Best HiFi Streaming Services
Even with the best hi-fi speaker systems at hand, I sometimes struggle to find the best music and the right vibe to jam with.
Of course, there are some personal favorites, such as Daft Punk’s Contact, Tinie Tempah’s Earthquake, and Written in the Stars, or more, but when it comes to exploring, I still find it difficult to wade through the digital landscape of music streaming services.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m grateful for the variety and accessibility of these services. But with so much out there, it can be tough to find what you’re looking for, especially if you’re looking for something specific. For example, I often find myself wishing there was a service that would focus on more niche genres, such as post-rock or metal. Or a service that had a better selection of jazz and classical music.
While there are several music streaming options out there, they don’t always offer the high-res sound that I’m looking for. 320 kbps is fine, but they aren’t always “lossless.” They are mostly uploaded as MP3s.
The format can also make a huge impact on what you get from the audio. MP3 and MP4, for instance, are the most common formats because they are easier to manage and take up less space (and hence, easier to stream), but have you ever tried streaming FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec)?
The file is huge and may take some time to load, but there is no denying that it sounds nothing less than awesome on hi-fi speakers. And unfortunately, the format is NOT available on YouTube.
So, if you’re like me and are looking for the best hi-fi music streaming services for audiophiles, it may take some doing to find the perfect streaming service. However, I’ve compiled a list of the top streaming services that offer high-quality sound, a wide range of genres, and more. The tracks may not always be lossless for free, but the investment is usually well worth it.
I’ve tried to include streaming services that offer free trials as well so that you can try the service out yourself before committing.
Spotify didn’t make the list but they are planning a Spotify HiFi service….apparently.
Understanding High-Res Audio – What Is It?
Before we get into the best hi-fi music streaming services, let’s first understand what “high-res audio” or “lossless audio” even is.
Hi-res audio is defined as any file format that can reproduce sound at a higher quality than CDs. This includes lossless audio files, which are compressed without any loss of quality, as well as uncompressed audio files.
Lossless audio is usually found in the FLAC or WAV format and has a bitrate of at least 1,411 kbps. On the other hand, MP3s are considered lossy because they are compressed at a lower bitrate, which results in some loss of quality.
When it comes to streaming services, not all of them offer lossless audio files. In fact, most of them only stream at a maximum of 320 kbps, which is the same as MP3s. However, there are a few hi-fi music streaming services that do offer lossless audio files. These services use FLAC or WAV format and have a bit rate of at least 1,411 kbps.
What will I need to listen to Hi Res streaming audio?
If you’re here as an audiophile then you already know about alot of the extras you might want to consider when looking at a high quality, lossless audio streaming service. Expensive DACs, DAPs and Headphone Amps are not necessary, but might help depending on your headphones/earphones as well.
Those things include:
- High bandwidth internet connection. Most home connections will be fine and newer mobile networks can be sufficient.
- Hardware – you’ll ideally have hardware that can support the bit rates these services stream at. e.g. anything with iOS 14 and up is OK. Tidal have a great hardware database you can look at.
- Cans to match – you don’t want to waste this quality of music on your 2016 free pair of apple earphones. Get some decent headphones or earphones that will match the audio quality.
Audiophile Streaming Services Compared
|# of Songs||90 Million||90 Million (450k Vids)||80 Million||90 Million|
|Free Option?||Yes (Ad supported)||No||No||No|
|Free Trial?||3 Months||30 Days||1 Month||1 Month|
|Highest Sound Quality||Up to 24 bit, 192 kHz||9216 kbps / 24-Bit, 192 kHz||FLAC 24-Bit up to 192 kHz||FLAC 16-Bit/44.1 kHz, 1,411 Kbps|
|Sony 360 Reality||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Family Plan Option||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Student Plan Option||Yes|
The Best Quality Hi-Fi Music Streaming Services
Now that we’ve got that out of the way let’s take a closer look at the best hi-fi music streaming services for audiophiles.
Tidal is a hi-fi music streaming service that offers lossless audio files. The tracks are usually in the FLAC format and are, therefore, perfect for your hi-fi music streaming ventures.
The service also has a wide range of genres, including pop, rock, hip-hop, R&B, and more. It also offers backstage content for those who want to get an inside look at their favorite artists.
Tidal offers a free trial for 30 days, after which you can choose from three different subscription plans. The basic individual plan is $19.99/month for hi-fi quality audio, or you can go for the family hi-fi plan, which will cost you $29.99/month for lossless hi-fi audio.
One think I like about the Tidal site which is cool is the hardware look up database. You can search for hardware that will support Tidal best.
It is one of the highest-rated hi-fi music streaming services for audiophiles out there, and for good reason!
Deezer is another high-fidelity (hi-fi) music streaming service that offers lossless audio files. Tidal has a location-specific limitation, i.e., there are some countries that the service does NOT support. I’m sure there are audiophiles like me out there in every corner of the globe, and that is where Deezer comes in.
Think of it as a suped-up Spotify but improved a hundred times in terms of experience, utility, and sound quality. Deezer has a similar user interface to Spotify, with a library of over 53 million songs, but the big difference here is that it offers lossless FLAC audio streaming as well.
It’s not just the audiophiles that love Deezer; even regular users have rated it 4.6/5 on the App Store, which is pretty impressive.
Since 2014, Deezer has been offering its Elite service, which gives users access to lossless FLAC audio streaming capabilities – at a surprisingly high streaming speed. The service costs $10.99/month, but it’s worth every penny (or should I say streaming cent) for the audiophile in you. If you opt for the annual plan, you also get a 25% discount, i.e., almost three free months!
Of course, there is the regular streaming plan as well, which will cost a bit less, but you will get 320 kbps streaming capabilities with it only. Deezer offers a free trial as well for 30 days, in which you can stream music at 128 kbps. Of course, you can try the Hi-Fi Deezer plan as well for a few days if you get in touch with their customer support and ask for it nicely.
If you haven’t heard of Qobuz before, you’re missing out on one of the most intuitive hi-fi music streaming services out there. Qobuz offers lossless audio files in the FLAC format and is known across the globe for its extensive and exhaustive library.
After Tidal, Qobuz has been ranked the highest for its experience and library. Of course, its service area is also limited, which is why I didn’t rank it higher on this list.
Qobuz offers two different types of subscription plans – the Studio plan and the Sublime+ plan. The Studio plan costs ~$12.30/month and offers lossless audio streaming at a maximum of 320 kbps. The Sublime+ plan, on the other hand, costs ~$150/year and gives you access to lossless audio files at 1,411 kbps.
With Sublime+, you can also purchase songs directly at a reduced price compared to the Studio Premiere plan or without any subscription, so it’s a win-win for audiophiles.
There is also a free trial for 30 days for both plans. If you want to explore Qobuz without subscribing to anything, you can do that as well. The catch is that you’ll only be able to stream music at a lower quality.
4. Amazon Music Unlimited
A few years ago, Amazon announced the launch of its new lossless audio streaming service – Amazon Music Unlimited. The service offers a catalog of over 50 million songs in high definition and millions of songs in Ultra HD. With Amazon Music Unlimited, you can stream music at a bit rate of up to 3,730Kbps/24-bit/192kHz.
This plan is one of the most cost-effective subscription plans out there, offering hi-fi music streaming services across the globe. Unlike other streaming services, Amazon offers a 3-month free offer and lets you try the hi-fi music from the very beginning, i.e., in the basic trial as well.
The individual plan costs only $5/month on top of the regular plan, while the family plan, which is designed for up to six family members, costs an additional $15/month.
The biggest advantage of Amazon Music Unlimited is that it comes bundled with the regular Amazon Prime membership. So, if you’re already an Amazon Prime member, you can try out the hi-fi streaming service at no additional cost for a few days.
These were some of the best hi-fi music streaming services for audiophiles that you can try out. While each service has its own unique selling point, they all offer lossless FLAC audio streaming at a surprisingly high quality. So, if you’re an audiophile, go ahead, try out these services, and feel free to share your thoughts with me about your experience!