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A Swedish company named Aspiro has launched a new streaming music service that claims to offer CD quality streaming using the "Free Lossless Audio Codec" or FLAC. Dubbed Tidal, the service is now available in the US and the UK on the Web, iOS, Android, and connected speaker systems like Sonos.
Built on the back of WiMP, the Aspiro-owned Spotify competitor in Scandinavia having nearly 580,000 paying users, Tidal offers a catalog of 25 million songs, 75,000 ad-free HD music videos, as well as editorial content. The service streams 44.1 kHz / 16-bit FLAC and ALAC music files at 1411 kbps – nearly four times the bit rate of its competitors.
Priced at nearly $20 a month, Tidal clearly targets a small section of the streaming music market that is already dominated by services like Spotify and Rdio, which cost $9.99 (or even less depending on the plan you choose).
"This service is not for everybody. Spotify is for everybody. You don't even need to pay! But for quality, you have to pay", says Andy Chen, the company's CEO, adding that Tidal is primarily aimed at audiophiles who have suffered as audio worsened in the transition from vinyl to compact discs to MP3s, and are more than willing to pay that kind of money to get the best quality sound for their high-end music systems and expensive headphones.
Reviews agree that Tidal delivers what it claims, so the service seems worth trying out. Keep in mind you're advised to switch to a local Wi-Fi network while accessing TIdal on mobile devices to avoid eating up your data allowance or incurring in overage fees from streaming these larger music files. Another point worth noting is that the larger file sizes also result in significant lag when skipping tracks.