The combination of Tidal Masters and LG V40 is a real paradise for music lovers

For such audio impressions, smartphones should still have headphone connectors. Thanks to the combination of Tidal Masters and LG V40, I discovered music again.

Every day I am a declared advocate of depriving smartphone headphone connectors . The vast majority of consumers do not need it because:

  1. connecting the USB-C / Lightning adapter does not hurt,
  2. headphones or wireless speakers have become affordable enough not to deter.

For most consumers, wireless solutions, combined with streaming audio in the stream (up to 320 kbps) also offer completely sufficient sound quality. Most people just do not hear the difference, and 320 kbps in combination with wireless equipment gives an almost perfect compromise between the acceptable quality, convenience, price and consumption of the data package.

Tidal Masters and LG V40 are a paradise for audiophiles

But what about those who hear the difference?

For them, unfortunately, the choice is quite limited. Until recently, the only option to enjoy the best audio quality outside the home was expensive portable players (or at least mobile headphone amplifiers for smartphones) and manual copying of FLAC files (or buying individual albums in high quality sound).

Then, however , Tidal was created , for the first time offering audiophile sound quality (FLAC 1411 kbps) in a relatively inexpensive Hi-Fi subscription.

Tidal Masters and LG V40 are a paradise for audiophiles

The situation has also improved on the smartphone side - you no longer need to buy an expensive, dedicated headphone amplifier, because there are smartphones that offer equally good quality audio output "straight from the box". These are LG models - V30, G7, G8 and V40.

I spent a week with the latter by connecting high-quality studio headphones to the built-in 32-bit DAC and I can not imagine that anyone would be able to complain about the quality of the sound reproduced by this equipment.

The more so that the LG V40 has one more ace in the sleeve - hardware compatibility with MQA files, available under the Tidal Masters.

Tidal Masters is a paradise for audiophile

The service was launched two years ago, and today more than 170,000 are available in the "Masters" quality. tracks that you can listen to as part of the Tidal Hi-Fi subscription for only PLN 40 a month. This is probably the only objective minus of the service - the relatively low availability of files in the Masters quality. However, it is not caused by the ill will of a service provider or record company, but a complicated technological process that is behind the preparation of new recordings. Every recording available in Tidal Masters must be remastered and packed into an MQA file.

Tidal Masters uses MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) technology to offer sound in the highest quality available. I explained the operation of MQA technology in a separate text . Here, enough to say that MQA is such a musical origami . Sound engineers can "fold" the audio file three times, making it gradually less detailed to be streamed via the Internet or radio.

Then, using compatible software and hardware solutions, the user can "divide" the origami, obtaining ever higher level of audio detail.

Tidal Masters and LG V40 are a paradise for audiophiles

Even last year, decoding MQA files required dedicated hardware. From January 2019, however, it is possible to use the first stage of "spreading" MQA files on smartphones. In other words, every Android and iOS smartphone can now use the MQA file decoder sewn in the Tidal application , obtaining a slightly higher quality than the one offered by the FLAC 1411 kbps base file.

However, this is only the "spreading" of the first degree, offering maximum quality at the level of 96 Khz. To "split" the MQA file into the second and third part (up to 384 or even 768 KHz ), a hardware renderer or decoder is needed. Hardware decoders are present in top-class audio equipment, from companies such as Bel Canto, Meridian or Mytek.

However, to render an almost completely "spread" MQA file, a small piece of equipment is enough. DAC USB connected to a computer or ... smartphone LG.

The LG smartphones mentioned earlier in the text are the only ones that are fully compatible with MQA files, and as a result they are the only ones that offer the highest experience when using Tidal Masters.

LG V40 in conjunction with Spotify is better than any smartphone. In combination with Tidal Masters, it plays better than many audiophile players.

I spent every free moment of the last week in earphones. As I usually listen to music in the background, this time I preferred to listen to it intentionally, thoughtfully, analyzing every detail of the songs that I rediscovered, although I knew every note of the composition.

The quality offered by the combination of MQA files from Tidal Masters and quadruple, 32-bit, DAC in LG V40, supporting a signal up to 768 KHz, is unmatched. No smartphone with wireless headphones and "standard" streaming can match it.

Tidal Masters and LG V40 are a paradise for audiophiles

The level of detail of MQA files is impressive. I deliberately launched the same song in Spotify and Tidal Hi-Fi to alternately listen to the next sections of the songs - the difference is striking.

It is heard especially in works of classical and film music. In Tidal Masters, we can listen to, for example, a full soundtrack to "The Lord of the Rings". The soundtrack, which I know through, suddenly discovered new secrets from me. Paths of strings that are not heard in the compressed streaming in Spotify. Organic harmonies of wind instruments that I have not heard even in the regular FLAC file of the same recording. Small imperfections, which usually die in the mastering process, and discovered from the MQA file layer give the music life.

Tidal Masters and LG V40 are a paradise for audiophiles

However, the impressive layers of MQA files are revealed in contemporary music. They keep all the information that the manufacturer will include in the file before the mastering process and zipping. I was surprised, for example, when in the introduction to one of my favorite songs of the Alter Bridge band I heard a delicate phaser that I had never noticed before. I could also appreciate the craftsmanship of engineers responsible for the Red Hot Chili Peppers albums - it turns out that the files available in the MQA format of even such old records as "Blood Sugar Sex Magic" or "Californication" hide countless tastes that die in typical streaming. Not to mention the new albums - "The Getaway" is a real explosion of superimposed layers that can not be distinguished, listening to low quality music on wireless headphones limited by the bandwidth of Bluetooth connectivity.

Tidal Masters and LG V40 are a paradise for audiophiles

For those who hear the difference, there is no better connection.

Of course, even better results can be obtained by investing in expensive, large and bulky dedicated audio players or mobile DACs, but in my opinion, the increase in quality at this stage is disproportionate to the devoted convenience.

Meanwhile, the combination of a smartphone with a great headphone connector, streaming music in the highest possible quality and good wired headphones can offer a listening experience that even the most demanding music lover will not despise, while limiting the equipment tied to each other.

In the last week I've never seen how streaming can satisfy an audiophile, and the headphone connectors on your smartphone still have their place. I do not change the opinion that most users are unnecessary, but for such experiences that can offer 32-bit DAC in combination with Tidal Masters and good headphones, it's worth it to be at least on some smartphones.

The combination of Tidal Masters and LG V40 is a real paradise for music lovers


  1. Unfortunately the quad dac does not work anymore, since the last update of Tidal, on LG v40 and g8. LG and Tidal support cannot help.

    1. I have a Beyerdynamic DT 770 pro 250 ohms vesion and still hi-fi dac doesn't activate with Tidal. The only trick is that. Open a music using local music player. Then stop it and start to use tidal. You can hear the differance, but it is annoying to do that everytime.


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