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One of the big detractions against streaming services is that the audio quality offered is of a relatively low quality when compared to other musical formats. As reported by Tone Deaf, this is largely to do with the fact the company’s audio compression rates are quite high, a holdover from the early days of the MP3. At the turn of the century audio compression rates for digital files that needed to be shared over the internet were set to provide small file sizes, as bandwidth and disk storage sizes came at a premium cost.


However, Universal Music, Sony, and the Warner Music Group, all three of whom represent large portions of the catalogues featured on the main streaming services, have vowed to rectify this problem. “Universal Music has been focused on hi-res audio across all of our label groups,” said UMG’s Chief Technology Officer Ty Roberts. “Today we’re pleased to acknowledge the support of a number of leading digital providers for this new streaming concept.”


Spotify and Apple Music are yet to join in the discussion, which may mean that they are working on their own technologies in order to stay ahead of the competition. Pandora and Napster have both thrown their support behind this research. 


TIDAL has been the first to promise specific changes, with the recent announcement that they will be offering ‘master quality’ audio to their premium subscribers. Until now, the company had three options for streaming quality, with the highest, their HiFi setting, being the CD quality of 16-bit/44.1kHz.


According to their website, TIDAL Masters offers up to 96 kHz/24 bit audio “as flawless as it sounded in the mastering suite. And exactly as the artist intended it to sound.” Of course, the quality is dependent on the source material provided by the record labels, but the company claim to currently have 30,000 songs available at ‘master quality’.


Watch an advertisement for the new TIDAL Masters service below.