Shortly after announcing a price increase, Tidal is offering its HiFi Plus subscribers new features with FLAC support.
Tidal introduces HiRes FLAC support to its Early Access program on iOS. “HiFi Plus subscribers have always had access to our highest definition audio, and now we offer high definition content in FLAC format, up to 24-bit, 192kHz. Don’t try it by updating your beta app and selecting “Maximum” quality in the new audio and playback settings screen,” the announcement post reads. For now, Android users will have to wait for the full rollout of the feature to experience FLAC listening.
The FLAC format has been around since 2001, but Tidal introduced a proprietary high-resolution audio format called Master Quality Authenticated (MQA), and now the company behind it filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this year. Although there is a license fee to use the MQA codec, since its inception in 2015, MQA has made almost no money with more than 130 existing license agreements.
The move to FLAC for Tidal has been hinted at in hifi communities around the web for a few months now. Following news of MQA’s bankruptcy proceedings, Tidal CEO Jesse Dorogusker confirmed the move with a comment back in April reddit.
“We will soon be introducing high-resolution FLAC to our HiFi Plus subscribers. It is lossless and an open standard. It’s a large file, but we allow users to increase or decrease the resolution depending on the situation.” Although MQA uses significantly less data than FLAC, the main proponent of this proprietary standard seems to have backed down. Tidal says it chooses FLAC as its preferred format, but “will continue to support multiple formats to ensure we have as much high-resolution content as possible.”
There are now over 6 million titles available to stream on Tidal in HiRes FLAC format. The DSP states that it is actively working with distributors, labels and artists to add more content to the format on a daily basis.
Welcome to 2001, Tidal.