After experiencing the most dreary winter of my life cooped up in my apartment, it is finally Spring! I’m outside a lot lately, and I’m taking my Spotify playlists with me. While it’s exhilarating to be outside again, I’ve noticed that the more time I spent listening to Spotify, the more I felt like something was missing. In fact I became so convinced that I was experiencing a quality issue, I decided to compare Spotify and Tidal using my own meditation music as a test subject. (I uploaded the same master to each service and they should sound the same.)
My unsurprising conclusion: Tidal’s lossless streaming is better than Spotify’s lossy streaming.
Based on how Spotify describes their quality settings here, I assumed the higher quality audio reserved for premium Spotify subscribers would be indistinguishable from a lossless format. It wasn’t. The differences in the perceived quality between Spotify and Tidal using the default settings were easy for me to distinguish: enough to convince me to switch from Spotify Premium to Tidal, in fact.
I ran a comparative listening test between lossless versions of a few of my albums, notably Illumination, which is notoriously difficult to compress due to it’s high frequency content and wide dynamic range, and Regenerate, which is built around some subtle but substantial stereo imaging and spectral gymnastics. I compared the master recording in my archives to the streaming versions of the albums on Spotify and Tidal. I was honestly surprised to discover just how much better the lossless streaming from Tidal actually is.
Here’s What I Noticed About Tidal
- The stereo imaging was better on Tidal
- The frequency response was better on Tidal
- The audio seemed cleaner on Tidal (Perhaps related to aliasing)
- The dynamic range seemed better on Tidal
So… once my trial period is over, I’m switching my paid subscription to Tidal. I’ve added direct links to my albums on my music pages and I’m so impressed by my subjective tests that I even separated out the links between Lossy and Lossless providers.