November 30, 2021

7 best Hi-Res music streaming services for Android


Audio has come a long way on smartphones. Regular streaming services have quality streaming that’s perfectly fine for Bluetooth headphones. Modern connectivity like 5G and Wi-Fi 6 ensures buffering is a rarity. Meanwhile, smartphone specs are powerful enough to handle almost any audio codec available. So, it’s no surprise that Hi-Res audio is becoming more and more common. After all, those with expensive headphones want the best experience, even if it costs a little bit extra.

Of course, not all music sources support Hi-Res audio. To make it easier on you, we’ve gathered up a list of the best Hi-Res music streaming services available for Android right now.

The best Hi-Res music streaming services


What is Hi-Res audio?

Hi-Res audio is generally considered to be any audio file that has a higher sample rate and audio bit depth than CDs. CDs, for reference, are 16-bit with a 44.1 kHz sample rate. Thus, anything higher than that is considered to be high-resolution audio.

There is a massive debate about the merits of Hi-Res audio and whether or not it makes enough of an improvement to matter. Proponents of Hi-Res audio cite superior sound quality and more detail in the audio file. Additionally, engineers in music studios work with higher resolution audio so the files should sound more like what the studio engineer intended.

The difference in low-quality MP3 and CD-audio is very noticeable. The difference in CD-audio and Hi-Res isn’t quite as obvious.

Detractors say that you can barely hear the difference in most cases. You can clearly tell the difference between a low bitrate MP3 (let’s say 128 kbps) versus CD-quality audio. However, it’s much harder to discern the difference between CD-quality audio and Hi-Res audio, especially on low-end headphones or Bluetooth headphones where the music is re-encoded anyway. Both arguments have merits, but if you have the audio equipment, you might as well give it a try yourself and see if you prefer.

There’s also HD audio, a term that is technically Hi-Res audio but not by much. Examples include 24-bit audio with a 44.1 kHz sample rate. Most Hi-Res audio uses something like 16-24 bit depth and 96-192 kHz sampling rates. Hi-Res audio includes a variety of audio file formats, including FLAC, ALAC, WAV, AIFF, DSD, PCM, MQA, and many others.

To make this list, a streaming service must provide audio streaming that’s at least CD-quality. We know that isn’t the technical definition of Hi-Res — a sole Hi-Res music streaming list would have fewer choices. We added the maximum quality to each entry so you can see the true Hi-Res audio from the CD-quality stuff.


Amazon Music Unlimited

Price: Free trial / $7.99-$9.99 per month

Joe Hindy / Android Authority

Maximum quality: 24-bit / 192 kHz

Amazon Music Unlimited is an unusually robust offering in the Hi-Res music streaming business. Not only does it offer some very high-quality audio, but it includes the Hi-Res stuff as part of its base price. You don’t have to pay anything extra in order to use it like some other streaming services.

Amazon offers 75 million tracks available in HD quality audio (at least 16-bit, 44.1 kHz) and roughly seven million more tracks in full Hi-Res (24-bit, 192 kHz). Amazon refers to its Hi-Res audio as Ultra HD in case you decide to Google it yourself. The app is okay and includes all of the base stuff like playlists, podcasts, radio station-style playlists, and offline support. Other services offer more robust features, but you really can’t beat Amazon’s price. It’s $7.99 per month for Amazon Prime members and $9.99 per month for non-Prime users.


Apple Music

Price: Free trial / $9.99 per month

Maximum quality: 24-bit / 192 kHz

Apple Music has the same benefit as Amazon Music Unlimited. It includes Hi-Res audio in its base price without any add-ons. Apple Music boasts 75 million tracks, all of which are available in ALAC, Apple’s Hi-Res audio format. Those two features alone make Apple Music a compelling option. In addition to plenty of features and tracks, the app itself is actually quite nice. You get the basics along with extras like time-synced lyrics, offline support, music stations, and the Apple Music 1 station.


Deezer

Price: Free trial / $9.99-$14.99 per month

Joe Hindy / Android Authority

Maximum quality: 16-bit / 44.1 kHz

Deezer’s Hi-Fi option is pretty decent, although it does max out at CD-quality audio. The service boasts 73 million songs and all of them are available in high resolution. Some other Deezer features include a song identification function, a Shuffle mode that introduces you to new music, collaborative playlists, a sleep timer, podcasts, and some other stuff. As a whole, Deezer isn’t quite the most compelling option in this space. Other services have cheaper Hi-Res music streaming with higher quality. Still, Deezer’s sound quality is still much better than MP3 and the app is actually quite nice most of the time so it may be worth the free trial.


Qobuz

Price: Free trial / $12.99-$15.99 per month per month

Joe Hindy / Android Authority

Maximum quality: 24-bit / 192 kHz

Qobuz is a fairly interesting option. It boasts 70 million songs and all of them are available in CD-quality audio. There are an additional 220,000 albums available in Hi-Res. Additionally, Qobuz gives you the option to buy music, the same way as you can on iTunes or Amazon. That said, not every song available for purchase is also available to stream. The app is decent and includes things like thousands of public playlists, offline support, and decent discovery features. It also has articles, interviews, and stuff like that for music fans. It’s a bit more expensive than others and it’s still very much a growing streaming service.


Plexamp

Price: Free app / $4.99 per month

Maximum quality: 16-bit / 44.1 kHz

Plexamp is something a bit different on this list. It’s not a streaming service like Tidal or Apple Music. Instead, it’s a server you set up on your computer that lets you stream your music to your phone. So you get access to your library via streaming, without needing to carry all the files around with you. It’s a good solution for folks who don’t have microSD card slots and also own their own music library.

The only downside to Plexamp is it downscales everything to 16-bit, 44.1 kHz. While that isn’t ideal, it’s CD-quality, and that’s not bad by any means. Plexamp will likely get support for Hi-Res audio in the future, though, so it may be worth looking into.


Spotify HiFi

Price: Free trial / $11.99 per month

Maximum quality: 16-bit / 44.1 kHz

Spotify hasn’t technically released its Spotify HiFi service yet, but we all know it’s coming. It should work within the normal Spotify app so that’s a boon for those who enjoy familiarity. Spotify has excellent discovery options and the ability to share playlists is quite good. We don’t know all of the details of Spotify HiFi just yet. Spotify says it’s CD-quality audio so that’s probably 16-bit, 44.1 kHz. We also don’t know the price or whether or not Spotify is making customers pay extra for it. Still, it should launch at the end of 2021 and we’ll update this article when it does.


Tidal Music

Price: Free trial / $19.99 per month

Joe Hindy / Android Authority

Maximum quality: 24-bit / 192 kHz

Tidal Music is one of the most popular options for Hi-Res music streaming. It actually has three tiers of music quality – 320 kbps MP3, CD-quality audio (16-bit, 44.1 kHz), and MQA (24-bit, 96 kHz). Tidal boasts a collection of 70 million tracks, available in CD-quality audio. Tidal is a bit tight-lipped on how many are available as MQA, but it’s in the millions. There are MQA-specific playlists in case you want to go top tier all the time.

Tidal is the most expensive option on the list, but it also reportedly pays musicians more money per stream than most other services. Basically, you get what you pay for here and that’s what makes Tidal an interesting option.



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