Deezer began when streaming music was still in its budding stages. Even though Spotify is considered to be the first streaming service, Deezer was there a year earlier. But its limited catalog prevented the service from being a huge sensation like Spotify.
Now, it is accessible in 182 countries, and you will struggle to find a device it isn’t available on.
A laptop with the desktop or web app is the best way to use Deezer. Even though mobile apps are easier to navigate once you get the layout, there aren’t that many features to make use of.
Deezer’s mobile design is also plain weird: albums appear as long lists with small cover arts instead of big picture-led user interfaces of the competitors. The tablet app has the same problems and is rather dull, with lots of unneeded white space.
When it comes to the features, Deezer actually competes with Spotify in helping you discover new music. Among the recent features is Flow, and it’s also the first thing you see on the homepage.
The main idea is to let Deezer do all the hard work by selecting songs that it believes you might like, all based on your listening habits. There are buttons to dismiss tracks you aren’t fond of (further enhancing the music selection algorithms), but Flow is actually good when it comes to music selections.
You also have the Hear This tab, which selects new content and is reasonably accurate with the “if you liked it, try this one” suggestions. Also present are the Top Playlists and New Releases tabs, both of which you can filter by genre. Then there is Mixes, which consists of mood and genre-based radio stations.
Playlists, songs, mixes, and albums can be favorited, and your own music can be uploaded to the web app, so you can access it across all of your platforms.
Although Spotify has ditched the third party apps, Deezer still has them, plus some of its own, all of which you can access within the service. Some of the favorites are Deezer Sessions, with exclusive videos of live music sessions, and Spotizr, which replicates your Spotify playlists in Deezer.
Just like Spotify, Deezer still has an ad-supported free version with 128kbps. This allows for unlimited listening on all your platforms, but restricts the mobile use of Flow and Mixes services. There isn’t any offline listening, so you may want to go easy on your data plan.
For $9.99 monthly, you can access ad-free Premium+, with 320 kbps playback and offline listening. Or you can go with the $14.99 instead, which lets Sonos users sign up for Deezer Elite with everything that Premium+ offers plus 16 bit/44.1kHz FLAC playback through the Sonos kit. It may be a bit specific, but it does give Sonos users a cheap option for CD quality streaming.
When it comes to performance, Deezer sounds similar to Spotify. Critical ears will hear that 320kbps streams have a hard edge to them, whenever played through anything but a Sonos kit, but for many this will go unnoticed.
Detail levels are okay, and the timing is tight, but you will hear a more punchy and dynamic presentation if you upgrade to Elite through the Sonos speaker.
For a while now, Spotify and Deezer stood shoulder to shoulder when it came to catalog, features, and performance. Even with Elite, not many things have changed. It’s nice to have Deezer as an available option, but it still isn’t the obvious winner.
Besides, Spotify’s recently refreshed interface really left Deezer in the dust. While we do applaud Elite, they will definitely need to pay more attention to the UI. Until then, it’s hard not to turn to the other services.
[Featured image credit: Lionel Bonaventure / Getty Images]