It’s been two weeks since Tidal, the new music-streaming platform owned by Jay Z and a handful of pop’s highest-ranking Illuminati members, launched with an ostentatiously—almost clumsily—star-studded promotional video. In the time since, there’s been a flood of thinkpieces and a certain amount of negative reaction from pop stars and indie musicians alike focusing on Tidal’s celebrity-driven image, especially, as Death Cab for Cutie frontman Ben Gibbard put it, “bringing out a bunch of millionaires and billionaires and propping them up onstage and then having them all complain about not being paid.” Largely lost in the discussion over Tidal’s brand identity is the question of whether it’s any good.
After using it for over a week I can say yes, Tidal is good. With a couple qualifications.
If your listening habits revolve around the ad-driven free version of Spotify and your laptop speakers, you can probably stay put. If you’ve invested in any half-decent audio gear, you should definitely consider shucking out $20 per month for the pricier of Tidal’s two membership levels, which offers lossless streaming. I compared Tidal to several other listening options, using The-Dream’s “That’s My Shit” as the point of comparison because of its combination of shimmering high end and chest-rattling bass (and also because I don’t mind listening to it 10 times in a row).
On both my Grado Labs SR325e headphones and Sonos PLAY:1 speaker, Tidal’s lossless streams of the songs sounded noticeably clearer and sharper than Spotify and Rdio, which sounded cloudy by comparison. Side by side with an uncompressed WAV file of the track from my laptop music library (Tidal uses similarly lossless FLAC and ALAC formats), the stream sounded just as rich, although it seemed like it shaved just a touch off of the high end.
Read More Tidal Review – Jay Z Streaming Service Test.