Qobuz wants to be the new Spotify and it’s focusing on sound quality
Streaming wars never change.
While Spotify and Apple Music undoubtedly own the lion’s share of the U.S. music streaming market, that’s not stopping other companies who think they have a different take on how we listen to our music. Now, there’s a new sound in the U.S. market, Qobuz, focused on quality, not quantity.
The French company has been part of the UK and Europe scene for years now, offering hi-res streams (without needing proprietary equipment) and a download store, also for hi-res tracks. That puts them competing more with Tidal than anyone else, although the Jay Z-owned company needs specialized hardware to decode the MQA codec that they use for streaming. Qobuz doesn’t need additional hardware, using 24-bit/192 KHz FLAC streams instead. That might give them the edge in the ultra-competitive U.S. market.
With a focus on audiophiles, Qobuz heavily promotes its singer-songwriter and classical content. It’ll be interesting to see how listening figures are after a year in the U.S., where competing services have focused on urban music and EDM. That doesn’t mean Qobuz doesn’t have other genres, with everything from EDM to jazz represented in its library.
At launch, there will be four plans on offer:
- Premium: $10 per month for 320 kbps mp3 quality (or $100 for a year in advance)
- Hi-Fi: $20 per month for streaming including 16-bit CD quality (or $200 for a year in advance)
- Studio: $25 per month for unlimited Hi-Res (up to 24-bit, up to 192 khz) streaming ($250 for a year in advance)
- Sublime+: $300 per year, which gives you all the benefits of the Studio tier and adds 40 or 60-percent discounts for downloads from the Qobuz download store
All of this sounds like music to my ears. I know I’m not alone in wanting better-than-radio quality music to listen to. Still, the streaming music industry is a hard place to turn a profit, with Spotify only just starting to be in the black. I wish Qobuz well, it’d be a shame to only have low-quality music to stream over my fiber connection.
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