Tidal MAX Vs Master, What’s The Difference?

Recently, the popular platform for high-quality music received a significant update that brought some important changes. If you’ve been using Tidal, you might have noticed a new label next to some albums that says MAX. Before this update, you would see High, or MASTER labels next to some albums. You could also see 360 or Dolby Atmos labels with compatible devices. This latest update brings a new label called MAX. All of these labels indicate some form of playback quality, and it might be confusing to figure out what means what. Here is everything you need to know about the difference between Tidal MAX and every other label.

What Does MAX Mean For Tidal?

If you’re seeing MAX next to an album or single on Tidal, it means you’re listening to the highest possible playback quality on the platform. Before this update, you only had the choice between CD-quality audio and MQA. CD quality is still available and is still a lossless format, which streams at 16bit 44.1kHz. MAX indicates anything above that sample rate and bit depth. This is considered HiRes, which was not offered by Tidal before this update. As of right now, there is no way to indicate specifically what HiRes sample rate and bit depth you’re streaming at with MAX. It’s probably safe to assume most MAX tracks will be 24bit, but HiRes sample rates could mean anything between 48kHz and 192kHz.

Can I Still Get MQA On Tidal?

Yes. Tidal has made no changes to what tracks offer MQA on their platform. You can expect everything that has MQA before, still has MQA post-update. There was speculation before this update that Tidal would do away with MQA and favor HiRes FLAC instead, but they’ve figured out a way to include both formats on the platform. One of the downsides to this is that Tidal doesn’t make it very easy to discern, so hopefully they create better labels in the future. There is still a possibility that Tidal can remove MQA entirely, but that remains to be seen.

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Alex S. is a sound designer and voice-over artist who has worked in film, commercials, and podcasts. He loves horror movies and emo music.