Deezer Premium 2021 Review (Australia)

Music streaming services are one of the great developments of the internet age. Many of us haven’t purchased a CD in years, and the once prevalent piracy issues have all but disappeared. There are plenty of options too! Deezer Premium is one such option that Australians may be less familiar with, but it may just offer some compelling reasons for us to check it out…

Disclosure: Deezer provided Blog of Dad with a trial of Deezer Premium for the purpose of review and ongoing use. Any thoughts expressed about Deezer products in this article are based on my own experiences. For more information, visit my disclosure statement

Deezer Premium

10 out of 10
$12.99
Deezer Premium

Deezer Premium has been a revelation for me. In a crowded market, Deezer offers enough extra features to present a legitimately compelling option. For Fitbit users, Deezer is a no-brainer, but for everyone else there are also features that are worth a good look. At the top of the list is the High Fidelity FLAC quality that delivers a superb listening experience. But beyond that, there is the wealth of tracks, the engaging 360 experience, smooth apps with interesting, personalised features and excellent smart speaker/casting integration.

Sound Quality
10/10
Size of Catalogue
10/10
Features and User Experience
10/10
Connectivity
10/10

Pros

FLAC – High-Fidelity

Great price for HiFi quality streaming

Extensive catalogue

Attractive, easy to navigate PC and mobile apps

360 Spatial Audio

Lyrics to songs

Excellent smart home integration and casting experience

Great Fitbit integration

Cons

360 Audio app is a work in progress


What is Deezer?

Deezer is a music streaming service originally out of France and it appears to be quite popular in Europe. It offers access to a comprehensive catalogue of over 72 million tracks spanning from the most popular to the obscure. That catalogue is vast, and I am yet to have a specific song search return a negative result. Deezer boasts over 16 million active users from over 180 countries around the globe.

There are Free, Premium and Family subscription plans available. The free level is ad-supported and (like most free streaming services) has some restrictions around sound quality, song selection and off-line listening. The Premium versions (including Family) unlock some highly desirable features for those who appreciate quality audio, including: play on demand, ad-free, off-line listening, cross-device listening and (most significantly) High Fidelity Sound.

A Deezer Premium subscription costs AUD $12.99 per month, with a 25% discount available to those happy to purchase the Annual Plan. In an extremely positive change for Deezer users, the Premium cost now includes access to all of the features of the previous HiFi plan. This includes the lossless FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) quality and the standalone 360 Reality Audio App for spatial listening with a select number of tracks. This change makes Deezer Premium a particularly attractive offering for those seeking high quality audio.


Deezer Premium First Impressions

Deezer offers an attractive interface on both PC and mobile applications. On the PC there is a browser-based option and also a downloadable app (available through the Microsoft Store. The mobile app (tested on Android) has a similar look and layout to the PC app, which made it feel familiar and easy to navigate.

There are a couple of key differences – the mobile app places the menu at the bottom of the screen while on the PC it is found on the left hand side. The other main difference is the location of search which is easily found on the bottom right corner of the mobile app. I found it harder to find on the PC, although it is bleedingly obvious when you spot it. Search is located right at the top of the screen.

Deezer ask a few questions about music tastes when you first sign up. They then use this information, along with browsing history and playlists, to present customized soundtracks. As someone with somewhat eclectic tastes, I really like Deezer’s approach to favourite artist selection.

The app presents a diverse list of artists to scroll through. Each favourite selection reveals more similar artists, but it doesn’t entirely pen you in to a specific genre. Through this method I found myself jumping from Coolio to Credence Clearwater Revival in just a few clicks! The list seems endlessly scrollable and building an extensive list of favourite artists is effortless.

Deezer call this feature Flow and they say that the more music you listen to, the more you will improve your Flow experience and Deezer smart playlists. Daily playlists do seem to group similar artists, with a mix of tracks from selected artists and some you might like. Today I have a playlist that features The Doobie Brothers, Paul Simon, Three Dog Night and Simon & Garfunkel. The next playlist features Outkast, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube and The Notorious B.I.G.

The Flow Playlist is an infinite mix of favourites and new tracks”. As far as I can see, there is no indication of what song comes next, it is simply a musical journey through your favourite genres. Interestingly, a Flow playlist of recently played songs builds as each new song plays, so you can go back and see what you were listening to.

My Flow soundtrack – new songs appear as they play

I really like this approach. Every new song is a surprise and it takes away the temptation to quickly skip through the playlist. I just let it play and enjoy the journey. Of course, there is the option skip a song if it isn’t what you are after. On the Android app, there is also the option to further tailor the Flow playlist to suit your current mood, with options including: You & Me, Motivation, Chill, Melancholy, Focus, and Party.

In addition to Flow and Daily Playlists, the front page of both the app and the browser version of Deezer present you with Playlists you’ll love, Recently played, Categories (search), New releases for you, 100% for you (single-artist playlists) Genre (search), Popular playlists, Charts, Most streamed albums, and Only on Deezer. There are some minor differences, for example the PC version offered Throwback Thursday, but overall the experience across platforms is very consistent.

What all this means is that I am always easily able to find something to listen to. I can search for specific songs if I want, but I find the premade playlists a particularly easy and attractive way of quickly engaging with music. Flow, in particular, has definitely grabbed my attention, there is something wonderful about going from Norah Jones to Barry White via Bob Dylan and Metallica in the space of ten songs! 


Deezer Premium Sound Quality

Audio quality is one of the big selling points of Deezer Premium. FLAC is a huge and noticeable step up from the compressed formats of free streaming options. I’m no audiophile, but even my untrained ear can greatly appreciate the difference. My new favourite way to relax and chill out in the evening is by putting my EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid earbuds in and streaming High Fidelity music while lying on the couch with my eyes closed. The GTW 270 earbuds do a magnificent job of delivering that beautiful Deezer Premium quality. You can read more about my Deezer and EPOS GTW 270 listening experiences here.

These tiny earbuds from EPOS deliver an impressive Deezer Premium experience!

This higher quality stream does come with a bandwidth cost, so a decent connection is a must to enjoy High Fidelity listening. According to the Deezer mobile app, Basic streaming uses 64 kbps, Standard streaming uses 128 kbps, High Quality streams at 320 kbps and High Fidelity (FLAC) requires 1411 kbps! On my home NBN 50 connection, that bandwidth was no problem at all (even with other devices doing their thing around the house).

In a really clever move, the Deezer mobile app includes the option to fine-tune streaming quality for different circumstances. When on mobile data, I have streaming quality set to basic. However, on Wi-Fi connection and when using Google Cast, Deezer is maxed out on High Fidelity. I also have the download quality set to High Fidelity, so that I can still enjoy the awesome FLAC sound while out and about without worrying about my limited data. This does consume more space on the phone, but for me storage isn’t currently an issue.

Options on the PC are: Standard (128 kbps), better (320 kbps) and High Quality. Casting to Chromecast devices can be done from the PC (browser only), although there are no options to change the quality separately.

Whether streaming to Chromecast or listening to music directly from devices, Deezer in High Fidelity delivers a spectacular listening experience. As I have already mentioned, mobile listening through the EPOS GTW 270 earbuds was amazing. The experience was equally impressive through my EPOS SENNHEISER GSP 601 and EPOS GSX 300 external sound card. In Explorers by Muse, the vocals came through with wonderful clarity, while each instrument was clearly discernible and balanced.

Deezer Premium
The Deezer Mobile App

Flow then took a hard right turn to Redman, who almost immediately told me F**k off in I’ll Bee Dat. Explicit content can be filtered out – an option that isn’t necessary when I’m using headphones, but one that is very important when streaming to my speakers when the kids are around! At least Redman’s swears came through in High Fidelity glory!

After Redman, Flow took me to one of my all-time favourite songs – Everlong by Foo Fighters. This is a song that I know well, and have listened to many times in less-than-ideal compressed forms. In Deezer High Fidelity, Everlong is an incredible song.

Soon after, Deezer followed up with a demo version of Morning Has Broken by Cat Stevens. I have found that Deezer occasionally throws in interesting live or demo versions of well-known songs. I like this occasional different perspective of old favourites. Pleasingly, they also come through in HiFi quality. This version was just Cat Stevens and a guitar. Even here the balance between the instrument and the vocals was spot on and thoroughly enjoyable.

Headphone listening is great, but I also own a set of Paradigm 90 CT speakers that (embarrassingly) have never been exposed to the glories of FLAC quality audio.

With the Yamaha receiver set to 2-Channel Audio (plus sub), I set about pushing some real quality listening out of the speakers for the first time in their ten-odd years. Thanks to Deezer’s ability to send High Fidelity content over Google Cast (via Chromecast connected to the Yamaha receiver), the experience was incredibly enjoyable. The dedicated subwoofer added an enjoyable extra punch of bass that the headphones don’t quite deliver, but without dominating the other sound.

It didn’t matter what I threw at my speakers, Deezer delivered quality listening. I set Flow to do its thing and had a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon of quality (swear-free) listening!


Deezer Premium – Smart Home Integration

Beyond phone or PC controls, Deezer seamlessly integrates into Google Assistant-based smart speaker systems. In fact, it also integrates into a wide variety of systems, including Apple Homepod, Amazon Echo, Bang & Olufsen, BOSE, SONOS… and a whole lot more! Not all of them offer HiFi quality, but Google Home does!

Integration was easy and it was up and running in a matter of seconds. Google automatically set Deezer to the default music platform. I don’t know if this was because it was the most recent added, or because it detected it as a premium subscription, but either way I was impressed at how quickly and seamlessly it had integrated.

Playing Deezer music via voice commands on my Google Home enabled devices is a smooth and quality experience. While not quite up there in quality compared to the Paradigm speakers, my JBL smart speakers still pack a punch and deliver a thoroughly enjoyable experience with the HiFi content.

Even better, Deezer (via Google Home) supports multi speaker streaming. That means I can have any song streaming in perfect synchronicity to all four Google-enabled speaker systems in my house. Easily and seamlessly streaming HiFi quality music throughout my entire home via a voice command is real living in the future stuff and I absolutely love it! It is a particularly thrilling experience to move from the living room to the kitchen and have my music follow me! It also means that I actually play each speaker at a lower volume than I might otherwise, with a comfortable listening experience maintained wherever in the house I might be.


Deezer Premium – Lyrics

This is a minor feature of Deezer, but one that I have really come to appreciate. Both the Android and PC apps provide the option to open song lyrics. For someone like me, who loves to sing along to whatever is playing, but also has no idea of the actual lyrics to even his favourite songs, this is a brilliant addition!

In keeping with the theme of excellent Google Home integration, these lyrics are automatically shown when casting from the Android app to the Chromecast (attached to the TV via the Yamaha receiver). Unfortunately, the same doesn’t happen when casting to the JBL Link View, it just shows the song title, artist and album information.

On all forms of Deezer lyrics, the app even highlights the appropriate line in the song. This seems to work really well. I have only seen one Rage Against the Machine song where the on-screen lyrics appeared to get a little lost.


Deezer 360 Audio app

360 Reality Audio won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. Purists may well turn their noses up at anything other than the authentic stereo experience, and I get that. However, those willing to embrace new technologies and hear things in different ways should definitely take note.

Deezer’s 360 Audio app uses Sony’s 360 Audio spatial technology to deliver select songs in an incredibly immersive way. Deezer state that 360 Reality Audio “maximizes the spatial sound field by creating multiple virtual speakers and converting instruments into independent objects that can be placed in different positions to create a truly immersive experience for listeners.”

Deezer 360

While certain Sony headphones can be optimized for 360 Reality Audio listening, Deezer state that devices from any manufacturer can work. I tried it with the EPOS GTW 270 wireless earbuds and it is fair to say that I’m a fan. The impression of individual instruments and voices coming from different positions is quite something!

For me, it’s not exactly as if I can pick exactly where in the room each instrument is coming from, but there is a definite feeling of being more… surrounded by the music. Instruments certainly come through clearly and individually. In my listening, I felt that the less is more rule applied quite well. While the more cluttered tracks still sounded great through Deezer 360 Audio, it was the Jazz Experience soundtrack that really grabbed my attention. Don’t Know Why by Norah Jones was spectacular. If I closed my eyes, I almost felt like I could be somewhere else. Norah’s voice is always enjoyable, but it is particularly easy to appreciate in this format. What A Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong was also incredibly enjoyable. The experience is hard to describe, but the music just has a little more pop in this format.

One minor frustration is that some tracks refused to load for me. There is also no search function, but this is understandable as the 360 catalogue is a drop in the ocean compared to the full Deezer experience. You can press the heart next to each song, which adds your favourites to My Collection. There are also some curated playlists to explore.

While feeling a little less polished than the slick main Deezer app experience, 360 Audio is well worth exploring.


Fitbit Integration

Fitbit users should find Deezer a particularly interesting proposition. Most premium Fitbit smartwatches support Deezer integration, as I discovered when I recently reviewed the Fitbit Versa 3.

The ability to download and play Deezer playlists while out and about, while being able to leave the mobile phone at home, is an incredibly attractive proposition. In my experience the Deezer integration is excellent, with motivational music pumped directly into my ears while out on a run. While FLAC quality isn’t supported, the sound quality is still excellent. Let’s face it, I’m not exactly listening with a critical ear while sucking in the big breaths after approximately 500 metres of running.

Fitbits can support a maximum of 150-200 songs (depending on a variety of factors), so there is plenty to choose from to keep your exercise beats fresh. Downloading and removing tracks is a simple process that takes a couple of minutes each time, so there is no excuse for stale music!


Deezer Premium – Final Thoughts

Deezer Premium has been a revelation for me. In a crowded market, Deezer offers enough extra features to present a legitimately compelling option. For Fitbit users, Deezer is a no-brainer, but for everyone else there are also features that are worth a good look. At the top of the list is the High Fidelity FLAC quality that delivers a superb listening experience. But beyond that, there is the wealth of tracks, the engaging 360 experience, smooth apps with interesting, personalised features and excellent smart speaker/casting integration.

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