How hi-res audio streamer Tidal plans to cut the crap

I divide music quality into three categories.

PB: I divide music quality into three categories. One is the lossy format where you have MP3, AAC and stuff that Spotify uses. The next up is lossless, which is the same as CD quality, which is 44.1KHz audio. Which means the sound wave has been sampled 44,100 times per second. Because of the physical format some compromises had to be made. But now we live in an age where we can just download music. We're not limited by physical media. Most people record at 96KHz/24bit. That's the typically production format. We've talked so much of CD quality, but we're starting to talk about original master format.

TR: When would master format audio come to Tidal? Could that happen in 2015?

PB: Yes, it could very well happen in 2015.

TR: Your $20/£20 per month subscription price may seem steep to some people. Do you see it changing anytime soon?

PB: In one way I hope we're going to be alone with lossless streaming for a long time. I don't think we will. It's going to commoditize. The price for our lossless offering will probably go down a little bit, but there will probably be an introduction of a real, high, above-CD-quality resolution offering as well.

In streaming we'll probably begin three to four tiers. The first one, which I dislike very much because I'm a studio artist, is the freemium model; then [we'll offer a] premium option for around $9.99/£10. Today's $20/£20 offering will drop to around $15-16/£15-16, and there will be a real studio quality option will be above that, though I can't begin to speculate on the price.

TR: I know Scandanavia has strict laws about disclosing information on pending deals, but is there anything you'd like to say about Jay-Z's plan to buy Tidal?

PB: I've been away in London for the last week. I know I can't say anything, but honestly I just haven't been around.

TR: What's the mood like in the office?

PB: I'm sensing everyone's excited, curious maybe. Of course the deal isn't through yet.

TR: Do you think Jay-Z is going to move there?

PB: [laughs]…he's more than welcome to. For us it's about making good, high-quality music available to people. Nothing has changed overnight. For us, it's business as usual.

TR: What are you personally excited about in audio in 2015?

PB: I'm looking forward to a better experience in the car - anything that does portable audio and follows you into the car. I want to talk to the car to play the newest album and have it do that. Funny enough, I see portable music devices that have a high spec coming back. Look at what Sony is doing with the NW-ZX2 Walkman.

Nick Pino

Nick Pino is Managing Editor, TV and AV for TechRadar's sister site, Tom's Guide. Previously, he was the Senior Editor of Home Entertainment at TechRadar, covering TVs, headphones, speakers, video games, VR and streaming devices. He's also written for GamesRadar+, Official Xbox Magazine, PC Gamer and other outlets over the last decade, and he has a degree in computer science he's not using if anyone wants it.