Some people reading this may think back to a time when sifting through records at the local music spot was how you discovered new music, but for me that process was downloading whatever I could from services like Limewire. Luckily, we now have music streaming services that make it significantly easier to start building your music library (legally). We’ve already looked at some of the more popular services like Spotify and Apple Music, and today we’re going to take a look at the high-quality streaming service Deezer.
Editor’s note: This post was updated on March 6th, 2020 with new and updated information from Deezer about their service.
What is Deezer?
If you don’t know, Deezer is an audio streaming service that, like Tidal, specializes in high-quality audio. However, that doesn’t mean it’s the only thing the company has to offer, it’s just an option. Deezer, unlike Spotify or Apple Music, has a library of lossless audio files that you can stream/download to your device if you choose to. If not, the service still prioritizes sound quality in that it’s fairly easy and straightforward for the average listener to choose sound quality and EQ settings that fit their listening preferences.
While Deezer isn’t exactly a household name here in the States, it isn’t a small company that you should overlook. The service is available in 180 different countries and has more than 16 million active listeners. Its music library consists of an impressive 56 million tracks with 52 million of them being high-quality files readily available for you to listen to.
Who should use Deezer?
- Everyone. I was expecting Deezer to be super nerdy and difficult to use to everyone except the most serious of audiophiles, but I was wrong. The app is super easy to use and the music library isn’t lacking.
- Fans of lossless. If you want lossless audio, the HiFi option on Deezer is one of the few options around. You can stream FLAC files right to your desktop.
- Music lovers. While there is a section for podcasts in the Deezer app, I found it to be lacking on all but the biggest podcasts. That said, if you only care about listening to music, then this is for you.
How to get it
Deezer is available pretty much everywhere. You can get the mobile app on both the Play Store for Android users, and the App Store if you’re rocking an iOS device. If you’re not big on mobile and plan on mainly listening via desktop, there are also desktop apps available for both Mac and PC. But if all else fails, you can always use the web player to get access to your music library.
For smart home or home audio enthusiasts Deezer also works closely with a number of brands to get their service on everything from Google Home and Amazon Echo devices to Sonos speakers and Onkyo recievers. For a full list of compatible devices make sure to check out their website, but chances are you’re covered. Notably, the Apple HomePod is not on the list as it doesn’t play nice with services that aren’t Apple Music, so if that’s your speaker of choice you may be out of luck. Still, you can always AirPlay to the speaker from your phone. Google Cast people will be happy to find the app also supports that as well.
We reached out to Deborah Jourdan, head of North and South America at Deezer and asked what some of the complications are with working with the assistants. Her response was fairly surprising in that it’s not that hard at all:
“It’s actually quite easy to use voice control with smart voice assistants like Google Home, Amazon Alexa and Siri. HiFi subscribers should update their settings to HiFi, and it will automatically apply to voice assistant. For example, just ask Google to play your personal playlists, editorial playlists, artists, albums, songs, genres, moods and even your personal Flow. If Deezer is your default music player, you can start commands with “Ok Google, Play my Flow,” or “Ok Google, play Lizzo.” If Deezer isn’t your default music player, make sure to add “on Deezer” at the end like this, “Ok Google, Play my Flow on Deezer. If you prefer using Siri, you can now use Siri to quickly access your music by saying, “Hey Siri” followed by a command such as “play my Flow” or “play my favorite tracks.”
So if you’re looking to play music mainly via the personal assistant on your phone Deezer makes it pretty simple to do so, even with higher quality streaming if you’re a HiFi subscriber.
Is Deezer free to use?
Yes. If you don’t feel like spending your hard-earned cash on a monthly music service, you don’t have to. Anyone can use Deezer for free just by signing up for the service. However, there are some caveats. For one, you’ll get ads interspersed throughout your music while listening. You also will be limited to listening on mobile devices only and there isn’t an offline mode. So if you happen to be underground on the subway or going through a tunnel, you’ll have to wait until you get signal again.
How much does a subscription cost?
If you want a better experience, then be prepared to pay monthly. Thankfully, the cost of a Deezer subscription is no more expensive than any of the other major streaming services. You have the option to do Deezer Premium ($9.99/mo), Deezer HiFi ($14.99/mo), or Deezer Family ($14.99/mo). There’s also a student option ($4.99/mo) if you can confirm that you’re enrolled in university.
|Streaming Service||Free Model Available||Basic Plan||Premium Plan||Hi-Res Plan||Family Plan||Student Plan||Military Plan|
|Amazon Music HD||No||-||$12.99 with Prime|
|Amazon Music Unlimited||No||-||$7.99 with Prime|
|Apple Music||Yes||Radio is free||$9.99||-||$14.99||$4.99||-|
|Deezer||Yes||Free with ads||$9.99||$14.99||$14.99||$4.99||-|
|SoundCloud Go/Go+||Yes||$4.99||$9.99||-||-||$4.99 for premium||-|
|Spotify||Yes||Free with ads||$9.99||-||$14.99||$4.99||-|
|YouTube Music||Yes||Free with ads||$9.99||-||$14.99||$4.99||-|
The benefit of a paid subscription is basically the reverse of the free plan. You won’t be bothered with those pesky ads, you’ll be able to use Deezer on up to three devices (mobile, desktop, or speaker), unlimited skips, and an offline mode. The HiFi plan gives you access to the high-quality FLAC library that Deezer offers, while the family plan offers up to six profiles for you and your family members.
Unfortunately, there isn’t an option to have a HiFi Family plan combo, so if that’s something that you and your audiophile family are looking for then you should probably check out the Tidal family plans. If you just feel like trying Deezer out, they’re currently offering a 3-month free trial so that should be more than enough time to see if you like it or not.
What audio content can you find?
As I mentioned above, Deezer has a library of over 56 million songs that you can choose from. Whether you want jazz or classic rock, they got you covered. I didn’t notice any significant gaps in their offerings that aren’t also missing on the other major platforms. If you don’t feel like searching for songs though, Deezer has 50 editors making new playlists and updating old ones so that I found myself listening more to curated playlists than songs I had searched for.
Speaking of playlists, one feature that I love is the “Flow” playlist that Deezer offers. Using what I can only assume is machine learning, it creates an endless playlist for you of songs that you might like based on what it thinks you like and mixes it into a playlist with songs you’ve already listened to. If you’ve used Spotify at all, then you know how great the Discover feature is. Flow does more or less the same thing but instead of just a few songs, the playlist never ends. While I admit that it wasn’t perfect at first, I found that the more I used Deezer the better it got at predicting songs I’d enjoy listening to. Now about two weeks in, it’s the first thing I click when I open the app.
Aside from music, Deezer also offers podcasts. As of 2015, there were over 40,000 that were available to listen to. That sounds like a lot, and it is, but this is where I ran into the biggest problem using Deezer as my only service. About half of the podcasts that I listen to on a regular basis were not available on Deezer. That obviously isn’t a problem if you use another podcast app like Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, PocketCast, etc., but it’s something you should know if you’re a big podcast listener. When I asked Deborah Jourdan if there was a more up to date number of podcasts currently available, she said, “We are always adding new podcasts, so we don’t have a set number to share at this time.”
Is there an offline mode?
Yes, if you’re looking to save files to your device for offline playback you can do so with Deezer. The catch is that this option is only available on the paid plans. If you’re using the free version with ads, you won’t be able to download files to your device. Thankfully, downloading songs is super simple and all you need to do is switch a toggle on the playlist or album that you want to download.
Let’s get technical, what’s the sound quality?
Deezer gives you some really good options for taking control of your sound, with a small settings logo located on the apps of both the mobile and the desktop apps. When you click the logo you’ll get two options to choose from if you’re on Deezer Premium: standard or better. Standard quality will stream your songs at 128kb/s while better quality will stream at 320kb/s which is exactly the same as Spotify. If you want to pay the $14.99 per month to take advantage of their high quality FLAC library, then you can expect a bitrate of 1,411 kb/s. One caveat though is that the quality is only available via desktop. If you’re going to be listening on mobile you’re maxed out at 320 kb/s unless you pay for the HiFi subscription. Then you can stream to your mobile device assuming that it’s supported.
|Streaming Service||Max Mobile Quality (kb/s)||Max Desktop Quality(kb/s)||Supported Formats|
|Amazon Music HD||320||3,730||FLAC|
|Tidal||1,411||1,411||FLAC, ALAC, AAC|
|Google Play Music||320||320||MP3, AAC, WMA, FLAC, Ogg Vorbis, or ALAC|
But high quality streaming isn’t the only thing that the HiFi plan on Deezer gets you. You’ll also be able to enjoy the 360 Reality Audio tracks by downloading a separate app called 360 by Deezer. 360 Reality Audio is the newest push by Sony to bring a new format for audio streaming. For a full deep dive make sure to check out the video we made explaining it a while back, but as a quick refresher 360 Reality Audio is just what it sounds like. It’s a new way of mixing audio that allows the engineers to make the instruments sound like they’re placed in space around you.
The result is a pretty interesting experience as songs that you think you know like the back of your hand give you a new experience. Is it revolutionary? Sony certainly hopes so, but only time will tell. Unfortunately, I was unable to use this feature during this review as I only have a premium account and not a HiFi one.
UI, playback, and controls
As far as using the app, I found it extremely easy to navigate both on mobile and on desktop. When you open the app you’re immediately taken to the “Music” screen, which is topped by playlists that the Deezer algorithm makes specifically for you based on what you’ve been listening to. Under that is recommended playlists, followed by new releases and timely curated playlists. For example, today is February 14th (at the time of this writing) and it’s filled with different Valentine’s Day playlists. The same is true for both mobile and desktop.
When listening to music you get all the standard controls for playback. There’s the play, pause, and back buttons and you can also scrub through the track to get to whatever part of the song you need to. You can also like songs by tapping on the little heart symbol. Doing so will add the track to the favorite’s section section of the app which serves as your library. It will also update your “Flow” playlist to reflect your ever-growing taste in music.
One minor thing I’m not a fan of is that when you’re listening to a song on mobile and decide to go back to the search screen to find a new song, you’re only given three options for playback: pause, like, or next. If you want to start a song over while looking for your next tune, you can’t. It isn’t a big deal, but it’s a small tweak that would make it just a little more convenient to use while navigating my way through a busy subway station.
How much does Deezer pay artists?
Streaming services are notorious for not paying artists, but Deezer isn’t one of the worst culprits. From data sourced by independent artists, you can see that Deezer sits right in the middle of the pack, paying $0.00567 per stream. In other words, for every 176.3 streams the artist you’re listening to gets $1. That might seem small (because it is) but it’s also more than what Apple, Spotify, or Google pays artists on their platforms. Please keep in mind, though, that these numbers aren’t official, nor should you come away with thinking that the payment structure is this simple. These are merely ballparks provided from a third-party source.
|Digital Service Provider||$ Per Stream|
|24/7 Entertainment GmbH||$0.01050|
|Amazon Digital Services Inc.||$0.00395|
|YouTube Content ID||$0.00028|
Source: The Trichordist
Should you get Deezer?
If you don’t already have a subscription to a music streaming service and are just testing out the market, I definitely would recommend giving Deezer a fair shot. It has an easy to navigate app on both mobile and desktop, and it plays well with plenty of speaker systems including Sonos and Google Cast. Plus, both the premium and family plans are priced the same as all the other major competitors, so you’re not getting ripped off. If you’re the type to stream FLAC files to your desktop or sound system, then the HiFi option is also not bad at $14.99, especially considering you don’t even have that option on Spotify or Apple Music.
Speaking of which, the only negative aspect to Deezer that I think will be a problem for people is the popularity of Spotify and Apple Music. If you’re sharing songs, playlists, or albums via social or messages to your friends, chances are they’re not using Deezer and won’t be able to play the full track. Thankfully, that isn’t a you problem and sounds more like a them problem, but if you like sharing your favorite songs that’s something to keep in mind.
Overall, I don’t see myself switching to Deezer over my current music streaming service, but that’s only because I don’t feel like rebuilding my library from scratch. Sure, Deezer doesn’t have the live radio or Apple Music or the Yearly Spotify round-ups that always go viral towards the end of the year, but if you don’t care about any of those shiny features and just want a solid streaming service that will give you the best sound quality you can get, then Deezer might just be for you.