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Sonos Takes High End Audio Listening To A New Level With Exclusive Deezer Deal

Sonos Takes High End Audio Listening To A New Level With Exclusive Deezer Deal

The US Company who has not yet rolled out 24 bit audio technology has cut an exclusive 12 month deal with European music syndication Company Deezer to deliver high quality lossless audio content to millions of Sonos customers.

Currently several Companies are pushing 24Bit High Res Audio despite the lack of 24Bit digital content. 

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The new Deezer Elite service streams content at 1,411 kilobits per second (kbps) as opposed to the 320kbps rate offered by Deezer’s standard service and most other streaming Companies. 

The new Sonos Deezer service streams music in the lossless Flac audio format.

For now, Deezer Elite will only be available to customers who own a Sonos high end wireless audio system which is one of the most popular systems sold by JB Hi Fi. 

Sonos owners who are already Deezer subscribers can switch to Elite for no extra cost, while people who are new to the streaming service will be able to sign up for its higher-quality tier from 19 March.

“We still haven’t set a price for new users, but I would anticipate that it will be similar to the US” said Deezer representatives who were in Australia for the launch.

The US cost is $14.95 a month or $9.99 a month on a 12 month plan.

Tyler Goldman, chief executive of Deezer in the USA said this week that Deezer Elite’s US launch has been successful beyond his company’s expectations, noting that while subscribers to its standard service tend to listen for around an hour a day, Deezer Elite users listen for double that time on average.

Currently Deezer is battling to grow their US marketshare and the new Elite service delivers a distinct advantage for the French Company over current streaming services. 

Goldman said more hardware partnerships will follow in due course, as the service is refined.

For now, the Flac streams will not be available on Deezer Elite subscribers’ mobile devices. “Firstly because most phones today cannot support Flac, and secondly because there would be significant data charges,” said Goldman.

At this weekend’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona both HTC and Samsung are set to launch new smartphones that will stream lossless files. The HTC 9 will also stream 24 bit audio. 

Another problem for consumers wanting to listen to premium audio content on current model smartphones Goldman claims is that “most people listening on a mobile are listening on a headset, and although they’d hear a difference, it wouldn’t be pronounced”.

Goldman said record labels have been supportive of Deezer’s move into high-quality streaming, enabling it to make more than 25m tracks available in Flac format, out of the 35m in its catalogue.

Goldman said that in the future lossless may be a standard feature for streaming services. 

“There are parallels to HDTV: initially people paid more for HD channels, but over time it just became part of your package,” he said.

“You can see a longer-term arc in music where Flac may be the common way that files are delivered. In the interim, you’ll definitely see other services offer Flac as an option, but super-serving this audience will not just about the encode rate. It will be about the other features.”

Deezer currently has 16 million active users, including 6 million paying subscribers, although a significant proportion of the latter have the costs picked up by their mobile operators as part of “bundle” deals, so are not guaranteed to continue subscribing when those deals run out.