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Which is the best music streaming service for you?

Deezer

Image Credit: Deezer

Deezer is much less talked about than Spotify or Apple Music, particularly in the US where it was unavailable until 2016. But it's a great streaming service nonetheless, available in 189 countries and has more than 14 million active users.

Its library certainly gives its rivals a run for their money, while an elite premium tier allows subscribers (for an additional cost) to access high-quality music at home – if they have a Sonos system.

It's a good all-rounder, with a couple of unique boasting points it can lord over its rivals.

Price

Deezer has revamped its pricing tiers recently. It did have a standard and an elite tier. Now it has a free service, which offers you access to its 56 million tracks and the chance to shuffle – but that's it. 

Then there's Deezer Premium, which costs £9.99/$9.99/AU$11.99 a month – so the same as Spotify and Apple Music – and that gives you unlimited skips, ad-free mode and offline listening. 

It also has a student offer, which gives you Deezer Premium, but for only £4.99/$4.99/AU$7.99 a month.

It then has a family tier, called Deezer Family, for £14.99/$14.99/AU$24, which gives you everything you get in a Premium subscription, but allows you to share the service with up to 6 users. 

At the same price as Deezer Family, there's also Deezer HiFi. So for £14.99/$14.99/AU$24 you can listen to tracks at a much better quality. Deezer says that with regular streaming and MP3s music is streamed at 320 kbps, but HiFi streams at 16-Bit / 44.1 kHz of FLAC quality, allowing you to listen to the bits that existed with the original analog audio sources. 

The service recently rolled out to the US, and despite what you might have heard elsewhere, it will also be offering its free tier in the US, which will kick in at the end of the 30-day trial if you opt for it.

Exclusives

Deezer currently doesn't have any big exclusives, but what does it matter when it's got a 40-million-song-strong library? However, that catalogue does vary from country to country, meaning you're unlikely to have access to everything.

Still, Deezer boasts that it has the world's largest streaming library, which also includes 40,000 podcasts. While there are plenty of free podcasts apps out there, Deezer's podcast integration gives it something to stand apart from its rivals.

Deezer

Image Credit: Deezer

User interface and experience

We really like the way Deezer is laid out, with five different 'tabs' along the bottom providing navigation. The Home button offers an overview of playlist recommendations and gives you access to 'Flow' - we'll come back to both of those a bit later.

My Music offers up a sub-menu letting you access tracks you've downloaded for offline play, songs you've favorited, your playlists, podcasts, and all the artists and albums you've saved as favorites.

The middle button, Player, takes you directly to the current song (note that Apple Music is the only service that lacks such a tab, but always shows the current song along the bottom of the screen).

The Notifications section gives you a stream of updates from your favorite artists and Editor Picks, which are worth keeping an eye on for the playlists. These picks are also based on your preferences - we'll touch a little more on this in the

There are, however, a few navigational things we're not fans of. Whenever you select a song it jumps to the Player tab with no back button - you can only get back to the last page by tapping on the tab you were on below (and sometimes we've forgotten). It seems like a niggly thing, but adding a back button at all times - a la Spotify - would easily solve this problem.

Music quality

Deezer is very customizable when it comes to audio quality, letting you select from a range of modes that will adjust the bitrate depending on your access to WiFi and data. There's a custom option where you can get even more specific about how your music sounds.

Deezer HiFi lets you stream music at CD-quality 1411 kbps in your home (compared to the standard 320kbps), but only on a Sonos system. It's a jump in quality that you do notice, but it comes at an extra price, with Deezer HiFi subscriptions costing £14.99/$14.99/AU$24 a month (it's less if you pay for a year outright), meaning you're paying a little bit extra for home streaming.

If you've got a decent Sonos system and want the best sound you can get in your home, Deezer is probably the option for you. Similarly, if you have Google Home smart speakers, last year Deezer rolled out its service to UK users, enabling them to play their favorite tracks with the help of Google Assistant.

Content and curation

Deezer's curation is good but it doesn't touch Apple Music's. The Home page offers you a choice of top playlists, dishing out some decent but generic playlists and 'best ofs' as well as new releases.

The 'Playlist Picks' are fine but there aren't many of them, while 'Mixes for you' will boot up playlists based on broad genres and moods like 'Alternative', 'Dance' and 'Rainy Day'.

Where things get more impressive is in Flow. This is a radio mix based on tracks you've liked and added to your library, but a recent feature gives it some new smarts. Flow now analyses other aspects of your listening habits, taking into account the time of day you listen to certain types of music. If you love krautrock in the morning but skip it for scat jazz in the evening, Flow will start to note it and only play those genres at the times you want them.

Over time, you should be able to start Flow at any time of day and it should, in theory, be able to gauge your mood.

Another nice, though not unique, Deezer feature is 'Artist Mix', a blue button that appears on any artist's page. Tap it and you'll be taken through a selection of songs that relate to that artist. It's essentially the same as Spotify's 'Radio based on...' feature, but it's nice to be able to start it straight from the artist's page.

One to go with if...

You own a Sonos system and want the best quality music at home, or a more varied catalogue.