In 2017, classical music followers like me lastly had a streaming service we might name our personal: Primephonic. In my overview at the moment, I lauded Primephonic’s web-based service, and lamented that the one main lacking piece was a cellular app. That lament has since turned to pleasure (principally) with the launch of Primephonic’s streaming app for Android and iOS.
What makes Primephonic totally different?
So, what makes Primephonic totally different from the likes of Tidal, Apple Music and Spotify? It’s a specialised music service designed by classical music lovers for classical music. Whereas main streaming providers is perhaps wonderful for the informal classical music listener, they fall brief on the subject of catalog choice, looking out, metadata assist, and descriptions.
For instance, as we speak’s main streaming providers provide the choice to look by artist, album, or monitor. Primephonic goes properly past these rudimentary choices, letting you search by composer, title, catalog quantity, orchestra, conductor, artist, yr, and label.
But it surely will get even higher. Once I looked for LSO (London Symphony Orchestra), Primephonic returned a consequence set damaged up by artist, recordings, playlists, albums, and tracks. Selecting “recordings,” I might additional kind the checklist by reputation, alphabetical order, recording date, or period. These nuances are essential to classical music aficionados.
It goes with out saying you could create your individual playlists and bookmark favorites within the app.
Browse by particular durations
Primephonic’s meticulous consideration to classical music taxonomy actually makes the service shine. I might browse by particular classical music durations, reminiscent of baroque, classical, romantic, early 20th century, late 20th century, or 21st century. Primephonic has chosen lovely imagery to characterize every interval.
Once I drilled down into the romantic interval, for instance, the app broke out the part into widespread romantic composers, well-known works of the interval, and newest albums. It’s good for each deep dives and informal explorations into durations you’re keen on and people you need to expertise for the primary time. You merely can not discover the sort of classification and exploration in mainstream providers.
Throughout my overview interval, I pitted Primephonic in opposition to my Roon server (the place I’ve Tidal built-in). Even with Roon’s unmatched metadata assist and wealthy integration, if I attempted to seek for Elegy in G Main by Tchaikovsky, it was far simpler and extra intuitive to drill down and discover that work in Primephonic. And talking of Roon, I do want that Primephonic had direct integration with Roon—name that my subsequent main function request!
I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out two different key parts of the service: Curated playlists and articles. Whenever you first launch the app, you’re greeted with a number of 4 highlighted “editor’s alternative” or “new releases.” The picks modified continuously throughout my overview interval, giving me a contemporary expertise. The homepage additionally provides you prompt entry to options playlists, composer playlists, iconic alums, choral playlists, and instrumental playlists. The latter is but extra proof of why Primephonic is the classical music service of alternative. I might additionally drill down into works devoted solely to flute, bass, horn, cello, organ, timpani, harp, viola and a handful of different devices.
In sure cases, Primephonic provides you in-depth articles or descriptions. If I selected a playlist about Tchaikovsky, for instance, I might learn a quick paragraph concerning the composer and an outline concerning the curated checklist. If I selected to discover by composer, on the backside of the composer’s works I might learn a quick (however detailed) biography of the composer’s life and main works.
All these parts linked me extra to the music, and gave me a larger sense of experiencing classical music relative to vinyl and CDs.
Subscription and streaming choices
Whenever you first obtain the app, you’re given a free two-week trial interval. Primephonic parks a everlasting banner on the prime of the display screen letting you understand you might be in a trial interval and what number of days you’ve gotten left.
Primephonic’s subscription is available in two tiers: Premium, with a streaming high quality as much as 320Kbps MP3, and Platinum, which presents lossless streaming as much as 24-bit FLAC. You’ve month-to-month and yearly pay as you go choices for each plans. The yearly plan provides you two months free. Premium month-to-month prices $7.99 per 30 days and premium yearly is $79.99. Platinum month-to-month prices $14.99 per 30 days or $149.99 per yr.
The Primephonic UI doesn’t let you understand what high quality you’re streaming at. That’s one other function I’d wish to see added to the service. For instance, I’d wish to know if I’m streaming a 16-bit/44kHz or 24-bit/48kHz unique file.
Of course, audio quality also depends on your wireless connection. Primephonic uses adaptive streaming so that if you’re experiencing bandwidth constraints or dropouts, it will downsample the streaming quality so that your music plays uninterrupted. For those who insist on music quality over convenience, you do have the option of turning adaptive mode off.
Under account settings, you can define separate quality settings for Wi-Fi and cellular streaming. This is especially helpful for people who want to keep an eye on their cellular data bill. The service will give you up to four options (depending on your subscription tier). Normal is 128Kbps MP3, high is 256Kbps MP3, superior is 320Kbps MP3, and full lossless simply says it is “up to 24-bit lossless.” Wi-Fi defaults to the highest quality setting.
The most glaring drawback to the current version is the absence of an offline mode, so you can download selected playlists or albums to your mobile device and play them when you don’t have a cellular or Wi-Fi connection. Primephonic told me that offline playback will be coming soon as an update to the app. Right now, the app is misleading because if you do happen to be without an Internet connection, you’ll get a prompt to download playlists, albums, or recordings to listen to them offline. The future update to support an offline mode can’t come soon enough.
Play classical music in your car
For music on the go to be practical, it has to be playable in different contexts. I tested the app on my Bowers&Wilkins PX wireless headphones and in my car.
I could play Primephonic tracks through my car’s CarPlay-enabled audio system. However, Primephonic lacks full Apple CarPlay support.
While I could play/pause, advance, and rewind tracks, I couldn’t navigate through playlists, browse favorites, or bring up curated music onscreen. In a nutshell, if you have a Bluetooth-compatible speaker, you can use the service just fine, but you won’t get advanced integration capabilities.
Superb audio quality
Sitting down to do some reference listening, I tested Primephonic with my pair of Focal Clear headphones using the lossless streaming setting with my iPhone XS and Periodic Audio Nickel amp and an Android-based Fiio X7 Mark II hi-res DAP. I found Primephonic’s streaming quality to be excellent. When the recording contained it, classical works had excellent dynamics with a rich, deep sound stage. I was very pleased by the overall quality of the service.
Adaptive streaming worked well, but if the quality fell down to lower levels, the music flattened out with a dull top end and the obvious drawbacks inherent with MP3’s compression scheme. Again, Primephonic’s offline mode can’t come soon enough.
The perfect classical music streaming service
Primephonic’s mobile app for Android and iOS brings this outstanding classical music streaming service to smart devices. Primephonic’s mobile app reinforces why this is the perfect classical streaming service for the die-hard or the novice. The app’s classical music classifications, powerful searching, hand-curated playlists, and excellent background articles remain unrivaled.
The only glaring downside to the app is the lack of an offline mode so you can play your music without resorting to a Wi-Fi or cellular connection (though that will be addressed soon). If you like classical music, you’ll love Primephonic’s streaming service.