Spotify vs Tidal: which music streaming service is best for you?

Selecting the most effective music streaming service on your wants is usually a little tough; whereas streaming remains to be comparatively new within the grand scheme of music-listening, there are such a lot of platforms to select from as of late, two of the most important being Spotify and Tidal. 

Spotify is presently the world’s hottest streaming service, hitting 113 million subscribers in October final yr, and persevering with to develop; and that’s despite mounting competitors from the likes of Apple Music. 

Nevertheless Spotify isn’t good as a service, and its lossy audio streams have left audiophiles craving a bit of extra constancy – which is the place Tidal is available in. 

With a give attention to offering Hello-Res Audio at a CD-like degree of high quality, the platform was acquired in 2015 by hip-hop star Jay-Z, changing into the primary main music service to be owned by the artists themselves. As such, Tidal claims to pay increased royalties than its opponents to artists and songwriters.

It’s not nearly ethics and audio high quality although; each Spotify and Tidal provide totally different person experiences, pricing constructions, and music catalogues. Making the only option on your wants might be complicated, to say the least.

That’s why we’ve put collectively this useful information to each companies so you’ll be able to examine them in a single straightforward place, and hopefully discover out whether or not Spotify or Tidal is the most effective streaming service for you. 

Worth and availability 

Each Spotify and Tidal provide quite a lot of totally different subscription tiers – however solely Spotify gives a free plan (although it’s ad-supported and you’ll’t take heed to tracks within the order you need). 

The most affordable paid Spotify plan is Spotify Premium, which prices $9.99 / £9.99 / AU$11.99 per 30 days, and provides you limitless entry to its 30 million-plus monitor library in your laptop computer, telephone, and pill. Spotify Premium additionally allows you to obtain tracks to 3 gadgets at a time for offline playback. 

Reductions can be found for college kids, and you’ll even get Premium and entry to mindfulness app Headspace underneath one discounted plan. College students get Headspace entry as a part of their Premium package deal.

If there are a couple of individuals in your family that need to use Spotify, it can save you cash by signing as much as a Spotify Premium for Household account, which permits as much as six individuals to hook up with Spotify at one time (when you attempt to do that with an everyday account, you’ll get got rid of the service as quickly as one other person performs a music). This tier prices $14.99 / £14.99 / AU$17.99, and requires all members to stay underneath the identical roof. 

Tidal gives two subscription plans, the most affordable being Tidal Premium, which prices $9.99 / £9.99 / AU$11.99, and gives streams at a bitrate of 320kbps – the identical audio high quality as Spotify.

If it’s Hello-Res Audio you’re after, you’ll have to shell out for $19.99 / £19.99 / AU$23.99 per 30 days for Tidal HiFi. So, Spotify gives cheaper subscription plans, nevertheless it doesn’t present a better constancy tier for audiophiles like Tidal does. 


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Consumer interface

One of many causes that Spotify is so well-liked is all the way down to its easy-to-use interface. If you open up the app, you’ll discover quite a lot of personalised playlists – your ‘Each day Mixes’ – which have been curated by Spotify primarily based in your listening habits, alongside your high artists, high playlists, and new releases. 

That’s a factor to notice about Spotify; there are lots of playlists. Which may sound daunting, nevertheless it’s a technique that works as its algorithms in the end tailor the app to every person.

Every part is specified by colourful tiles that pop in opposition to Spotify’s darkish background. The tile system is simply sufficiently small to make choosing new albums and playlists straightforward whereas packing in lots right into a timeline of content material that’s in the end curated to what you’ve been listening to and what you would possibly need to leap into subsequent. 

On the desktop app and internet participant, there’s a sidebar on the left of the display that allows you to navigate new music releases, radio stations, in addition to your library, playlists, not too long ago performed songs and extra. Within the cellular app these sections are a bit of extra hidden away to avoid wasting area, and it’s value noting that the format of the desktop and cellular platforms are a bit of totally different.

Looking could be very intuitive and even when you misspell an artist’s title, Spotify will typically discover what you’re in search of. 

Tidal (above) uses a similar Tile-based interface to Spotify.

(Picture credit score: TechRadar)

Tidal makes use of an identical tile-based interface on a darkish background, and also you’ll discover curated playlists, advisable albums, and charts on your own home display. Clicking the sidebar will take you to your ‘My Music’ space, the place you’ll discover all of your saved tracks, and searching is usually very straightforward. 

You may’t search by style, in contrast to Spotify, which is a disgrace for a platform aimed toward true music lovers. Search typically is not terribly good – misspell an album or artist title even by one character or one piece of punctuation, and you will be left with zero outcomes. A little bit of optimization right here would not harm, however so long as you are cautious you will not have any issues with it.

Saying that, Tidal does boast one cool characteristic that Spotify doesn’t; audio-search is actually like having Shazam constructed immediately into the app. Press the button and it’ll hear out for any music it might probably choose up in your surroundings, establish it, and help you reserve it to your individual Tidal library.


(Picture credit score: Spotify)


You may get Spotify on Android, iOS and Home windows Telephone gadgets. In case you use a laptop computer or desktop, Spotify additionally helps OS X and Home windows, and there’s a flash-based internet participant, too. 

Help for Tidal is basically the identical, so you may get it on gadgets that run iOS 11 and better, Android 5 and better, macOS, and Home windows. Each streaming platforms are additionally supported by quite a lot of extra left-field devices, together with AV receivers, TVs, and even automobiles. 

Music catalogue and discovery 

Spotify presently boasts over 50 million songs, whereas Tidal claims to have 60 million tracks in its catalogue. 

Spotify’s sturdy inflow of tracks helped it take off in its early days, and with a reported 40,000 tracks added on common each single day – and it’s displaying no indicators of slowing down. 

The streaming large has a heavy give attention to selling new tracks and breakthrough artists, via curated playlists like New Music Friday performing as a launch pad for fledgling artists to interrupt via into the large time. 

Curated playlists are virtually all the time the very first thing you see while you load any model of the app, with the service seemingly designing playlists for nearly each musical sub-genre. These are continuously being up to date too, so your favourite ones by no means grate following prolonged use.

As we talked about earlier than, you’ll additionally discover personalised playlists primarily based in your listening habits, which is a incredible option to uncover new music, in addition to revisiting a few of your favourite tracks. 

Spotify does have some obvious omissions in its music catalog, nevertheless, largely all the way down to artists who don’t need to make their music obtainable to stream anyplace or artists who’ve a selected dislike of Spotify’s royalty funds.

You gained’t discover artists like Joanna Newsom and Garth Brooks on Spotify, and till pretty not too long ago you could not even take heed to The Beatles – although you’ll discover their complete discography on the streaming platform as of late (thank goodness).

(Picture credit score: Tidal)

A few of the artists who’re absent from Spotify  have shut ties to Jay-Z and due to this fact favor his platform, Tidal. Beyoncé’s 2019 album Lemonade debuted on Tidal solely, for instance.

Which means Tidal’s catalogue can really feel considerably skewed in the direction of hip-hop and rap artists, although it’s doable that that is all the way down to the platform’s editorial curation of its tracks. 

That being mentioned, Tidal does a great job of curating music playlists primarily based in your listening habits, and also you’ll discover that just some weeks of use will give its algorithms sufficient data to serve you really thrilling suggestions.

Apart from these personalised suggestions, Tidal additionally signposts the preferred playlists and releases on its service, in addition to mood-based playlists, and the Tidal Rising part, which flies the flag for brand spanking new expertise. 

Each platforms additionally provide podcasts, although it looks like Spotify is taking this space a bit of extra severely, having spent over $200 million to amass two podcast manufacturing corporations in 2019.


(Picture credit score: Spotify)

Audio high quality

In case you subscribe to Spotify Premium, you’ll be able to select between three sound high quality ranges: regular, excessive and excessive. When utilizing the cellular and desktop apps, Spotify makes use of Ogg Vorbis. This was a semi-popular format a decade in the past, and Spotify continues to make use of it as a result of it is open supply. Spotify does not need to pay a license payment for it.

At Commonplace setting, music streams at 96kbps, which sounds so much higher than MP3 at 129kbps. Change as much as the prime quality setting and the bitrate bumps as much as 160kbps. The acute setting makes use of 320kbps, which is perceptually near lossless. Spotify does not provide any lossless or Hello-Res streaming, which is one motive why audiophiles would possibly need to think about one other service. 

In case you’re dead-set on the absolute best audio high quality, then Tidal is your finest wager. For that, you’ll want a Tidal HiFi subscription, which lets you stream lossless 16-bit FLAC and ALAC audio – although there are additionally hundreds of TIDAL Masters information that stream at 24-bit. 


(Picture credit score: TechRadar)

Even when you go for Tidal Premium, its catalogue remains to be obtainable to stream in 320kbps, the identical high quality as Spotify’s highest setting – and you could even discover that Tidal’s tracks sound a bit of richer at this setting. 

So, why trouble with lossless streaming? Effectively, Hello-Res Audio codecs are able to reproducing the total vary of sound from recordings which have been mastered from better-than-CD high quality music sources, a sound that intently replicates the standard that the musicians and engineers had been working with within the studio on the time of recording.

The elevated bit depth of HRA improves the dynamic vary, mainly providing you with a better breadth of issues to really hear from the recording, making tracks sound extra detailed and clear. 

It’s a bit of just like the distinction between SD and HD tv; the previous works simply advantageous, however you’ll discover an actual distinction in high quality when you make the improve to increased decision audio.


Selecting between Spotify and Tidal largely comes down as to whether you care about Hello-Res Audio; when you do, you gained’t discover it in Spotify, and it is best to completely go for Tidal. 

It’s additionally value contemplating Tidal when you’re a faithful fan of particular artists like Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Kanye West, and others – these artists are prone to launch music solely on Tidal, no less than to start with, with releases trickling all the way down to Spotify months later. 

Even with these few omissions, Spotify and Tidal are just about on the identical degree when it comes to music catalogue and discovery, and each platforms’ least expensive subscription tiers value the identical (although solely Spotify gives a free service).

Spotify does win out when it comes to its interface; whereas the 2 platforms are fairly comparable on this regard, Spotify’s search operate is a lot better than Tidal’s, and it’s just a bit bit simpler to navigate as a platform.