Qobuz, an Unnecessarily Costly Streaming Music Service, Launches in the US

Qobuz executives fail to explain why you should pay up to $300 a year just to switch from Spotify or Apple Music to stream your favorite music.

A brand new streaming music service has launched in the United States.

Qobuz, a self-proclaimed platform for ‘true music connoisseurs,’ chose to roll out its service stateside on Valentine’s Day.  The Paris-based high-fidelity streaming music platform has previously remained a European-only service.

According to the company, ‘US audiophiles’ have eagerly awaited the service to launch.

Available on all platforms, Qobuz allows for streaming in up to 24-bit/192 kHz true Hi-Res FLAC – about 29x the audio quality of MP3.  Like every other streaming service out there, you can also download your favorite tracks offline on all devices, including mobile and desktops.  Qobuz offers ‘unlimited downloads’ for offline listening.

In addition, the French music platform proclaims it provides ‘exclusive, curated, and in-depth editorial content.’  This includes deep metadata, complete digital booklets, interactive articles, reviews, and playlists.  Its library spans all genres, including jazz and classical.

Qobuz touts that its music experts highlight music of interest based on user choices.

However, unlike most major streaming music services in the US, Qobuz’s plans remain unnecessarily pricey.

For a Sublime+ subscription, which includes full Hi-Res streaming and discounts for Hi-Res purchases from its download store, users will have to fork over $299.99 a year.

A Studio subscription, which only includes unlimited Hi-Res streaming, costs $24.99 a month, or $249.99 a year.

Its Hi-Fi service – a la TIDAL – featuring 16-bit CD quality streaming costs $19.99 a month, or $199.99 a year.

Qobuz Premium, which only allows 320 kbps MP3 streaming, costs $9.99 a month or $99.99 a year.

Like almost every other service out there, the Paris-based music platform has a catalog of over 40 million tracks.  The company has remained silent on how many Hi-Res tracks it offers.

Speaking about Qobuz’s launch, Denis Thébaud, the company’s Owner and Chairman, said,

I’m very proud of our United States launch.  Our teams have been working brilliantly for over a year with our recording and publishing partners to get to this point.  I’m convinced that what we have to offer, on both the streaming and download markets, will be a success amongst American music lovers.

Touting the service’s ‘quality’ over other music streamers, Dan Mackta, Managing Director at Qobuz USA, added,

I’m thrilled to be introducing Qobuz to the US, and I look forward to working with the music community to spread the word about streaming without sacrifice.  It’s all about the quality!


Featured image by Pictures of Money (CC by 2.0).

23 Responses

  1. Arthur

    “unnecessarily pricey” Care to explain why ? … The only unnecessarily thing I see here is your hatred.

    • Mark

      Haha Arthur I’m so pleased you made this comment. This review is useless and perhaps the ‘hatred’ is due to the fact this service is French not American. The quality is great…the app is great. I love it! …and no more than Tidal in the UK. But perhaps that’s the problem…I’m European. Well for the moment at least ?

  2. Steve

    How is the price unnecessarily pricey? For lossy and CD quality formats, it’s the same cost as every other service. The hi-res tier is $5 more than Tidal but you get much better metadata, cover art amongst other things. Important to some people and takes time and people power to manage.

  3. Anonymous

    It is not pricey it is better than TIDAL Ihave had Qobuz with French address since 2013 now USA Studio HiRes account and wow SQ is great with ROON LABS Audirvana+3 and using a Schiit Gungnir or Meridian explorer2 or for my car an Audioquest Dragonfly RED DAC have YOU even auditioned Qobuz to see the difference in SQ compared to ugh APPLE MUSIC or even Spotify Deezer or pandora? Bobbmd

  4. Derek

    I agree with the other commentators on the pricing argument. The author fails to provide a valid explanation for why he concluded that the service is unnecessarily pricey.

    Just reviewing a couple points from the article… If you were to compare the “per bit” pricing of a monthly subscription on Qobuz vs’ Tidal, you would have a ~$1.04 vs’ ~$1.25 ratio. If Qobuz were to offer more “exclusive, curated, and in-depth editorial content” than Tidal, then does that not add to the subscription value as well?

    In addition, a 2018 DMN article noted a $0.03816 per stream royalty payout for Qobuz, versus a $0.01284 payout for Tidal. That’s almost 3 times the per stream royalty, which seems like a better value to the artists being played.

    Lastly, I hate to make assumptions… but I’m guessing that the author doesn’t relate to the ‘true music connoisseurs’ demographic that a service like Qobuz is targeting? Put yourself in that connoisseur perspective, and you may realize there are people who might easily be budgeting $24.99 a month to buy something like 2 CD’s or an album on vinyl. I’m guessing that would be the audience for this type of service.

  5. Woody

    My guess is the author listens using a mobile device and $20 earbuds.

  6. Julie

    Qobuz is fantastic. The audio quality is in the highest level truly sublime, and the service is far better organized in jazz and classical music than Tidal. We heard it at BLINK HIGH END in Boston and it blew us away. It seems the reviewer is listening not on high resolution gear, in that case, from a convenience perspective, he may find it “unnecessary”. So it driving a Porsche, when that little Honda gets you there, too.

  7. Anonymous

    Qobuz destroys Tidal when you consider the depth of High Res content. Sure, you can’t hear the difference on most audio gear, but if you have spent a pile of money on a HiFi system, the difference is undeniable. Additionally, they stream the high res content in pure PCM streams, no extra conversion (and royalties to pay) for MQA. I am sold. The catalogs are similar enough that I can’t justify keeping Tidal over Qobuz. I believe either the author hasn’t really listened to Qobuz, or doesn’t have a system capable of telling the difference between lossy MP3 (Apple Music/Spotify), CD Quality (Tidal, Deezer), and High res (Tidal Masters MQA and Qobuz Studio).

  8. Paul

    Wow, a catchy title….and then shoddy journalism.
    Looks to me like all 3 services have equivalent pricing for
    particular tiers of quality….which the author could have
    investigated to determine if quality tiers are succeeding
    in the industry.
    “Unnecessarily Costly” is the salary of this journalist…
    unless clickbait advertising revenues are more important
    than information.
    TO THE EDITOR: Please challenge your writers to a higher
    standard. Thanks!

  9. Charles Parker

    I’m an audiophile and am glad to see Qobuz enter the U.S. market. Price-wise, it doesn’t seem any more expensive than Tidal and offers a number of Hi-Res tracks. I’m totally for more options in the high-end streaming market. Qobuz makes their service easy to access for me, either at home using Sonos, in the car using Apple Car Play, or with a pair of wireless EIMs using my bluetooth connected iPhone. Having access to such a huge data base of music which includes a fair number of high-resolution selections is quite remarkable coming from Beats Music a few years ago. Rather than criticizing a windfall of options, we should embrace and be thankful for them. Way to go Qobuz!

  10. Paul Marshall

    Qobuz has some a positive and big negatives.

    When I compared the 320 kbps of Spotify and the Qobuz seemed to sound better in terms of clarity.

    The big negatives were that I could not hear the difference between 320, CD quality and High Resolution, using a Monoprice Monlith DAC Amp with my ATH 70x or Grado 350i headphones. So for a Budget Audiophile like myself the more expensive subscriptions are a waste. I might get their budget package.

  11. lurker

    Another fallacy… Tidal actually cost more per year.

    Qobuz offers their 16-Bit / 44.1 kHz plan for $19.99/month OR $199/year (basically 2 free months).

    Tidal’s 16-Bit / 44.1 kHz only has monthly plans, $19.99/month OR $240/year

  12. Anonymous

    “Unnecessarily Costly” why exactly? You don’t mention anything about it – weird.

    Spotify doesn’t do lossless and Qobuz (using FLAC) is a competitor to Tidal (using MQA).

    Are you being paid by Tidal?

  13. Ryan

    Oh Danny boy, your Apple EarPods, your Apple EarPods are calling. Go listen to your Mp3’s and leave the “journalism” to someone else. Qobuz has explained quite adequately why their streaming services cost what they do. Your “article” on the other hand has not made a satisfactory case for its existence. There are those who would like to but cannot afford the equipment or services necessary to enjoy a hi-fidelity listening experience, and that’s perfectly ok. There are others that don’t have a discerning enough ear and others still that do not prioritize sound quality for one reason or another, and that too is just fine. But for those of us that are fortunate enough to be able to afford the necessary equipment and services, or else prioritize music listening highly enough that we make it work (because “affordability” is a very relative term, after all), we’re going to utilize the best possible resources within our means. And I’m going to stereotype a little here, but I think that most people that invest that much money in sound equipment and music services to get the most faithful listening experience possible are also the kind of people that have done their homework on the matter, and I think you should have done yours before you pencil-whipped this article up. Educate thyself, my man. And if your motivations were self-serving for writing this article to convince yourself that your listening setup is adequate for your needs (and it very well may be), then you ought to just keep that dialogue to yourself. Journalism (at its best) should be used to inform, not incite. People are out there doing their own research, investing a lot of time and energy to try to find the best streaming service possible to meet their particular needs. This article does a disservice to those people and to that end. If your aim was simply to write a shoddy article to incite commentators and achieve sheer numbers, then congratulations, you’ve achieved it. But I don’t see how this is satisfactory to the editor, because I for one won’t be returning to this website. I came here to be informed. I’m leaving here disappointed.

  14. Fin

    Save your money. Most “users” will not be able to tell the difference!! I tried Qobuz on an iPhone/iPad, listening with semi decent quality (£150 ish Sony on ear) wired headphones and an Audioquest Dragonfly Black DAC. I downloaded a few tracks I know intimately, in that I have been listening to them regularly for over 30 years, in Hi-Res format and then listened back to back with the same tracks on Apple Music, switching between apps, every 20 seconds or so, to compare sections of each track!
    I wanted to hear the difference but I’d be lying if i said one was better than the other. The only thing i could notice is that the Apple version was slightly louder, but this makes no difference in actual quality. Maybe Qobuz and Tidal masters sound better on very, very expensive hifi gear, but I would wager that most users will enjoy their music just as much on Apple or Spotify etc. Leave the likes of Qobuz and Tidal Masters and such for the poor, pretentious and elitist “Audiophiles” ( I can think of other words too!) that waste tens of thousands on overpriced boxes of electronics, cables, power conditioners and other snake oil that makes them claim they love music more than others….you know the type, the same folk that spend a similar amount on coffee machines and make sure you know they do! If it moves you, sounds good and takes you to places in your head that only music can, then its doing what it was intended to do by the artist, I am sure and the service, or whatever means that you are using to listen, is more than likely good enough.
    A true music fan 🙂

    • Gabe

      That’s your problem. This is not for ‘Most “users”‘. It never was and it never will be. Connoisseurs means that you care deeply about the art form. Believe it or not, (and it’s painful to think that you may not), there are those of us who will pay more for a service that can help us deepen our understanding of the art of music, beyond consuming what everybody else listenes to. We dig deep into unknown fifteenth century composers we (or you) never heard of, we compare twenty versions of Mozart’s Coronation Mass, on traditional vs. Period instruments searching for the essence and meaning of the score. We want to know what new baroque music ensembles are surfacing in Europe or how Asia is now embracing classical music and producing unbelievable (still) unknown talent by the hundreds… Exactly what other cheaper service do you recommend for this type of music enjoyment in the good old US of A? iTunes? They think that all we need is the addition of a composer field…

    • Kevin Eyewanders

      “Maybe Qobuz and Tidal masters sound better on very, very expensive hifi gear…”
      Nope. Even on halfway decent gear. It’s PCM uncompressed. All you need is a halfway decent headphone DAC and your ears will fly away. Even my fiance was impressed by the difference and frankly she could care less about audio.

  15. Kevin Eyewanders

    Just signed up for the promo pricing that seems to have passed by most people. With their new structuring, there are only two tiers, and “Studio Premiere” with all hi-res content available comes in at USD12.50/mo. SOLD. I’ve auditioned it a number of times and now my ears and my wallet are in heaven. Difference is undeniable with good gear.