Tidal vs Apple Music: Discover the Best of The Two

Full comparison between Tidal and Apple Music. Discover which streaming service is the best between Tidal vs Apple Music with this ultimate comparison.
Tidal vs Apple Music streaming services comparison - article feature image

Music streaming has become one of the most popular ways for people to listen to tunes today. Choosing between all the different streaming services out there can be quite a challenge. Two top contenders are Tidal and Apple Music.

This comprehensive comparison takes an in-depth look at Tidal and Apple Music across critical categories like sound quality, price, music discovery, availability, and extra features.

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Overview: Tidal vs Apple Music

Tidal launched in 2015 and is currently owned by Block, Inc, the company behind payment technology solution Square. It was originally launched as Tidal by Jay-Z after the rapper acquired a music streaming service, Aspiro, for $50 million. Tidal is a high-fidelity music streaming service offering lossless CD-quality audio and high-resolution sound up to 9216 kbps that was advocated by Jay-Z as a platform that supports artists and music lovers.

Apple Music debuted in 2015 and is Apple’s music streaming subsidiary. Currently, it provides a library of over 100 million songs, music videos, radio, podcasts and exclusive content. Apple Music seamlessly integrates with Apple devices and is also available on Android, web browsers, and the Windows app.

Both Tidal and Apple Music provide:

  • Huge on-demand music catalogs
  • Curated playlists and radio stations
  • Music downloads for offline listening
  • Music videos and concert live streams
  • Podcasts and exclusive content

But, as you will see in this article, they present key differences in audio quality, pricing, platform support, and extra features that set the two apart.

Sound Quality: Tidal vs Apple Music

Tidal’s biggest advantage over Apple Music is superior sound quality. It offers true lossless CD-quality audio up to 9216 kbps, delivering uncompressed audio identical to the original recording.

Tidal vs Apple Music article. Tidal's music quality features and explanations.

By contrast, Apple Music maxes out at 256 kbps AAC, which is still compressed despite the “Lossless” branding. So, Tidal’s lossless tiers reveal more detail and nuance, with better depth and clarity for high-end audio gear. This makes Tidal the winner for audiophiles seeking truly lossless quality.

However, Apple Music’s 256 kbps streams still sound great for most listeners using smartphones, tablets, laptops, or Bluetooth speakers. Lossless and 256 kbps are less noticeable on more basic audio setups. So, Apple Music provides impressive fidelity for casual listeners.

Tidal vs Apple Music article. iTunes song settings showing the audio stats for a the Taylor Swift's song "Shake it Off ".

Regarding audio adjustment, Tidal offers more advanced customization options, like individual audio balance controls and surround sound effects. 

While more limited, Apple Music also provides some audio enhancement settings through its EQ feature in Settings. However, Tidal still has more granular control for tweaking the audio experience.

It’s important to say that Tidal’s superiority in audio quality is noticeable mainly in high-end audio equipment, which includes speakers and headphones that might be costly.

So, while Tidal pulls ahead for demanding audiophiles, Apple Music delivers excellent sound for most mainstream users. The choice ultimately depends on your listening equipment and how discernible lossless quality is to your ears.

User Interface and Usability: Tidal vs Apple Music

Tidal and Apple Music both offer slick, modern user interfaces. 

Tidal emphasizes showcasing album artwork and providing intuitive music discovery features. The homepage and playlists highlight album covers and artist images, while thoughtful touches like related artists and songs allow users to easily go down rabbit holes of musical discovery. 

Tidal vs Apple Music article. Tidal desktop dashboard showing main menu at the left, suggested new tracks at the center and player at the bottom.

Apple focuses more on editorial playlists and radio. It counters Tidal with stronger curation through playlists and radio stations and tighter integration with iOS devices and Siri. 

But Tidal’s UI feels more tailored to the experience of hardcore music fans who value audio quality and getting lost in discographies. 

Tidal vs Apple Music article. Apple Music dashboard showing main menu at the left and Listen Now screen with Top Picks songs and playlists suggestions.

The smooth, aesthetic design choices make new music exploration a thrill rather than a chore. So, while Apple Music certainly holds its own, Tidal feels like the more seamless, engaging, and personalized premium streaming UI/UX overall.

Music Discovery Features: Tidal vs Apple Music

An extensive catalog means nothing if you can’t easily find great new music tailored to your tastes. Tidal and Apple Music offer top-notch discovery, but Tidal shines regarding personalized recommendations and music curation.

Tidal generates customized mixes based on your listening data and favorite tracks. But it excels at expertly curated human playlists. Playlists are organized by mood, activity, and genre, providing endless personalized listening. Tidal also spotlights emerging and local artists through tailored playlists.

Tidal vs Apple Music article. Tidal desktop jazz playlists screen.

Apple Music relies heavily on algorithmic playlists based on your library. However, they have also invested in securing exclusive content and early releases from major artists like Taylor Swift and Adele to attract subscribers. This focus on exclusive access to sought-after new music helps Apple Music compete with Spotify’s more robust curation and sharing features.

While Apple provides solid recommendations in algorithmic playlists like “My Chill Mix,” it also offers human-curated playlists across genres put together by Apple Music’s editors. Plus, Apple Music radio includes stations hosted by real DJs providing human curation. 

Nevertheless, Tidal still places a greater emphasis on expert music editors to drive playlist creation and recommendations. That said, Apple Music’s “For You” section still provides a great playlist mix based on your listening history.

Tidal vs Apple Music article. Apple Musc browsing feature with Superbloom Apple Music playlist as selected.

For general music exploration, Tidal’s human-curated playlists provide more diversity and hidden gems compared to Apple’s algorithmic recommendations. Meanwhile, Apple Music boasts some advantages like its Apple Music Classical service specifically tailored for classical music fans. It offers curated playlists and expertly crafted classical music stations spanning different eras, composers, instruments, and genres. With Apple Music Classical, subscribers can browse composer radio stations, dive deep on recordings of symphonies or operas, and be guided by contextual menus.

Plus, Apple Music’s social features allow discovery through friends, and exclusive major artist releases add value for subscribers. Overall for music discovery, each service has their relative strengths, with Tidal leveraging robust editorial curation and Apple offering social tools, exclusives, and genre-specific stations like Apple Music Classical.

You can also create your own playlists on both services to match each the perfect moments and mood in your life. For more ideas on playlists name, Check Now The Best of The Best Playlist Names Ideas.

Lyrics feature: Tidal vs Apple Music

Displaying synchronized song lyrics is an important feature for music streaming services to make the listening experience more engaging. Both Apple Music and Tidal offer in-app lyrics, but Tidal’s lyric implementation is more seamless and refined.

On Tidal, lyrics display in real-time as the song plays, with each line highlighted as it is sung. Thanks to Tidal’s advanced audio analysis technology, the synchronization is automatic and highly accurate. This makes it easy for users to read or sing along with precision.

Tidal vs Apple Music article. Tidal Lyrics feature showing part of the for Taylor Swift's song August lyric.

By contrast, Apple Music’s lyric feature feels more basic. The full lyrics load in a block rather than syncing live. Often, the lyrics need to catch up or jump ahead of the vocals. The synchronization requires manual adjustment by sliding the lyrics to match the playback. Plus, the lyrics are sometimes wrong. This disrupts the listening experience and immersion in the music.

Tidal vs Apple Music article. Apple Music Lyric feature in the app showing wrong lyrics for the song War by King Von.

Tidal also offers more stylistic flourishes, like different colors for multiple singers and animations for repeated lyrics.

Tidal vs Apple Music article. Tidal's artists dashboard showing the image of Taylor Swift and Katy Perry artist profles with their image as feature image for the their pages.

In contrast, Apple Music displays lyrics more plainly without add-ons but holds an extra card in its sleeve called Apple Music Sing. This feature is a karaoke mode that allows users to sing along with their favorite songs. In this mode, the lyrics are the focal point, and the main singer’s voice is lowered to create space for users to sing along. With Apple Music Sing, users can have fun singing along and feel like they’re part of the music.

We would call this round a victory for Tidal, but Apple Music made its way to the top with Apple Music Sing, which is an incredible feature to have and fun to use.

Music Library and Selection: Tidal vs Apple Music

Both Tidal and Apple Music offer extensive catalogs:

  • Tidal: Over 100 million tracks
  • Apple Music: Over 100 million songs

The two libraries are very similar in size and scope. Both provide deep selections of songs and albums covering all genres, from the latest pop hits to classic rock, jazz, hip-hop, metal, and more.

For new releases, the services are evenly matched. Major label releases generally arrive on both Tidal and Apple Music simultaneously.

Tidal claims to pay artists and rights holders the highest streaming royalty rate in the industry, at $0.01284 per stream. This compares favorably to Apple Music’s average rate of $0.01 per stream. By promoting its above-average royalty payouts, Tidal aims to be recognized as the most artist-friendly service compared to Apple Music. This helped Tidal attract exclusive catalogs from major artists like Beyoncé and Taylor Swift before. Nowadays, this is not much of a reality, and most artists do release and stream their music on both services.

Tidal vs Apple Music article. Young woman listening to music in a headphone and holind her smartphone with a pink background.

However, Apple Music also has a track record of securing exclusive album drops from stars like Taylor Swift, Drake, Frank Ocean, and more. Plus, it offers various non-music audio, like soothing nature sounds and ASMR. Thanks to the dedicated Apple Music Wellbeing section, these immersive sounds are easy to discover. It contains playlists specially curated for meditation, breathwork, mindfulness and other mental exercises.

Tidal vs Apple Music article. iTunes dashboard.

Overall, Tidal and Apple Music deliver comprehensive access to new and old music. There are no significant gaps between the two services’ catalogs – your favorite artists and albums will almost certainly be available on both platforms, with the exception of some early releases on Apple Music, which gives the platform a slight advantage over its competitor.

Karaoke: An Apple Music Advantage Over Tidal

Apple Music offers a dedicated karaoke mode called Apple Music Sing that makes it easy and fun for users to sing along to their favorite songs. It allows you to adjust the vocal levels on millions of eligible songs to lower the original artist’s vocals and better hear your own voice. The lyrics also change color to follow along with the vocals so you always know exactly where you are in the song.

Tidal vs Apple Music article. Apple Music karaoke feature showing lyrics and song cover for the song Be Okay by Awero feat Andrew Harris.

In comparison, Tidal does not currently have an integrated karaoke mode or any karaoke-focused features. The only option on Tidal is to simply turn down the music volume yourself to make the vocals less prominent. But there is no dedicated vocal adjustment capability or lyric tracking. For those who enjoy karaoke, Apple Music provides a much better singing experience.

Podcasts: Tidal vs Apple Music

Apple Music has a significant advantage when it comes to podcasts. It grants access to Apple Podcasts, which offers over 1.5 million podcasts spanning every category imaginable. This includes major shows like The Daily, Serial, and others.

The integration with Apple Podcasts allows Apple Music subscribers to easily browse top podcast charts, search for shows, and manage their subscriptions all within the Apple Music app. This makes enjoying podcasts seamless alongside music listening.

Tidal vs Apple Music article. iTunes dashboard home screen on the desktop app.

In contrast, Tidal is more focused on music compared to Apple Music, and has a smaller but growing collection of podcasts, especially ones that provide behind-the-scenes content. The lack of this type of audio content is a gap in Tidal’s capabilities compared to the podcast library available within Apple Music.

Mobile Apps and Availability: Tidal vs Apple Music

The availability of apps and supported devices is key when selecting a music service. Tidal matches Apple Music for accessibility while offering broader device support.

Tidal is accessible across platforms:

  • iOS and Android apps
  • Desktop apps for Mac and PC
  • Streaming devices like Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast

Tidal vs Apple Music article. Tidal's supported devices showing on their website.
Source: Tidal website.

Apple Music naturally works seamlessly within Apple’s ecosystem and devices. The Apple Music app is also available for Android and the web. Support for Amazon Echo and third-party devices is improving but still lags behind rivals.

Tidal vs Apple Music article. Apple Music supported devices with name and icons showing on their website.
Source: Apple Music website.

Plus, Apple Music needs to integrate more cleanly with non-Apple devices and smart speakers than Tidal.

Regarding cross-platform availability and stability, Tidal is superior to Apple Music. You get a more unified experience across mobile, desktop, web, and connected televisions. Tidal connects better with both Apple and Android gear. Neither service limits the number of devices you can use, so you can stream on all your home and mobile devices seamlessly, but not at the same time.

Advantage: Apple Music for seamless access across Apple devices. Tidal for wider Android, web, and streaming box support. So, Tidal is ahead when it comes to device compatibility.

Music Videos and Live Content

One often overlooked advantage of Tidal is its extensive music video collection and playback quality. The Tidal app gives you instant access to over 650K+ videos, all streaming in crisp 1080p or higher resolution. Music videos are easily discoverable through Tidal’s curated video playlists and channels.

Plus, Tidal offers exclusive backstage content and interviews, providing a behind-the-scenes look at your favorite artists and albums. For example, you can watch Jennifer Lopez discuss details and inspirations behind her latest album via Tidal’s artist documentary content.

Tidal vs Apple Music article. Tidal exclusive content showing woman dancing in a bit wearhouse from a music video clip.

Apple Music also offers music videos, though its collection is smaller compared to Tidal’s library. However, Apple Music’s video resolution actually goes up to 1080p HD for premium subscribers, on par with Tidal’s quality, but not for all videos, as some users have reported old content lacks video quality. For live streams, the Apple Music app provides weekly concert events called Up Next. Apple also live streams major music festivals and events on its radio stations.

Tidal vs Apple Music article. Apple Music radio dashboard showing the radio stations options, including Apple Music 1 radio.

Apple’s video presentation and curation lacks the polish of Tidal’s dedicated music video experience.

For fans who care about watching high-quality music videos from their favorite artists, Tidal is miles ahead of Apple Music. Tidal delivers a vastly superior music video library at true HD streaming quality.

Overall, Apple Music has the edge for fans seeking live concert streams. But Tidal provides an HD music video library in its app.

Social Sharing and Discovery: Tidal vs Apple Music

Listening to music is inherently social. Streaming services recognize this, but Tidal integrates better with social platforms to share your listening activities.

Tidal makes sharing songs, albums, and playlists on Facebook and Instagram effortless. Tidal pulls in crisp album artwork and profile images when you share music rather than just a plain text link. You can add a Tidal music sticker to liven up your Instagram stories.

Tidal vs Apple Music article. Tidal social sharing feature showing the social card for Instagram Story.

Apple Music sharing could be clearer. You get plain, untitled links with minimal artwork for some of the content you share from the platform. Apple Music doesn’t offer special social integrations like Tidal’s Instagram sticker for stories for all of its songs available on the platform.

For showcasing your music tastes to friends, Tidal offers superior social sharing capabilities compared to Apple Music’s barebones options.

Pricing and Subscription Plans: Tidal vs Apple Music

How much you pay depends on the subscription tier chosen with each service.

Tidal Pricing:
  • • HiFi – $10.99 / month. Audio quality up to 24-bit, 192 kHz + Dolby Atmos
  • • HiFi Family – $16.99/month. Audio quality 16-bit, 44.1 kHz (For up to 6 accounts)
Apple Music Pricing:
  • • Individual – $10.99/month. Audio quality 256 kbps audio
  • • Family – $16.99/month. Audio quality 256 kbps audio (For up to 6 accounts)

Tidal’s Premium plan matches Apple Music’s pricing, but you get higher fidelity sound with the regular Apple Music subscription. As of April 2024, the price includes the true lossless CD-quality audio with no need to pay extra.

Discount plan options for Tidal and Apple Music

Both services offer discounts for yearly subscriptions and family plans covering up to 6 people. Students can get lower pricing through their schools. 

Tidal and Apple Music currently offer these subscription options and prices in the US:

  • • Family plan – $16.99 per month for up to 6 people for Tidal, $16.99 per month for up to 6 people for Apple Music.
  • • Student plan – $4.99 per month for Tidal, $5.99 per month for Apple Music with verification through Unidays.

Note: No military, first responder or autopay discounts with Apple Music or Tidal.

Because of the extra value Tidal offers, it has a head over Apple Music when it comes to pricing.

Additional Standout Features: Tidal vs Apple Music

  • • Tidal Connect: Streams Tidal from your phone to compatible TVs and speakers, similar to Chromecast and AirPlay. No wires or pairing is needed.
  • • Dolby Atmos: Enjoy a growing catalog of music mixed in immersive Dolby Atmos surround sound. 
  • • Enhanced artist pages: Get deeper artist bios, discographies, photos, videos, and concert details.
  • • Playlist variety: Tidal offers specialized playlists like Tidal Rising for new music and X by Genre for exploring different sounds.
  • • My Activity: Review your past listening history and share your top artists. 
Apple Music
  • • Apple Music 1: A 24/7 global live stream radio station with original shows and exclusives.
  • • Apple Music Classical: Specialized app exclusively for classical music, featuring curated playlists, exclusive recordings, expert guides and more.
  • • 3 Months Free: Get 3 months of Apple Music free when purchasing an eligible Apple device.
  • • Apple Music Karaoke: Sing along to millions of songs with adjustable vocals.
  • • Spatial Audio: Listen to music in immersive 360 degree audio with Dolby Atmos on supported devices.
  • • Personalized Playlists: Get customized playlists like New Music Mix based on your tastes.
  • • Apple Music TV: Watch new and classic music videos and live events.

Tidal vs Apple Music: Key Takeaways Table

AspectTidalApple Music
Sound QualityTrue lossless CD-quality audio up to 9216 kbpsMaxes out at 256 kbps AAC
User InterfaceSeamless, engaging, and personalized UI/UXModern, editorial playlists, and strong curation
Music Discovery FeaturesExpertly curated human playlists, tailored mixesAlgorithmic playlists, “For You” recommendations based on listening history
LyricsReal-time, synchronized lyricsBlock-style lyrics, manual synchronization, Karaoke feature
Music LibraryOver 100 million tracksOver 100 million songs, but superior on podcasts
Mobile Apps AvailabilityiOS, Android, desktop apps, streaming devicesiOS, Android, web, and limited third-party support
Music VideosOver 650,000 music videos at 1080p resolutionSmaller collection at 1080p HD resolution
Pricing and PlansHiFi: $10,99Individual: $10.99/month; Family: $16.99/month

Easily Transfer Playlists Between Tidal and Apple Music with TuneMyMusic

Switching between music services used to mean losing your playlists and music favorites. But with TuneMyMusic, you can safely transfer playlists and music libraries between Tidal, Apple Music, and other top music services and never leave any song behind.

TuneMyMusic is a web app that securely copies your playlists and music preferences between streaming platforms. Just link your Tidal and Apple Music accounts to TuneMyMusic, select playlists to transfer and hit go. TuneMyMusic automatically matches tracks and recreates playlists in the destination service.

Whether you’re fully switching from Tidal to Apple Music, or moving from Apple Music to Tidal, or just want to consolidate playlists in one place, TuneMyMusic makes it seamless. Your musical tastes and history stay intact. Learn more and transfer playlists at TuneMyMusic.

The Bottom Line

For serious music listeners who care about audio quality and discovery, Tidal is clearly a better value. The lossless fidelity and nuanced human touch in Tidal’s curation make it worth the money over Apple Music.

Casual listeners satisfied with compressed audio may lean towards Apple Music if they solely use Apple devices. But both services excel at delivering endless on-demand music libraries and playlists to enjoy.

Tidal vs Apple Music, which one is better? Final Conclusion

In general, each streaming service has its own unique features. Tidal is known for its high-quality audio technology, clean interface, compatibility with various apps, discounted pricing, and high-quality video content. Meanwhile, Apple Music is notable for its extensive collection of classical music, podcasts, early releases, seamless experience on Apple devices, and the fun karaoke feature “Apple Music Sing.” Both Tidal and Apple Music cater to the music streaming needs of most mainstream listeners. So, in the end, it’s more of what you’re looking for to get from your music streaming subscription.

Tidal vs Apple Music Score Table

  Tidal vs Apple Music Comparison Score TableTidalApple Music
Sound Quality9790
User Interface and Usability   9389
Music Discovery Features    9094
Audio Catalog, Music, Podcasts9397
Mobile Apps Availability    9590
Music Videos  9087
Social Sharing and Discovery9086

In the comparison between Apple Music and Tidal, both services have unique strengths. Apple Music is the go-to option for most users, offering robust music discovery, karaoke features, an extensive music library, and a vast podcast library. It provides a seamless and integrated music experience.

Tidal comes out as the slight superior choice for most music listeners as it presents sound quality, making it the preferred choice for audiophiles who prioritize top-notch audio fidelity. It also offers high-quality music videos and a compelling user interface. 

Your choice between the two should align with your specific preferences, whether you prioritize sound quality and a niche music experience with Tidal or the broad features and Apple’s devices user-friendliness of Apple Music. Both services cater to distinct needs in the music streaming world.

Did you like this comparison? Check our comparisons page for more in-depth analyses and comparisons between the top music streaming services.