Tidal Masters WeekndSource: Screenshot

Best answer: Master Quality Audio (MQA) on Tidal requires about 26 megabytes to download a song that runs 3 minutes, 30 seconds, and streams at up to 7.5MB per minute.

Lossless streaming on Tidal

Tidal is a digital music service that has a few tricks up its sleeve. First is that it's owned by artists, so they theoretically see more of your money, with less going to a middleman. Second is that it touts better audio quality, including lossless "Master Quality Audio."

Master Quality Audio — or MQA — is the highest of Tidal's four tiers of audio.

  • Normal: Uses less data for slower connections, and at lower quality.
  • High: 320kbps and the "best compromise between data usage and sound quality." This is what's included in Tidal's $9.99-a-month "Premium" plan.
  • HiFi: Lossless CD quality at 1,411 kbps or 16-bit/44.1kHz. Included with Tidal's $19.99-a-month HiFi plan.
  • Master: "Authenticated files from the mastering process. Studio quality." Is included in the HiFi plan at no extra charge.

The general rule of thumb when it comes to audio is that the higher the quality, the more data it uses, whether you're streaming on the go, or storing a file for offline playback. And MQA use the most on Tidal. The service says that a 3-minute, 30-second song uses about 26 megabytes of download space, and about 7.5 megabytes of streaming data every minute.

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The question you have to ask yourself is whether rate additional data usage — as well as the price of the HiFi subscription, which is double that of Tidal's base "Premium" subscription — is worth it. The music most definitely sounds better.

Whether you'll notice and whether the difference is worth the money? That's up to you.

Master Quality Audio

Tidal HiFi subscription

The best you can get on Tidal

Master Quality Audio is the best things can sound on Tidal, and the tracks are certified by the artists themselves. MQA is included in a Tidal HiFi subscription.

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