Tidal–A Wave of Misery

In recent years, statistics and reports have shown that music downloads are on the decline (down more than 20%) as streaming services explode to provide music for many listeners (up more than 40%). While many people know of Spotify and Pandora–the two household names for streaming music–fewer know of the other array of services which are available to various niches. One such provider is Tidal. This platform is a “hi-fidelity streaming service” that offers lossless format streaming to its users for $19.99 per month. Given my love for music and recent discovery of quality audio, I thought I would give it a go. Here are my impressions.

Account Issues

Let me start by saying that I work in IT for a living, and that I consider myself extremely competent at opened online accounts. But boy howdy, was creating an account with Tidal difficult. Let me preface this part by clarifying that some of my issues getting set up were because was trying to get the Student plan (which is $9.99 instead of $19.99); this process uses SheerID to verify your student status. I’ve not had any issues with SheerID before, but however they tried to embed the service in their signup process does not work. I got an error code every time on multiple attempts, so I emailed their support. Props to their support for a rapid response and for their customer service. They offered to do the verification manually and apply it so I could get started. Once that was verified, the Tidal app said I needed to log in. I had signed up using my Facebook credentials (which I do not generally do), so I clicked the “Continue with Facebook” login button. The browser said I could close the window and return to the Tidal application, so I did as such. Hmmmm, no dice! I made several attempts at this, but no luck logging in, so I contacted support again. Apparently that function doesn’t work as she directed me to manually log in using my email address and click “reset password.” This sent me an email where I could click a link to set a password. Not a very secure service, especially for one that uses your credit/debit card… Regardless, I did get logged in–finally.

Browsing & Streaming

Again, let’s remember that I do know how to operate a computer and use basic applications such as this. Okay, back the my impressions. The design of the application looks familiar, due to using the same GUI (graphical user interface) layout as Spotify. A sidebar at the left houses your different modules of the application such as Home, Explore, Artists, Songs, Playlists, etc. The right 4/5 of the screen is the reading pane which displays whichever module you have selected. Search functionality is available. I went ahead and looked up a few artists–a couple of which I found–and listed to the tracks. Audio quality was definitely good, but nowhere near as good as I expected for lossless recordings played back on my KZ ZST Pros while using the Sabaj PHA2 amplifier (review coming soon)–both of which provided incredible audio while listening to other lossless sources. Still, it seemed a bit better than Spotify in terms of quality, but not by much. The real issue came when I clicked next to skip the rest of the current song and move on to the next song. The application did not like that. I got suck in a buffer. After 50-60 seconds, the new song’s album artwork showed up, but the name/artist never changed, and the old song continued playing. I ended up having to completely exit the application and re-open it each time I wanted to change songs outside of the automatic streaming. I struggled with the application for another hour and then called it quits.

Conclusion

After lots of trouble getting an account set up, trouble streaming, lackluster streaming quality, and multiple contacts with support, I can’t say this streaming service is worth $19.99. After much frustration over an hour and a half, I cancelled my subscription and contacted their support asking them to delete my account–as you cannot do it yourself. What a shame. I was quite excited to experience Tidal, but it ended up just a wave of misery.

What is your streaming platform of choice, and how have your experiences been? Let’s chat in the comments below.

Stream on,

~Griff

Author: griffethbarker

Griff is a manager of IT, consultant of IT and management, and continuous student of organizational development. His hobbies and interests include games of all types (video, board, dice, card, tabletop, etc.) as well as listening to music, photography, and writing. Find him on LinkedIn!

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