Best music streaming services 2023: how do Spotify, TIDAL, Apple Music, Qobuz and others compare? (2023)

By Steve May

published

Discover your new personal jukebox with our round-up of the best music streaming platforms

Best music streaming services 2023: how do Spotify, TIDAL, Apple Music, Qobuz and others compare? (1)

Listening to music has never been easier, with the best music streaming services enabling us to access millions of songs at home or on the move, with just a few taps of a touchscreen or even a simple voice command.

Whether you want to revisit an old favourite, discover some new talent or find a playlist to match your mood, the top streaming platforms can provide what you're looking for, and without you having to spend a fortune. In some cases, you can even gain access to lossless music, allowing you to appreciate songs and albums exactly as the artist intended.

But what are the best music streaming services available today? Here, we bring you our pick of the bunch, rating each service in terms of its catalogue size, its price and its features. A whole new musical adventure awaits.

Best music streaming services: The Louder Choice

We’ll forgive you for thinking there’s not much difference between the various music streaming services. After all, they all pull from the same vast catalogues and offer more or less the same levels of access. Those about to rock, will not be left wanting.

But when you filter the best music streaming services based on quality and price, clear favourites begin to emerge. Qobuz (opens in new tab) is our streaming service of choice right now, as it offers the sharpest combination of high quality audio (CD and upwards), general usability and value – it’s also cheaper than rival high-performer Tidal.

Running Qobuz a close second is Amazon Music Unlimited (opens in new tab) which features Dolby Atmos for users of their popular Echo Studio smart speaker, although it does lose a few points for its generally rubbish user interface. It's also one of the cheapest streaming services available right now.

If high-res audio isn’t a prerequisite, perhaps because you use streaming services on the go, but listen to vinyl and CDs at home, then Spotify (opens in new tab) remains a service worth sticking with thanks to its ease of use and gazillion playlists.

Best music streaming services: Product guide

Best music streaming services 2023: how do Spotify, TIDAL, Apple Music, Qobuz and others compare? (2)

1. Qobuz

The best music streaming service for high quality audio right now

Specifications

Free trial available: 30 days

Price: $10.83/£10.83 a month for $129.99/£129.99 annual plan

Sound Quality: CD quality, Hi-Res Audio, 24-bit/96kHz High Res

3D audio: No

Reasons to buy

+

Superb High Res Audio

+

High Res Audio download plan

Reasons to avoid

-

No 3D audio options

(Video) APPLE MUSIC, TIDAL or QOBUZ? The MOST POPULAR 'audiophile' streaming service (AS VOTED BY YOU 🫵🏻)

Qobuz stands alone in only offering subscribers high quality streams. Lossy MP3 has been given the boot, in favour of a single monthly hi-res streaming subscription plan using the moniker Studio Premier.

All albums are streamed either in lossless CD-quality or hi-res (variable from 24-bit/44.1 kHz up to 192 kHz). And if you like the idea of owning music files, Qobuz also offers its high-end Sublime+ plan, which throws in a discount on hi-res downloads to keep.

The catalogue isn’t as large as its main competitors, so inevitably that means less choice, but it had no problem with our band searches. Kvelertak was quickly found, with CD quality downloads ready to buy. Septicflesh was also comprehensively represented.

Comparable audio quality is available from Amazon Music HD, Tidal and Apple Music but they can't match Qobuz for usability and value.

Best music streaming services 2023: how do Spotify, TIDAL, Apple Music, Qobuz and others compare? (3)

The newest music streaming service in town delivers big sound

Specifications

Free trial available: 30 days

Price: £/$9.99/month, £/$15/month (family tier), £/$14.99/month (Music HD)

Sound Quality: 320kbps, CD quality, 24-bit/96kHz High Res

3D audio: Dolby Atmos, 360 Reality Audio

Reasons to buy

+

Widest selection of quality sound formats

+

Over 90 million tracks

Reasons to avoid

-

Pretty bland interface

-

Lack of podcast content

The newest streamer on the block, Amazon already offers more high quality streaming options than any other service, it’s also available on its own FireTV streaming media platform complete with album art and scrolling lyrics (for that Friday night Karaoke singalong with your housemates). It’s also temptingly affordable, with its HD tier an umbrella for all those advanced sonic treats.

Where it falls down is a user interface that goes out of its way to obfuscate. Despite knowing that we have zero interest in ‘hot singles’ (not literally, obviously) it insists on serving up Rita Ora and Little Mix front and centre. We love you Amazon Music Unlimited, but you’re really testing our patience!

Still, if you can put up with its foibles, consider it good value - and remember, if you're an Amazon Prime member, you'll have access to Amazon Music Unlimited for free. That gives you access to two million tracks and a number of playlists in standard resolution and is a good place to start.

Read the full Amazon Music Unlimited review

Best music streaming services 2023: how do Spotify, TIDAL, Apple Music, Qobuz and others compare? (4)

3. Tidal

Jay Z’s streaming service is rock and metal-friendly and moving in the right direction

Specifications

Free trial available: 30 days

Price: £/$9.99/month or £/$19.99/month (high quality Hi-Fi tier)

Sound Quality: 320kbps, CD quality, 24-bit/96kHz High Res MQA encoded

3D audio: Yes: 360 degree sound

(Video) High Resolution and Lossless Music. Which Music Streaming Service Is Better For YOU?

Reasons to buy

+

Excellent audio quality

+

Above average search and curation

Reasons to avoid

-

Pricey for top tier

The original premium quality streaming service, Tidal boasts a range of options if you’re prepared to pay for its top tier HiFi Plus, including better than CD 24-bit/96kHz High Res (some stuff even 24-bit/192kHz) MQA encoded Tidal Masters. We’re talking Michelin-starred audio quality here – and the 360° Reality Audio is out of this world.

But with Jay-Z at the helm, you might wonder if there’s enough rock to roll with. The good news is with a 80-million-track catalogue we think it’s a fair bet your mosh pit will never run dry. The more we used Tidal, the more we got used to its audio quality, but it is increasingly looking like a rather expensive option. If you want to keep some cash in your pocket, the basic stream comes in at 320kbps, which is in line with Spotify, Google Music and others.

Tidal are also looking to update the way artists are paid through streaming, and recently announced their Direct Artist Payout plan. This initiative will see 10% of your HiFi Plus subscription going directly to the artists you listen to most. Another scheme which is being rolled out in early 2022 is Fan-Centered Royalties. This will be based on the streaming activity of fans versus "the industry accepted method of aggregating streams and allocating it to the most popular artists," according to Tidal. So while you might be paying top dollar for a HiFi Plus sub, the benefits to artists can't be ignored.

Read our Tidal review

Best music streaming services 2023: how do Spotify, TIDAL, Apple Music, Qobuz and others compare? (5)

4. Apple Music

The best music streaming service if you’re a playlist fiend

Specifications

Price: £/$4.99 a month (student), £/$9.99 a month (individual), £/$14.99 a month (family), £/$99.99 (annual)

Sound Quality: 256 kbps AAC

3D audio: Yes: Spacial Audio

Reasons to buy

+

Spacial Audio is superb

+

Great interface

+

Over 90 million songs

Reasons to avoid

-

Works best with Apple hardware

With the additions of Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos and lossless audio, Apple Music has become one of the top choices when it comes to streaming music - especially is you’re rocking a set of AirPods (3rd gen), AirPods Pro or AirPods Max.

Audio fed through Apple’s in-house cans can be an amazing experience and even if some albums don’t boast Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos, there are a lot of older albums now with lossless audio which really does make a difference.

And although you’ll miss out on some of the finer points if you use Apple Music through a non-Apple brand, you can still be assured of quality audio that leaves some rivals in their dust.

(Video) What is the BEST SOUNDING STREAMING SERVICE?

Add in Apple’s user-friendly interface and choice of over 90 millions songs, 30,000 playlists and digital lyric sheets, and you have a streaming service which is most definitely worth considering. And as if that wasn't enough, Apple are regularly adding albums in Spacial Audio, so there's always something new to warm your lugs.

It should also be noted that in August 2021, classical streaming service Primephonic joined forces with Apple Music to widen their appeal. The move saw the closure of Primephonic.

Read our Apple Music review

Best music streaming services 2023: how do Spotify, TIDAL, Apple Music, Qobuz and others compare? (6)

5. Spotify

The biggest music streaming service in town, but is it the best?

Specifications

Free trial available: 30 days

Price: Spotify — Free (with ads), £/$9.99 a month (individual), £/$14.99 a month (family)

Sound Quality: 320kbps

3D audio: No

Reasons to buy

+

Class leading usability

+

Extensive cross platform integration

+

Home to a gazillion playlists

Reasons to avoid

-

Not the highest of fidelity

Let’s not beat about the bush. The world’s biggest streaming service is beginning to show its age. With streaming quality locked at 320kbps (great when we all went MP3, not so much now), it doesn’t have the chops to compete with bigger bit-bucket rivals.

Conversely, it remains ridiculously usable. With an unmatched catalogue, no shortage of rock, metal, prog and alternative artists, and decent personalisation, you’ll not miss out on any new releases, and with so many hours invested in personal playlists, most regulars will probably be prepared to stick with it.

Spotify also leads the field when it comes to integration with other technology platforms, from Sonos to Sky Q. Not the best, quality wise then, but highly likeable – and the recent integration of podcasts is a big plus and more than earns Spotify its place on this best music streaming services round-up.

We really hope that Spotify consider upping their sound quality soon and make it available at a competitive price.

Read our Spotify review

Best music streaming services 2023: how do Spotify, TIDAL, Apple Music, Qobuz and others compare? (7)

6. Deezer

A user-friendly music streaming service

Specifications

Free trial available: 30 days

Price: Free (limited), £/$11.99 a month (individual), £/$17.99 a month (family)

(Video) Top 5 Best Music Streaming Services in 2022

Sound Quality: 320kbps, CD quality, 24-bit/96kHz High Res

3D audio: 360 Reality Audio

Reasons to buy

+

User friendly interface

+

Solid sound quality

Reasons to avoid

-

High-fi tier expensive

A good option if quality is uppermost, Deezer also uses high quality MQA encoding, although its streams are currently limited to CD clarity. The service also supports 360 Reality Audio, although this requires a separate app. 360 Reality Audio works with any stereo headphones, creating an immersive surround experience, and is quite a hoot.

What we really like about Deezer is its personalisation and curation talents. It offers metal and rock strands, and clearly signposts new releases that might otherwise have gone unheard.

Helpfully, you can try before you buy, as Deezer also allows you to listen for free.

Best music streaming services: Buying advice

Best music streaming services 2023: how do Spotify, TIDAL, Apple Music, Qobuz and others compare? (8)

If you want to hear every riff, backbeat and guttural gargle of your favourite bands, then a music subscription plan offering some level of high-res audio (24-bit upwards) definitely warrants investigation.

A high-res audio plan also makes sense if you stream music at home through your hi-fi system or headphones, rather than just for use with headphones while commuting. High-res audio always rewards those with high spec home systems.

Of course, cutting edge streaming isn’t just about sonic clarity, it’s about usability. To test the various services we put each catalogue under the microscope. It’s a racing certainty that you’ll find the likes of Kiss and Nirvana pretty much everywhere, but how do these services fare when it comes to more esoteric choices?

To check their metal credentials we went looking for Norwegian metal outfit Kvelertak, and Greek symphonic metal band Septicflesh, certain we’d find some failings. But with one notable example, we didn’t. While there are some differences in catalogue depth, we couldn’t catch them out.

Far more significant, it turns out, were their discovery and curation tools. Let’s take a closer look at the best music streaming services.

Read more on how we test products and services at Louder.

Why you can trust Louder Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

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Best music streaming services 2023: how do Spotify, TIDAL, Apple Music, Qobuz and others compare? (9)

Steve May

(Video) Choose the Right Music Streaming App for you - Spotify VS Apple Music VS Tidal

Steve is a home entertainment technology specialist who contributes to a variety of UK websites and mags, including Louder Sound, Yahoo UK, Trusted Reviews, T3, The Luxe Review and Home Cinema Choice. Steve began his career as a music journo, writing for legendary rock weekly Sounds, under the nom de plume Steve Keaton. His coverage of post punk music was cited in the 2015 British Library exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination, as a seminal influence on the Goth music scene.

FAQs

Which is better Qobuz or Tidal or Spotify? ›

According to an article, Qobuz's Studio Premier package costs more than Spotify ($9.99 per month or $99 per year) but less than Tidal HiFi ($19.99 per month). Given that Tidal's HiFi membership is the true competition in terms of sound quality, Qobuz wins out on affordability.

Which is better Spotify or Tidal 2023? ›

Tidal Free option offers 160kbps while Spotify Free plan provides 128kbps on the desktop app and 160kbps on the mobile app. Tidal HiFi offers lossless CD-quality audio at up to 1411kbps and Tidal HiFi Plus offers authenticated and unbroken audio quality at up to 9216kbps, while Spotify Premium provides 320kbps only.

Which is better Tidal or Qobuz? ›

Tidal has a better app layout and better discovery features than Qobuz. Both platforms have a 30-day free trial. Qobuz offers better value for money because of the high-quality stream sound across all its plans. Tidal has the MQA feature, which streams higher bitrates than FLAC, hence relatively better sound quality.

Should I get Tidal or Spotify? ›

Verdict: Which is more worth it? Spotify offers more audio quality settings, including a 'Low' quality setting of only 24 kbps for those who want to conserve their data plans. However, Tidal takes this round hands down with its HiFi and Master audio quality settings.

Is Apple better than Tidal? ›

Tidal might be better than Apple Music because it's cheaper and pays artists more revenue. However, Apple Music has a broader music library than Tidal and offers some great features such as voice control and personalized playlists.

What does Tidal have that Spotify doesn t? ›

TIDAL offers over 450,000 videos, many of which are exclusive to TIDAL users and which include music videos, filmed live performances, and movies and documentaries about music. Spotify doesn't have videos, but some songs have short GIFs that display on the player screen during the song.

Why is Tidal not more popular? ›

The prices have since dropped exponentially, now the service is $10 a month and the premium tier is $20, but still, the major criticism of Tidal when it first launched was how consumers felt it was too expensive, even though it had higher quality streams of the music from artists like Daft Punk, Kanye West, Jay-Z, and ...

Is Tidal worth the extra money? ›

Tidal is an excellent listening experience, despite the high cost of entry. Curated playlists, exclusive albums, video content, and master-quality audio make the service a stellar choice for audiophiles.

What is the number 1 music streaming service? ›

Globally, Spotify is the most popular streaming platform, followed closely by the likes of Apple Music and Amazon Music. However, if we only take the US into consideration, then Apple Music comes out on top with over 49.5 million subscribers as of 2021. It is followed closely by Spotify, with 47.7 million subscribers.

What has the highest audio quality? ›

A lossless audio file format is the best format for sound quality. These include FLAC, WAV, or AIFF. These types of files are considered “hi-res” because they are better or equal to CD-quality. The tradeoff is that these files will be very large.

Why is Qobuz the best? ›

Qobuz has long been the market leader in streaming quality. Everything is now available in at least CD quality: 16-bit resolution and a sampling rate of 44.1kHz (a bit rate of 1,411Kbps). A huge percentage is available in higher resolution streams, labeled with the Japan Audio Society's Hi-Res Audio logo.

Do audiophiles use Tidal? ›

Tidal is one of the most popular music streaming services for audiophiles and hi-fi enthusiasts.

Why does Qobuz sound so good? ›

Qobuz, along with Amazon Music and Tidal, offers beyond-CD-quality audio, which has a sample rate of 44.1kHz at 16 bits per sample. This High-Res or Studio Master quality is usually 48kHz to 192kHz at 24 bits.

What are the cons of Tidal music? ›

Pros: Tidal offers CD-quality and high-res audio (via HiFi Plus, its top-tier service). Cons: The cost of $20 per month is steep, especially when lossless streaming doesn't cost extra with the Amazon and Apple services.

What are the disadvantages of Tidal music? ›

The disadvantages of Tidal include the subscription price, which comes in two versions: Premium and HiFi. Premium comes with a monthly subscription of $9.99 and regular audio quality for the songs you listen to. The same qualities can be offered by any of the streaming services.

How many songs are on Tidal vs Spotify? ›

Tidal Music Libraries. Spotify has a catalog of 80 million tracks from around the world; Tidal one-ups that number with 90+ million songs. Although there's a ton of overlap in terms of available artists and albums, both services have their own flavor.

What does Tidal have that Apple Music doesn t? ›

Tidal provides different audio quality for Premium and HiFi plan subscribers. Tidal Premium subscribers could enjoy music with quality up to 320 kbps, which is appreciated by most users. Apple Music provides its music with an AAC codec locked at 256 kbps, but it is similar to Tidal Premium's 320 kbps audio quality.

Is Tidal owned by Apple? ›

In January 2017, Sprint Corporation bought 33% of Tidal for a reported $200 million. In March 2021, Block, then known as Square, agreed to pay $297 million for majority ownership of Tidal.
...
Tidal (service)
Search screen of Tidal for iOS app
Websitewww.tidal.com
6 more rows

Why is Spotify better than Apple Music? ›

Unlike Apple Music, Spotify comes with a free, ad-supported plan. With this, you can listen to everything in Spotify's content library. On-demand playback is somewhat restricted though. This means that you can only listen to some playlists only on shuffle mode.

Which streaming service pays artists the most? ›

TIDAL ranks higher than both Spotify and Apple Music in terms of royalty rate and the direct artist payouts available on the platform.

Does Tidal have clean music? ›

Music with an Explicit content tag can be filtered out when searching or browsing TIDAL. To filter out Explicit content, select More Music, TIDAL. On the TIDAL logon page, set the EXPLICIT CONTENT toggle to No explicit content and press update.

How much does Tidal cost per month? ›

The standard TIDAL HiFi membership costs $9.99 USD/month. You get full access to the TIDAL catalog without interruption. You also get offline capabilities and access to TIDAL Connect and can stream music quality up to 1411kbps.

Why are people switching to Tidal? ›

Tidal: Things I love. Tidal's primary selling point over Spotify has always been its better sound quality. At the $20 per month HiFi Plus tier, you can get lossless bitrates of up to 9,216 kbps on certain master tracks. The more moderate HiFi plan ($10 per month) streams at around 1,411 kbps.

Who owns Qobuz? ›

It was founded in 2007 by Yves Riesel, expanded to a limited range of overseas markets, including the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and Spain, and launched in the US in May 2019.

What is the highest quality song on Tidal? ›

Clearly the best sound.
  • Normal. AAC Quality 160 Kbps. Easily accessible and the best compromise between data usage and sound fidelity.
  • HiFi. Lossless Quality 1411 Kbps. Allows you to stream audio using the lossless format FLAC, creating a crisp and robust music streaming experience.
  • Master. High-Res Quality 2304-9216 Kbps.

How much is 1000 streams on Tidal? ›

Tidal is markets as an artist-centric streaming service, so it's no wonder that it pays almost 3 times as much as other platforms. Tidal pays out roughly $0.01284 per one stream, $1 per 114 streams, $100 per 11,416 streams, and $1000 per 114,155 streams.

Why is Tidal more expensive on Apple? ›

“The reason the in-app purchase subscription cost differs from the subscription price on TIDAL.com is due to the Apple service fee imposed for using their service,” the company told The Verge in a statement, essentially reiterating information that has been available on its support pages all along.

Is Tidal more expensive through Apple? ›

Apple Will Charge You 30% More If You Subscribe to TIDAL on iOS.

What is the most popular music subscription? ›

Key music streaming app statistics
  • Music streaming apps generated $25.1 billion revenue in 2021, a 32% increase on the year prior.
  • Almost half of all music streaming app revenue was from the US.
  • Spotify is the most popular streaming service in terms of subscribers.
Feb 1, 2023

Which music streaming service has better quality? ›

As mentioned, Tidal offers the highest audio quality of all other music apps on this list. There are a total of 4 audio quality settings to enjoy: Normal: 96 kbps. High: 320 kbps.

Which streaming service has the largest music library? ›

Click the amount of any service to see the source.
  • SoundCloud. Image Credit: Soundcloud. 320 million+ tracks (2022)
  • Apple Music. Image Credit: Apple. 100 million+ tracks.
  • Amazon Music Unlimited. Image Credit: Amazon. 100 million+ tracks.
  • Qobuz. Image Credit: Qobuz. ...
  • Spotify. Image Credit: Spotify. ...
  • Deezer. Image Credit: Deezer.
Feb 7, 2023

Do artists prefer Apple Music or Spotify? ›

Even for L. Dre, there is no clear winner in the overall Apple Music vs. Spotify comparison because the latter offers “much better” features for artists, including features like a Shopify integration for merch, smart links, and more. Apple Music “is still far, far, far behind Spotify for artists,” concludes L.

Who has better sound quality Apple Music or Spotify? ›

Really, though, it's lossless and spatial audio that make the difference. Not only does this make Apple Music the better choice for listeners who want the best sound quality possible, but given it's no more expensive than a Spotify Premium subscription, it's also better on value for those willing to pay.

Do more people use Spotify over Apple Music? ›

Apple Music was once the leader in all things digital music but is currently behind Spotify with 98 million users.
...
Full Specs.
Spotify Music AmazonApple Music Apple
Student$5 per month$6 per month
3 more rows
Nov 11, 2022

Is Qobuz going out of business? ›

As you can see, the company is thriving and is certainly not going out of business. If you want to use this service, remember to transfer all your content from your current music playlist to the Qobuz platform in order not to lose all your data.

How much does Qobuz cost a month? ›

News, albums of the week, playlists, favorites and interviews. *For a 12-month non-refundable subscription, with a single payment of $129.99. Monthly subscription available at $12.99/month.

Does Tidal sound as good as CD? ›

Performance. Whether you're listening to CD-quality or hi-res streams, Tidal sounds great compared to its rivals. Before Tidal upgraded its audio quality, we noted that its 320kbps streams just pip their Spotify and Deezer equivalents with a slightly richer, fuller-bodied sound.

What music app do audiophiles use? ›

Qobuz — Best music streaming service for audiophiles

When compared head-to-head with the same tracks from Tidal and Apple Music, the Qobuz streams sound ever-so-slightly better.

Is Digital Better Than CD? ›

These digital files are so highly compressed, you don't get the full rich sound experience — and they're prone to distortion. So if you want your music to sound its best, you have to put it on CD.

Which audio quality is better Spotify or Qobuz? ›

However, MP3 on Qobuz is better than normal with 320 kbps MP3 (Spotify uses 160 kbps MP3 for comparison). Compared to Spotify or Apple Music, Qobuz is a huge step up. You'll be able to hear songs as the artist intended and enjoy the nuanced depth of CDs and vinyl.

Is Qobuz the best streaming service? ›

Bottom line. Qobuz is the best music app for audiophiles who also want to own digital files. Their Sublime subscription will pay for itself with just a handful of purchases each year, and buyers who even just make one purchase a month will get an amazing deal.

Is Qobuz louder than Spotify? ›

It's most noticeable in my car. Qobuz and Tidal are about the same loudness with Spotify being noticeable quieter.

What has the best audio quality? ›

What is the best audio format for sound quality? The best audio formats for sound quality are uncompressed or lossless compression files—think WAV, FLAC, and M4A. That's because these formats retain the original sound quality, though you'll have to put up with the fact these files will be large.

What is the best music streaming service for audiophiles? ›

As mentioned, Tidal offers the highest audio quality of all other music apps on this list. There are a total of 4 audio quality settings to enjoy: Normal: 96 kbps. High: 320 kbps.

Whats the best streaming system? ›

The best streaming devices of 2023Return to table of contents↴
  • Apple TV 4K (third-generation)
  • Chromecast with Google TV (4K)
  • Roku Streaming Stick 4K.
  • Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max.
  • Nvidia Shield TV.
Feb 15, 2023

Which is better Spotify or Apple? ›

Spotify Has More to Offer Than Apple Music

Spotify definitely comes out on top in most categories, but if you have a lot of local files in your library or want to listen in Dolby Atmos or Lossless audio quality, Apple Music is still the better option for you.

Is Tidal the best sound quality? ›

The Bottom Line

Tidal, with its superior audio, large catalog, and excellent curated content, stands tall as one of the best and most unique streaming music services.

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