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We’ve all heard of Pandora, Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play Music, and the rest. We even ran an in-depth comparison between the biggest three to help you decide which one is best for you. But have you ever heard of Deezer?
Deezer has been around since 2007 but wasn’t made fully available in the United States until July 2016. For once, users in the U.S. were one of the last to receive access to a service and, having tried Deezer for myself, all I can say is, “It’s about time!”
Unlike other music streaming services with potential, such as the doomed-to-fail Tidal, Deezer is actually good enough to compete with the big boys. Here’s everything you need to know if you’re thinking of switching over.
Feature Breakdown: Free vs. Premium
Before we dive into the features, you should know that Deezer has three account types. Unfortunately, details on these account types are either sparse, outdated, or irrelevant to U.S. users. The three account types are:
- Discovery which is the basic free account.
- Premium+ which is the full account for $10-per-month.
- Elite which is only for Sonos devices for $16-per-month.
Note that Deezer also has shareable family accounts that are currently only available in France, but might be available in the U.S. at some point later. For this article, we’re only going to focus on the first two account types.
Discovery account users have these limitations:
- Periodic audio ads between songs.
- Only 128 kbps MP3 audio quality.
- Only 5 song skips per hour.
- No audio scrubbing. (What is scrubbing?)
In addition, Discovery accounts only have access to the first three features in the list below. However, as of this writing, the only way to get a Discovery account is to first participate in the 30-day Premium+ trial offer and cancel afterwards.
So which features offered by Deezer are free?
- Playlists: Over 100,000 public playlists are available for Deezer’s music library of over 40 million tracks. These playlists have anywhere from 30 to 120 songs and can be filtered according to 27 different genres.
- Mixes: A dynamically-generated sequence of songs that sound similar to a given artist or belong to a given genre. Think of it like the “artist radio” feature that other music streaming services have.
- Flow: A mix of songs based on your tastes, at least according to the songs you listen to on Deezer and the songs you add to your favorites. It’s always evolving and adapting.
And which features of Deezer are premium?
- Moods: Moods are basically playlists that are categorized by how they make you feel rather than their genres. There are seven moods to choose from: Romance, Party, Workout, Moments, Activities, Moods, and Chill.
- New Releases: A daily-updated page that shows newly released albums and singles, sorted by genre. Great way to stay on top of the ever-shifting music industry.
- Hear This: Deezer’s music recommendation engine. It’s basically a page full of taste-tailored suggestions for artists, albums, and playlists that you might like. Great for discovering new music!
- Offline Playback: Download songs to your device so you can play them from anywhere at any time. Possibly the most important feature offered by Deezer (or any music streaming service).
- Audio Quality: Upgrade the audio quality from 128 kbps to 320 kbps, which is about the best level of quality that most users can hear.
- 5-Band Equalizer: For fine-tuning your audio quality.
- Casting: Integrates natively with Chromecast.
- Lyrics: Instantly pull lyrics from any song with vocals.
- App Extensions: Apps are optional features that you can enable to expand what Deezer can do. As of this writing there are 18 apps in the library, like Chordify (extract chords from any song) and IFTTT integration.
The closest competitor to Deezer is obviously Spotify, and at this point I’m willing to say that Spotify’s free version might be better but Deezer shares a lot of the same benefits of Spotify Premium. Feature-wise, I’d say they’re pretty much neck and neck.
And lastly, Deezer is supported on the following devices:
- Web (Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Edge, Safari)
- Windows 10 (PC and Mobile)
- Windows 8 (PC and Mobile)
- Mac OS X
- iPhone, iPod, and iPad
- Smart TVs (Samsung, LG, Toshiba, WD, Panasonic)
- And many other devices!
Web Player: Solid With Room to Improve
My first impression of the Deezer web player wasn’t good, most likely because I was expecting something closer to Spotify’s web player design. But it quickly grew on me and now that I’ve familiarized myself, it’s not that bad.
What tripped me up the most was the single sidebar layout, which isn’t seen much in modern music players. It works fine for something simple like Pandora, but Deezer is more complex and that demands a slightly more complex layout.
The actual aesthetics are rather nice though. Matte whites and matte blacks are common throughout the app, with the only bits of color coming from album covers — but it works, at least in terms of being pleasant on the eyes.
The hardest thing to figure out in Deezer, at least for me, was the fact that there isn’t a straightforward way to browse its library. It seems the entire service is built upon one main idea — helping you discover songs you might like — so you aren’t meant to browse.
The closest thing to browsing is the search feature, which is surprisingly good. Typing out a query brings up a sub-panel with quick matches: hashtags, artists, albums, tracks, playlists, and various mixes. Hitting “Enter” takes you to a full search.
What I like about the full search is that you can play the songs directly on the results page and Deezer will play through the results in order as if it were its own playlist. You can filter the results further by type, whether artist, album, playlist, or whatever.
You can also combine multiple hashtags for more specific queries, such as “#classical” + “#sad” narrowing down the list of artists from 40+ to 12.
Overall, the Deezer web player is solid. I haven’t run into a single bug or glitch yet, so that’s a big point in its favor. It takes a bit of getting used to, but once you’re comfortable with it, Deezer is proves itself more than capable.
Desktop Apps: Limited But Good Enough
Deezer offers desktop apps for both Windows and Mac, but they’re currently in beta status. This mean they aren’t complete yet and are missing some of the non-critical features, like Hear This, App Extensions, etc.
That being said, they’re usable and I haven’t run into any bugs or glitches with either, so don’t hesitate to use them if you don’t absolutely need the missing features.
What immediately struck me about the Windows 10 version of Deezer is that it was obviously designed for smartphones and laptops. Even when you maximize it, everything just stretches horizontally — so if you prefer to maximize your music players, Deezer will disappoint.
The mobile-focused design does has some limitations, the worst of which is that a lot of actions and options are buried under sub-menus and what not, thus requiring multiple taps (AKA clicks) to reach. For example, instead of clicking the artist’s name itself, you have to click the sub-menu and select “Artist Page”.
However, if you ignore these limitations, the Windows app isn’t that bad. These complaints are merely nuisances, not frustrations. It’s good enough that I’m happy to use it day in and day out.
The Mac version of Deezer isn’t very different from the Windows version: obviously designed with mobile variants in mind, yet straightforward enough to use that it isn’t annoying to deal with. I personally prefer the clean Mac aesthetic to the sleek Windows look here.
Mobile Apps: Clean, Smooth, and Beautiful
Deezer is also available on Android, iOS, BlackBerry, and Windows Mobile devices, and this is probably how you’ll spend most of your time listening to Deezer. It’s a good thing, then, that Deezer’s mobile apps are the most developed and pleasant to use.
To be frank, Deezer on Android isn’t all too different from most of the other music streaming apps on Android, but it has a level of polish and speed that sets it one pace ahead. I wasn’t able to try the iOS version myself, but I assume it’s the same there.
Simply put, it looks nice. The screen estate is used well and it never feels sparse or wasted, yet there’s enough white space in all the right places so that it never feels cramped either.
One thing I love is that it has four audio quality settings that you can set to make sure you strike the perfect balance of quality and data usage:
- Stream quality over mobile network.
- Download quality over mobile network.
- Stream quality over Wi-Fi.
- Download quality over Wi-Fi.
My only complaint is that it takes one or two extra taps to start listening to something due to the way menus and pages are designed and how certain options are buried under sub-menus, but that’s a minor nitpick. Overall, I’m quite impressed.
Is Deezer Right for You?
Deezer’s 40 million track library contains a lot of mainstream music and a lot of lesser-known niche music, but is slightly lacking the in-between stuff. Some of my favorite tracks from Spotify and even Amazon Prime Music couldn’t be found on Deezer.
That being said, I think Deezer is a solid contender to Spotify’s throne. I wouldn’t call it a better experience, nor would I call it a worse one. I’d simply recommend that you try the free 30-day trial and decide for yourself. You may be surprised.
Have you ever used Deezer? How do you think it compares to other music streaming services? Does it lack any features that are important to you? Let us know with a comment down below!