Music streaming service Tidal is now available in Thailand.
Tidal offers users the chance to stream CD quality music via its web player and mobile apps on Android and iOS. It can also be connected to Sonos and more than 30 other home audio systems.
Having tested out Tidal for the past couple of weeks, there is no getting away from its slick interface and superb sound quality, however, the service might not be for everyone.
Find out more with our review of Tidal for users in Thailand.
What is Tidal?
Tidal is a new music streaming service that gives users access to 25 million songs, 75,000 videos and a wide array of other content and editorial.
In 2014, Tidal started out as a little known Swedish music streaming company called Aspiro, which was barely making any waves of its own in the world of music streaming.
At least that was the case until a company owned by rap mogul Jay Z bought out Aspiro in March 2015. A quick rebrand later and after enlisting the help of fifteen of his superstar friends, like Beyonce (of course), Coldplay’s Chris Martin, hip hop star Kanye West and Madonna to name just a few, Tidal is now looking to take on the likes of Spotify, Google Play Music and Rdio.
Since its launch, it seems that Jay Z and the other people behind Tidal have received more attention than the service itself, with many critics questioning the motives some of the world’s wealthiest pop stars involvement in Tidal.
Jay Z recently took to Twitter to defend Tidal, saying there is a smear campaign being waged against Tidal by “many big companies”
With regards to the service itself, the main USP of Tidal is that it offers the chance to stream CD quality music or “high fidelity sound quality” through your PC, Mac, smartphone, tablet or via a multi-room system such as Sonos.
Interestingly, unlike Spotify, Tidal is an ad-free, subscription only service, which does not offer free music streaming beyond its 30 day trial.
For users in Thailand, there are two subscription options: 175 THB per month or 358 THB per month.
Both pricing tiers provide the same level of access to all the songs and videos etc. However, the 358 THB/per month subscription enables you to stream the high fidelity sound.
What is“high fidelity sound quality”?
“High fidelity sound quality” is the term Tidal is giving to its CD quality music stream.
It’s basically a different file format from MP3, which is most commonly used when you stream or download music.
As a comparison, sites like Spotify use MP3 or AAC file formats at 320kbps, whereas Tidal’s high quality option uses 16 bit FLAC format (Free Lossless Audio Codec) at 1411kbps.
FLAC offers much improved sound because, unlike an MP3, it does not lose any of its sound quality when it is compressed into a digital file.
An MP3 file on the other hand has had many elements of the original recording removed in order reduce the size of the file.
To fully appreciate FLAC and hear the improved sound quality via Tidal’s music stream you’ll need to have some pretty decent audio equipment. There are a growing number of smartphones such as the Samsung Galaxy S6, Xiaomi Mi Note 4, LG G4, Sony Xperia Z4, Huawei Ascend Mate 7 and HTC One M9, all of which support FLAC.
That being said, I tested it out on a variety of different devices of varying sound quality and the results were generally very impressive.
Listening to Tidal on web, app and Sonos
Currently, you can listen to Tidal via its web player or Android or iOS mobile apps. In order to stream the high quality version on the web you need to use Google Chrome as this is the only web browser that supports FLAC streaming.
I tested Tidal out using its web player, Android App and via a Sonos audio system.
The web player looks great and is easy to navigate. If you’ve ever used Spotify, you’ll have no problem in finding your way around Tidal.
As for its library, Tidal has 25 million songs to listen to. As a comparison, Spotify has 30 million songs in its library. Despite the differences, most of what I was searching for was included on Tidal.
One thing I did find a little annoying was that Tidal includes these karaoke style tracks which appear when you search for a particular song or artist but which obviously are not by the original artist.
However, on the flip side I found that it has a good selection of playlists curated by Tidal which saved a lot of time in me having to create my own. It also includes a variety of themed playlists for when you’re working out, running, doing yoga or for when you just want to relax.
Tidal also has an Offline Mode which allows you to download music to your device to avoid you eating into your data plan when you’re away from a Wi-Fi connection.
The Android app is also very easy to navigate and offers just as good user experience as the web player. I installed the app on my Nexus 6 and even though the device does not support FLAC, the sound was still good.
I also listened to Tidal through a Sonos audio system and the sound quality was exceptional. In my opinion, this is where it really came into its own and I’d go as far to say that if you own a Sonos system (or one of the other similar supported systems) then you should seriously think about Tidal for streaming your music.
Tidal recommends having a minimum 2 MB Internet connection to use the service. I have 3BB’s 30MB/3MB fibre optic and had no problems streaming the high quality audio.
Should you buy Tidal?
After testing the service out, I’ve grown to really enjoy using it and can honestly say Tidal is excellent – with a couple of caveats.
The sound is every bit as good as you would expect from a high quality streaming service.
Whilst MP3s enable me to conveniently carry around most of my music collection in my pocket, you forget that they are lacking in sound quality and Tidal’s high fidelity sound made this really hit home.
If you’re a real audiophile, with a decent home sound system or quality headphones then you’ll love what Tidal offers and should consider purchasing a monthly subscription to its high fidelity sound option.
However, if you normally stream your music from YouTube and are happy enough listening through your 500 Baht speakers or via the earphones which came free with your smartphone then chances are that due to the equipment you use, you might not be able to hear the improved sound quality available on the top tier subscription.
But that’s not to say you should write Tidal off completely.
Whilst streaming music on services such as Spotify or Google Play Music is the norm in places like the UK, US and Europe, many of the most popular music streaming services are not available in Thailand and can only be accessed via VPN in order to circumnavigate the geo-restrictions put in place.
If you don’t have access to VPN, Tidal is one of the few music streaming services actually available to users in Thailand and for this reason alone it’s worth considering.
Secondly, whilst in the UK and US subscriptions start at £9.99 and $9.99 or £19.99 and $19.99 for the high quality version, in Thailand a subscription to Tidal is available at a fraction of that price, starting at just 179 THB per month for the regular version or 358 THB per month for the high fidelity sound option.
It is worth noting that to sign up for Tidal you need either a Visa, Mastercard, American Express or a PayPal account, which many users in Thailand may not have access to.
A counter service payment option, like those available at 7-Eleven, Family Mart and Big C would make the service even more accessible to lots of people in Thailand.
Verdict on Tidal
If like me, you couldn’t care less about the people behind Tidal and their motives, as far as living in Thailand and using a music streaming service, Tidal is the best there is.
Its very affordable monthly subscription fee (179 THB) gives you access to 25 million songs for what is essentially the price of a couple of beers. And if you’re really into your music and have a nice setup at home or own something like a Sonos system then at 358 THB it would be well worth paying that bit extra for the high fidelity option.
If you don’t own top of the range audio equipment then the 179 THB subscription isn’t going to break the bank and gives you access to more than enough music.
Anyway, don’t take my word for it. Take advantage of Tida’s 30 day free trial available here.