Tidal vs. Spotify

Spotify is the most used music streaming service in the world, with over 113 million subscribers. By contrast, Tidal reported 3 million in 2016 and has since remained silent about its figures. Owned by artists like Jay-Z, Tidal has made a name for itself among audiophiles with its high-res quality sound. Spotify, however, is known for its ad-supported, free version that serves as a radio-like alternative. Fortune has reported that Spotify is effective in converting free users to paying subscribers with already-generous features that are enhanced by upgrading. 

Compare Spotify vs. Tidal music streaming plans

Monthly price$9.99/mo.$9.99/mo.
Free trial length30 days3 months
Student plan$4.99/mo.$4.99/mo.
Family plan$14.99/mo.$14.99/mo.
Number of songs60 million+50 million+

Which streaming service is right for you? 

Tidal leans towards high-res Hip-Hop with an extensive collection of upcoming and popular artists. You’ll find HD music across all genres in its extensive 60 million-song library. Tidal’s core tiers are Premium ($10/mo.) and HiFi ($20/mo.). It also has various family plans and discounts

Spotify not only works as an alternative to radio – it also offers a $10/mo. premium option with the ability to download up to 10,000 songs from its 50 million song catalog. Even Tidal owner Jay-Z decided to put his music back on Spotify after a two-year hiatus. 

User experience 

App usage

As a free user, your experience will vary depending on how you listen — the desktop and mobile app work very differently. With the desktop app, you can choose, replay and toggle songs, things you cannot do with the mobile app. As a premium subscriber, you are given ultimate autonomy to stream and download across both the desktop and mobile apps. Your desktop app functions as a media player for local music as well. 

Tidal’s HiFi web player supports Google Chrome over browsers like Microsoft Edge and Safari. Listening toTidal Masters will require you to use the Tidal app. Tidal’s desktop app uses a simple home screen that encourages music exploration. 

Supported devices

Tidal is compatible with Android and iOS devices, Android TV, tvOS and Windows. Tidal gravitates towards swank brands like Amare Musica, Bel Canto and Meridian, among others. However, to listen via a game console or a Roku, you will need to sign up for a Plex account.

Spotify enjoys a vast reach across nearly every device, including the expected Android and iOS devices, game consoles, smart speakers, wireless speakers and more. 

Sound quality

Spotify Free’s audio quality is limited to 160kbps. But with its premium subscription, you will enhance your listening experience with compressed 320kbps — a great option for casual listeners. 

Tidal’s premium plan matches Spotify’s with 320 kbps. And Tidal’s HiFi tier delivers lossless CD-quality that is superior to most. But compared to its own Master quality, its resolution is inferior with 44.1 kHz/16 bit. Master plays music as the artist intended, with the highest possible resolution, generally 96 kHz / 24 bit. Just keep in mind it is for select tracks, and make sure you have quality speakers to back it up. 


Save your favorite songs

Tidal allows you to download up to 10,000 songs with 3 Android or iOS devices. Just search and download on your mobile device. You can also download videos for offline viewing, unlike Spotify’s free version, which only lets you stream. 

You need a Spotify premium subscription to download and save music. The download limit is 10,000 songs on up to 5 devices. 

You’ll need a stable Wi-Fi connection for both services. 

Music Discovery

Tidal requires you to be an active participant. Search the Rising playlists or try genres and moods. Tidal’s My Mix curates a personalized selection of tunes based on music you have listened to in the past. Unique playlists created by co-owners like Arcade Fire and Coldplay make it easy to expand your musical horizons. 

Navigate to Spotify’s Browse tab to explore categories such as Charts, Concerts, Discover, Genres & Moods, New Releases and Podcasts. Spotify also generates a Discovery Weekly playlist, radio stations and social features, which cue you into your friends’ playlists. 

Creating playlists

Creating your own playlists is simple with both Spotify and Tidal. The process is similar for both. Just navigate to your playlists and tap Create Playlist


Spotify and Tidal both provide family and student add-ons, but Tidal also adds exclusive discounts for first responders and military personnel. But if you are a student, you might lean towards Spotify with its Student plan + Hulu bundle, which throws in Showtime and is free for the first three months. Spotify also boasts 450,000 podcasts. 

By upgrading to Tidal’s HiFi service, you will receive access to thousands of tracks in its MQA collection. Tidal’s exclusive goodies also include interviews, live concerts and music videos. 


Unlike Spotify, Tidal offers no free, ad-supported version to appeal to casual listeners and has much fewer podcasts. Spotify falls short with its more limited library and lack of an HD-quality tier. 

The takeaway 

When it comes to deciding between these two services, the question really comes down to whether you are more interested in high-quality sound or an excellent user experience. Tidal’s HiFi plan is a great choice for music fanatics who demand high-resolution audio. Spotify gives you the best value with its free version, but it shines with Spotify Premium, which delivers one of the best well-rounded experiences on the market. 

Zack Kulm

Zack Kulm is a writer and contributor of soda.com. He covers a variety of topics from entertainment and gaming technologies to pop culture commentary. Kulm received a degree in English from Penn State University and Film Studies from Pittsburgh Filmmakers Institute. He also produces award-winning documentaries.