Gone are the days of buying tracks on iTunes and carrying around an iPod for your music listening. The streaming music services of today have consolidated the experience and allow you to have access to millions of songs on your mobile phone over the past years.
With all the exciting news around hi-res music streaming and immersive spatial audio becoming increasingly more available on certain platforms, you do not want to choose a streaming service until you have figured them out. So what are the best streaming music services in 2022? In this article, we are going to cover the top 5 best music streaming services, including Amazon HD Music, Spotify, Apple Music, Qobuz, and Tidal.
we love discovering new music sharing it with our friends, families, and co-workers. And of course, listening to music with the highest fidelity is what we do and what we really want to focus on. Since there are so many choices and a lot of cool new features are coming out, we decided to weigh in on this ever-evolving topic with a list of our favorite music services that we are actually using. The top five favorite streaming music services are Amazon Music HD, Spotify, Tidal, Qobuz, and Apple Music. we rated each one into three performance categories and those are audio fidelity as our number one performance category, music discoverability, and shareability and then the last category is user experience and accessibility.
With the music streaming platform, how do you know you're getting the highest fidelity? Well, since digital audio is data transmitted over the internet, most music platforms are concerned with bit rates or the rate of data transmitted. Second, in general, it's pretty safe to assume higher bit rates will equate to higher audio quality, although your listening device itself, such as your headphones, earbuds, and speakers, definitely should not be overlooked. For example, cheap earbuds may not reproduce the complete frequency range that a CD-quality file or even higher resolutions. Then, a good pair of high performance. Speakers or high-end headphones with an external DAC or a digital audio converter are absolutely warranted. Now that we've talked about audio fidelity and higher versus lower bit rates, let's dive into our list of the best-sounding streaming platforms and you will know why we think it deserves to be on this list.
If streaming hi-res music is your thing and you love a good package steal, then Amazon Music HD can be an option. Amazon Prime members will get a great bundle on audiophile-grade sound quality with $12.99 a month. Amazon Music HD is an optional upgrade that you can add to the company's main amazon music unlimited music service and this also gives you unlimited access to lossless audio.
Streaming Amazon's catalog is impressive. There's unlimited access to 70 million CD-quality HD songs with up to 850 kilobits per second or 16 bit 44 one kilohertz. You can also get access to 5 million high-resolution songs up to 3 730 kilobits per second or 24 bit 192 kilohertz. But the real prize is the selection of millions of uncompressed flak files that can be streamed up to 24 bit 192 kilohertz in the lossless flat format.
Shareability and curated playlists are limited, compared to others on this list. The price is $14.99 a month for non-prime members or $12.99 if you already have an Amazon Prime account. And family plans run for $19.99 a month and there's also a free 90-day test drive for the service.
As Amazon Music HD is still a newcomer, so it will need some more time to grow and mature. However, if you are considering bundling up a prime membership with a high-quality lossless streaming service, then upgrading to a high-performance DAC headphone, Amazon Music HD is the best way to take full advantage of the high-resolution Amazon HD Music delivers.
The second-best streaming music service is Spotify. Do you want to access original podcast programming while also staying current with the latest trends? Do you need a flexible platform to share your music with your friends? If the answers are Yes, then Spotify is certainly worth considering. Spotify has announced its CD-quality streaming tier which could undercut the dominance of some of the others in this space. For now, Spotify is best known for its really great user interface and all the ways it lets you discover and share new music.
Now, the Spotify catalog is impressive with 70 million tracks plus their exclusive original content which mostly comes in the form of original podcasts, like the Joe Rogan experience and live concert streams. For now, Spotify is limited to 256 to 320 kilobits per second with no high-res streaming options. Even though Spotify does not offer the best audio fidelity experience, it does give you collaborative playlists you co-create with friends through social media platforms which makes it a lot easier to share music and playlists with just about anyone, no matter what device you are using. And you can even host group listening sessions that allow you and your friends to pick and choose songs to listen to together. Another impressive feature of Spotify is that its human-curated playlists are really innovative. These playlists are based on mood or genre to help you find the right music for almost any occasion quickly.
What's more, there are also discovery-based playlists that come out every week with new recommended artists, and these are tailored to your specific music tastes including new music Friday and release radar which is what we actually use to keep us in the loop whenever artists we follow come out with new material. Spotify also has a really cool way of connecting up with third-party products which makes Spotify a lot more accessible than the other music platforms and this is why Spotify integrates more seamlessly with wireless speakers gaming consoles and a lot more. So if you're a gamer, this is super cool. Because it lets you control connected devices like the PlayStation 5 right from the Spotify app on your smartphone.
This best streaming music service is paid, but you can get started with standard CD quality with a 30-day free trial. If you are satisfied, you can pay $9.99 for a month or $19.99 a month to unlock the ability to stream lossless quality.
If you have a deep appreciation for listening to albums from beginning to end with the best audio fidelity and great editorial content, then Qobuz is designed especially for you. With free-range access to more than 70 million CD-quality songs and one of the largest high-res catalogs in the world. Qobuz is best suited for music aficionados who want audiophile-grade sound quality with all the big new releases plus more specialized genres like jazz classical folk music and R&B without needing any special hardware to decode the audio stream. Qobuz has a few tiers starting at $14.99 a month. Their studio premiere plan for individuals allows you to access studio-quality streaming that's flack 24 bit up to 192 kilohertz with access to 240000 high-res albums plus Kova's original editorial content with no limitations.
Qobuz also lets you see precisely what resolution is streaming to you, so you always know the quality of the audio you're hearing. If you like purchasing and owning your hi-res music library, then there's a plan for that. The studio sublime plan, around $20 a month, will give you exclusive access to purchase any high-res or CD-quality album in the Qobuz's catalog at a special discount price of up to 60 off.
However, shareability is pretty limited with Qobuz. When you're in the app, Qobuz will let you 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. But this is less convenient than some of the other platforms on this list. Curated playlists are also more limited compared to the others but you do get music playlists that are curated by artists based on mood genre.
Now let's talk about Apple Music. In the past, Apple Music has always been extremely limited when it comes to resolution and sound quality. It used to have a really low bit rate of only 256 kilobits per second, but it made up for that with an extensive library of 70 million songs and truly unique content like apple's live 24-hour radio station. Well, now all of that is changing with apple's most recent announcement. Consumers who are already invested in large iTunes libraries or who are otherwise committed to the Apple ecosystem will benefit the most from Apple Music. As Apple recently revealed, there's a growing list of immersive spatial audio music coming to the service and its catalog has been upgraded from 70 million to 75 million songs that will now stream in Apple's special a-lac lossless audio format to preserve all the bits of the original audio file. This means Apple Music will finally let you hear the exact same thing the artist created in the studio similar to some of the other hi-res services on this list.
How does Apple Music work? 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, and you will need to own a compatible Apple device to take full advantage of the spatial audio and the higher resolutions offered by the service. Having said that after you purchase one of Apple's latest hardware products or download the apple music app which is free to android devices or windows computers, you can essentially stream across apple's ever-expanding ecosystem free for the first three months, but you might not get to benefit from all the new cool features like spatial audio-only AirPods and beats headphones for example with h1 or a w1 chip will play tracks encoded with Dolby atmos as well as the built-in speakers and the latest versions of iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple TV.
If you love popular audio fidelity and exclusive video content, then Tidal is one of the best streaming music services that absolutely worth considering. If you like Pop music, Hip-hop, and R&B, then Tidal will level up the listening experience with audio file quality and ensure you stay up to date with the latest trims and music.
Tidal is artist-owned. Its playlists are human-curated to help you keep track of the careers of musicians and producers behind the music. Tidal has many tiers giving you access to a vast 70 million songs catalog and exclusive content is in the form of video and this also includes music videos documentaries, live concerts, streams, TV shows, artists’ interviews, and video podcasts. You can get started with standard CD quality with a 30-day free trial and then $9.99/m. But if you choose a $19.99/m plan, you can unlock the ability to stream lossless quality flack plus titles in special high-resolution MQA format. This is the plan you can choose if you want to hear the music precisely as the artists intended.
Now that you have learned so much about these top 5 streaming music services, you can now try them up to decide which one is better for you. In addition to streaming music services, video streaming services are also quite popular. However, instead of paid & trending services, like Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, etc, you may want to know some free streaming services that are alternative to them. If you do, you can read our article titled 7 Free Streaming Services that Are Actually Good.