Aspiro Group, the company behind the WiMP Music streaming service in Europe, has launched a new service, Tidal, in the US and UK with a focus on high-fidelity audio, editorial curation and video content.
Tidal costs $19.99 a month and uses the ALAC and FLAC lossless format at 1,411 kbps, 44.1kHz/16-bit. That amounts to roughly four times the 320 kbps bitrate of most music streaming services, although Deezer launched its own high-quality service in the US last month.
You can listen to Tidal on the Web via Chrome and through its iOS and Android apps. The company boasts that this is the first time that lossless music streaming has come to mobile.
I’m not particularly picky when it comes to audio quality – 320 kbps is enough for me – but I did notice a difference between Tidal and Spotify on a test set of BeoPlay H6 headphones. While the improvement felt negligible on some tracks, Tidal generally seemed to have a fuller sound.
Streaming music is a crowded space these days, and the extra $10 over competitors is a hard sell. To its credit, Tidal has a sleek design, but there were times I would have preferred to see a list or more information on the screen instead of snazzy graphics, especially since many of those graphics ended up being stock images.
The service boasts 25 million songs and 75,000 music videos, but selection was hit or miss for me. Some of the songs I wanted to listen to were unavailable or not eligible for streaming.
Tidal hopes to sweeten the pot for subscribers with curated recommendations, written content and music videos. I enjoyed having the editorial picks on hand when I was feeling indecisive about what to listen to, and the interviews and articles piqued my interest. With its additional content and the higher fidelity, Tidal is best suited for focused listening, rather than passive listening behavior.
As a product, Tidal is impressive out of the gate – it looks and sounds great. Even so, I found myself shying way from the $19.99 monthly fee. Audiophiles can easily find enough value in the service to get their money’s worth, I’ve decided to stick with a vanilla streaming service like Spotify or Rdio for now.