Spotify review: is one of the world’s most popular streaming services still worth it?

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Spotify is one of the biggest names in the music streaming industry with around 345 million subscribers worldwide. While it doesn’t offer studio-quality sound, the usability is top notch.

In this review, we dig a little deeper to see what Spotify has that might encourage metalheads, progressive rockers, and punksters to join or stay in the fold.

Spotify review: Features

Spotify places great value on its curated content, social interaction, and smart recommendations, but for many, the wide variety of payment options will be its most appealing feature.

There is a free version, but life is too short to bother with its basic features and intrusive ads. Spotify Premium is the default plan, and for $ 9.99 / £ 9.99 per month, you won’t be left quibbling about the value.

There is also a student level for $ 5.99 / £ 5.99 per month, and if you want to split the costs, a Duo level supports two users for £ 13.99. Finally, there’s the £ 16.99 Family Tier, which allows up to six people to have their own accounts.

It is often a good idea to go for a cooperative plan, as it allows Spotify’s personal curation algorithms to work more efficiently. If you just share your ID, you will end up with an annual compilation of the best songs of the year with high conflict.

Spotify is also widely accessible from a range of devices. You’ll find a Spotify app on your Sky Q TV box, Spotify Connect compatibility lets you seamlessly switch from a smartphone to a home stereo, and the service also works with multiroom systems like Sonos and Denon’s Heos.

Spotify review: audio options

It’s not that Spotify sounds particularly bad, but rather that it doesn’t sound particularly good. Hi-res audio is verboten – there is no 24-bit hi-res content available. This puts service at the bottom of the bill when it comes to sound fidelity, well behind headliners like Tidal, Qobuz and Apple Music.

The best you can currently expect from Spotify Premium is 320 kbps. It’s fine if your headphones were cool when Biff Byford was a boy, but if you wear fancy high-res cans (like the Sony WH-1000XM4 or the Sennheiser Momentum 3) you might want to give your ears a lift. at the level.

Tidal’s HiFi tier costs more at $ 19.99 / £ 19.99 per month, but for the extra expense you get audio quality up to 9216 kbps and that includes main grade audio, Dolby Atmos and Sony 360 Reality Audio. Tidal is like walking into a concert, while Spotify is akin to sitting outside by the trash cans.

Of course, that doesn’t mean Spotify won’t offer a higher level of resolution in the future, but that’s where we are now.

Spotify review: User experience

Spotify

(Image credit: Thiago Prud̻ncio / SOPA Images / LightRocket РGetty)

One of the reasons Spotify is so strong is the efficiency of its user interface. Like AC / DC, you know exactly where you are and what you’ll get. Spotify also gets new music recommendations that are largely correct, and the social integration is great. You can post songs on Instagram, invite friends to collaborate on playlists, and make fun of your friends’ music choices on Facebook.

The Home screen provides instant access to recently played albums, curated playlists, and recommended artists. It’s impenetrable at times with a few weird music choices, but it doesn’t take a lot of effort to scroll down to find something that suits your mood. There is also a powerful search function to explore artists, songs, genres or podcasts.

One aspect of Spotify that can be divisive is the space currently reserved for podcasts. It’s easy to see why, as Spotify says, podcast listening has dramatically increased. The content is plentiful and usually doesn’t come with a pesky license fee.

Taking inspiration from the Netflix playbook, the company has spent the money and signed big exclusivity deals to give the listener even more options.

Spotify review: the alternatives

We’ve already paid tribute to Tidal, which offers high-resolution audio and new features (like Dolby Atmos audio when you connect through its streaming media app). But let’s face it, you are paying for the fun.

A halfway house is Qobuz. The best value for money high resolution audio service, the Qobuz Studio Premier plan available for $ 12.99 / £ 10.83 per month, and which gives you 24-bit high resolution as standard. The catch is, it doesn’t have the same clever editorial curation as Spotify or Tidal.

If you’re looking for more options, check out our guide to the best music streaming services to see how all of the major audio subscriptions match up.


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