Ask 100 people about their hobbies, and 90% will tell you they love listening to music. According to Statista, the second quarter of 2022 saw global music streaming subscribers hit 616.2 million from 523.9 million in 2021. We are all familiar with the likes of Spotify, YouTube, and Apple Music and how they transformed how we listen to music from physical mediums to digital formats.
These platforms also hold the largest market share in the music streaming space. While they are great, no doubt, most don’t pay much attention to the quality output of streamed music. And to fill this gap, an emerging niche is slowly gaining popularity among audiophiles. You know, the “love listening” type.
Audiophiles are an exacting bunch with exacting standards when it comes to sound quality. To them, music isn’t just sound. To provide for this market and many other music fanatics, Qobuz and Tidal hit the market. Both are high-resolution music streaming platforms with an expansive soundstage, better clarity, and richer detail that put to shame traditional, standard MP3 music files.
However, Qobuz and Tidal aren’t remarkably similar. While they focus on audio quality, they also have features that set them apart. Read on to discover the differences between Qobuz vs Tidal.
Qobuz vs Tidal: Side-by-Side Comparison
|Launch Date||2007 (Entered the US in 2019)||2014|
|Music Audio and Video Library||70 million Hi-Fi Quality |
424,000 Albums (Hi-Res Quality) 250,000 Music Videos
|90 million Plus tracks |
|Output Format and Audio Quality||Mp3: 320 KbpsCD |
Quality: FLAC, 16-bit/ 44.1kHz
Hi-Res Audio: 24-bit/ 192kHz
|Standard: AAC, 160 Kbps |
HiFi: FLAC, 16-bit/ 44.1kHz (1,411 Kbps)
Master: MQA High-Res Quality (2,304-9,216Kbps)
|Compatibility||Excellent compatibility||Popular with hi-fi hardware systems|
|Availability||Primarily in European countries.||Available in more than 52 countries|
|Price||Studio: $10.83/monthSublime: $15.00/month||Free (up to 160 Kbps)|
HiFi (Upto 1,411 Kbps): $9.99/month
HiFi Plus (upto 9616 Kbps): $19.99/month
The most defining similarity is that both platforms rely on Roon. The Roon system finds photos, reviews, concert information, and lyrics of different music. Then, it matches them with a library of related digital, traditional, downloaded, and physical music files compiled over the years to create a searchable and comprehensive “sort of” magazine.
While Roon strives to bring the aesthetics of traditional or analog music to the digital world, you must understand that the two competing platforms, Qobuz and Tidal, only use it as a source. The stream quality varies because of the differences in features. The table above highlights some of these differences.
Qobuz vs Tidal: What’s the Difference?
If you visit sound or audio forums across the web, discussions comparing Qobuz vs Tidal often materialize into heated disagreements. Non-audiophiles would argue that both platforms have excellent audio output. But if you are a pro and pay close attention to the soundstage, clarity, and detail, then the debate can properly start.
Qobuz is a French streaming company that launched in 2007. Qobuz was only available in a few markets like Germany, Italy, and Spain. However, the company has recently been stretching its roots, entering the US market in 2019.
Tidal is from Norway. The company started offering streaming services in 2014 and is available in more than 52 countries. At some point, famous music artist Jay-Z owned the company, but later sold 80% of his shares for $302 million. As an international icon best known for his passion for music, we believe Jay-Z has had a massive impact on the functionality of Tidal.
The following sections detail the differences in sound quality, music library, pricing, compatibility, and design interface, among other features.
Signing Up and Setting Up
The first thing you need to do before you can stream any music is to sign up and set up the streaming platform. This process involves filling in the signup form with your details, like username and email, then setting up your password.
Signing up on Qobuz is pretty straightforward. You can start with the free trial and, if it excites you, you can choose from the available plans to upgrade. Both plans, Studio and Sublime, offer the same streaming quality.
Once you create your account, Qudoz presents several music niches and lets you select those that interest you. But because you need to input your card details before accessing the free trial, most people deem it a drawback.
Moreover, the pricing is relatively complicated because, instead of having everything on one page, there are more variations of the Studio and Sublime plans. For instance, under Sublime, you have three options: Sublime Solo, which supports one account, Duo for two accounts, and Family for up to six accounts.
Setting up your Tidal account is much more simple. The first step is to access the pricing page and pick a suitable pricing plan. Each plan offers a free trial which we recommend you start with before paying for use. Once done, Tidal will redirect you to a signup page where you can input your details. You also have the option to sign up with Facebook, Apple, or Twitter.
Tidal doesn’t ask you for your payment details. Once the trial period is over, you can opt to pay if the audio quality is up to your standards. The pricing is also pretty straightforward.
And when you have to select the type of music you listen to, Tidal doesn’t overwhelm you with whole genres. The reasoning behind doing so is that while some people will show interest in a particular genre, most tend to love a more personalized approach. As such, Tidal lets you select popular artists from many different genres.
For instance, under Country Music, you can select Elvis Presley or Rosanne Cash. You can do the same for other musicians and their particular genres. What makes Tidal even more interesting is that once you’ve selected your favorite artists, you receive suggestions of other artists related to your taste on the homepage.
Audiophiles swear by their ears, and their search for the perfect sound quality is a never-ending quest. But as a non-audiophile, you must first understand bitrate when trying to understand sound quality. Bitrate, measured in “Kbps,” is basically the number of bits representing a single second of sound.
Another crucial element is the audio format which can either be lossless or lossy. You can determine the type of format you are dealing with by looking at the file extension. For instance, Lossless formats feature WAV, AIFF, and FLAC. Luckily, both Qoduz and Tidal offer FLAC lossless format, which is more “true to the original” and presents uncompressed sounds.
Let’s look at the sound quality of these two platforms in more detail. To start, both come with three audio quality options. Qobuz starts with MP3 offered at 320 Kbps, CD Quality at 16-bit/44.1 kHz, and Hi-Res Audio at 24-bit/up to 192 kHz. This range is quite versatile and exceptional.
On the other hand, Tidal boasts standard AAC quality at 160Kbps, FLAC Lossless quality at 1,411Kbps, and Master MQA Hi-Res quality at 2,304 to 9,216 Kbps. These options aren’t bad, either.
However, if you take a much deeper look, you’ll realize that the highest frequency for High-Res streaming offered by Tidal is still way less than that offered by Qobuz. Still, Tidal features MQA, also known as the Master Quality Authenticated feature. This high-resolution audio format lets Tidal stream files at higher bitrates than FLAC (up to 24 bits/96 kHz).
It’s MQA that often leads to heated arguments in audio forums. Some argue that because Qobuz doesn’t feature MQA, it sounds more natural, whereas Tidal sounds off because of the same feature. However, others believe that with or without MQA, the sound quality between Qoduz and Tidal is the same.
But before you conclude which platform has the best sound quality, consider a few things. Most importantly, you need high-quality audio output equipment to truly enjoy High-Ref and Hi-Fi audio files, especially if you aren’t an audiophile.
If you don’t have such equipment, it will be hard to even tell the difference between MP3 audio files and Hi-Fi, let alone Hi-Ref. Also, note that downloading higher-quality sound files consumes more space than standard MP3 320Kbps files.
A conclusive decision about which platform is best is a highly contested one. We can argue that it depends on the type of music, but from the above specifications, Tidal seems to take the lead. However, it’s a topic that’s still in contention.
Besides audio quality, you must consider the music library size. Qobuz claims it has more than 100 million tracks, all of the best quality. Among the 100 million Qobuz tracks, more than 424,000 of these files feature Hi-Res audio quality. The platform doesn’t offer any other audio type, only music.
On the other hand, Tidal boasts more than 90 million tracks and more than 450,000 videos. The platform has a whole tab solely dedicated to music videos. Like audio tracks, users can also download these videos to watch later.
Tidal is more accommodative, and we believe it wins in this section because it caters to a broader audience. Unlike Qobuz, you can stream podcasts, audiobooks, and other audio files.
It doesn’t have an extensive library of Hi-Res streaming like Qobuz, offering only 25,000 titles in its catalog. The few Hi-Ref files may be a downside, but that’s only likely to affect audiophiles, not at a large scale.
If you enjoy versatility and want to keep up with trending videos, podcasts, and audiobooks, then Tidal is for you. If you only care about high-quality music and nothing more, Qobuz is your streaming platform.
One of the major goals of any streaming platform is to ensure that listeners can easily discover new and exciting music. If the platform you have recommends relatable music, then you are more than likely to spend more time listening.
As we have already established, Qobuz is the platform with the most music tracks, meaning you are more likely to find what you are looking for than when using Tidal. The platform also features an exciting design that will interest any user.
To find new music, navigate to the “Discover” section on the Homepage. You’ll see curated playlists, albums, and various other genres, depending on the category you selected when setting up your account.
You can also use the search function within the homepage to search for more specific tracks. There’s also a “News” section with trending articles around the entertainment industry. While the discover section of Qobuz is intuitive, the platform doesn’t offer the much-needed personalization when recommending playlists.
Tidal takes a much more personalized approach. Under the “My Discovery” tab, you’ll find playlists based on what you love to listen to. Ideally, when you play a song, Tidal will create a playlist with related music tracks. For instance, if you play sad music, you’ll notice that the playlist will feature more sad songs.
Tidal also comes with categories like “Recently played,” “Mixes for you,” “Because you added,” and “Suggested new albums,” among others. These algorithmically personalized tracks ensure Tidal subscribers can access the music content they actually want to listen to. For these reasons, Tidal wins when it comes to finding music.
To access the full features and functionality of both platforms, you have to pay a certain amount. However, both platforms have a free trial that lets you use and test the functionality of the apps before committing to a plan.
Qobuz has two main pricing plans:
- Solo (one account): $10.83/month (Paid annually) or $12.99/month
- Duo (two accounts): $14.99/month (Paid annually) or $17.99/month
- Family (six accounts): $17.99/month (Paid annually) or $21.90/month
- Solo (one account): $15.00/month (Paid annually)
- Duo (two accounts): $22.49/month (Paid annually)
- Family (six accounts): $29.17/month (Paid annually)
The most exciting feature of Qobuz is that it offers the same stream sound quality for all its payable plans. The sublime plan is ideal if you buy and download songs and albums. That’s because it gives you discounts of up to 60% when you buy Hi-Ref music files.
However, Tidal is a good plan if you only need to stream quality music. Its free plan gives users access to its least available sound quality (up to 160 kbps) and the entire Tidal music catalog with limited interruptions. The other two plans include the following:
- HiFi (Upto 1,411 Kbps):$9.99/month,
- HiFi Plus (up to 9616 Kbps): $19.99/month.
Because Tidal prices its plans based on sound quality, subscribers often rely on their budget to make a decision. Both plans are ad-free, and the Hi-Fi Plus, the most expensive, promises to give up to 10% of your subscription to your most listened artist.
Qoduz offers the best value for money for all its plans. Compared to Tidal, you only $10.83/month and access the highest quality music available. An audiophile will find the Tidal Hi-Fi Plan quite expensive.
Apart from the Tidal affiliate program, where artists receive a commission from paying subscribers who register through their links, Qobuz has no other known remuneration program. The platform has no special terms that guarantee artists some dough from their streams.
Tidal is making efforts in this regard. Through its Direct-to-Artist Payout program, artists receive 10% of the total Hi-Fi Plus subscription amount if they become the most streamed artist of a particular paying subscriber. By doing so, artists can directly benefit from their fans.
Qobuz vs Tidal: 7 Must-Know Facts
- Tidal has a better app layout and better discovery features than Qobuz.
- Both platforms have a 30-day free trial.
- Qobuz offers better value for money because of the high-quality stream sound across all its plans.
- Tidal has the MQA feature, which streams higher bitrates than FLAC, hence relatively better sound quality.
- Qobuz has over 100 million audio tracks, with more than 424,000 Hi-Res files, whereas Tidal has 90 million tracks and only 25,000 Hi-Res audio files.
- You can stream over 450,000 music video files and listen to podcasts and audiobooks using Tidal. Qobus is a music-only streaming platform.
- Tidal offers remuneration to its artists, whereas Qobuz doesn’t.
Qobuz vs Tidal: Which One Is Better? Which One Should You Use?
If you are an audiophile, we think you’d enjoy the sound quality of Tidal more. The MQA feature, although often disregarded, is what makes Tidal the superior platform. Coupled with its exciting app layout and discovery features, it’s an app you’d definitely want to pay a premium price. Moreover, you can stream music videos and listen to audiobooks and podcasts.
Qoduz is perfect for those who purchase and download new albums and songs and love to listen to the highest quality possible. Moreover, the platform has the largest library catalog, with over 100 million songs. Unfortunately, its personalization algorithm and music discovery feature is quite lacking.
Qobuz and Tidal are excellent streaming platforms, especially for audiophiles. Audio quality from both platforms is top-notch, and choosing which platform is best ultimately boils down to your needs.
We hope this article has given you a better understanding of how you’ll approach your decision. You can opt for Qobuz because of its extensive music library or choose Tidal for its versatility. Ultimately, the choice is yours.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Atstock Productions/Shutterstock.com.