How Do I Optimize Tidal Music Streaming for Headphones?

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Q I want to optimize Tidal music streaming so I get the best sound quality. But I’m a million miles away from being an audiophile and find the whole thing really confusing. Right now I stream Tidal using either my iPhone or iPad, and have a pair of Bose QC headphones. I looked into buying a headphone amp, but am unsure if such devices improve the quality of streamed music. Can you point me in the right direction? —Lee Cooper

A To get the best sound from Tidal, there are a few housekeeping steps you’ll need to attend to.

First, check that you have a Tidal HiFi subscription ($20/month). A HiFi sub will let you stream Tidal’s 35 million tracks in CD-quality Lossless format: 44.1kHz/16-bit FLAC with a 1411kbps bitrate. The other option, Tidal Premium ($10/month), uses lossy compression with a maximum 320kbps bitrate—same thing as Spotify.

Next, make sure the HiFi indicator in the Tidal playback app is white. If it’s grayed out, you’re either listening in High ( 320kbps) or Normal (96kbps) Lossy AAC format, not Lossless FLAC. Go to the Settings panel and select HiFi format.

A portable DAC/headphone amp won’t necessarily improve the quality of Lossy compressed music, but with Tidal you’re dealing with a CD-quality source. To get the best sound from your headphones, a portable DAC/headphone amp certainly wouldn’t hurt. Here are some options to check out:

Key features that these all share in common include an asynchronous USB DAC, headphone amp, and a rechargeable battery. Some even store enough juice to recharge your iPhone/iPad. All have a USB A input you can use to connect your iDevice via a 30-pin to USB A or Lightning to USB A sync cable. Other features that make portable DAC/headphone amps worth the investment include a volume control, and multiple output impedance settings to accommodate a range of headphones (including your Bose QCs).

DefTechFan's picture

Currently Tidal only supports the HiFi setting using Google Chrome as the browser. Check it out on their website:

DefTechFan's picture

Let me clarify that if you want to use Tidal's Web Player and stream through a browser, the only one that supports HiFi/Lossless is Google Chrome.

daveW's picture

I am streaming TIDAL thru Safari and the HiFi icon is lit this working?

DefTechFan's picture

Hi Dave, according to TIDAL's website it still does not show Safari as a supported browser for HiFi but if the icon is lit up when you use it then it sounds like it is working. I don't know how one would test it but I am sure there is a way.

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