Tag: Tidal

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Tidal Masters Wow

That didn’t last long. My cancelled Tidal account was set to end January 11th, but late this afternoon, I reactivated, giving the streaming service more time to keep—and even increase—my affections. During Consumer Electronics Show 2017 today, in licensing partnership with MQA, Tidal announced the new audio-fidelity tier “Masters”, which is available for free to existing HiFi subscribers. Early album selection is extremely limited as is access option: macOS or Windows application. Both will expand in time.

But wow! I tested skeptically, wiring up my studio cans—Audio-Technica ATH-R70x—to 15.4-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar to hear the difference. Hehe, if any. I deliberately started with Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way” from album “Rumors“, which released 40 years ago on February 4th. Tidal claims that Masters recordings deliver “an audio experience exactly as the artist intended”. The band spent nearly a year painstakingly recording and engineering the disc, making any, or all, the songs great test cases. 

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A Matched Set

I would never guess that the grey metal Master & Dynamic MW60 headphones purchased in December 2015 would match my new 15.4-inch MacBook Pro a year later. But here they are, together, shot on Dec. 30, 2016, using Fujifilm X-T1 with Fujinon XF35mmF2 R WR lens. Vitals: f/4, ISO 400, 1/60 sec, 35mm. The Featured Image is cropped but otherwise is as captured. Broad bokeh is deliberate, with focus on the Apple logo, as are the dark hues.

The MW60 make me think about Apple Music, which begrudgingly replaces Tidal as 2017 begins. The HiFi streaming service delights with fantastic audio fidelity—difference I can hear, starting with vocals. But Apple Music’s catalog is broader, and the curated playlists are superior, for my tastes. Consider “Best of 2016: Alternative“. I couldn’t have picked better, and I was a radio deejay in my college-age years. 

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Tidal My Apple Music

As a Tidal subscriber. I welcome Apple acquisition—asssuming lossless tracks are made available through the fruit-logo company’s music services. Not that anyone should seriously believe the rumors. But one can hope.

Merger talks are typically silent affairs. When they’re serious, you don’t hear about them until there is a deal. Reasons are many, with regulatory being among them when public companies are involved. Acquisition rumors often mean something else: Principal party leaks information about preliminary or ongoing discussions to gauge customer and shareholder reaction; one side or the other is dissatisfied with progress/terms and seeks to apply pressure. 

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Tidal Teen Angst

Hashtag “perfect playlist” is my new thing—whenever I find a worthy collection. Today’s #perfectplaylist is “Sick of Myself: Teen Angst“, created by Tidal. The mix of alternative and pop punk ballads punctuates one of the reasons I stick with the music streaming service, despite the $19.99 monthly fee (that’s twice Apple Music and Google Music): Fantastic fidelity.

I am familiar with most of the 40 songs in the collection—from before subscribing to Tidal 12 months ago. The majority of the tracks sound so much better, I feel like a partially blind man gaining eyesight. (Apologies for mixing metaphor with real sense, but hey.) Some instruments I hear for the first time, booming sense of virgin listening to something thought to be known and familiar. 

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I’m No Fool About Tidal

Today is my first-year anniversary subscribing to Tidal, which relaunched April 1, 2015, under new ownership of Jay Z. I love and loathe the music streaming service, which I cancelled at least five times and always renewed—typically before the billing cycle ticked over. But checking archived emails, I see that my sub completely expired thrice but not since July.

Gotta ask: What fool starts a business on April Fools, and what does the day foreshadow; if anything? Apple did it, 40 years ago today. Many commentators have called Jay Z the fool for buying Tidal, which competes against established players like Spotify and newcomer Apple Music. The service claimed to have 540,000 subscribers when acquired last year. This week, Tidal revealed globally there are now 3 million subscribers. Someone correct my math—456 percent increase, right? If Jay Z’s the fool, gimme some of that foolishness. 

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Jesus Christ Superstar

Soundtrack for my life this Good Friday is the rock opera written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. Track “Superstar” released as a single in October 1969 and the entire album on Oct. 27, 1970. The first stage musical production followed the next year and a film in 1973. Jesus Christ Superstar was a phenom, benefitting from timing.

JCS arrived at the peak of the Jesus Movement spreading across North America to Europe. Jesus People riding in brightly, multi-colored painted buses remains a stereotypical icon of the era. June 21, 2971 Time magazine celebrated the “Jesus Generation”. Like other Baby Boomers, these young people sought love and change but by getting high from shared spirituality rather than sex and drugs. 

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The Beatles escape from Apple Prison

If Christmas Eve 2015 is remembered for nothing else, it will be the gift given to anyone wanting to listen to The Beatles anytime, anywhere, and on anything. As I write, the group’s last recorded album, “Abbey Road”, streams from Tidal in the glorious 1411kbps Free Lossless Audio Codec. Listening with Master & Dynamic MW60 headphones, detail is super fine, such I can appreciate Ringo Starr’s drumming and hear just how tight is the Fab Four’s playing. I haven’t heard The Beatles like this in years, if ever. You go on and listen to 256Kbps AAC from Apple.

My introduction to the group came from the soloists, following the breakup. I was too young when Beatlemania stormed England, the United States, and most everywhere else. My first record album was Paul McCartney & Wings’ “Band on the Run”, which title song is metaphorically appropriate for The Beatles’ escape from Apple prison. 

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Last-minute Tech Stocking Stuffers

Here we are, days before Christmas, and you’re thinking about last-minute stocking stuffers. I’ve got an eclectic selection of things I would want to get or give for December 25th. Some of them will demand rushing online to take advantage of last-minute shipping offers. Others require no shipping at all, like music subscription services. Confession: Some items will require a larger stocking but no wrapping.

I present the list alphabetically, and in no order of preference. 

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Indochine My Morning

I can’t speak, nor do I comprehend, more than ten words of French. But I love this band’s music, nevertheless. At 10:45 PST this morning, Indochine streams live from Paris, and I am so down for it. Maybe I’ll Chromecast to the tellie from one device, while working on another (got lots of writing to do).

The live stream is one of the many benefits subscribing to Tidal, which now sells lossless albums, too. Oh la la. The $19.99 monthly service gets better and better. I hear the difference listening to tracks encoded with the 1411kbps Free Lossless Audio Codec versus AAC or MP3. 

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‘Paris, I Love You’

I haven’t quite abandoned Tidal, despite bassy boom when using my new Sennheiser Momentum 2 headphones. Lossless listening is otherwise enjoyable; the problem starts with the cans and ends with the music streaming service not providing a graphic equalizer. I understand there being no EQ, if the point is high-fidelity that fairly accurately represents the original recording. That said, I really need to throttle back bass, or my ears ache. Aging sucks.

Tidal’s playlists are consistently fresh and superbly curated. Today’s delight: “Paris Je T’aime“, or “Paris, I Love You”, which timing isn’t coincidental, following Friday the 13th terrorist attacks that killed 129 around the city. “Memoria”, by Indochine, is the 22-track playlist’s standout. 

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I Couldn’t Break the Surface Tension

Today, Microsoft started selling Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book, and I strongly considered buying either. During the past 10 days, I visited the company’s Fashion Valley store four different times specifically to play with the devices. The hardware dazzles, but I couldn’t get beyond Windows 10 when compared to benefits I receive using Chromebook Pixel LS. SB’s price, which starts at $1,499, is another impediment.

There is something to be said for straightforward, simple, and efficient computing, which Google gets right. Contextual sync is among Chrome OS’s biggest benefits. Little things, like popping my camera’s SD card into Pixel’s slot and the laptop backing up photos to Google Drive, which is accessible from the file manager as if local storage. Granted, there are application gaps, but the overall user experience fills them in.