I decided that getting a PayPal account to pay for my Rdio subscription was unacceptable after all, so I took another look at the second-best option, Spotify. But after some more investigation it turns out that Spotify has a slew of other issues for me.
Using a TV for music streaming
Because I’m about to move to my own apartment (more on that later) I’ve been pondering what the best way is to supply my living room with music. I’ve considered many other options, but I came to the conclusion that using a TV for this would be the most simple solution which also keeps the audio quality intact.
The Logitech UE Smart Radio which I mentioned in my previous post could also be an option, but the sound quality won’t be as good as with separate high-end speakers. Using Bluetooth to stream from a laptop to the speakers requires an adapter and will lower the audio quality, other methods of streaming also require adapters and are expensive, streaming via DLNA with Rygel is too complicated and Sonos is way too expensive.
Currently my plan is to buy the Audioengine A5+ speakers (rated very highly in this review, in Dutch) and connect those to my TV. There are smart TV apps for music streaming services which then allow the TV to stream the music and pass it on to the speakers. As a bonus I can also use the speakers when I watch Netflix or play games with the Playstation 4 which I intend to buy later. This way I only need one speakerset in my living room and no extra devices apart from a TV; the amplifier is integrated in the speakers.
My issues with Spotify
The problem with Spotify is that they only have a Smart TV app for Samsung TV’s. While I like to have some choice, Samsung makes good TV’s, so this isn’t necessarily a problem. What is a problem however is that you do not get the improved sound quality. Even though you need a Spotify Premium account (€ 10 a month) to use Spotify on a Samsung TV, you don’t benefit from the 320 kbps bitrate offered to Premium subscribers. You get the default 160 kbps bitrate. Spotify has been aware of this for more than a year and their employee wrote (see link) that there is no reason for Samsung not to support 320 kbps. Even so, Spotify has done nothing about it.
Spotify’s web application doesn’t benefit from the 320 kbps bitrate either. If you do want it you can use the desktop clients for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. But I don’t want to use the desktop client, web applications are more convenient for several reasons.
Finally, just like Rdio Spotify doesn’t accept bank transfers or iDeal. Unlike Rdio though, you can buy Spotify gift cards in physical stores in the Netherlands. While far from ideal, this would allow me to pay for a Spotify subscription without using a credit card or PayPal. Still, there is no excuse for Spotify’s inability to offer iDeal as a payment method.
I can understand an American company like Rdio, which doesn’t do active marketing on the Dutch market, doesn’t offer it. But Spotify is Swedish and they do advertise actively on the Dutch market. And Netflix (which is American) offered iDeal right away when they started operating on the Dutch market. Spotify’s Dutch customers started asking for iDeal support over a year ago, but like the bitrate problem they’ve still done naught about it.
Deezer is the best alternative
Reading through the comments on the request for Spotify to support iDeal, I noticed it was mentioned that Deezer does support iDeal. They don’t seem to mention this anywhere on their website, but I’ve confirmed that this is indeed the case. And apart from Samsung TV’s their app is also available for TV’s from LG, Toshiba, Panasonic and Philips. That’s good, because I’m considering to buy this Panasonic TV instead of a Samsung TV.
And as far as I know, please correct me if I’m wrong, you’ll always enjoy the 320 kbps bitrate with their Premium+ account (€ 10 a month just like Spotify) which is necessary for using it on TV’s. Because they don’t have a desktop client, this high bitrate is available through their web application. Because Deezer has none of the disadvantages of Rdio or Spotify, I canceled my Rdio subscription and subscribed to Deezer’s Premium+ account right away.
However, apart from these two advantages of Deezer, I still think Rdio is qualitatively the better service. Its radio station functionality is much more refined, in my experience it chooses much more interesting music for me to listen. Deezer doesn’t even have a radio station for country music for example. Plus, Deezer’s interface is inferior to Rdio’s interface. Hopefully the Deezer developers could rip off the positive aspects of Rdio to improve their own service.