Choosing the best streaming music service for your needs can be a bit tricky.; While streaming is still relatively new to the grand scheme of listening to music, there are plenty of platforms to choose from these days, two of which are Spotify and Tidal.

Spotify is currently the most popular streaming service in the world, with 113 million subscribers in October of last year, and continues to grow; and this despite growing competition from Apple Music.

However, Spotify isn't perfect as a service, and its lossy audio streams have left audiophiles looking for a bit more loyalty - that's where Tidal comes in.

With a focus on providing high-resolution sound at a quality level comparable to that of a CD, the platform was acquired in 2015 by hip hop star Jay-Z, thus becoming the first major music service owned by the artists themselves. As such, Tidal claims to pay higher royalties than its competitors to artists and songwriters.

It's not just a matter of ethics and audio quality; Spotify and Tidal offer different user experiences, pricing structures, and music catalogs. Making the best decision for your needs can be confusing, to say the least.

That's why we've put together this handy guide for both services so you can compare them in one place and hopefully find out if Spotify or Tidal is the best streaming service for you.

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Price and Availability

Spotify and Tidal offer several different subscription levels, but only Spotify offers a free plan (although it is ad-supported and you can't listen to the tracks in the order you want)

Spotify's cheapest plan is Spotify Premium, which costs $9.99 / €9.99 / AU$11.99 per month, and gives you unlimited access to its 30 million-track library on your laptop, phone, and tablet. Spotify Premium also allows you to download tracks to three devices at once for offline playback.

Discounts are available to students, and you can even get Premium and access the Mindspace app space under a discounted plan. Students benefit from access to Headspace as part of their Premium package.

If there are a few people in your household who want to use Spotify, you can save money by signing up for a Spotify Premium for Family account, which allows up to six people to connect to Spotify at the same time (if you try to do this with a regular account, you'll be excluded). from the service as soon as another user plays a song). This level costs $14.99 / €14.99 / AU$17.99 and requires all members to live under the same roof.

Tidal offers two subscription plans, the cheapest of which is Tidal Premium, which costs $9.99 / €9.99 / AU$11.99, and offers streaming at a speed of 320 kbps, the same audio quality as Spotify

If it's Hi-Res Audio you're looking for, you'll need to pay $19.99 / €19.99 / AU$23.99 per month for Tidal HiFi. So Spotify offers cheaper subscription plans, but doesn't provide a higher level of loyalty for audiophiles like Tidal does.

Spotify (Image credit:

Spotify (Image credit:

User interface

One of the reasons Spotify is so popular is due to its user-friendly interface. When you open the app, you'll find a series of personalized playlists, your "daily mixes", that Spotify has organized based on your listening habits, along with their top artists, top playlists, and new releases.

This is something to keep in mind on Spotify; There are many playlists. It may sound intimidating, but it's a strategy that works because its algorithms ultimately tailor the app to each user.

Everything is organized in colored tiles that appear in the dark background of Spotify. The tiling system is small enough to make it easy to select new albums and playlists, while also incorporating a content timeline that is ultimately organized based on what you've listened to and what you might want to discuss next. .

In the desktop app and web player, there is a sidebar on the left of the screen that allows you to browse new music releases, radio stations, as well as your library, playlists, recently played songs, and more. In the mobile app, these sections are a bit more hidden to save space, and it should be noted that the layout of the mobile and desktop platforms is a bit different.

The search is very intuitive and even if you misspell an artist name, Spotify will usually find what you are looking for.

Tidal (above) uses a tile-based interface similar to Spotify (Image credit: TechRadar)

Tidal (above) uses a tile-based interface similar to Spotify (Image credit: TechRadar)

Tidal uses a similar tile-based interface on a dark background, and you'll find organized playlists, recommended albums, and charts on your home screen. Clicking on the sidebar takes you to the "My Music" area, where you'll find all your recorded tracks, and navigation is generally very easy.

You can't search by genre, unlike Spotify, which is a shame for a platform intended for true music lovers. The search is usually not very smart, misspell an album or artist name, even for a single character or punctuation mark, and you'll get no results. A little bit of optimization here wouldn't do any harm, but as long as you're careful, you won't have a problem with it.

That said, Tidal does offer an interesting feature that Spotify doesn't; Audio search is basically like having Shazam built right into the app. Press the button and it will listen to any songs it can retrieve from your surroundings, identify them and allow you to save them to your own Tidal library.

Spotify interface (Image credit: Spotify)

Spotify interface (Image credit: Spotify)


You can get Spotify on Android, iOS and Windows Phone devices. If you are using a laptop or desktop, Spotify is also compatible with OS X and Windows, and there is also a flash web player.

Support for Tidal is essentially the same, so you can get it on devices running iOS 11 and above, Android 5 and above, macOS, and Windows. The two streaming platforms are also compatible with various more left-handed devices, including AV receivers, televisions, and even cars.

Catalog of music and discoveries

Spotify currently has over 50 million songs, while Tidal claims to have 60 million songs in its catalog.

Spotify's heavy track influx helped it take off in its infancy, and with 40,000 reported tracks added on average each day, it shows no signs of slowing down.

The streaming giant places an emphasis on promoting revolutionary new songs and artists, through organized playlists like New Music Friday that act as a launching pad for rookie artists to step into the big time.

Organized playlists are almost always the first thing you see when you load a version of the app, the service apparently creating playlists for almost all music sub-genres. These are constantly updated too, so your favorites never scratch after long use.

As we mentioned earlier, you will also find personalized playlists based on your listening habits, which is a great way to discover new music, as well as revisit some of your favorite tracks. .

However, Spotify has some glaring omissions in its music catalog, mostly due to artists who don't want their music to be available for streaming anywhere or artists who don't particularly like Spotify royalty payments.

You won't find artists like Joanna Newsom and Garth Brooks on Spotify, and until recently you couldn't even listen to The Beatles, even if you find their full discography on the streaming platform these days. ci (thank god).

Tidal Interface (Image credit: Tidal)

Tidal Interface (Image credit: Tidal)

Some of Spotify's absent artists have close ties to Jay-Z and thus favor his platform, Tidal. For example, Beyoncé's 2019 album Lemonade debuted exclusively on Tidal.

This means that the Tidal catalog may seem biased towards hip-hop and rap artists, although this may be due to the editorial preservation of the platform for their songs.

That said, Tidal does a good job of maintaining music playlists based on your listening habits, and you will find that a few weeks of use will give their algorithms enough information to serve you up with some really exciting recommendations.

In addition to these personalized recommendations, Tidal also displays the most popular playlists and releases on its service, as well as mood-based playlists and the Tidal Rising section, which flies the flag for new talent.

Both platforms also offer podcasts, though it appears that Spotify is taking this area a bit more seriously, having spent more than $200 million to acquire two podcast production companies in 2019.

Audio quality

If you subscribe to Spotify Premium, you can choose from three levels of sound quality: normal, high, and extreme. When using mobile and desktop apps, Spotify uses Ogg Vorbis. It was a semi-popular format a decade ago, and Spotify continues to use it because it's open source. Spotify does not have to pay licensing fees for this.

In the standard configuration, music plays at 96 kbps, which is much better than MP3 at 129 kbps. Change to the high quality setting and the rate of increase of up to 160 kbps. The extreme configuration uses 320 kbps, which is perceptually close to lossless. Spotify doesn't offer lossless or high-resolution streaming, which is why audiophiles might consider another service.

If you're determined to get the best possible audio quality, then Tidal is your best bet. For this, you'll need a Tidal HiFi subscription, which allows you to stream lossless 16-bit FLAC and ALAC audio files, although there are also thousands of TIDAL Masters files that stream in 24-bit.

Spotify vs Tidal

Even if you opt for Tidal Premium, its catalog is still available for streaming at 320kbps, the same quality as Spotify's highest settings, and you may even find that Tidal tracks seem a bit richer at this setting.

So why bother with lossless streaming? Well, high-resolution audio codecs are capable of reproducing the full range of sounds from recordings that have been mastered from better quality music sources than CDs, a sound that closely reproduces quality with which musicians and Engineers worked in the studio. At the time of registration.

Increasing the bit depth of HRA improves dynamic range, essentially giving you a greater variety of things to actually hear from the recording, making the sound of the tracks more detailed and clear.

It's like the difference between SD and HD TV; the former works fine, but you will notice a real difference in quality if you upgrade to a higher audio resolution.

To go

Choosing between Spotify and Tidal comes down largely to whether you care about Hi-Res audio; if you do, you won't find it on Spotify, and you should definitely go for Tidal.

Tidal is also worth considering if you're a dedicated fan of specific artists like Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Kanye West, and others - these artists are likely to release music exclusively to Tidal, at least to begin with, with versions stretching to Spotify for months. then.

Even with these few omissions, Spotify and Tidal are roughly on the same level in terms of music catalog and discovery and the cheapest subscription tiers of the two platforms they cost the same price (although only Spotify offers a free service).

Spotify wins in terms of interface; Although the two platforms are fairly similar in this regard, Spotify's search function is much better than Tidal's, and it's a bit easier to navigate as a platform.

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