Music streaming

7 best Hi-Res music streaming services for Android

Audio has come a long way on smartphones. Regular streaming services have quality streaming that is perfect for Bluetooth headphones. Modern connectivity like 5G and Wi-Fi 6 ensures that buffering is a rarity. Meanwhile, the specs of smartphones 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 more.

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

The Best Hi-Res Music Streaming Services


What is high resolution audio?

High resolution 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 sampling rate of 44.1 kHz. So anything above that is considered high resolution audio.

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

The difference between MP3s and low quality audio CDs is very noticeable. The difference between CD-audio and Hi-Res is not so obvious.

Critics say you can barely hear the difference in most cases. You can clearly tell the difference between low bit rate MP3 (say 128 kbps) and CD quality audio. However, it is much more difficult 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 try it out for yourself and see if you prefer.

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

To make this list, a streaming service must provide at least CD quality audio streaming. We know that’s not the technical definition of high resolution – a single high resolution music playlist would have less choice. We have added maximum quality to each input so you can see the true high resolution sound from the CD quality elements.


Amazon Unlimited Music

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

Screenshot of Amazon Music 2021

Joe Hindy / Android Authority

Maximum quality: 24 bits / 192 kHz

Amazon Music Unlimited is an exceptionally robust offering in the high-resolution music streaming industry. Not only does it offer very high quality sound, it includes Hi-Res components as part of its base price. You don’t have to pay anything extra to use it like other streaming services.

Amazon offers 75 million tracks available in HD audio quality (at least 16-bit, 44.1kHz) and approximately seven million additional tracks in full high-resolution (24-bit, 192kHz). Amazon calls its Hi-Res Audio Ultra HD in case you decide to google it yourself. The app is decent and includes all the basics 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

Apple Music 2021 screenshot

Maximum quality: 24 bits / 192 kHz

Apple Music has the same advantage as Amazon Music Unlimited. It includes Hi-Res audio in its base price without any add-ons. Apple Music offers 75 million tracks, all available in ALAC, Apple’s Hi-Res audio format. These two features alone make Apple Music a compelling option. Besides a lot of features and tracks, the app itself is actually quite nice. You get the basics as well as extras like time-synchronized lyrics, offline support, music stations, and Apple Music 1 station.


Deezer

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

Screenshot of Deezer Music Player 2021

Joe Hindy / Android Authority

Maximum quality: 16 bit / 44.1 kHz

Deezer’s Hi-Fi option is quite decent, although it achieves maximum CD audio quality. The service offers 73 million songs and all of them are available in high resolution. Some other features of Deezer include a song identification feature, a Shuffle mode that presents you with new music, collaborative playlists, sleep timer, podcasts, and more. Overall, Deezer isn’t quite the most compelling option in this space. Other services offer cheaper, higher quality Hi-Res music streaming. Still, Deezer’s sound quality is still much better than MP3, and the app is actually quite enjoyable most of the time, so it might be worth a try for free.


Qobuz

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

Qobuz 2020 screenshot

Joe Hindy / Android Authority

Maximum quality: 24 bits / 192 kHz

Qobuz is a pretty interesting option. It has 70 million songs and all of them are available in CD quality audio. There are 220,000 additional albums available in high resolution. In addition, Qobuz gives you the option of purchasing music, the same way you can do it on iTunes or Amazon. That said, not all songs available for purchase are also available to stream. The app is decent and comes with 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 the rest and it’s still a growing streaming service.


Plexamp

Price: Free app / $ 4.99 per month

Plexamp screenshot

Maximum quality: 16 bit / 44.1 kHz

Plexamp is something a little 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 have access to your library via streaming, without having to carry all the files with you. It’s a good solution for people who don’t have a microSD card slot and also have their own music library.

The only downside to Plexamp is that it cuts everything down to 16-bit, 44.1kHz. While not ideal, it’s CD quality, and it’s not bad at all. Plexamp will likely be compatible with Hi-Res audio in the future, so this may be worth considering.


Spotify HiFi

Price: Free trial / $ 11.99 per month

Spotify 2021 screenshot

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 in the normal Spotify app, so it’s a godsend for those who like familiarity. Spotify has great discovery options, and the ability to share playlists is pretty good. We do not yet know all the details of Spotify HiFi. Spotify says it’s CD quality sound, so probably 16-bit, 44.1kHz. We also don’t know the price or whether Spotify is forcing customers to pay extra for it. Nonetheless, it is slated to launch in late 2021 and we’ll update this article when it does.


Tidal music

Price: Free trial / $ 19.99 per month

Tide 2021 screenshot

Joe Hindy / Android Authority

Maximum quality: 24 bits / 192 kHz

Tidal Music is one of the most popular options for streaming music in high resolution. It actually has three levels of music quality: MP3 320 kbit / s, CD quality audio (16 bit, 44.1 kHz) and MQA (24 bit, 96 kHz). Tidal has a collection of 70 million tracks, available in CD quality audio. Tidal is a little secretive about the number of MQAs available, but it runs into the millions. There are MQA-specific playlists in case you still want to come to the fore.

Tidal is the more expensive option on the list, but it would also make musicians more money per stream than most other services. Basically you get what you pay for here and that’s what makes Tidal such a great option.


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