Qobuz – for avid downloaders
Qobuz was the first streaming giant to have dropped MP3 streaming entirely, going all-in on CD-quality and hi-res streaming. In truth, taking a stand is nothing new to Qobuz, a company that tends to do things differently from most of its big-name rivals in the music streaming world.
The French service has been around since 2007 (the same amount of time as Spotify) but it only left its home borders in 2013, when it became the first CD-quality streaming service to hit the UK. Qobuz was also the first to offer hi-res streams.
There are two packages from which users can choose: the Studio Premier plan ($20 per month or $200 annually) for streaming Qobuz’s 50 million-track library; and Studio Sublime ($250 annually), which also throws in discounted purchases of 24-bit downloads.
Qobuz is now available on lots of devices. There’s iOS and Android apps, plus integration into Sonos and a wide range of hi-fi streamers. Google Chromecast compatibility is a big deal here too as many hi-fi companies are now adding Chromecast support into their streaming components, though Chromecast does have a file limit of 24-bit/96kHz. A feather in Qobuz’s cap was that it was the first service to make 24-bit hi-res streaming available on Sonos products, though Amazon has now, of course, become the second.
Qobuz’s (comparatively) high price has always been partly justified by its exhaustive library of hi-res music, now at 80 million tracks (FLACs up to 24-bit/192kHz). Indeed, I regularly find hi-res albums on Qobuz that are available in only CD-quality on Tidal. On the flip side, however, I often find albums on Tidal, Spotify and Apple Music that aren’t available on Qobuz at all – which is arguably a bigger issue.