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Where can you buy hi-res music? Here are the top download sites

Where can you buy hi-res music? Here are the top download sites

Want to build a library of high-resolution music but don't know where to start your shopping? Whether you've only just taken the plunge into hi-res audio, or are wondering what other online stores have to offer, we've rounded up some of our favourite hi-res download websites to show you what each has to offer.

In its simplest terms, hi-res audio tends to refer to music files that have a higher sampling frequency and/or bit depth than CD (16bit/44.1kHz), giving the potential for better sound quality (with the appropriate listening equipment, of course).

With major music labels such as Sony, Warner and Universal making their extensive music catalogues available to these hi-res download services, there's a huge variety of genres, file formats and download options available for fans of high-resolution audio.

We've focused on the biggest and most popular download sites that let you buy and download single tracks and full albums in various hi-res formats. Each has its own distinct flavour, bitrates and features to offer.

You may ultimately end up with a favourite go-to site, but even then, it's worth checking across the different sites for the same album or track, too, as some stores can offer better prices than others.

Of course, if you'd rather stream hi-res than purchase and download it, you can do so via Tidal, Amazon Music HD and Qobuz.

HDtracks

Where can you buy hi-res music?

(Image credit: HDtracks)

Hi-res sampling rates available: 24bit/44.1kHz - 24bit/192kHz

Hi-res file formats available: FLAC, WAV, AIFF, ALAC, DSD 2.8 and 5.6MHz

HDtracks may be one of the longest-established hi-res download stores, and it's resolutely sticking to its guns in terms of its catalogue.

It feels aimed at an older audience (there's strong focus on jazz, classical and dad-rock), which can be off-putting for wider audiences (especially fans of more current, popular music). The interface has recently been spruced up at least, you can't really buy individual tracks and hi-res albums can be pricey.

On the other hand, whereas other download sites offer FLAC as default (and in some cases, only FLAC is available), HDtracks lets you choose between FLAC, WAV, AIFF and ALAC (and the sampling rates for each) formats before downloading. There's a selection of tunes in DSD and double DSD, too, which is great for audiophiles.

One other issue is that HDtracks restricts purchases to certain countries, but that shouldn't prove too difficult to work around.

View the HDtracks website

Qobuz

Where can you buy hi-res music?

(Image credit: Qobuz)

Hi-res sampling rates available: 24bit/44.1kHz - 24bit/192kHz

Hi-res file formats available: FLAC, WAV, AIFF, ALAC

The download store attached to the Qobuz streaming service gets full marks for music discovery and front-end intuitiveness.

Both the website and dedicated app are easy to navigate. Hi-res albums are clearly labelled, and you can search by genre or new releases, which can be sorted by sample rate. Hi-res albums in 5.1 surround sound are available too. There is a strong Francophile focus, although the hi-res catalogue is growing more varied every day.

It's worth noting that you choose the file format and sampling rate you want to download your hi-res album in after you've made your purchase. You can also choose the streaming quality - MP3 320kbps or FLAC 16bit/44.1kHz - when previewing songs (even when you can't buy individual tracks).

Pricing is competitive, and if you opt for the hybrid download-and-streaming Sublime+ service (£250/$250 per year) you do get discounts when buying hi-res albums.

Read our full Qobuz review

View the Qobuz download store

7digital

Where can you buy hi-res music?

(Image credit: 7digital)

Hi-res sampling rates available: 24bit/44.1kHz - 24bit/192kHz

Hi-res file formats available: FLAC

With a strong catalogue of hi-res music from all genres and a website that makes buying music easy, 7digital is a good all-rounder.

There's an accurate search function and the website is simple to navigate. You can easily spot hi-res recordings thanks to a '24bit FLAC' badge on an album or song's thumbnail, and there's also a dedicated hi-res section for some focused browsing. You can preview 30 seconds of a song before buying it, too.

One drawback is that it only offers hi-res downloads in the FLAC format (while it's now possible to select 'MQA' as a filter option, we couldn't actually find any tracks in the format). Prices are affordable, though, and you can buy individual tracks as well as full albums - something that not every site offers.

View the 7digital downloads store

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