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

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.

  • For more gadget news straight from CES 2017 check out the official CES.tech site
Jon Porter

Jon Porter is the ex-Home Technology Writer for TechRadar. He has also previously written for Practical Photoshop, Trusted Reviews, Inside Higher Ed, Al Bawaba, Gizmodo UK, Genetic Literacy Project, Via Satellite, Real Homes and Plant Services Magazine, and you can now find him writing for The Verge.