news 3 days ago

Qobuz Kicks MP3s to the Curb With New Hi-Res Audio Plan

Variety — Jem Aswad

Since the dawn of digital music, the MP3 has been the main format for downloads and streaming — and for just as long, audiophiles great and small have been complaining about the format’s low quality. Well, Qobuz, the French hi-res audio service that recently launched in the U.S., has said “Ça suffit!” (“Enough!”)

The company announced today that it is completely eliminating its MP3 (lossy) streaming tier. Beginning today, Qobuz has streamlined its monthly offering to one $14.99 plan that includes unlimited access to its entire Hi-Res and CD lossless catalogue (as low as $12.50 per month with a yearly plan). With their maximum quality plan now available for one price, Qobuz is the first streaming service to say goodbye to the “increasingly archaic” MP3 in its effort to make hi-res and lossless the new standard.

None other than Neil Young, one of the world’s most notorious audio snobs, recently gave the service a ringing endorsement. “Qobuz sounds great!,” he said. “Qobuz was one of the earliest Hi-Res streamers. Their new offer is another big step towards making Hi-Res streaming available at the same cost as MP3 streaming today.”

The new Studio Premier plan is a limited time promotion available to the first 100,000 new Qobuz subscribers (plus existing users), who will receive unlimited access to over 50 million tracks in certified Hi-Res or CD lossless quality, along with Qobuz’s editorial and metadata content, for $14.99/month, or $149.99/year. Qobuz will still offer its unique Sublime+ plan, now priced at $249.99/year, which includes all the streaming offerings, plus a discount on Hi-Res download purchases from the Qobuz store.

Dan Mackta, Managing Director of Qobuz USA, says: “MP3 is really bad for music, artists, and listeners – so Qobuz is saying ‘no’ to MP3 and now offers only real studio quality in one accessible plan. Studio Premier is a special offer we’ve been dying to make.”

Qobuz launched in 2009 as a hi-res download service, with its streaming option rolling out gradually over 2014 and 2015. The company says it has almost 200,000 customers across the 12 markets in which it operates, with over 25,000 in the U.S. already.

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