Regular music streaming not doing it for you quality-wise? Then you might consider signing up for Deezer’s new Elite service, which offers higher quality streams than Spotify.
Deezer Elite has been available in the US since the autumn of 2014, but from today residents in Europe, Latin America, Asia Pacific and Canada can get involved. The service offers 35 million streamable tracks, all in the lossless FLAC format at a bitrate of 1,411kbps.
Just what the heck is “High Definition Audio” anyway?
The wider launch of Deezer Elite and its description as the “largest global High Definition streaming service” sparked something of a debate in the Stuff office. Because what Deezer calls High Definition Audio might not be what other consider High Definition Audio.
As mentioned above, Deezer Elite uses the lossless FLAC format at a bitrate of 1,411kbps. That’s the same bitrate as CD quality, and while it’s around five times the bitrate of Spotify Premium’s highest quality streams (which are in the lossy OGG format) it’s not unique in streaming services: Tidal and Qobuz also offer music at this quality.
But it’s not the same quality as the 192kHz/24bit lossless tracks that you’d download to your Pono Player or Sony Walkman ZX2. Throwing new “studio quality” streaming formats like Meridian’s MQA into the mix doesn’t help matters either, because it purports to be better than CD quality. We suspect some people will be getting very confused about the whole High Definition/High Resolution Audio thing by now.
Looking at things cynically, you could conclude that that’s the intention of some of the streaming companies and manufacturers – to take advantage of the lack of recognised industry-wide standards to convince consumers that their chosen format is better than the one you already use – even if it’s essentially the same.
Anyway, if you want to give Deezer Elite a shot you can sign up from today. You’ll need to own a Sonos, however, as currently (and for the next six months) the service is exclusive to the multi-room system. After the initial free monthly trial, Elite costs £14.99 per month, or £9.99 per month if you pay for a year upfront.