Qobuz announces US pricing plan, will Tidal feel the heat?


There seems to be a sense of spiritual angst among the audiophile faithful who stream their digital audio via cloud-based music services and its cause seems to be the continuing delay of the French high-resolution music service Qobuz from entering the North American market.

Now those with true faith tend to bow their head and seek insight for solutions from above.

But, what if, in the confusion of release dates and delays surrounding Qobuz your faith is waning? Fear not, I have great news for those audiophiles who have been silently praying for a sign that Qobuz’s time has come. Within the last week the company announced that North American Beta testing has been ongoing (that’s me), that they have opened offices in New York and that they “just announced [a] US pricing plan, and steps they have taken towards [Qobuz’s] early 2019 US launch.”

Now this is all great news and even more so because the current 900-pound gorilla of audiophile high-res streaming in North America is Tidal ($19.99 USD/month Hi-Fi plan of roughly 40-million titles at 16/44 and includes several thousand MQA Master files that offer first-level software unfolding at 24/48) but is limited in sample-rate streaming compared to the offerings from Qobuz. So the French are going to give them a real run for their money because for $24.99 USD/month for more than two-million titles in unlimited Hi-Res streaming up to 24/192 along with 40-million 16/44 titles and a matching $19.99 USD/month for said same 40-million-ish 16-bit CD quality titles, the streaming wars for audiophile souls will have begun. No information on Canadian pricing available at the moment.

A big distinction between Tidal and Qobuz is that Qobuz has an in-app store to purchase Hi-Res downloads for local storage/ownership. So these are interesting times to be an audiophile who worships at the altar of cloud-based music file delivery and downloads.

Further information on Qobuz’s hard-date arrival as it becomes available.

Press release highlights below

The world’s first and only certified Hi-Res streaming and download service, has spent the fall laying the groundwork for its early 2019 US launch. Providing the first opportunity music fans in the United States will have to experience true Hi-Res audio streamed, Qobuz has already secured a multi-million track Hi-Res catalog ahead of launch, and today announces its US pricing plan.  

A revolutionary development in accessibility of a high quality music library, Qobuzoffers the most true Hi-Res music of any streaming service. The 24-bit streaming FLAC files can be played on any equipment and require no special processing.Qobuz allows unlimited importing of music in any quality on all the user’s devices, and, with its up to 24-bit/192k Hi-Res download store, will continue to offer consumers options that flow substantial revenues back to creators.  

US audiophiles have been eagerly awaiting Qobuz’s arrival stateside since its 2007 founding in France. In eleven European countries, Qobuz is already the streaming and download service of choice for true music connoisseurs looking for the highest possible quality.  This premium reputation is based on both the unparalleled audio quality Qobuz offers, as well as its focus on deep metadata, complete digital booklets, interactive articles and reviews, and exclusive playlists, all available conveniently in-app on every platform. 

  The beta version of Qobuz is currently being tested in the US preceding wide release, and the finalized pricing is below.

  • Sublime+: $299.99/year for full Hi-Res streaming and substantial (40-60%) discounts on purchases from the Qobuz Hi-Res (up to 24-bit / 192 khz) download store.
  • Studio: $24.99/month for unlimited Hi-Res (24-bit /up to 192 khz) streaming ($249.99 annually).
  • Hi-Fi: $19.99/month for streaming including 16-bit CD quality streaming ($199.9 annually).
  • Premium: $9.99/month for 320 kbps MP3 quality streaming ($99.99 annually).
  • At launch, Qobuz will be available on all Mac/iOS/Android/Windows operating systems.


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BK Audiophile's picture

I was fortunate enough to secure a code to beta test in the US, and like many others discussing this on the various forums, I found Qobuz to be of higher sound quality. However, without its integration in Roon, I found myself going back to Tidal anyway. I was surprised, as this goes against the usual audiophile tendency towards sound quality over everything else, but I couldn't help falling back on Tidal/Roon because managing online/offline collections for two different services was just too much. I think, in the end, I'll subscribe to both -- at least for the short- to mid-term.

donunus's picture

Do you know if Qobuz is also launching in countries like the Philippines? Tidal never made it here.

Rafe Arnott's picture
I'm not sure about the Philippines. I can email their spokesperson and find out for you. Probably won't know until Monday though.
donunus's picture


Everclear's picture

"Round Here Buzz" ................ Eric Church :-) ...........

nick's picture

Qobuz’s catalog of popular music is very limited. I don’t see them making any significant impact until they address that.

dan.mackta@qobuz.com's picture

nick what popular music are you not finding? Qobuz has the entire catalogs of every major label and most independents.

nick's picture

the first artist i looked up was patty griffin, and qobuz was missing 3-4 of her albums.
tidal is missing two, spotify has them all. same was true for a couple of artist i checked out.
on one artist, qobuz actually had more selection than the other services.

Ali's picture

Does it need more internet speed for streaming Hi-res compare to Tidal?

Rafe Arnott's picture
Not as far as I know.
hb72's picture

..but a very satisfying answer to the question ‚what happened to Michael L?‘: https://twitteringmachines.com/author/michael/

sonicnews's picture

Thanks for the coverage, Rafe. Do you know if you Quboz will stream 48/24 (max resolution on the iPhone) on mobile devices or higher?

Rafe Arnott's picture
I'll find out and let you know.
gerb0075's picture

Yes, Qobuz offers 24/192 streaming on mobile devices. I have been streaming mobile hi-res through Qobuz for several years now. I am located in the U.S., but registered as a UK resident.

Tidal still offers NO hi-res streaming of any kind on its mobile platforms! MQA is worthless if you cannot stream the file ...

Rafe Arnott's picture
I've not got a definitive answer back from Qobuz on the iPhone, but my understanding is that if you're using the LIghtning adaptor to 3.5mm headphone out, Apple software limits it to 24/48, so you'd need to connect something like the Chord Mojo to get full resolution.
bullethead's picture

Thanks a lot for this article. Using Tidal with MQA but now see green lights for MQA. This has been a nightmare for US customers.

Topher's picture

Maybe only one person in a thousand cares about the aesthetics of these streaming platforms, but I am that person, and to my eye at least Qobuz has always looked pretty bad compared to Tidal. Being in England I've tried them both, on Mac and mobile, and for looks and all round intuitive usability Tidal wins handily.