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Tidal becomes a music Master – is the first to offer hi-res MQA music streaming

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At CES 2017, MQA and Tidal have announced that starting from today, subscribers to Tidal’s premium Hi-fi tier will be able to stream Hi-Res audio, which is a substantial improvement over the current CD-quality maximum.

The development has been enabled thanks to MQA, which allows Hi-Res music to be packaged in a file the size of a CD-quality (16-bit/44.1kHz) file. 

This means that files that are multiple times the quality of those found on a CD can be streamed with no additional bandwidth required – helpful when you’re listening to music on the go. 

A long-running deal

MQA’s agreement with Tidal is nothing new. The two companies first agreed to work together back at CES 2015, but MQA tracks haven’t been available to stream through the service until now.

Record labels will need to master music in the new format to allow it to be made available in MQA. Warner Music has already committed to support the new format, but more labels will need to get on board if the format is to become truly ubiquitous.

At the moment, there are 'thousands' of albums to be found under the Masters tab, including Beyonce's Lemonade – well, Jay Z does have big ties to Tidal – David Bowie's Young Americans and the first Led Zeppelin album.  

In order to enjoy the full benefits of MQA, you’ll also need an MQA-compatible device such as the excellent Pioneer XDP-100R, although you should still see a smaller improvement in sound with a non-MQA device. Currently, Master albums are only available to listen to through the desktop service.

However, if the amount of MQA mastered tracks and MQA-compatible devices continues to increase then hi-res audio might finally enter the mainstream after having been the preserve of audiophiles. 

The convenience of streaming might be exactly what Hi-Res audio needs to reach the masses.

Marc Chacksfield is the Editor In Chief, at DC Thomson. He started out life as a movie writer for numerous (now defunct) magazines and soon found himself online - editing a gaggle of gadget sites, including TechRadar, Digital Camera World and Tom's Guide UK. At Shortlist you'll find him mostly writing about movies and tech, so no change there then.