- Optimizing HiFi
When music is recorded we capture and store the oscillations of the soundwaves in an electrical waveform. This is primarily done through analog recording which is an exact physical representation of the original waveform. The amplitude or strength of the voltage of these recordings is then converted to a binary value represented as a series of pulses through a process called Pulse Code Modulation or PCM.
Various file formats - MP3, FLAC, Masters - are all different digital representations of the same soundwaves.
What makes TIDAL sound different?
At TIDAL we distinguish ourselves by offering our HiFi subscribers uncompressed 16 bit / 44kHz CD Quality rendering and a selection of Masters ranging from 16 to 24 bit / 44.1, 88.2, 96, 192 up to 352 kHz. All matching the original Master source bit depth and sample rate delivering the content as close to the source as possible. As it is, this is the highest quality audio available for streaming. HiFi users are also able to enjoy new immersive audio experiences through the inclusions of Sony’s 360 Reality Audio and Dolby Atmos Music.
With technology that is built into the app, TIDAL does the initial work to bring you the music you love in the highest quality possible. Partnering with MQA, TIDAL has made Masters Quality content accessible to all HiFi users without the need for high-end stereo equipment. However, audio enthusiasts can further optimize their set up to ensure they are achieving bit-perfect playback.
TIDAL HiFi relies on the use of FLAC or Free Lossless Audio Codec. Unlike most audio formats, FLAC is lossless and does not compromise quality for space. The encoding of the audio done via PCM ensures that no information is lost allowing for an identical bit-for-bit decode.
For example, imagine the following series of letters as a representation of a recorded soundwave. The analog file is an exact representation while the digital FLAC file is compressed but conveys the exact same information.
Analog → AAAAABBBAAABBBBAAAA
Digital - FLAC → 5A3B3A4B4A
MQA files are compressed through a process known as ‘Music Origami’ in order to make them small enough to stream or download. TIDAL utilizes MQA’s Core Decoder compression technology to achieve the first unfold and deliver higher than CD-quality. This first unfold is capable of an output of 88.2kHz or 96kHz.
MQA Renderers are capable of the second unfold. Renderers can come in the form of products such as Digital Analog Converters or headphones. When paired with a core decoder they can complete the final unfold enabling you to hear exactly what the artist created and recorded in the highest possible sound quality.
To ensure you are enjoying our HiFi selection to its fullest extent you will want to optimize your setup to achieve bit-perfect playback.
How can I optimize my set up?
First, you should adjust your settings to ensure you are streaming at the highest quality possible. You can click through the articles below to learn more about adjusting the Sound Quality settings on your TIDAL app.
In order to enjoy music as conveniently as we do today, we convert recordings from analog to digital. However, since sound waves are produced in analog form, the signal must first be converted back before a speaker can playback music. This is done through a DAC or Digital-to-Analog Converter. The DAC changes a digital file back into an analog electrical signal with a constantly changing voltage that our speakers and our ears are able to process as sound.
Any device capable of audio playback contains a DAC. However, as with most technology, the quality of the DAC can make a difference in sound quality. Once you have selected a DAC you should read through the selected product instructions to connect to your playback device. Once connected to the TIDAL desktop client, you will want to adjust your streaming settings as follows:
- Click the in the top left corner
- Select ‘Settings’ then ‘Streaming’
- Change the ‘Sound Output’ to your DAC
- Click (More Settings)
- Toggle additional settings as they pertain to your setup.
Use Exclusive Mode only has an effect for HiFi and Master playback. This setting grants TIDAL exclusive use of the audio device eliminating interference. With this enabled, TIDAL has exclusive use of your DAC and will automatically change the frequency based on the song selection.
Force Volume allows TIDAL to bypass its settings allowing the user to control the volume from their DAC or connected stereo device.
Passthrough MQA disables software decoding of MQA. When this is selected TIDAL will leave the unfolding up to your connected DAC. This should only be selected if you have an MQA compatible DAC.