When it comes to getting your digital music fix in 2015, more and more people are turning to streaming services such as Rdio and Spotify – rather than downloading music from the likes of Amazon and iTunes.
Streaming revenues have overtaken CD revenues in the US, and it's likely the UK won't be far behind. And with Apple Music now entering the market, the popularity of streaming is surely only heading in one direction.
What's more, streaming music need not only be about convenience. Now you can get quality too, thanks to the emergence of CD-quality, lossless audio services such as Tidal and Qobuz (and Deezer Elite, currently only available on Sonos in the UK).
So, can Spotify still impress at 320kbps or is the smart money spent elsewhere? We've reviewed all the main music apps to find the best music streaming service on the market, whatever your needs...
Tidal impressed us at launch and, thanks in part to a series of recent updates, only continues to do so.
If you value sound quality and use streaming for a sizeable chunk of your listening, then we think you will be happy to see another option in to the CD-quality streaming market. And we think £20/month, rather than £10/month for lower-quality music, is a fair price to pay – not least when it’s as well put together as Tidal.
Tidal is still finding its feet, and there are some missing features, but it has certainly made bold moves to become a music streaming service to reckon with in just over six months.
With an ever-expanding music catalogue, some interesting USPs, exclusive content, videos and lossless audio, Tidal stands out as a truly compelling streaming proposition in an increasingly busy market.
MORE: Tidal review
While Tidal is the service that we feel offers the best all-encompassing solution, Spotify is still a solid streaming decision - and the only other What Hi-Fi? five-star music service.
Accessibility, ease of use and content – Spotify has it all and then some. It’s no wonder that some competitors have come and gone in the time Spotify has been around, and it doesn’t show any signs of stopping any time soon.
It's a shame there's no lossless audio option, which gives Tidal and Qobuz its advantage, but for everything else, Spotify is a winner.
MORE: Spotify review
Clearly sound quality is paramount in our minds when it comes to reviewing any audio product, and that includes streaming services. So make no mistake, Tidal offers excellent audio performance as part of its package.
But, if your only concern is sound quality, Qobuz pips it. So it's worthy of your investigation, not least as there's a free trial period on offer.
Our issue comes with the app's "interface quirks and sparse features". Not least, for example, that much of the app still feels rooted in France. Fine if you like French playlists but for the rest of us...
Classical music fans who want the absolute best audio quality should take a look, but Qobuz needs to up its all-round game to take the top spot.
MORE: Qobuz review
All of the above services work plenty well enough on Sonos, but we feel duty bound to point out that Deezer on Sonos is a slightly different proposition.
While the Deezer interface on other devices could do with a refresh, it's still a decent experience. But on Sonos, there's a bonus - lossless audio streams.
Deezer Elite brings CD-quality streams and is only available on Sonos in the UK, though you'll have to pay £15 per month for access and you'll only get 320kbps streams on other devices.
Deezer Mix Radio, which plays tracks based on an artist or song, works nicely on Sonos, while the music library is exhaustive.
If you want lossless on Sonos but standard audio on mobile, it's worth considering.
MORE: Deezer review