CEDIA 2018: QOBUZ launching in USA, Roon support coming

We are making our first trip to CEDIA to mix it up this year. CEDIA is home to more than 20,000 home tech pros and 500+ exhibitors who convene to geek out on the latest in connected technology. Internet of things (IoT) devices are invading our homes and more and more all of our prized audio systems are getting connected. In my house it is “Alexa turn on turntable” to get some tunes rolling on my control system.

Our first CEDIA stop, paying a visit to David Solomon, Chief Hi-Res Music Evangelist at QOBUZ.

Do we need another need another music streaming service? After my morning chat with Solomon, HELL YES! At Part-Time Audiophile we have no religion on formats, but we do all agree… more hi-res content available to consumers is a good thing.

QOBUZ was founded in 2008 in Paris and provides streaming and downloads in 11 European markets. Solomon was proud to describe they are very close to launching in the USA. No specific date, but my sense is that they are just weeks away. They are in the final process of getting all of the right clearances and rights for the content they provide.

They plan to land with a splash with most Hi-Fi brands lining up to offer QOBUZ. We were thrilled to learn that Roon support is in the works and should also land this Fall.  More hi-res content to stream on our dCS Network Bridge via Roon, just makes us happy….

As a HEAVY TIDAL user, I wanted to get Solomon’s perspective on why we should consider QOBUZ considering the pricing is almost equivalent. Solomon’s response was simple: more hi-res content, offline support, discounted downloads.

QOBUZ seems to be leading the race on hi-res with over 80,000 hi-res albums available, which QOBUZ defines as anything 24bit or a better. Solomon believes they have close to 2 million hi-res tracks in their catalog!

In addition to having the largest hi-res catalog for streaming, all tracks are available for offline use.  This is a real asset when you don’t always have connectivity or connectivity is slow.  Any content downloaded for offline use is available for playback as long as your subscription is up to date.

For people who want to own music they offer the ability for you to permanently purchase albums and tracks. Additionally users of their highest subscription tier will be able to purchase hi-res content at a significant discount.  Anyone out there still buying content? I am.

What got me really excited was spending a few minutes understanding Solomon’s vision for QOBUZ. I wanted to understand how we can address the core issue that we need mainstream folks to desire hi-res or none of these music services will survive charging 2x what it costs for a basic subscription to Spotify. Solomon has a big aspirations. He’s digging deep to support musicians, the community and QOBUZ partners.  More to come on this as we get to know QOBUZ better.

QOBUZ streaming plans:

  • Premium (MP3 – 320 kbps): $9.99/month or $99.99 annually
  • Hi-Fi (CD Quality – 16bit / 44.1 kHz): $19.99/month or $199 annually
  • Studio (Hi Res – 24bit / up to 192 kHz): $24.99/month or $249 annually
  • Sublime – $299 annually

“Sublime” is a special plan that you could think of as “pre-paying an annual Studio plan” (and adding $50) so that you can then buy your favorite hi-res tracks at a significant discount.  Solomon explained that Sublime subscribers will get “iTunes-like prices.”

Of course, TIDAL gives you access to their MQA Master’s at the $19.99/mo. price point.  The upside of QOBUZ for the additional $5/mo. will be access to a lot more content.

Competition is good, but more content is way better! We look forward to having QOBUZ make a splash when they land in a few weeks. We have received early access and will report back soon with what we’re seeing and hearing :-).

Stay tuned, more to come from CEDIA 2018!


1 Comment

  1. One can only hope that when (not if) Tidal goes under, it takes that lossy mqa nonsense with it. Their search capabilities are already poor, and the continuous dropouts many of us have during playback of the lossless music for the past several months are just more nails in the coffin. (I won’t even get into that rap garbage that no audiophile wants to see when they first log in.) Tidal has always been a third-rate streaming provider.

    Qobuz will have real, true high-res files, and they’ll have a larger selection. Anyone subscribing to the right yearly plan can also buy high-res files at a discount, provided they offer that in the US. Nothing but win-win all around.

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