special groups.
What Makes TIDAL Unique?
If you’re thinking about TIDAL, you probably need more details than just what platforms it works on and how much it costs.
There are a few things that make TIDAL stand out. Some of them are good, and some of them might not be. But, most of the platform’s strengths and weaknesses really depend on how you intend to use the service.
As we’ve seen, TIDAL’s subscription tiers are based largely on audio quality. So, if you’re an audiophile with high-end headphones that really cares about things like the kbps that your music streams at, you can pay more for that.
In addition, the audio focus goes beyond quality. For example, you can view the credits for the track that you’re listening to, which includes the recording artists, lyricists, composers, producers, mixers, recording engineers, and so on.
So, if you’re the kind of music lover that wants to know who was emptying the trashcans in the studio when your favorite song was recorded, TIDAL is for you.
On a related note, a reminder that the highest subscription tier sends a portion of the fees directly to the artists that you’re streaming. That’s pretty cool.
If you like a particular song, you can select that song’s “Track Radio.” These are other songs that you’re likely to love not because of the artist or your listening history but because of that specific song.
Not only is this a great way to hear favorites, but it can also be a way to discover new songs that you’ve never heard before.
On the other hand, you can also block specific tracks. If you like every Eric Clapton song except for that one that makes you think of your ex-wife, you can block that one track and go on listening to Clapton.
Comparatively, “down-voting” that one song on other streaming services might mean that you get less Eric in your playlists and that isn’t what you want.
TIDAL has an integration with Plex, so if you use Plex to manage your films and TV, linking it to your TIDAL account can be a good way to keep all of your media in one place. If you’re a social music listener, you can also connect TIDAL to Last.fm, a service that helps to contextualize and visualize trends in global music listening.
The TIDAL app is also compatible with a huge number of smart devices including TVs, speakers, wearables, and vehicle audio systems.
However, these controls, features, and integrations can come at a bit of a usability cost. In fact, a lot of the features that might make TIDAL the most attractive music streaming service to some users are a bit hard to find or to use.
While the main interface for listening to music and creating playlists is pretty straightforward, things like connecting other streaming services and devices can be tricky.
Not for Podcasts
TIDAL does offer podcasts, but it’s pretty hard to find and there are only a few titles. With this, if you frequently listen to podcasts, then becoming a TIDAL listener will mean one more service to juggle.
Alternatively, if you don’t listen to podcasts often or want a music streaming service specifically to avoid podcasts, this could be reason to use TIDAL.
Is TIDAL a Streaming Service Worth Considering?
Yes. As a streaming service, TIDAL is definitely worth considering. With a free in-browser option, you have absolutely nothing to lose when it comes to considering TIDAL.
However, this doesn’t mean that TIDAL is the right streaming service for everyone. So, before making a commitment, you may want to try other platforms too.
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