A couple of weeks ago we published an article with some nod to the history of liquid music, adding a quick overview of how, in recent times, this mode of enjoyment has become attractive to many audiophiles. On that occasion we focused mainly on streaming; today, instead, we want to deepen the discussion on the platforms where to download FLAC music. If you want to download and save Hi-res music locally, this is the article that will explain how and where to do it. Or at least five possibilities in this sense.
Five liquid music download sites
HDtracks is the first site that we recommend talking about buying music in high definition. It was one of the first sites to offer the download of tracks in high resolution. You can see it, alas, from the interface and graphics, not very up-to-date. This means that the prevailing genres in the catalogue are mainly rock, jazz and classical music, which could discourage younger audiophiles. The pop section, however, is constantly expanding and you can already find the artists of the moment. The available formats are quite numerous, and typical when it comes to lossless music, so: FLAC, WAV, AIFF, ALAC, DSD. The biggest problem of HDtracks, however, is another one, in addition to not very competitive prices: the need, in Italy, to make purchases through VPN and choose as origin USA or UK. Doing otherwise, the number of tracks that can be purchased will be drastically reduced and we will almost only be able to navigate the site.
We talked about Qobuz when we looked at the best platforms for Hi-res music streaming. But Qobuz also boasts a digital store. The service does not present a very up-to-date interface, but it focuses on a blog with in-depth analysis and interviews, as well as a brief but exhaustive presentation of the artists. The catalogue is quite varied and constantly evolving, and able to leave room for independent productions. Qobuz also offers a certain variety of formats to download: FLAC, ALAC, WAV, AIF and others; it is also available in Italy and does not require any VPN. Not only that, prices are on average more affordable than HDtracks and you can download the app for smartphones, tablets and computers. The icing on the cake is being able to subscribe a hybrid subscription (download + streaming) that allows you to get discounts on the direct purchase of music tracks.
7digital is another site where you can download FLAC music, as well as an example of how a book should not be judged by its cover. Not that 7digital's interface is bad, on the contrary; it is one of the most modern, with an intuitive and functional player. Just click on an album to listen to the preview of each song, even scrolling through other pages of the site in the meantime. The problem is the editorial side: at least in the Italian domain, through the sections "Novità Album" and "Novità Singoli", you won't find anything more recent... than the hits of 2018. Last but not least: among the "Suggested" is the "Best of 2014". Luckily, using the internal search engine you can find a lot of recent hits. There are not many formats: the songs can be downloaded only in MP3 or FLAC 16/24 bit (separated by special badges). The files, sold at competitive prices, can also be saved in the cloud so that they are accessible via web or mobile app.
The first thing that would jump out at anyone who had to visit Bleep for the first time, it would certainly be the kind of offer offered to the audiophile. Bleep, in fact, intercepts a user with special and niche tastes. The catalogue includes hip hop, electronic, house, ambient, alternative and modern classical music, among others. The number of formats to select when we choose to download is discreet (MP3, FLAC and WAV). Being "out of the chorus" also manifests itself in another way: not in the aesthetic side, rather anonymous, but in the type of offer proposed to the customer. In almost all the tracks, next to the option to purchase the file, there are those to take home the CD, the vinyl or, hear hear, the cassette tape. But that's not all yet, because Bleep also presents a merchandising section for all intents and purposes where you can find clothing, books and other accessories of the most underground labels.
HighResAudio looks rather Spartan in appearance, except for the presence of badges that will indicate limited time offers (prices are competitive anyway) or the format. HighResAudio, without so many pleasantries, throws us in the face of many albums directly on the home page, roughly divided by best sellers, recommended and major record labels. To be canonical (at least for an audiophile) are also the main genres in which the catalogue ramifies: classical, jazz, rock and pop (there are many others). What makes us think that HighResAudio was conceived with a precise target in mind is the choice to make available only studio master quality albums (FLAC, AIFF, ALAC, WAV, DXD WAV, DSD64). The picture is completed by a careful editorial side, even if in English, with some advice at Hi-Fi level and numerous reviews of music albums.
An important notation to end the discussion: HDtracks and HighResAudio do not allow you to buy the single track, but only the whole album. An aspect that some audiophiles might consider fundamental. Regardless of which service to download FLAC music you choose - the best, the cheapest or the most alternative one - it remains essential to have quality electronics and connections. Click the button below to see which cable is right for you.