Qobuz: Hi-res audio streaming service launches in New Zealand

Quboz was launched in New Zealand on April 14, 2021.
The service was launched in France in 2007. Photo credit: Qobuz

Music streaming and downloading service Qobuz has launched in New Zealand.

The French service offers high-resolution audio formats of up to 24-Bit / 192 kHz, along with more editorial content, curation and searchable metadata for music than other streaming services.

But it also comes with premium pricing - a standard monthly subscription in Aotearoa will cost $30, which is double the $15 charged by incumbents Spotify and Apple Music.

While there is a free trial people can use before having to pay money to Qobuz, it doesn't offer a permanent free option.

At an exclusive launch event at Auckland's Roundhead Studios this week, a demonstration showcased how different hi-res audio sounds to an MP3 using extremely high-quality speakers.

In addition to hearing the difference, attendees were shown a visual representation of a Massive Attack song's waveform in both formats, which clearly showed how much information a compressed MP3 removes. These are shown below.

Massive Attack's 'Unfinished Sympathy' MP3 waveform.
Massive Attack's 'Unfinished Sympathy' MP3 waveform. Photo credit: Roundhead Studios
Massive Attack's 'Unfinished Sympathy' Qobuz hi-res waveform.
Massive Attack's 'Unfinished Sympathy' Qobuz hi-res waveform. Photo credit: Roundhead Studios

Guests were also shown that users can search not just by the standard artist, album, song, composer and genre, but by things like mastering engineer. All albums on the service mastered by New Zealander Chris Chetland were brought up with a search of his name.

Qobuz customers are offered access to hundreds of thousands of album reviews with the service, as well as expanded liner notes, musical booklets and interviews.

In a statement, Qobuz director George Fornay said the company "aims to bring music back to its true value".

"We are absolutely thrilled to finally bring Qobuz to New Zealand, where the expectation for a high-quality listening offering such as ours exists - not just amongst consumers, but within the vibrant, diverse and incredibly talented Kiwi music industry," he added.

Globally, Qobuz says it offers more than 70 million tracks, but currently, 57 million are available to New Zealand customers.

A spokesperson said that number "is set to expand quickly in the coming weeks and months".