Tidal review - HiFi music streaming

I've first found out about Tidal in January. That was before Jay-Z making it rain and all. My first impression was "cool service, intrigued about the audio quality, definitely expensive and not available in Romania". So, no-go. I did however sign up on their mailing list for updates.

Fast-forward to March 20th, Tidal is now available in Romania as well. Because I subscribed to that mailing list, I got a free 30-day trial, so I figured why not check it out. Here are my thoughts:

Sound quality. You won't notice any difference if you listen on the speaker of your phone, so don't expect any magic. However, I've tried listening to Tidal using headphones, my speakers at home (with a Xonar D2X) and my car's speakers. Overall, I'd say I noticed the difference (especially in the car). Your mileage may vary, as noticing the difference depends both on the hardware you are using, as well as your hearing (I guess that also counts as hardware).

sound quality

Content. I've found most of the songs I searched for. The ones that I couldn't find weren't available on Deezer and Google Play Music either. So there's plenty of stuff.

Playlists. A great feature that I've been missing since I stopped using Spotify (it's not available in my country) are the curated playlists. Deezer has some but they are crap, and Google Play Music (at least the Romanian version) has like 4, out of which two are Valentine's-related. No thanks. Tidal's offering resembles Spotify. I found plenty of good stuff. There's even a Produced by: Just Blaze playlist. And you also have a set of themes to choose from.

playlists

Radio. The only kind of radio feature I could find was the artist based radio. It's something, but it's nowhere near something like Pandora or even Google Play Music's I'm feeling lucky radio. Deezer also has Flow but I wouldn't mention here - I've never had a pleasant experience with it. So while Tidal is lacking on the radio side, its curated playlists make up for it in the exploration/music discovery section.

Later edit: I've found a track radio option in the contextual menu of a song. So there's that.

Personalization. There are some Recommended tabs in the various categories of the player, but I haven't figured out how they work yet. Maybe they learn your tastes in time and adapt to that. I've only used the service for a few days so I'm not sure yet. There's also a My Music section where you can add songs, artists and playlists that you like. It's kind of like the favorite button in other players. I haven't found a thumbs up or like button.

Social. There's currently support for Facebook and Twitter sharing, as well as Last.fm scrobbling.

Mobile app. I've been using Tidal's app on the iPhone and iPad. It works fine. It could definitely use some polishing, but it does the job. The social features that I've mentioned above are somehow not kept in sync. I've connected both Facebook and Last.fm on my desktop, through the web player, and when I logged in using the mobile app I had to add them again. Awkward. Overall, I find Tidal's app more responsive than Google's app. To give an example, on the same Internet connection, whenever I start playing a song on Google Play Music there is an annoying delay until it actually starts. Tidal works just fine.

Price. I'm on the free trial but if I don't cancel, at the end of the 30 day period I'll be charged 9.99€ for the lossless subscription. This is lower than the first price I read about in January (I think that one was like 20). It's basically the same price as Spotify and Deezer, so that's cool.

Overall, thanks to the great content and nice sound quality, I'm thinking of keeping my Tidal subscription. While relatively new and a bit rough around the edges, it covers my music listening needs already. I don't know if I'd make the same decision if Spotify were available in my country, but it isn't, so I'll have to hold that thought.

If you're interested in checking Tidal out, you can sign up for a trial at their website.

Mihnea Dobrescu-Balaur

Building @Hootsuite Analytics. Interested in Open Source, programming languages and the Open Web. Big fan of basketball and photography. Tweet @mihneadb.

Bucharest, Romania

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