Best Hi-Res Music Streaming Services in 2022

April 21, 2022

HiFi streaming services have become a new trend among true music lovers. Today, users can choose from a wide range of outstanding audio quality services. For example, Deezer Hi-Fi, Qobuz, TIDAL, Apple Music, or Amazon Music offer lossless streaming, providing access to an extensive catalog of high-definition music. Do you want to learn more about each of these options? Which HiFi music service should you use? Read further to dig deeper into all possibilities.

Hi-fidelity meaning - what is HiFi music

MP3 is one of the most famous music formats, which showed up in the early 2000s. However, much musical data is wasted due to significant compression, so while listening to MP3 encoded music, you may lack detail and subtlety, especially in the midrange and treble.

Thankfully, the development of lossless audio compression techniques makes it possible to encode high-fidelity audio files: AAC, MQA, or FLAC. These guarantee a truly HiFi sound quality, emphasizing the fidelity and clarity of the songs.

We speak of CD-quality when these files are encoded in 16 bits / 44.1 kHz.

24 bits / 96 kHz files are called Lossless or HiFi. This difference will make ranking the best HIFI music streaming services easier because they don't all stream in the exact resolution.

Best Hi-Res Music Streaming Services: A Comparison

In the sections belowe, we're going to analyze services that offer hi-res music: TIDAL, Qobuz, Apple Music, Amazon Music and Deezer.

About TIDAL

tidal app.png

TIDAL has an intuitive and well-designed mobile app. Its interface can be compared to Spotify's, so users who know the Swedish app can quickly adapt to TIDAL. There are recommendations and personalized playlists matching users' tastes and listening habits on the home page. These suggestions are always very relevant, so you shouldn't be disappointed. You can then navigate through different tabs to access artists' clips, our favorites, or many thematic selections. Also, it's possible to access all TIDALMaster titles very quickly. Finally, the TIDAL application enables to stream music directly via Bluetooth.

User experience: well-designed app, comparable to Spotify

Platforms: iOS, Android, MacOS, PC, web player

Catalogue: Over 80 million

TIDAL audio quality

If you're looking for CD quality (1411 Kbps), TIDAL's offer has it and a HIFI package with audio that can go up to 24 bits. / 384 kHz (usually 24 bit / 96 kHz).

Tidal is currently the only music service that offers MQA encoding (Master Quality Authenticated), and the concept is called TIDAL Master. This compression technology produces an HD audio file size 50% smaller than a standard HD file. Therefore, it can be very convenient to use outside your home by limiting network consumption. However, you must first check if your device is compatible with the MQA. Otherwise, you won't be able to enjoy this listening quality.

TIDAL HIFI Subscription not only includes TIDAL Master and CD quality. Since June 2020, the streaming service has also offered a few scarce titles in Dolby Atmos, which guarantees a perfect listening experience with a soundbar or home cinema. Also, TIDAL has a streaming application for Amazon Fire TV boxes, Apple TV 4K, Nvidia Shield, and the Android TV, making it possible to use Dolby Atmos files' potential truly. Therefore, the connection of the audio streams is carried out directly with the receiver. Finally, when listening with compatible Sony headphones, the platform offers tracks in 360 Reality Audio.

Audio quality: CD quality 24 bits/96 kHZ up to /384kHZ, Dolby Atmos, 360 Reality Audio

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TIDAL price

Tidal was founded in 2014 and acquired a year later by Jay-Z and a collective of artists, including Kanye West, Madonna, Alicia Keys, Beyoncé, Chris Martin, Nicki Minaj, and Rihanna. This streaming service aims to allow artists to express themselves freely and pay them better than traditional platforms do. Subscribers have access to more than 70 million tracks. The most basic HiFI subscription costs $9.99 per month or $4.99 for students, and it allows streaming music in 1411 Kbps. Tidal also offers a family plan for $14.99 monthly, with which it's possible to create up to 5 accounts.

To access the HiFi Plus (Dolby Atmos, 360 Reality Audio and Master Quality Audio up to 9216 Kbps), it's necessary to pay slightly more, which is $19.99 per month for a standard user, $9.99 for a student, or $29.99 for a family of 5 people.

Price: HiFI individual $9,99, student $4.99, family plan $14.99, for HiFi Plus extra $10 monthly

TIDAL compatibility

TIDAL is installed in many amplifiers, network players, and wireless speakers, like Denon, Bluesound, Sonos, and Marantz devices compatible with HEOS. However, the use of TIDAL on these different devices varies from brand to brand.

With Denon and Marantz, it's necessary to use the Heos app, which isn't very user-friendly but remains sufficiently intuitive for daily use. With other devices such as Sonos speakers, it's possible to use the Tidal Connect option to control the official TIDAL application's music directly. However, it's important to note that not all devices with built-in TIDAL are MQA compatible. In this case, the quality is lower, even with the TIDAL Hi-Fi subscription.

Supported devices: check compability here.

About Qobuz

qobuz app.png

The Qobuz service allows its subscribers to listen to music in different ways. It has a dedicated mobile app for iOS and Android, a desktop option for Mac and Windows, or even a Web interface. Whichever method you choose, the interface remains similar. Users are welcomed by the "discover" tab in which Qobuz presents the latest editorial content, new releases, and playlists. However, the recommendations aren't as relevant as the other services and mainly focus on classical and jazz styles rather than your tastes. Also, categories and playlists aren't grouped by genre. However, it's still possible to discover them from the search tab.

User experience: worse than other streaming platforms

Platforms: iOS, Android, MacOS, PC, web player

Catalogue: Over 80 million

Qobuz quality

Users can stream music in HD with a minimum quality of 16 bits / 44.1 kHz, which is a CD equivalent. The majority of songs available on the platform are in 24-bit / 48 kHz and 24-bit / 96 kHz FLAC, although more and more tracks are now available in 24-bit / 192 kHz (Hi-Res Audio). However, choosing the FLAC format requires a good network connection and comes with higher Internet consumption than Tidal's MQA. Thus, downloading songs for offline listening also needs a lot of storage space.

Audio quality: CD quality 16 bits / 44.1 kHz, Hi-Res Audio 24-bit / 192 kHz

qobuz hifi.png

Qobuz price

French service Qobuz is unique because it doesn't offer MP3 format. Instead, users can stream music in HD only, with a minimum quality of 16 bits / 44.1 kHz, which is a CD equivalent. To access the broad catalog of more than 70 million songs, users can choose between Studio Premier for $14.99 per month for a one-year commitment ($29 for a family subscription) or Studio Sublime at $20.83 per month ($41.66 for the family subscription). These two subscriptions offer unlimited music streaming up to 24 bits / 192 kHz, but the Studio Sublime offer allows you to set up preferential rates of Hi-Res audio. Qobuz is also an online HD music sales platform. This can be a compelling option if you want to listen to music on a device that isn't Qobuz compatible or connected to the network.

Price: Studio Premier $14.00, Studio Sublime $20.83 (option to set up preferential rates of Hi-Res audio)

Qobuz compatibility

Qobuz can often be found installed on amplifiers, network players, or wireless speakers. Many brands such as Bluesound, Elipson, Cabasse, Audio Pro, Yamaha, or Cambridge trust this service. However, it doesn't have a Connect function, so it's necessary to go through the application-specific to each brand to access the music.

Supported devices: check compability here.

About Apple Music

apple music app.png

The Apple Music mobile app is available for iOS, Android, and Mac. It has a minimalist design and is very easy to use. You can navigate between several tabs to access the different rankings, your music library, radio stations, or many music recommendations. When signing up for the service, Apple Music asks for some information about your favorite genres and artists, so suggestions are well-fitted from the platform's first use. Apple Music also has a considerable number of playlists. They are countless, well organized, and frequently updated.

User experience: minimalist design

Platforms: iOS, Android, MacOS, PC, Car Play

Catalogue: Over 90 million

Apple Music quality

Apple Music offers HIFI streaming, which starts at 16-bit/44.1kHz CD quality and goes up to 24-bit/48kHz. Users can enjoy this lossless quality both on Apple devices and the majority of Android smartphones or tablets. For the more demanding audiophiles, Apple Music also offers Hi-Resolution with quality up to 24 bits / 192 kHz, but it requires an external DAC or a compatible device. For HD streaming, Apple Music uses the ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec) format, which promises to preserve every bit of the original audio file; however, it's supported by fewer devices than the FLAC used by Qobuz, Deezer Hi-Fi, and Amazon Music.

With a $9.99 per month subscription, Apple also provides access to Dolby Atmos music. If you want to take advantage of it, the music service recommends using the Apple AirPods and Apple AirPods Pro or the Apple Airpods Max headphones. Therefore, the effect is less conclusive than authentic multi channel listening, in the same way as 3D files from Amazon Music HD or Deezer hi-fi with titles 360 Reality Audio. However, it's still possible to enjoy valid multichannel Dolby Atmos files using the Apple Music application from an Apple TV 4K connected directly to an Atmos-compatible home theater receiver or soundbar.

Audio quality: 16-bit/44.1kHz CD quality that goes up to 24-bit/48kHz, Hi-Res Lossless up to 24 bits / 192 kHz (however, it requires an external DAC...), Dolby Atmos (which makes a huge difference for a typical user who has Apple AirPods or Max)

apple music dolby losseless.png

Apple Music price

Apple offers lossless audio quality for $9.99 per month for one user or $14.99 for a family subscription. Therefore, all Apple Music subscribers can enjoy superior music quality since June 2021 at no additional cost.

Price: individual $9.99, family plan $14.99

Apple Music compatibility

Apple Music is integrated with a smaller number of devices. However, its expansion seems to be accelerating lately, with the availability of Sonos speakers and soundbars, certain Bluesound elements, or even Audio Pro speakers. Also, it's possible to stream music from any Apple device to any AirPlay 2 compatible device. However, the maximum quality accepted is in 16 bits and 48 kHz. It's therefore not possible to use all Hi-Res files from Apple Music via this transmission mode.

Supported devices: check compatibility here.

About Amazon Music

amazon music unlimited.png

Amazon Unlimited web interface and mobile app can't match the one of Apple Music or TIDAL, but it's not the worst. Its homepage offers stations and personalized recommendations. These are always relevant, and you can discover new titles and artists with pleasure. Where Amazon Music HD really shines is the tight integration with products supporting Amazon Alexa voice assistant. So if you like to play music without getting off the couch, Amazon Music is for you.

User experience: works best with an Alexa-enabled smart device such as an Echo Dot or Echo Studio

Platforms: iOS, Android, MacOS, PC, web player

Catalogue: Over 75 million

Amazon Music HD quality

The Amazon Music HD subscription, also called Amazon Unlimited, offers access to more than 90 million songs, including 50 million 16-bit / 44.1 kHz CD-quality titles and other few million in Ultra HD (up to 24 bit / 192 kHz). Like Qobuz, Amazon Music HD uses FLAC as the format for all files.

Amazon Music HD (Amazon Unlimited) also offers Dolby Atmos music and Sony's 360 Reality Audio format. However, listening to these is only possible if you have an Amazon Echo Studio speaker. Thus, you can't enjoy real Atmos effects on regular home cinema speakers or a soundbar as with Tidal.

Audio quality: 16-bit / 44.1 kHz CD-quality, Ultra HD (up to 24 bit / 192 kHz), Dolby Atmos, Sony's 360 Reality Audio

amazon unlimited hd.png

Amazon Unlimited price

The American giant Amazon launched its Amazon Music HD service in October 2019 at an initial price of $14.99. However, upon the arrival of Apple Music, Jeff Bezos's brand reduced the cost of an Amazon HD subscription. Thus, it's possible to enjoy unlimited access to the entire high-resolution catalog for $9.99 per month (solo user) or $14.99 (family subscription) only.

Price: individual $9.99, family plan $14.99

Amazon Music compatibility

Amazon Music HD is integrated with many home audio devices, including Denon and Marantz hi-fi and home theater receivers, Sonos and Bose speakers, and Yamaha and Samsung soundbars. These devices often allow controlling playback directly through the Amazon Music app.

Supported devices: check compability here.

About Deezer

deezer flow.png

Listening to Deezer Hi-Fi can be done from a web interface, a Windows or Mac app, or the mobile app for iOS and Android. The interface of these different options is pleasant, and it's easy to navigate. Deezer HiFi app contains a lot of podcasts, music, and users' favorites (artists, albums, titles, compilations, etc.) The playlists are various, and some are personalized. Deezer offers AI-based feature called Flow which mixes your favorite music with fresh music recommendations.

User experience: easy to use and clean interface

Platforms: iOS, Android, MacOS, PC, web player

Catalogue: Over 90 million

Deezer Hi-Fi quality

Unlike other services, Deezer Hi-Fi's HD streaming is limited to 16-bit/44.1 kHz with a bitrate of 1411 kbps. Although the high quality is still noticeable compared to MP3 files, the French service remains far behind the many Hi-Res 24 bits / 96 kHz or even 192 kHz tracks available in competitors' offers. Thus, Deezer Hi-Fi isn't the best HD music service, especially since its subscription is more expensive than competitors. Deezer also offer 360 Audio Quality but you will need to download their "360 by Deezer" app.

Audio quality: 6-bit/44.1 kHz

deezer hifi.png

Deezer HiFi price

Deezer has a catalog just as extensive as the other services but presents some exclusivities, such as Deezer Sessions (private mini-concerts). The classic 320 kbit MP3 streaming offer costs $9.99 for a single account, $4.99 for a student, and $14.99 for a family of 6 members. CD-quality & HD streaming costs $14.99 per month or $19.99 for the family subscription.

Price: HD streaming individual $14.99 or family plan $19.99

Deezer Hi-Fi compatibility

Many devices are compatible with Deezer, but not all of them play CD-quality files. It's, therefore, necessary to opt for a Deezer Hi-Fi certified system, like Sonos equipment, for example. For simplicity, Deezer HiFi is compatible with most Chromecast devices produced after 2015. So, to start listening to music in CD quality, select the Chromecast button.

Supported devices: check compability here.

Which streaming service offers the best listening quality

Tidal easily wins the battle of HIFI music services in terms of quality with 24-bit / 384 kHz titles. No other service currently offers such a high resolution. However, the use of an external DAC, a network player, or an audiophile player is essential to enjoy these files. Tidal offers a little more openness on specific titles with an adapted system. Listening is quite analytical, dynamic, and very detailed.

At equivalent resolution, Qobuz seems to display more clarity and presence in the treble. String instruments offer a hint of additional reverb and texture compared to other services. This gain in clarity also benefits micro-details that seem to stand out better from the rest of the scene. When it comes to Amazon Music, the service is a bit more vocal-focused, which can be a plus or minus depending on the titles. On classical or jazz, Qobuz does a little better, while Amazon Music defends itself very well on variety. It is, therefore, above all, a matter of musical taste.

The tracks available on Apple Music display a subtly more bass-heavy character, which should please pop fans. However, songs streamed in Dolby Atmos with non-Apple headphones don't sound spectacular. The whole scene is enhanced with these, and the balance loses its naturalness. The bass is less deep and seems distant, as are the voices, which aren't well centered and distant. In addition, the scene is narrower, so details don't stand out.

Therefore, to take advantage of multichannel files, it's necessary to use the Apple Music application from an Apple TV 4K directly connected to a home cinema or a soundbar. Dolby Atmos seems to bring a live and lively side to the music. Certain instruments, such as the piano, are better sounding and the resonances coming from the Atmos speakers give the impression of being in the middle of a concert hall. The result is convincing, and Dolby Atmos seems to have a bright future in the music listening field.

Tidal, Qobuz, Apple Music, Amazon Music, Deezer - what is the best HIFI music service?

Choosing the best music streaming platforms isn't an easy task, and each platform has its pros and cons. Tidal is the service offering the highest listening quality, with files up to 24 bits / 384 kHz. Qobuz, Apple Music, and Amazon Music HD offer a maximum resolution of 24 bits / 192 kHz. Deezer Hi-FI offers 16- bit / 44.1kHz.

The application interface also plays a decisive role in choosing a lossless music service. As such, Tidal, Apple Music and Deezer are on the top of the list, with user-friendly, intuitive apps and good recommendations. In addition, the Apple Music, Amazon Music and Deezer platforms also have the real-time lyrics display function, with the possibility of launching a song from the verse of your choice.

Finally, Tidal and Apple Music are a great choice by offering real Dolby Atmos, which provides immersive and innovative listening, connected with a web player and a home cinema system or soundbar. The two services are equally good in this area, with generally similar thematic playlists and almost the same Atmos files. The various Dolby Atmos-compatible albums and playlists are highlighted better on the Apple platform.

It may not be easy to select the best HiFi music service for all these reasons. This is very variable depending on your needs and especially your equipment. Moreover, nothing is fixed, and the battle between the different services is not about to stop. Regular application updates, the integration of new technologies, and the evolution of recommendation algorithms can upset the balance.

Here's a summary of what've discussed to help you with the decision:

Service

TIDAL

Qobuz

Apple Music

Amazon Music

Deezer

Audio Quality

CD quality 24 bits/96 kHZ up to /384kHZ, Dolby Atmos, 360 Reality Audio

CD quality 16 bits / 44.1 kHz, Hi-Res Audio 24-bit / 192 kHz

16-bit/44.1kHz CD quality that goes up to 24-bit/48kHz, Hi-Res Lossless up to 24 bits / 192 kHz, Dolby Atmos

16-bit / 44.1 kHz CD-quality, Ultra HD (up to 24 bit / 192 kHz), Dolby Atmos, Sony's 360 Reality Audio

6-bit/44.1 kHz

Price

HiFI individual $9,99, student $4.99, family plan $14.99, for HiFi Plus extra $10 monthly

Studio Premier $14.00, Studio Sublime $20.83

individual $9.99, family plan $14.99

individual $9.99, family plan $14.99

HD streaming individual $14.99 or family plan $19.99

Catalogue

Over 80 million

Over 80 million

Over 90 million

Over 75 million

Over 90 million

Platforms

iOS, Android, MacOS, PC, web player

iOS, Android, MacOS, PC, web player

iOS, Android, MacOS, PC, Car Play

iOS, Android, MacOS, PC, web player

iOS, Android, MacOS, PC, web player

Interface

well-designed app, comparable to Spotify

worse than other streaming platforms

typical Apple minimalist design

voice recognition over interface

easy to use and clean interface

Transfer your playlist to enjoy HIFI music streaming

Do you subscribe to Spotify or other music streaming services not listed in this article, and the audio quality isn't sufficient for you? With FreeYourMusic, you can quickly transfer your playlist to another music streaming service (for example Tidal) and enjoy completely new music listening quality with its HIFI subscription. All you have to do is download the FreeYourMusic app, select a source streaming service, log in to your account, and select the target service. After clicking one button, your playlists will be transferred within seconds! So don't stick to just one streaming service; discover the world of music and its full potential.

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