Testing out streaming service Idagio

News from streaming service Idagio earlier this week has prompted me to re-evaluate the service.

I’d previously resisted signing up to it (and the most recent competitor on the market, Primephonic) because I’m already paying into Spotify at £9.99 a month. But, review access (courtesy of Idagio) gives me a bit more time to get acquainted with what’s on offer.

Deutsche Gramophon partners with Idagio

The news this week that record label behemoth Deutsch Grammophon have signed up to the streaming service means their considerable catalogue will soon be available in high quality MP3 and lossless FLAC. According to the press release, 15,000 tracks will be added to Idagio every week. That’s a bold commitment and serves as a clear signal to devotees that Idagio is the place to come for the music we love.

That Universal Music Group (DG’s owners) have committed to Idagio makes the prospect of switching streaming service more tempting, though the other musical genres I listen to (rock, pop and musical theatre for example) offered by Spotify means I’m resistant to letting go of that login just yet.

Cost

That prompts me to reflect on how much money I’m prepared to spend on audio streaming services. If for example I was to commit to Idagio too, I’d be forking out £36 on Idagio, Spotify, and Audible for my audio-on-demand services. At first glance that seems like a lot. Then again, that’s three CDs a month. Actually, I think that’s a bit of a bargain for all of my listening needs.

Competitor Primephonic made a big play at their launch about having nailed the metadata making searching for individual tracks an experienced designed primarily for the user.

Personally, Idagio has the edge on Primephonic, because in addition to the metadata, Idagio follows through with a clear, intuitive interface. The way the information is presented, for example in the breakdown of track, work, and album, reflects the different ways I want to access this catalogue.

In terms of design too, there’s an implied deference to the art form I find quite appealing. The interface has a luxurious feel – there’s a return on my investment (or will be when I subscribe).

Niggles

There are some tiny niggles with the app and web interface.

I don’t get to see the artwork in a search result (as a listener I’m going to be drawn to recognisable labels first and make a judgment accordingly). In some respects I suppose that forces me to read the credits and make a judgment on talent rather than label.

I experienced some difficulties getting the full metadata to appear when the track is cast via Chromecast (hardly a massive problem really). If you’re looking to cast to another device, use AirPlay whereever you can. Our Onkyo amp has AirPlay built in.

I’d also like to get sleeve notes alongside each album. I found one (by accident) accompanying Sheku Kanneh-Mason’s debut album on Decca, but couldn’t tell you how I actually found it. Clicking on the various options on the Philharmonia and Jamie Walton’s cracking recording of the Elgar Cello Concerto didn’t yield any notes. In this way the user path needs tweaking a bit, I think.

The only other thing I’d personally like to see at this stage is the ability to discover albums by record label. The metadata clearly is there. Artists and ensembles are associated with labels as much as they’re identified by their own reputations, so opening up this discovery path could help increase streams.

The final would-love-to-have is for the app to determine when there’s no Wi-Fi to connect and adjust the streaming settings accordingly. So, when I’m on 4G to automatically switch from FLAC streaming to high quality MP3, for example.

Final Verdict?

Sold.

Idagio is available via the web, IOS app, and Max OS X. 14 day trial, £9.99 per month thereafter

 


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