Tag: Tidal

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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.

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I Like Apple Music, But…

Yesterday, I joined the 61 percent. The figure represents the people who, in a MusicWatch survey of 5,000, had turned off auto-renew on their free Apple Music trial, which for all ends September 30. Unless something really big comes out of this week’s media event, where new iPhones could debut and iOS 9 and OS X El Capitan receive release dates, I will listen elsewhere. For now, I will stream higher-fidelity tracks from Tidal, and expand my musical horizons at services like SoundCloud.

Strange thing: I don’t dislike Apple Music. Curated playlists are “frak me” good. Family pricing, $14.99 per month, is very reasonable. The library is voluminous; if I want to listen to it, Apple Music likely has it. Then there is the benefit of easy access to my own library of about 14,000 tracks alongside juicy fruit picked from the orchard. 

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My Summer Sojourn: OS X 10.11, OS 9

Due to a rather startling accident, my wife’s laptop is no longer among the electrically living. She will use my beloved Chromebook Pixel LS for a few months, while I step back into the Apple lifestyle to test El Capitan and iOS 9. Eight days after Apple released developer previews, I finally am getting around to installing them, on 13-inch MacBook Pro and iPad Air 2. Whoa, I dunno about the new font!

The Mac is a new purchase. Our cameras and computers are all insured, and late last week I filed the second claim in more than a dozen years (the first replaced a hard drive, for $250, after my daughter dropped her aluminum MacBook during finals week two years ago). I grudgingly picked the 2.7GHz Core i5 MacBook Pro with Retina Display, 8GB RAM, and 256GB SSD. 

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Tidal fixes Android App Bug

On June 3rd, music streaming service Tidal updated its Android aop, which in my extensive testing over the weekend resolves a catastrophic bug that skips songs. The previous version jumped tracks before they finished playing on my Nexus 6 or 9. Last week, the lossless listening provider acknowledged the problem. The fix is in, and I am satisfied.

Tidal delivers HiFi streaming—1411kbps Free Lossless Audio Codec—at the premium price of $19.99 per month. For a music streaming charging more, about double other paid service competitors, the glitch was inexcusable. I first reported the erratic behavior nearly a month ago. 

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Tidal gets My Reprieve

My third month as a Tidal subscriber started yesterday, but nearly not at all. Last week I prepared to cancel the pricey, streaming service after encountering a disastrous functional flaw listening on either Nexus 6 or 9. Songs skip to the next track part way through playing, which is unacceptable behavior—made more so because of expectations that higher pricing and loftier monthly subscription fee set.

I would have stopped subscribing on May 31st, at the billing cycle’s end, if not for Tidal offering a free month of service. Whether or not our paying relationship continues depends much on the music streamer resolving an app problem. “There is a bug with Nexus and Sony phones with Android 5 unfortunately”, according to a tech support specialist, “We are working on fixing this. Mostly after 26 megabytes have been streamed, it skips. So for now we do not have a solution yet”, 

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Google Music tempts Me from Tidal

My love affair with Tidal nears dissolution. The second month’s renewal is five days away, and divorce is nearly certain now. Mid-month I asked: “What Good is Tidal HiFi if Content won’t Play?” Matters are better and worse since. I no longer have the song stalls in the webapp running from Chrome OS. But track jumping behavior now afflicts Nexus 6—not just its tablet sibling.

On the phablet late this morning, I switched over to Google Music for a quick refresher comparison between identical tracks. I most certainly can hear the difference between 320kbps MP3 and Tidal’s 1411kbps Free Lossless Audio Codec. But the aural benefits are valueless if I can’t listen. Google Music invited me to resubscribe, with half a year free; it’s some kind of promotion for Nexus 6 buyers. How could I refuse no billing until after Thanksgiving? November feels forever away. 

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What Good is Tidal HiFi if Content won’t Play?

Editor’s Note: Tidal resolved the problems long ago; I continue to subscribe a year later.

On May 1st, Tidal billed my credit card for the first month of music streaming. Yesterday, my subscription to Google Music ended. I should be satisfied with the switch, given how much more I enjoy 1411kbps lossless listening over the more typical 320kbps compressed streaming music. But recent, recurring service problems put my customer continuation into question.

Quality of content, or available selection of it, isn’t the problem. I find plenty of music to enjoy, and the default playlists are smartly curated. The high-fidelity is just that. But slow starts, drop-offs, and song skips disrupt the listening experience—and for a service costing twice as much as major competitors, like Beats, Rdio, or Spotify, I expect more but get less. There is no customer support option that I can find, either. 

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Take the Tidal Challenge

Lossless leader Tidal has a problem. Last month’s splashy relaunch let critics control the narrative, defining the streaming service as a tool for pampering the bank accounts of already successful musicians. But Tidal is something else: Affordable HiFi streaming for the listening elite—those people who want to enjoy music the way it was engineered, produced. The streamer should be the coolest thing, but the Jay Z ownership team fraked up the marketing messaging. Problem is fixable, but correction requires aggressive advertising, promotional pricing, and extraordinary exclusives.

For more than three weeks, I have listened to nothing but Tidal, and the service should challenge everyone signing up for the 30-day trial to do likewise. There is no other way for the majority of people to appreciate the aural benefits. The majority of potential subscribers are too accustomed to the muddy, mushy, overly-bassy sound of compressed, low-fidelity AAC or MP3 files. The brain and ears need to be freed from the habitual crappy sound to which they’re accustomed. iTunes is a prison. Spotify is another. Tidal will liberate you. But you must want freedom to attain it. 

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A Tidal Wave Approaches

Fraking fantastic is my reaction to Tidal’s high-def audio.. I spent much of April Fools’ Day testing, and quite enjoying, the music service, although I am skeptical that most streaming subsctibers will care—not for $19.95 per month. Still, I see hope for the 10-buck standard quality other option if Tidal delivers enough artist exclusives and superior curation. The iTunes hegemony, and Apple’s rapidly evolving Beats Music acquisition, is all about content, much of it available nowhere else, better presented, and more easily discovered. With musicians” support, and unique content with it, maybe, just maybe, a Tidal wave approaches.

The service essentially relaunched on March 31, 2015, with a gala event hosted by Jay Z and other music superstars. He acquired Tidal, for $56 million two months earlier, but the lossless streaming service launched in October 2014. Architecture, audio quality, two-tier pricing, and streaming are essentially unchanged. New owners’ commitment, that of other artists, big marketing push, and 30-day trial distinguish Tidal today.