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Spotify or Tidal: Which Streaming Service Sounds the Best?

Read also: Spotify should copy TIDAL’s idea as soon as possible. They had a great idea. Tidal is ahead of Spotify. I remember that Spotify had its time integrating with musixmatch, but later the service paths diverged and users lost one of the cooler features – quick access to song lyrics inside the Spotify application. Due to these issues, Spotify will often deliver degraded audio. Because Tidal uses a lossless format, one as high as 96kHz, 24 – bit, the issues Spotify has aren’t cause for alarm when using tidal. Although you may prefer the sound of Spotify, odds are, the best possible sound will come from Tidal. Spotify is the streaming music heavyweight, but Tidal has made major strides to become a contender. We've tested both services, judging them on audio quality, device compatibility, and bonus. Although both the Spotify and Tidal generally offer a free trial of 30 days, which can be used by the new users for making their first try without paying anything, yet there is a big difference. And, that difference is the free, ad-supported plan that is only available in Spotify, not in Tidal.

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Quick Answer

Although which service sounds better may be subjective to some, Tidal provides higher quality masters using lossless files, whereas Spotify streams music using an AAC lossy format.If you intend to use lower quality formats to reduce data usage then Spotify may be better the better option.

Spotify or Tidal: Which Streaming Service Sounds the Best?

Although we can’t say one objectively sounds better, one service provides files with less aliasing, encoding distortion, and with a fuller frequency spectrum.

Tidal provides both lossy formats at lower quality settings and lossless formats at higher settings.Their hi-fi setting is a lossless 44.1, 16-bit file, whereas their Master setting is typically 96kHz, 24-bit.

It should be noted that their master quality can go up to a 384kHz sampling rate, which is pretty impressive.

On the other hand, Spotify now uses an AAC lossy format (replacing the Ogg Vorbis format previously used).The quality of these AAC files ranges from a very low 24kbps to 320kbps.

But understanding these settings from a technical standpoint doesn’t help us understand which service sounds better.

To understand this, we’ll need to listen to various genres using the settings we just described.

We’ll listen to Pop, Rock, and Rap tracks to determine which streaming service offers better quality.

The files played from Tidal will be 44.1kHz 16-bit.

The files played from Spotify will be 320kbps, 160kbps, and 24kbps.

To make things more interesting we’ll make this a blind test so that each file isn’t identified until we’ve listened to each one of them.Be sure to use some headphones and your best playback system when doing these tests to get the best results.

One important thing to note is that for the pop, rock, and rap tracks, it was just about impossible to find a Master Quality version on Tidal that is still public domain, so these have been recorded in as 96kHz 24-bit files via analog equipment using a Tidal Hi-fi quality 44.1kHz 16-bit file.

If you have a track that you’d like to hear mastered, send it to us here:

We’ll master it for you and send you a free mastered sample to review.

Spotify

Does Spotify or Tidal Sound Better for Pop Music

Ganja by Ooyy

Track 1: 44.1kHz, 16-bit

Track 2: 160kbps

Track 3: 24kbps

Track 4: 320kbps

Does Spotify or Tidal Sound Better for Rock Music

Power of Balance by Dissidence

Track 1: 24kbps

Track 2: 44.1kHz, 16-bit

Track 3: 320kbps

Track 4: 160kbps

Does Spotify or Tidal Sound Better for Rap Music

Freeze by Nbhd Nick

Track 1: 320kbps

Track 2: 24kbps

Track 3: 160kbps

Track 4: 44.1kHz, 16-bit

Were you able to guess these right? Let us know in the comment section below – we’d be interested to see if you could figure out which was which.

Also, it’s important to keep in mind that even if you couldn’t consciously perceive a difference, that doesn’t mean it didn’t have an effect.

One study conducted by the Audio Engineering Library found that “MP3s have distinct effects on timbral and emotional characteristics – tending to strengthen negative emotional qualities and weaken positive ones.”

This means that even if we can’t discern which one is the AAC and which is the PCM file type, we may be able to experience it on an emotional level.

If you’d like more videos like this one, check out our other blog post on a very similar topic:


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In it, we test an MP3, a Wav, and an AAC file using a blind test to figure out which one is the best.

Why Do Lossless Files Sound Better than Lossy Files?

Lossless files compile data that is redundant, making for a smaller file size but one that is unpack-able with all of its original information.Lossy files delete data in areas of the frequency response that are difficult to hear – the file size is smaller but the quality is reduced.

There is also a big difference between lossless and lossy when it comes to the bit-depth.Lossless files have a set bit depth, meaning it stays the same throughout the song.

Lossy files on the other hand use a variable bit-depth to reduce the file size.

The bit-depth plays a huge part in accurately storing information at specific amplitudes.When the bit-depth is reduced, so is the accuracy with which bits of information are stored or quantized.

When bits can’t be accurately placed, they often cause clipping distortion which generates harmonics and other unpleasant artifacts.

Although lossy formats often use a sampling rate of 44.1kHz, just like a CD and some PCM files, the amount of information present at each sample or its bit-rate will vary.

This results in more unwanted artifacts like aliasing, which causes almost a whooshing or planning effect, especially in the high-frequency range.

All this to say that these technical aspects do play a big role in determining whether Tidal or Spotify sounds better.The lower the quality of the streaming, the less information is being given to listeners, as more unwanted artifacts are making their way into the signal.

With that said, if this matters to you, I’d definitely recommend trying Tidal and using the Hi-Fi and Master settings.It isn’t great to use if you’re using your phone due to how much data it can take up, but it is great when connected to wifi.

Despite this, Tidal will, at least in my opinion, always sound better than Spotify.

For more information on file formats and the technical side behind streaming music, check out our video and blog post on the topic:

In it we count down our picks for the best audio file formats, considering factors like quality, file size, and how easy it is to share the file.

Conclusion

Spotify lowers the quality of the music it streams by compressing the audio.It can also cause distortion to the sound by decreasing the bit-depth during the encoding process.

Due to these issues, Spotify will often deliver degraded audio.

Because Tidal uses a lossless format, one as high as 96kHz, 24 – bit, the issues Spotify has aren’t cause for alarm when using tidal.

Although you may prefer the sound of Spotify, odds are, the best possible sound will come from Tidal.

If you have a track that you’d like to hear mastered, send it to us here:

SpotifyTidal spotify difference

We’ll master it for you and send you a free mastered sample to review.

Which do you prefer, Spotify or Tidal?

Get a Free Mastered Sample of Your Song → SageAudio.com/register.php

Sage Audio Mastering

Nashville, TN

According to Confucius, ‘Music produces a kind of pleasure, which human nature cannot do without’. However, it also produces nine-figure revenue for the companies operating in the music streaming industry. By 2020, the total revenue of this industry was estimated as $19.747m, expected to show an annual growth rate of 9.7%. These numbers look attractive enough to make companies constantly improve their services and offerings for the customers despite their current market share. In this article I will compare Tidal to Spotify in terms of content, music discovery, streaming quality, pricing and social features. So, if you have not selected your music streaming provider yet, or you are just curious and want to know more about the subject, you will find this article useful.

What should you know first?

Spotify is a world’s biggest music streaming platform with 286 million monthly active users and 35% of the global market share. It has been successfully operating since 2008 and thus, it has a 6-year longer presence on the market than Tidal. Besides, Spotify covers 92 countries and offers better app support than Tidal. Tidal is available only in 56 countries with over 3m subscribers and has relatively moderate app support.

Content and music discovery

As the basic premise of both platforms is the same, in terms of content they stand on the same page. However, Tidal offers larger library size and does a better job when it comes to exclusives. It is also a better choice to upload and stream all types of music-related videos, movies and performances. On the other hand, when it comes to podcasts, Spotify is the ultimate winner. Both apps browse the music by genre, mood, activity etc. and offer tailored playlists. But in terms of music discovery, Spotify wins.

Social features: which platform is better to promote your personal brand?

Tidal

If you want to promote your personal brand, check what your friends are listening to or simply share your favorite music to your other social media accounts, then you should go with Spotify. It offers some amazing features such as monitoring the number of listeners and followers. This analytical information helps you to identify the market trends and measure your success. However, attracting followers and engaging new audiences can be extremely challenging, especially for newcomers. Luckily, there is a solution to this problem. You can organically grow your presence by buying Spotify plays and followers on Spotifystorm.

If the streaming quality is the most important

In terms of streaming quality, Tidal is more praised than Spotify. Tidal offers four different audio settings – from Normal to High to HiFi and Master. Spotify is a bit more diverse and lets you select the most suitable plan for you out of five options (Automatic, Low, Normal, High, Premium). However, the streaming quality of Tidal’s High mode is the same as Spotify’s Premium. Besides, if you are looking for lossless music, then Tidal should be your choice.

Does pricing always matter?

Both platforms follow almost similar pricing strategies – discounts for students and special plans for family members. Unlikely to Tidal, Spotify offers a free plan, but the access to its features is very limited. However, if you have a thing for high streaming quality, you have better select Tidal’s HiFi mode, but be ready to pay double the price.

Tidal Premium Vs Tidal Hifi

Conclusion

Tidal Music Vs Spotify

Undoubtedly, both platforms provide high-quality service and your choice should be based solely on your preferences and expectations. Spotify is a better choice if you are more interested in using social features, discovering exciting podcasts or using extensive app support. However, if you are more concerned about high streaming quality, larger library size and videos rather than you should definitely go with Tidal.