Tidal switches to FLAC for hi-res audio, so what about the MQA catalogue?

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With hi-res audio outfit MQA going out of business where does that leave all the lossless music on Tidal?

With MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) being responsible for the lossless audio that you currently stream on Tidal going under, you’d be forgiven for wondering what was going on. Now we know, although it might not be quite as clear as we would have hoped.

Long seen as one of the best music streaming services for people who want the very best in audio quality, Tidal uses MQA as the format for its hi-res audio. But following the news that MQA is no more CEO Jesse Dorogusker found himself facing questions about the state of play when taking part in a Reddit AMA. His answers provided clarity but also a little bit of confusion.

Hi-res FLAC is in, but so is MQA music as well

It was always going to be the case that questions would be asked – it was an AMA after all – so it seems Dorogusker was prepared. He said that Tidal would be “introducing hi-res FLAC for our HiFi Plus subscribers soon,” adding that the format is “lossless and an open standard.” He did warn that the files will be big, but he also noted that Tidal will “give you controls to dial this up and down based on what’s going on.”

That’s all good news, but details were lacking in terms of what happens to the MQA catalogue already present. What Hi-Fi reached out to Tidal to find out.

“Our existing MQA catalogue will continue to be available on the platform,” the response said. That would appear to suggest that MQA and FLAC files will coexist, at least in the short term. Dorogusker suggested that FLAC support was coming soon, although no firm timescales have been given for what that actually means. We’ll have to wait for more official word on timings or, just as likely, for FLAC support to go live before we can find out for sure.

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