2022 Best Hi-Res Music Streaming Services

In the crowded space of music streaming services, companies roll out new features to fight for your attention every year. Some of these options appeal more to people with specific interests, while others cater to the widest catalog of music or even exclusive content from popular artists.

At Audio Advice, we love discovering new music, and sharing it with our friends, families, and co-workers and of course, listening to music with the highest fidelity is our expertise! Since there are so many choices today, we decided to weigh in on this ever-evolving topic with the music services we are having the most fun using.

Our main focus will be on the streaming services offering the highest bit rates or audio fidelity. However, some streaming services offer so much convenience and access to music, we think these simply cannot be ignored even if the audio quality is not the best. 

We will also discuss how user-friendly and accessible the app experience is since compatibility with all the smart devices around us tends to make things a little more complicated — and since sharing music is one of the most important ways people discover new artists online today, we will cover the social features that let us share and discover more music with friends & family.

We rated our favorite high-quality streaming services in the following three performance categories: 

  • Audio Fidelity 
  • Music Discoverability & Shareability
  • User Experience & Accessibility

Finally, we will discuss which kind of music listener will benefit the most from each music streaming service, and then we will give you our recommendations on the best audio gear, so you get the most out of your chosen streaming platform!

Click on the music service below to jump ahead to a particular streaming platform:

Qobuz Logo and Qobuz symbol
Graphic Image of TIDAL logo
Image of Spotify Logo and Spotify symbol.
Amazon Music HD logo
Apple Music logo with Apple symbol.
Streaming services comparison

What does bit-rate mean?

Unless it is explicitly stated, most streaming services will stream “lossy” file formats such as MP3 or AAC. Because digital audio is data, most platforms are concerned with bit-rate or the rate of data transmitted each second.

In general, it’s safe to assume higher bit rates will equate to higher audio quality although your listening device, itself – headphones, earbuds & speakers – definitely should not be overlooked. For example, cheap earbuds may not reproduce the complete frequency range that a CD-quality file can offer. But, if you want to reveal all the details hiding in the music, then a good pair of high-performance speakers or high-end headphones are warranted.

Qobuz

Who it’s for: If you have a deep appreciation for listening to albums with the best audio fidelity and great editorial content, then Qobuz is designed especially for you. Qobuz is suited for music-aficionados who want audiophile-grade sound quality for all the big new releases plus more specialized genres like Jazz, Classical, Folk, and R&B without needing specialized hardware to decode the audio stream.

Qobuz app being used on an Iphone.

How it works

Qobuz has a few tiers. Starting at $14.99/month, their “Studio Premier” plan for single individuals lets you access Studio quality streaming (FLAC 24-Bit up to 192 kHz) plus Qobuz’s Original editorial content with no restrictions.

If you’re comfortable committing, you can go with an annual subscription for $12.49 and save 25% off the normal price. Family plans are structured similarly starting at $24.99/month or you can save 25% when you choose the $22.49 annual plan. Family plans allow you to add up to 6 individual accounts. 

If you also like purchasing and owning your hi-res music library, then there’s even a plan for that. For $20.83/month or $249.99/billed annually, the “Studio Sublime” plan will give you exclusive access to purchase any Hi-Res or CD quality album in the Qobuz catalog at a special discount price of up to 60% off.

Features & Technology

Audio Fidelity 

  • Standard MP3 (320 kbps) quality.
  • HiFi CD-quality (16-Bit/44.1 kHz). 
  • Studio high-res audio quality (FLAC 24-Bit up to 192 kHz).

Music Discoverability

  • Catalog — Free-range access to 70+ million CD-Quality songs and one of the largest lossless CD-quality and hi-res catalogs in the world for big new releases plus more specialized niche genres (Jazz, Classical, Fusion, and more) — you also get limitless access to Qobuz’s hi-res catalog of 240,000 albums
  • Shareability — Sharing music is pretty limited. In the app, Qobuz allows you to share a song or album using a link that you can copy and paste into an email, text message, social media post, or just about anywhere else that supports link sharing.

Curated playlists — Limited, but you get music playlists curated by Artists, Mood, Genre, and special playlists curated by Qobuz’s audio brand partners, including Sonos

User Experience & Accessibility

  • Accessibility — Streaming music with Qobuz is pretty universal. There’s a Web Player, native apps for mobile iOS, Android smartphones & tablets, plus Mac and PC as well.
  • Experience — The Qobuz app for all platforms is not as well polished or as stable as the other streaming platforms. However, where Qobuz falls a little short on user experience, it makes up for it with incredible sound quality without needing anything extra.
    • Editorial Content — All Qobuz subscription plans and native apps give you unlimited access to original editorial content, 500,000 album reviews & artist bios.
    • We like how Qobuz lets you see precisely what resolution is streaming.
  • Compatibility — Qobuz is compatible with GoogleCast, AirPlay, Bluetooth, Roon & more.

Overall Recommendation

Qobuz is the service we rely on the most to test high-end audio products and write our reviews. If you want to really get the most out of your listening sessions with Qobuz, our advice is to upgrade your DAC, first. Depending on your DAC, you can experience more details hiding in Qobuz’s vast CD-Quality & high-res music archive up to 24-Bit/192 kHz. Upgrading your computer speakers is also a good next step so you will experience the full spectrum of frequencies hiding in your hi-res music.

How to get the best audio quality from Qobuz:

 

Top Products To Get The Most Out Of Qobuz:

Tidal

Who it’s for: If you love popular music, audio fidelity, and exclusive video content only available on Tidal from the biggest names in music, then this is the service for you. Tidal is perfect for fans of Pop, Dance, Hip-hop, and R&B or for anyone who wants to level up their listening experience with audiophile quality while staying current with the latest trends in music. 

Image of Iphone playing music through the Tidal app.

How it works:

Artist-owned, Tidal has many tiers giving you access to a vast catalog of exclusive content. You can get started with standard audio quality with a 30-day free trial and then $9.99/month after that. $19.99/month unlocks high-resolution MQA audio with TIDAL Masters. Discounted plans for families, students, and members of the military are also available.

TIDAL Masters uses a special codec called MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) to package large analog-quality songs into digital files small enough to download or stream from a mobile device. The process starts with the original master tape. All of the subtle timing details are folded into a smaller packet file using MQA technology. MQA streams the original master tape in a digital format with a file size no bigger than a standard CD with nothing missing. So, the real magic occurs when you have a system capable of unfolding the file with all of the timing details. 

Features & Technology

Audio Fidelity 

  • CD-quality (16-Bit/44.1kHz).
    • The top-tier “HiFi” plan unlocks the ability to stream lossless quality FLAC and TIDAL “Masters” with Tidal’s special high-resolution MQA format (24-Bit up to 192 kHz) that lets you hear the music precisely as the artist intended. 
    • Dolby Atmos Music tracks.

Music Discoverability

  • Catalog — 70 million songs plus Exclusive Content — Much of Tidal's exclusive content is delivered in the form of video. This includes music videos, movies, documentaries, live concert streams, TV shows, artist interviews, and video podcasts. Tidal Masters also offers immersive formats such as Sony’s 360 Reality Audio and Dolby Atmos —  you will need a separate DAC, or AptX HD-enabled wireless headphones to take advantage of it.
  • Shareability — Unless your friends have Tidal as well, sharing music is pretty limited.  
  • Curated playlists — Human-curated playlists that help you track the careers of musicians and producers for a deeper understanding of the music-making ecosystem. Contributor Mix will help spotlight behind-the-scenes musicians and producers, while History Mix will let users delve into their own listening history with the streaming platform.

User Experience & Accessibility

  • Accessibility — Web Player, mobile iOS, Android, plus Mac & PC desktop apps as well.
  • Experience — All the native apps are highly polished and easy to use. 
    • Although Tidal has a wide selection of tracks that will stream at CD quality, the entire library isn’t available in hi-res.
    • Master tier doesn’t let you see what resolution is streaming.
  • Compatibility — Compatible with third-party MQA authenticated products that render MQA files. MQA-compatible third-party audio products are required to unfold the MQA data.

Overall Recommendation

When you have a streaming device capable of unfolding the MQA data, the music is transformed. If you want to take advantage of all the higher-resolution details hiding in TIDAL Masters, you will need a separate DAC capable of unfolding the MQA data. You will feel like you are part of the recording and get that same feeling of a live concert. Luckily, MQA has become extremely popular with high-end audio brands.

How to get the best audio quality:

 

*Pro Tip — You might not be able to hear the difference with the high-quality files if you don’t have excellent audio equipment. The list of audio products that support MQA is constantly growing.

Spotify

Who it’s for: If you love music, and you want one of the most flexible platforms available to share it all with your friends — but you don’t necessarily need the best audio fidelity, then Spotify is certainly worth considering.

Image of Iphone using the Spotify app to stream music or listen to podcast.

How it works:

There’s a social aspect to this platform. You can choose to share what you’re listening to in real-time, assemble playlists with others, and follow artists you like. It does a great job recreating the sense of making mixtapes for your friends like some of us did back in the ’90s. Fans of podcasts will also benefit from Spotify’s original podcast programming. 

Individual plans start at $9.99/month, $12.99/month for couples, $14.99/month for families, and students can get a plan for $4.99/month. Users can stream music free with ads via desktop and web apps. A 30-day trial period is available. Students pay a discounted rate of $5 and get free access to Hulu (with commercials). The free tier is also one of the better options for users who don’t mind ads and want to listen to songs on demand.

*Spotify has announced its “CD-quality streaming” tier which could undercut the dominance of Tidal and Amazon Music HD in this space, but audio specs and roll-out schedule have not yet been announced.

Features & Technology

Audio Fidelity

  • For now, Spotify is limited to 256-320 kbps — no hi-res streaming options, yet (coming soon). 

Music Discoverability

  • Catalog — 70 million tracks plus Exclusive Content — Much of Spotify’s exclusive content is in the form of original podcast programming. This includes a variety of video podcasts like The Joe Rogan Experience, including exclusive radio stations, music videos, and live concert streams.
  • Shareability — Collaborative playlists you co-create with friends, plus social media features baked right into the software, making it easier to share music, playlists & artists.
    • Host group listening sessions — allows friends to pick & choose songs to listen to together.
  • Curated playlists — mood-based, genre-based & “best of” playlists curated for specific activities and genres to help you find music for any situation, easily — such as the gym or long road trips in the car to set the perfect mood. 
    • Weekly playlists — discovery-based playlists that come out every week with new artists & curated based on your specific music tastes — plus New Music Friday/Release Radar will keep you in the loop whenever the artists you follow release new material.

User Experience & Accessibility 

  • Accessibility — Web Player, mobile iOS, Android, plus Mac & PC desktop apps as well. 
  • Experience — All the apps are very well polished and easy to use. 
  • Compatibility — Spotify Connect is the service’s protocol for connecting to third-party devices which makes Spotify more accessible, allowing it to integrate seamlessly with various products, from wireless speakers to gaming consoles and more. This is super cool because it lets you control connected devices like the Playstation 5 right from the Spotify app on your smartphone, cutting down on the different remotes & controllers usually needed. Super cool! 

Overall Recommendation

Spotify is very much for people who are willing to sacrifice some audio quality for immense ease of use and all the personalized recommendations for new music. 

When you want to kick back and relax, upgrading to a high-end over-ear headphone or a great noise-canceling wireless headphone for on-the-go use is a great way to indulge in everything Spotify offers. Since Spotify is all about connecting with friends and family, upgrading to a Bluetooth speaker with tight Spotify integration like the Sonos Move or the Sonos Roam will let you entertain your guests outdoors and share all the playlists you co-create, together. Sonos’s tight integration with Spotify will also let you dip your toes in whole-house music. 

How to get the best audio quality:

 

Top Products To Get The Most Out Of Spotify:

  1. Sonos Move Battery-Powered Smart Speaker Sonos Move Battery-Powered Smart Speaker
    $399.00

  1. Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Over-Ear Headphones, side view Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Over-Ear Headphones
    $348.00

  1. Sonos ARC Soundbar Sonos Arc Dolby Atmos Soundbar
    $899.00

Amazon Music HD

Who it’s for: If you love a good packaged deal, then Amazon Prime members will get a great bundle on audiophile-grade sound quality for just $12.99/month, making it an absolute steal for a lossless audio streaming service. Fans of FLAC will be happy to access better sound quality in the form of High Definition (HD) music and Ultra HD (Hi-res) music.

Amazon Music HD app on mobile phone.

How it works:

If streaming hi-res music is your thing, Amazon Music HD is an optional upgrade you can add to the company’s main Amazon music unlimited music service.

The price is $14.99/month for non-Prime members, or $12.99 if you already have an Amazon Prime account. Family plans run $19.99/month, and there’s a free 90-day test drive for the service.

Audio Fidelity

  • CD-Quality HD songs up to 850 Kbps at 16-bit/44.1 kHz.
  • Exclusive remastered Hi-res audio studio versions up to 3730 Kbps at 24-bit/192 kHz.
  • Uncompressed lossless FLAC up to 24-bit/192 kHz.
  • 3D Audio tracks with support for Dolby Atmos.

Music Discoverability

  • Catalog — 70 million tracks plus Exclusive Content — Much of Spotify’s exclusive content is in the form of original podcast programming. This includes a variety of video podcasts like The Joe Rogan Experience, including exclusive radio stations, music videos, and live concert streams.
    • 5 million hi-res songs up to 3730 Kbps at 24-bit/192 kHz (better than CD-Quality audio) for more details hiding in the exclusive remastered studio versions.
    • The real prize is the selection of “millions” of uncompressed FLAC files that can be streamed up to 24-bit/192 kHz lossless FLAC.
    • Amazon Music HD has over one thousand 3D tracks, mastered in Dolby Atmos and Sony’s 360 Reality Audio codecs from some of the world’s biggest artists. In addition to 3D audio, Amazon Music HD customers can playback HD and Ultra HD on Echo Studio devices.
  • Shareability — Limited. Unless your friends have Amazon HD, sharing music is limited.
  • Curated playlists — Limited. There are curated playlists put together by the Amazon team. Some are suggested through a "recommended" area that promotes albums based on tracks you recently listened to or previously purchased from Amazon.

User Experience & Accessibility

  • Accessibility — Web Player, mobile iOS, Android, plus Mac & PC desktop apps as well.
  • Experience — Amazon Music app is not as well polished or as stable as the other apps.
  • Compatibility — Tight integration with products supporting Amazon Alexa voice assistant, including Alexa-enabled Echo devices (2nd generation and later), Fire TVs, and Fire Tablets all support HD quality audio. The Echo Studio, Echo Link, and Echo Amp support Ultra HD quality audio. Apple AirPlay supports HD-quality playback.

Overall Recommendation

Amazon Music HD is still a newcomer, so it will need more time to mature. However, if you are considering bundling up a Prime membership with a high-quality streaming service, then upgrading to a high-performance DAC/headphone amp is the best way to take advantage of the higher bit rates Amazon HD delivers. You may also want to consider upgrading to a Dolby Atmos soundbar so you can experience Amazon Music HD’s growing list of 3D tracks, mastered in Dolby Atmos and Sony’s 360 Reality Audio.

How to get the best audio quality:

 

Top Products To Get The Most Out Of Amazon Music HD:

Apple Music

Who it’s for: If you love music, music videos, podcasts, and Apple’s exclusive ecosystem of software and hardware — and you care about the quality of your audio, then Apple Music is quite possibly the best way to enjoy one of the largest music catalogs, available — plus with Apple’s most recent announcements of hi-res audio and spacial music, there’s a whole lot more.

Apple music app on iPhone.

Consumers already invested in large iTunes libraries or who are otherwise committed to the Apple ecosystem will absolutely benefit the most from Apple Music but, as Apple recently revealed, there’s a growing list of immersive Spatial Audio content being added plus a catalog of more than 75 million songs now streams in Apple’s special ALAC lossless audio codec. 

*Apple says thousands of tracks will be available in Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos encoding at launch in June with more being added on a regular basis. 

How it works:  As the service with one of the most matured catalogs on our list, Apple Music already gave subscribers access to millions of songs, music videos, podcasts, and live radio stations ad-free however, according to Apple, the new features are coming to Apple Music at no additional cost. The catch is you will need to own a compatible Apple device to take full advantage of all the features offered by the service. Compatible Apple products get a slight advantage in performance with native playback of CD-Quality and higher. AirPods and Beats headphones with an H1 or W1 chip will play tracks encoded with Dolby Atmos, as well as the built-in speakers in the latest versions of iPhone, iPad, and Mac. 

After you purchase any of the latest Apple hardware or download the Apple Music app to Android devices or Windows PCs, you can basically stream across Apple’s ever-expanding ecosystem of smart devices and software free for the first three months. 

Once the free trial period ends, individuals pay $9.99/month through the credit card associated with their Apple ID. There’s also a $14.99/month subscription for families of up to six family members. If enrolled in a university, there’s also a discounted rate of $4.99 for students. 

Features & Technology

Audio Fidelity 

  • Limited “lossy” Sound quality 256kbps AAC bitrate. 
  • Apple Music’s Lossless tier starts at CD quality 16 bit/44.1 kHz up to 24 bit/48 kHz.
  • Hi-Resolution Lossless all the way up to 24 bit/192 kHz!
  • Spacial Audio tracks with support for Dolby Atmos.

Music Discoverability

  • Catalog Access to a deep library of 75 million songs plus Exclusive Content much of Apple Music’s exclusive content is delivered in the form of early releases of new music, curated playlists from the most popular artists, live performances, including Apple’s live 24-hour radio station Apple Music 1 which hosts live artist interviews, and even radio shows hosted by artists, themselves. Plus, thousands of Spacial Audio tracks and albums available in Dolby Atmos will have a badge for easier discovery. 
  • Shareability — Since Apple Music comes pre-installed on all Apple devices and is free to download on Android and PC, chances are many of your friends & family members already have an Apple device and an Apple ID that will let you share new artists, music, or playlists with them. With Apple Music, you can also see what your friends are listening to which helps us discover new music from our co-workers, friends, and family. 
  • Curated playlists Exclusive access to human-curated playlists based on music tastes, genres, mood, and artist recommendations. Apple is also curating a special set of Dolby Atmos playlists to help listeners find new Spacial Audio tracks. 

User Experience & Accessibility

  • Accessibility access to your entire music library across all your devices (iOS, Android, macOS, PC & CarPlay). 
  • Experience The desktop app for Windows computers is a little clunky. However, you can now listen to Apple Music in a browser for a more streamlined experience.
  • Compatibility Compatible Apple products with an H1 or W1 chip will play Dolby Atmos tracks, as well as the built-in speakers in the latest versions of iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Compatible with third-party smart products including Sonos, Amazon Echo, and Google Nest using the third-party apps made by these third-party brands.
    • You won’t be able to listen to Apple Music directly with Google Home smart speakers, but you can still Bluetooth Apple Music from a smartphone or computer to the speaker.
    • Voice control with Siri and the only service that streams directly from a HomePod, HomePod mini, Apple TV, Apple Watch & CarPlay. 

Overall Recommendation

If you are already invested in Apple’s ecosystem of hardware and software products, then the convenience of Apple’s services is hard to deny. Now that the wait for Apple to come out with a hi-res version of their popular music platform is finally over, you can really improve the soundstage of your Apple Music library when you upgrade your computer speakers and use an external DAC to bypass the cheaply made DAC/headphone amp section that comes in your smart device or PC. Another neat idea is to use a digital upscaling device like the Chord M Scaler to scale up the lower-bit rate performance of some songs to higher than CD-Quality with a suitable DAC. Finally, if you want to take full advantage of Spatial Audio, you’ll want a high-performance Dolby Atmos soundbar that can immerse you in a bubble of 3D sound.  

How to get better audio quality:

 

Top Products To Get The Most Out Of Apple Music:

Top Streaming Services Comparison

Feature Qobuz Tidal Spotify Amazon HD Apple Music
Monthly Subscription Range $12.49-$24.99 $9.99-$29.99 $9.99-$14.99 $7.99-$19.99 $9.99-$14.99
Free Trial Period 30 Days 30 Days 30 Days 90 Days 90 Days
Catalog Size 70 million songs 70 million songs 70 million songs 70 million songs 75 million songs
Hi-res Catalog  240,000 albums Unknown 0 5 million songs 75 million songs
Resolution Up to 24-Bit/192 kHz Up to 24-Bit/192 kHz 256-320 kbps Up to 24-Bit/192 kHz Up to 24-Bit/192 kHz (ALAC)
Hi-res Audio ✖️
Dolby Atmos tracks ✖️ ✖️
Mac/PC Desktop
Mobile iOS/Android 
Web app
Synchronized Lyrics ✖️
Exclusive Content ✖️
Curated Playlists
Number of Family Accounts Allowed 6 6 6 6 6
Number of Devices Permitted to Stream 3 1 online, 3 offline 1 6 6; 1 at a time streaming
Number of Offline Songs Allowed No limit No limit 10,000; up to 5 devices No limit 100,000 limit

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