Listen Up, Audiophiles: Qobuz Sets U.S. Launch Of High-Res Streaming

Qobuz, a music tech company founded in France in 2007 that bills itself as “the world’s first and only certified hi-res streaming and download service,” is planning to launch in the U.S. in 2019.

The company, which already operates in 11 European countries, has not yet revealed the launch date but it has opened a U.S. headquarters and set pricing for its streaming packages. Subscriptions range from $9.99 a month for standard-issue, MP3-quality streaming all the way up to $299.99 a year for unlimited streaming at 24-bit /up to 192 khz, which is better than CD quality. The top-end plan also includes deep discounts on downloaded tracks from the Qobuz store.

The company, which claims an overall library of 40 million tracks, did not cite an exact number of tracks that will be on the U.S. platform, but said it was “multi-millions.” Apple and Spotify each have tens of millions of tracks in their U.S. libraries.

Audiophiles are the initial Stateside target for the service, which is currently in beta here. While streaming overall is on the upswing, benefiting  dominant players Spotify and Apple, the service aims to address dissatisfaction in some quarters with the sound quality of highly compressed digital audio.

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Rock great Neil Young is one such dissatisfied customer. He has held back much of his catalog from Apple and Spotify while developing higher-grade audio streaming options. Young later this week will announce details for the streaming launch of the Neil Young Archives, a subscription offering with hundreds of tracks as well as exclusive recordings and rarities.

Another part of the Qobuz mission is to fill in noticeable catalog gaps in genres like jazz and classical and offer a richer editorial content experience, areas where Apple and Spotify have recently started investing.

In announcing the rollout, Qobuz said the service is artist-friendly, promising “flow substantial revenues back to creators.”