Bottom line: One thing to consider when contemplating a switch to high-res music is your accompanying hardware. While I’m all for the consumption of the highest quality media, it makes little sense to pay extra for premium audio if you’ll be listing using cheap earbuds or worse, your phone’s integrated speakers. What's more, some people simply can't hear a discernible difference even with the right hardware.
Beleaguered streaming music provider Tidal on Monday announced that master-quality tracks are now available to listeners on iOS.
Tidal, a MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) partner, rolled out similar support for Android devices at CES in January.
A process called “music origami” is used to compress masters into smaller files that can be streamed to mobile devices over carrier networks. MQA’s decoder is then used to reassemble the files locally and also authenticate the master recording’s source.
Tidal master-quality tracks are a step above HiFi. According to the company, HiFi is limited to a resolution of 44.1 kHz /16 bit but MQA offers thousands of versions of songs that are typically 96 kHz / 24 bit. In short, MQA aims to offer music just as it was recorded in the studio.
To listen to master-quality tracks through Tidal, you need a Hi-Fi membership which commands $19.99 per month. You can take advantage of a 60-day free trial to see if it's right for you.