Deezer has announced a "high-resolution" audio streaming music service, Deezer Elite, which will offer CD-quality "or higher" files, and will be available exclusively on Sonos.

Update 11.09.14

The Deezer Elite service will be coming to Sonos in the UK in "early 2015", we've been told by a spokesman for Sonos in the US.

At a press briefing in Denver at the CEDIA Expo, we asked about the "high-res" music streaming mentioned in the Sonos/Deezer press release, but Sonos confirmed that its system can only handle streams up to CD-quality at 16-bit/44.1kHz. In other words, it can't handle true high-res audio like other wireless systems such as Bluesound.

Sonos also confirmed what it has said in the past, that it has "no plans" at the moment to make the Sonos system compatible with true high-resolution audio formats such as 24-bit/96kHz and 24-bit/192kHz. " We want to encourage people to start streaming music in better-than-MP3, CD-quality," a spokesman told What Hi-Fi?.

Published 10.09.14

More after the break

Deezer Elite subscribers can choose from Deezer’s 35 million track library and stream CD-quality "or higher" music across their Sonos system.

The launch also sees Deezer become available to US users on Sonos for the first time.

Sonos already offers Qobuz as one of its streaming music services, which offers CD-quality streams. Deezer Elite appears to be offering high-resolution audio streams, with the press release pointedly stating the service will deliver "FLAC files at a standard of 1,411 kbps or higher", claiming "5x the top bitrate of other streaming services".

Deezer does, however, go on to say it "defines HRA as the same or higher sampling frequency and bit depth of a physical CD, which is 16-bit/44.1kHz or 1,411 bitrate (kbps), captured in a lossless format like FLAC, WAV etc.

"With the vast majority of music listeners using MP3 format (320 kbps or lower), the 1,411 bitrate standard represents a significant jump in music quality."

And Sonos, as far as we're aware, isn't able to support better than CD-quality music files. We've asked Deezer and Sonos for clarification.

Tyler Goldman, CEO of Deezer North America, said: "Deezer has built a global audience of over 16 million people by meeting the many needs of music consumers. Audio enthusiasts no longer have to choose between a streaming service and high quality audio, with Deezer Elite they can have both for the first time."

Deezer claims to have the world's largest music catalogue, as well as recommendations, playlists and other streaming service features.

Deezer Elite will cost $19.99 a month, which we wouldn't be surprised to see equal £19.99, but will launch at a promotional price of $9.99/month for users who sign-up for a whole year of the service. The cost for users who choose to pay monthly will be $14.99/month.

Sonos customers in the US can get a 30-day free trial of Deezer Elite beta from 15th September. 

MORE: Best music streaming services 2014



Monder's picture

Sonos good enough?

Although Sonos kit is reasonably well performing, I’m not convinced any of the current models are quite ‘good enough’ to benefit from HQ streaming. Saying that though this looks like it’s just CD quality being proposed nothing beyond that. I don’t think it’s too much to ask for CD quality as a standard after all that’s what most of us have been listening to for the last 20 years or so anyway.
Graham Luke's picture

Maybe the question should be,

Maybe the question should be, 'will the so-called 'high resolution' files be good enough? Will some merely be upscaled 16/44.1?

As for the Sonos, it's more than good enough in my opinion but then, I'll never find out; I will not buy into this high-res as my ears are simply unable to hear the difference.

It's all in the recording and mastering. Everything else is smoke, mirrors and snake oil.


Andy Clough's picture

Deezer Elite

We've now spoken to Sonos and just to clarify, the Deezer Elite service will not it seems offer "higher-than-CD" quality streaming as Sonos can't handle that.

tlunnon's picture

buy cds instead

So the moral of the this story is buy CDs


earbones's picture

Let's call it an "app" at best...

I don't think we should confuse Deezer Elite with a streaming service. Anything soley based on one small product group from a single small manufacturer must be considered an app, for lack of a better term. Sure, an app that's made some deals with the music industry, and that's laudible, but nothing more. If Deezer wants to actually offer Deezer Elite on multiple platforms, then it will be a real streaming service. As it stands, I'm unsure it's even possible to really ascertain if Deezer Elite actually IS offering better quality files... How could we tell? I'm assuming the playback quality indicators would be on the Sonos products? Who's to say it's not a similar situation to the whole Verizon 4g scandal, where the phones displayed "4g" but were actually using 3g? If one remembers, Verizon blamed the phones themselves, saying that while they offered 4g (they didn't at the time) the handsets weren't compatible. So it's basically impossible to hear a sonic difference between compressed and uncompressed on Sonos products... Yet Deezer Elite is ONLY on Sonos products... No third party method to ascertain the actual quality... Just seems fishy to me.

sansui au719's picture

Competition = cost reduction

Any competition in the CD quality (or greater) market is welcome. I elected to pay twice the Spotify fee for TIDAL simply because I took the one week trial and it's too hard to go backwards. I tried Qobuz too but their library was too small. As a Bluesound owner I can't wiat to see Hi_res streaming services. If they come down to Spotify prices, even better. What I don't like is the music industry pricing that sees UK residents pay £s for $s, ie, £20/month in lieu of $20/month. And is there any valid reason why a higher-res version should cost more ? The streaming service may have additional costs for storage and bandwidth but the recording costs don't change. As usual, the real 'Music Pirates' in the online world are the record companies.

As for buying a CD ?? How quaint, and very 80s. They go well with mullets and shoulder pads.

Andy Clough's picture

Streaming prices

Tidal has hinted to us that in due course its CD-quality service may drop in price, and the 'premium' high-res service could then come in at around the £20/month mark, with the middle 16-bit/44.1kHz option at, say around £15/month.

Given that Deezer Elite is offering its existing Premium+ customers the CD-streaming option at £10/month (half the cost of Tidal and Qobuz), competition may well bring prices down.