When we talk about music streaming services, we usually highlight Apple Music and Spotify, but there are many other competitors in this market, like Deezer, Pandora, YouTube Music, and Tidal. This time, I’d like to talk about how does Deezer compares to Apple Music.
I’ve been an Apple Music subscriber since day one. In April, I tried using Spotify as my main music streaming service. While I very much enjoyed the experience, there are some things I missed on Apple Music, and now, I’m back to it.
At the same time, I was invited to try Deezer HiFi, and since I have never used this music streaming service before, I decided to see how does it compare to Apple Music and if, as an iPhone user, it would be a great option to subscribe to the service. Here are my thoughts.
Deezer 101: availability, price, and more
Deezer was launched in France in 2007. It’s now available in more than 180 countries and has a catalog of 73+ million songs. Different from Apple Music, this music streaming service offers a free subscription tier powered by ads. It also has four other paid subscription plans:
- Free: Ad-supported, shuffle play, personalized recommendations, 128kbps MP3 audio;
- Student: $4.99/month, no ads, on-demand playback, unlimited access to tracks, 320kbps MP3 audio, and offline listening;
- Premium: $9.99/month, no ads, on-demand playback, unlimited access to tracks, 320kbps MP3 audio, and offline listening;
- Family: $14.99, no ads, on-demand playback, unlimited access to tracks, 320kbps MP3 audio, offline listening, up to 6 accounts, and content catered to kids;
- HiFi: $14,99, no ads, on-demand playback, unlimited access to tracks, 16-bit/44.1kHz FLAC files, 360 Reality Audio, and offline listening;
Prices are the same as Apple Music. As for now, Apple’s streaming service doesn’t offer a HiFi subscription. You can learn all about Apple Music’s price and availability here.
Deezer is available on iOS and Android devices and Apple Watch. It has its own macOS app, a web player, and works with Amazon and Google sound systems, Chromecast, and some other devices. Recently, the company added HomePod integration, but it doesn’t offer an Apple TV app yet.
How is the Deezer experience?
Deezer is very simple to use. It has four different tabs: “Music,” “Podcasts,” “Favorites,” and “Search.” Different from Apple Music, Deezer doesn’t have a “Radio” section, and similar to Spotify, it prefers to integrate “Podcasts” in its main app.
In the “Music” section, you have curated songs for you, what you’re currently listening to, and new songs trending. The same applies to the “Podcasts” section. In the “Favorites” tab, which is something closer to the “Library” tab on Apple Music, you can find your tunes but as it happens on Spotify, you can’t search through “All songs” in your Library. The user has to choose between downloaded music, favorite tracks, playlists, albums, etc.
Two things I enjoyed on the Deezer app are the Songcatcher, an embedded in-app song recognition tool, and the Flow button, which keeps finding and playing songs you’re interested in.
On the other hand, I found it was harder than on Apple Music to find friends using the service. Even connecting my Facebook profile doesn’t show whether there are friends using the service or not.
The Apple Watch app is really simple, but it doesn’t compare to the Apple Music app, which you can download songs to listen to without your iPhone around. The Deezer Apple Watch app only plays music on your iPhone, which is worse than Spotify, which at least lets you listen to music without your phone closer.
HiFi quality: is it any good?
If you are streaming 320kbps MP3 audio or Apple’s 256kbps AAC, you’ll have a similar experience. Apple Music benefits from the fact that it needs less space to stream/download a more full sound. But if you’re looking for even better quality, Deezer offers a HiFi subscription.
In fact, when you subscribe to the HiFi plan, you can access the “HiFi Playlists,” which feature all editorially curated playlists and albums reissued specifically for HiFi. But you’re not limited to the HiFi playlists, as you can stream any song/album/playlist in a HiFi quality on Deezer.
On Apple Music, for example, you have the “Digital Masters” label, which is where you can take advantage of a better sound, but as for now, the user can’t know through the Apple Music app if the songs were specifically mastered for Apple Music or not. Deezer makes sure you’re streaming in a HiFi quality.
One thing to notice is if you’re a fan of wireless earbuds, you won’t take advantage of the HiFi quality since you’ll need, at least, a wired connection between the device playing your music and your headphone. If you’re a music nerd, Deezer has a separate app called 360 Reality Audio, which is a partnership with Sony. But to fully enjoy this experience, the user must have Sony WH-1000XM3 or M4 headphones, which I don’t.
So if you’re like me that only uses AirPods and Beats headphones, you won’t notice a huge difference if you’re paying for the HiFi subscription tier. On the other hand, if you have a headphone made for this higher quality, you’ll notice an even more full sound, with all its nuances, and all.
HomePod experience: how does HiFi sounds on Apple’s smart speaker
This week, Deezer launched its integration with HomePod and HomePod mini, so this is the first time you can stream HiFi songs on Apple smart speakers. I tried comparing songs on Deezer’s “HiFi Room” to the same ones on Apple Music, but I’m disappointed to say I couldn’t hear a big difference between these two. It could be the fact songs that I tried were available in the Apple Digital Masters label so it was mixed specifically for Apples’ platform, or I might just not have an “audiophile” ear.
One thing I can say for sure is: asking Siri to play Deezer songs directly on the HomePod is way better than AirPlaying songs from Spotify, which didn’t sound any good, even if you’re a Premium subscriber.
Wrap-up: is Deezer worth if you’re an iPhone user?
Deezer is still behind Apple Music and Spotify in some categories. While Apple Music integrates with all your Apple devices, Spotify is more appealing for some users because it has a larger user base. The HiFi tier makes Deezer more appealing if you have the right tools to enjoy it, but as Spotify prepares itself to launch a HiFi tier, we’ll have to see how it’s going to differ from Deezer’s quality — and how much it’ll cost.
As for now, Deezer HomePod integration can be a deciding factor over Spotify if you’re not willing to pay for Apple Music or Apple One bundle. Spotify still does not support HomePod integration.
If the iPhone is the only Apple device you have, Deezer may come in hand as well if you bundle it with your carrier, but in most other situations, I think most people will go with Apple Music and Spotify.
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