The jury is/remains out
Primephonic showed not only the other Classical Music streaming services how it is done, but all the mainstream streaming services as well. I don't know if there will ever be another streaming service, regardless of genre, which will host such a multi-dimensional user interface and maintain a cadre of top-level curators and knowledge specialists.
With that in mind, of all the streaming services I have sampled the best solution would appear to be Qobuz. And it's not because the team cares about Classical Music, but rather the following:
- they don't know enough about Classical Music to put their own spin on it and ruin it, and their classical library is somewhat expansive
- they are not only Classical, so if one were to take a respite there is much music from all over the world to sample
- they integrate with both Roon & Audirvana software (audiophiles will know what I'm talking about)
- they maintain working mobile apps for iOS (Apple) and Android (Google) smartphones and tablets.
Again. do understand, that, unlike Primephonic, your knowledge of classical music will just about instantaneously surpass that of anyone at Qobuz. Don't go looking to them or the software for recommendations.
I haven't tried Qobuz yet. Since Primephonic disappeared into Apple's maw I've been giving Idagio another try. I'm underwhelmed. The app design is unimpressive, and search results are erratic. The only thing I'm really enjoying right now is the Sleep timer option for my bedtime music.
I've paid for a month of it, so I'll keep exploring. After that, I'll take a look at Qobuz.
After the shock of Primephonic closing so suddenly, I took subscriptions to Apple Music and Idagio.
My relationship with Apple Music lasted about two days. It seems to have such a patchy grasp of the concept of composer: if you know what you’re looking for it can be found but if you’re listening to an album featuring many composers, there’s nothing to tell you who composed which track. It will be very interesting, though, to see how (and if) Apple’s acquisition of Primephonic changes their approach to classical music.
In the meantime, I’ve been pleasantly surprised how good Idagio is (at least on the iOS app). The search engine is excellent: it’s easy to find specific works, and to compare performances. Browsing works very well. Apart from the absence of Hyperion (from all streaming services, I believe) I’m not finding many gaps in Idagio’s catalogue. There are booklets. And Idagio’s using a fair pay model. So far, so good!
Welcome to the forums, @jen! I'm trying Idagio, too. It's certainly much better than the non-classical-only streaming services I've tried, but I find it a bit flat after Primephonic. Especially using their web-browser - it's as if they found the whitest, blankest background they could and then plonked down the content without any styling.
There are other things I don't like, but I agree with your list of pleasing features. One thing I've just discovered is their Live Compare feature, which is splendid! To quote Idagio:
Find your perfect recording faster: Tap between performances to hear the exact same moment interpreted by a specially curated selection of your favourite performers.
At the moment, there are only six works in Live Compare. I hope they expand this section.
For me Qobuz and Tidal are not an option (they're not available where I'm), so Idagio and Apple Music it is 😐
I already had an Apple music family plan, and let me put it as politely as I possibly can: it's useless when it comes to classical music! I was horrified when I read in Primephonic's message they were merging with that one!
Idagio, I agree with @capriccio, seems like a barren desert after the bounties that Primephonic had to offer. Really, sometimes I feel that it's a deep cavern that has what I need, but it's so poorly built they elude me!
Good to hear the iOS app is better than the dismal andriod one, @jen!
The web player is certainly horrendous, it's only redeeming feature is the booklet download, that I believe is available in the desktop app?, which is by far the best of all Idagio's platforms (at least the ones I've tried)!
And let's not forget the elephant in the room: gapless playing!!! Apparently it's a foreign concept to Idagio!
I was puzzled, @dinah, by your comment about the “elephant in the room”, since I’d not noticed any problem using Idagio.
It seems, though, that gapless playback exists only for iOS users at present 😕. They hope it will become available on other platforms in the future.
Here’s Idagio’s statement:
It’s disappointing that Idagio is so different from platform to platform!
Presto Music has announced a streaming service that would, so far, allow you to stream from their library. That may be all it does: I have not investigated further.
If Apple’s immanent release does not fold into Sonos, I will abandon it and Idagio, for Qobuz is coming to Canada in May. Both it, and Tidal, are available in the Linn Digital Streamer that I use. I got a Sonos Port, improved it significantly with an Sbooster external power supply and better cables, only to stream Primephonic. If Apple Classical does not stream via the Sonos (I stream it on a pass-through into the Linn DAC and player) then I will abandon hope and add Qobuz. @Dinah, I share most of your limitations and frustration. Ultimately, we should be beyond regional licensing for music: the internet has torn those barriers down.