Sonos catches another high-res audio wave with Tidal

Those of us with multi-room audio have probably heard music from all manner of sources, and most of it is likely compressed. Services like Spotify, Google Play, Rdio, and Pandora all deliver music that has been cut down to size, but what if you could get audio that hadn’t been compressed?

If you’re a Sonos user, you now have two options for that. Technically three, actually, and don’t worry, we’ll cover that one at the end.

Recently, Sonos sent word that it had joined forces with Deezer, and would be providing Australians with its first way of receiving streaming higher resolution audio, provided they subscribed to Deezer Elite, a new service that streamed lossless audio to customers.

The subscription model to get that lossless audio asked for a payment of $24 per month, providing a Spotify-like service, but with 1411kbps of audio greatness (CD quality, lossless) compared to the 320kbps of audio goodness (CD quality, lossy) its regular Deezer service offered, just like the other streaming services out there, including Spotify, Google Play, Rdio, Guvera, etc.

But it isn’t alone.


This week, Sonos has chimed in to tell the world that the Tidal service is also launching, a streaming service that was originally working with the European Wimp streaming service but has since been bought by music artist Jay-Z, and is being launched with the good graces of other known recording artists from around the world.

Tidal hasn’t sent out a presser, but we’ve done the research, and from what we can tell, it’s a very similar service to Deezer Elite, offering that same higher-than-Spotify subscription model for something that you can’t call “high resolution” audio, even if it is technically higher resolution than the other streaming services.

Pricing on this one sits at $20 USD per month, which we suspect comes out to around the same pricing as Deezer locally ($24) for what amounts to a streaming catalogue delivering audio in 16-bit lossless.


With Sonos chiming in, you can be sure that the Tidal service works on its assortment of multi-room audio speakers, but Tidal also works with other media playback devices, including your smartphone, tablets, and computers, too.

As for whether you’ll hear the difference, that’s a question we’re not sure we can answer, but if you like the idea of higher resolution sound, apparently, you’re not alone.

“Artists are more in tune than ever with how people are listening to their music,” said John MacFarlane, CEO of Sonos. “That changes the game,” he said, adding that “Tidal represents the future of music.”

We’re not entirely sure we agree with that, but we’ll let the listener decide.

Tidal’s service is also available via apps for your phone, but if you’re sticking with the lossless audio, don’t expect it to be too kind to your mobile’s download allowance.

Oh, and that third option for high resolution listening? That comes from buying your own high resolution tracks, so you don’t have to stream them or pay a monthly cost.

If you’re looking for the same resolution offered by services like Tidal and Deezer Elite, you may already have an entire CD collection worth ripping into lossless FLAC, and there are plenty of pieces of software to help you do that, and even some high resolution multi-room systems with dedicated CD rippers built into them, but if you want to go higher and try out 24-bit sound — something Sonos doesn’t officially support as of yet — you’ll either have to find a way to convert audio from vinyl (people do that) or buy it online like the rest of us.