Tidal Vs Spotify Vs Amazon Music – A Comprehensive Review & Comparison

Tidal Vs Spotify Vs Amazon Music – A Comprehensive Review & Comparison

To give this review some context, I thought I ought to explain my goals when reviewing/comparing the streaming services Tidal, Spotify and Amazon Music.  Firstly, I love to listen to music – just about anything goes in my opinion and I do so at work, in the car and at home.  At home I have multiple smart home devices used to listen to music in different room.  Finally, I also DJ (using Serato DJ Pro) and have the challenge of listening to music via streaming services (and curating playlists) but not being able to have this linked to my DJ setup.

For those curious as to the hardware I use, after previously using the excellent – yet discontinued – Numark NS7, I opted for its cheaper cousin the Numark NS6II.

So in summary, I will more than likely cover what you are looking for in one or more of the above aspects of my review.

My more detailed review is below but for those after “just the facts”, here’s my comparison table:

 Amazon Music Family UnlimitedSpotify FamilyTidal Family Plan
Standard Price14.9914.9914.99
Catalogue40 Million Songs35 Million Songs60 Million Songs
Standard Audio Quality256Kbits/secUp to 320Kbits/secUp to 320Kbits/sec
Premium Audio Quality1411Kbit/sec
Standard Audio CodecLossy (AAC)Lossy (OGG/Vorbis)Lossy (OGG/Vorbis)
Premium Audio CodecLossless(FLAC)
Mastered Audio ContentNoNoYes
Family User Accounts666
Concurrent Streams Allowed616
Concurrent Streams on Amazon Echo611
Mobile/Car Voice ControlYes via AlexaYes via GoogleLimited/Buggy via Google
Serato DJ Pro CompatibleNoNoYes

Tidal

Quality

When I started playing the same songs I’d been listening too recently on Spotify and/or Amazon Music on TIDAL, I noticed an immediate improvement in quality.  Now this wasn’t even something I was looking for at this stage because I hadn’t checked to see if different services had different quality levels, it just jumped out at me.  This was noticable on both my cheap car stereo and my Sennheiser headphones.

On some forums when people have complained about the lack of quality on Spotify and been shot-down by others for not manually setting the quality to ‘high’ rather than ‘auto’ but to my mind, you shouldn’t have to and either ‘auto’ isn’t working properly (I’m generally on a very fast connection) or Spotify best quality is poor compared to TIDAL.

Serato DJ Pro Integration

A big winner for TIDAL here is their integration with the Serato DJ Pro software.  This is a fantastic idea and makes great sense.  I’ve seen many discussions around DRM issues here with people saying that because a DJ is performing, streaming platforms aren’t allowed to link to integrate with professional entertainment tools.  I cry bullsh*t on this because the burden of payment for transmission lies with the event, venue or broadcaster.

When I’ve DJ’d at festivals, the festivals would ask for a list of the songs played so appropriate commissions could be paid for the broadcast rights.  When DJs buy a record, they don’t buy a special ‘broadcast’ version for additional rights – nor should that exist with streaming music, after all DJing promotes music with audience members using services like ‘Shazam’ to find out what a song is so they can go and buy it themselves.

The only downside of the TIDAL integration at present is that you must be online for it to work which i problematic to say the least, I can understand if you have to connect every 30 days or so to validate your subscription to TIDAL but this is seriously limiting for some venus.  As you can see here, there is already a significant number of people requesting this feature from Serato.

Streaming Limitation

As with Spotify, TIDAL has a limitation when it comes to streaming on multiple devices.  You can stream music to only one device at a time.  You can play from six devices at the same time if they have the music downloaded and cached offline (so not streaming basically).

Search Scope

No search results for ‘Hey boy hey girl kink’

The first real bug-bear I have with Tidal is the search facility, it doesn’t appear to do searching based on all parameters in the database.

As an example, I wanted to search for a new mix of the The Chemical Brothers “Hey Boy, Hey Girl” called the “Kink Extended Edition”, unfortunately a search for ‘hey boy hey girl kink’ yields no results, so I assumed it wasn’t in the library:

Yet when I do a search for just ‘hey boy hey girl’ and click View All I can scroll down and see the track there:

 

 

 

 

Voice Control (Mobile)

When I’m driving I like to be able to control music by voice, unfortunately the TIDAL mobile app has neither native voice control (like Alexa) nor does it integrate with the ‘OK Google’ assistant (like Spotify), leaving it a manual process.  For me this is actually a real frustration and one I’m amazed they haven’t addressed.

UPDATE: It appears a recent integraiton means that Google at least tries to play music via TIDAL, at the moment this is successful for me about 10% of the time.

Search User Experience (Mobile)

Once you have done a search, if it yields no results (which is likely to be often due to the poor algorithm) you cannot edit the search, you have to retype the full search (this is user interface design 101).

Spotify

Quality

While in theory Spotify has a decent quality offering, to my mind the ‘Auto’ setting must be way too conservative because on both fibre broadband or 4G cellular, the quality has never seemed that great (especially compared to TIDAL).  While you can force the higher quality setting, by moving it from Auto you risk stuttering when streaming on a poorer signal.  Finally, they don’t offer a FLAC option for lossless compression.

Serato DJ Pro Integration

None – there is no integration with Serato DJ Pro or any other DJing platform to the best of my knolwedge.

Streaming Limitation

As with TIDAL, Spotify has a limitation when it comes to streaming on multiple devices.  You can stream music to only one device at a time.  You can play from six devices at the same time if they have the music downloaded and cached offline (so not streaming basically).

Search Scope

The Spotify search facility seems to search most of the meta data, providing a good result set.

Voice Control (Mobile)

Spotify seems to have good integration with Google on Android, allow simple voice control such as “Play Chemical Brothers on Spotify”

Amazon Music Unlimited

Quality

The music quality via the Amazon Music Service has always seemed ‘average’ to me, on a par with that of Spotify and a direct comparison of these played via an Amazon Echo deviced through high end stereo and also direct from the mobile app through the same seems to reinforce this.

Serato DJ Pro Integration

None – there is no integration with Serato DJ Pro or any other DJing platform to the best of my knolwedge.

Streaming Limitation

Amazon Music Unlimited provides the simplest strategy for streaming, namely that if you have the family account, you can play up to 6 audio streams at the same time (even if strictly speaking its all on the same account as it is with Amazon Echo’s by default).  For me this is a huge plus and saves a bunch of hassle with people having to ‘switch’ their user profile on Amazon Echo’s as they walk around the house, just to be able to play music.

Search Scope

The Amazon search facility seems to search most of the meta data, providing a good result set.

Voice Control (Mobile)

For Amazon music, I generally end up just using the voice assistant in the Amazon Music app and if this isn’t loaded when I’m driving, I simply use the Google command “Google, open Amazon Music” first.  At which point I can say “Alexa . . . ” and whatever usual commands I would.  The only downside for me on this is that the Amazon Music App needs to be the main app visible so I can’t have – for example – Google Maps full screen and still control music via voice.

Bob McKay

About Bob McKay

Bob is Director of Operations at Perfect Image, a full time father and husband, part-time tinkerer-with-wires, coder, Muay Thai practitioner, builder and cook. Loves love, tolerance and co-existance. Hates hate. Is aware of the irony of hating hate.

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2 comments on «Tidal Vs Spotify Vs Amazon Music – A Comprehensive Review & Comparison»

  1. kellyken says:

    Thanks for your detailed introduction of these three main music streaming services! As for me, I used the Tidal to enjoy music as it offers more music tracks and high audio quality. However, to listen to Tidal music offline is not allowed. I found a tool called AudFree Tidal Converter for Windows that can help play the music offline. But you can only use the music by your own.

    1. Bob McKay says:

      Hi Kellyken,
      Yeah I do find that a bit frustrating too – there is an offline option on the mobile app but its clunky (you have to switch to offline mode and restart the app). I would have thought that TIDAL would promote offline storage to reduce their bandwidth requirements.

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