In a recent press release, Qobuz protested against the incorrect use of the term “High-Resolution” by online music service Deezer to describe their recently-launched “Elite” subscription package – an error which was not picked up on by the majority of the press.
To promote their new « Elite » product, Deezer used the term on their site and in their press release in a way which was incorrect in relation to the sound quality their new service offers.
This is distorting the market, where others are making a concerted effort to not misrepresent what is in fact being offered to users.
With Deezer, since 2008 Qobuz has challenged a thousand times such inaccuracies, and has questioned their partnership with Orange which has destabilised the free competition in the French online streaming market and directly inhibited the full potential development of Qobuz. Untruthful posturing has been all-too-common at Deezer, who have been communicating false information regarding High Resolution.
The new Deezer subscription is available in “CD” quality – that is, 16-bit/44.1kHz. It is not comparable with Qobuz’s service, as it is currently only available on Sonos systems and not, for example, on mobile apps.
More frustratingly, Deezer abuses terms such as “sound in very high resolution” and “sound in very high quality”.
British magazine What Hifi pointed out this error straight away a few weeks ago:
“Deezer persists in referring to its Elite service as “high definition audio” when in fact – as we have repeatedly pointed out – it is streaming at 16-bit/44.1kHz, the same resolution as CD. That means its streaming service is using the same audio quality as rivals such as Qobuz and Tidal.”
These terms mislead both consumers and journalists, at a time when the industry is striving to establish clear and simple terms which can allow music fans to be properly informed in their purchases.
What is High-Resolution Audio?
What exactly constitutes “High Resolution Audio”, or “Hi-Res Audio”, has been established by an agreement between prestigious partners in the industry, including a number of manufacturers and the three major record labels.
The terms and their precise definitions can be found on the official site of the Consumer Electronics Association in a release published 6th June 2014 : :
Read more about the CEA here :
“Lossless audio that is capable of reproducing the full range of sound from recordings that have been mastered from better-than-CD quality music sources.”
Hi-Res audio includes files encoded in 24-Bit and not 16-Bit, which is what Deezer is offering.
Hence it is clear that Deezer’s product does not correspond with the defined critera; they are instead offering CD quality, at 16-bit/44.1kHz.
We formally asked Deezer to take out and refrain from using these incorrect terms in their adverts and press releases.
The sound quality on offer with Deezer’s product is nothing new or innovative, as Qobuz users will know. Streaming in 16-bit/44.1kHz – or CD quality – has been available on Qobuz for the past two years (the first such offer in the world). Furthermore it has not just been available on Sonos systems, as it can be accessed via all of the Qobuz apps (iOS, Android, Windows 8, Desktop, and soon Windows Phone) and on any device you so choose.
Since April 2015 Qobuz has offered a new, innovative opportunity to our users: to stream not just in CD-quality (16-bit/44.1kHz) but also in real Hi-Res Audio – a world first.
We have denounced the most recent press release from Deezer which has claimed MP3 versions of recordings by Maria Callas, recently remastered in Hi-Res, to be High Resolution.
We remind you that offering users a Hi-Res recording in MP3 quality, obviously, is just offering subscribers an MP3.
Regarding the recent re-editions of Led Zeppelin, specifically mentioned in Deezer’s press release, not only have they been available to stream in CD-quality for quite some time on Qobuz, but they are also available in real 24-bit Hi-Res downloads and, as of April 2015, in Hi-Res streaming.
Hi-Res audio today is a clearly-defined concept. These inaccurate representations of audio quality must stop.
This nonsense surrounding Hi-Res must stop, after 15 years of MP3 promoted by brands such as Deezer, who have not hesitated to state on their own site that MP3 128 is “similar to a CD”.
To those who would argue that these are minor issues: these lies have only served to help Deezer since 2008. It is time for it all to stop, and for brands to stop presuming their customers are gullible enough to believe them unchallenged.