See if You Can Hear the High-Definition Audio Jay-Z is Selling

By Mario Aguilar on at

Jay Z’s newly acquired and relaunched streaming music service Tidal claims only one difference from Spotify and the rest: superior audio quality. Is it worth switching? Here’s a simple test that’ll help you decide whether it’s worth forking over £20 a month for the best of the best quality.

Sixteen of the world’s richest pop stars fed us a lot of idealistic bullshit about the future of music yesterday. But if you take Tidal’s A/B test and you can’t tell the difference between the low-quality and high-quality tracks, just stick to the crappy MP3s you ripped in 2002.

In the test, you’re presented with five songs, each in both low and high quality. You’ll be able to switch between them as they play, and even listen again if you would like. Whether or not you can distinguish doesn’t just have to do with the quality of your hearing: the environment you’re in, the gear you’re using, and whether or not you’ve trained your ears for close listening all play a part as well.

I first wrote about this test last autumn, but it’s worth revisiting in the wake of Jay Z’s hype parade. Remember: no matter how high you score, you were probably listening really carefully. Chances are that if you’re on a streaming music service you’re listening to tunes in noisy environments like public transportation or the train. Hell, you’re probably listening in the background at work as Gchat notifications pipe up every other minute. Can you hear those bass flourishes over the sound of your screaming child?

Tidal’s £20/month service is only worth it to horrible nerds (like me!). Don’t pay the Jay Z premium if you’re not sure you’re one of them. [Tidal]