Although the Rdio streaming music service has a lot of good things going for it -- such as its catalog of 15 million songs, colorful and intuitive interface and highly polished mobile apps -- experts say the main way it distinguishes itself from MOG (*Est. $5 and up; free version available) and Spotify ($5 per month and up; free version available) is with its comprehensive social options. The Rdio experience is built around communicating with others, and along those lines, users can follow others to see what they're listening to, send song recommendations to friends, listen to radio stations composed of tracks your friends are playing and even build collaborative playlists. If you like making music a social experience, reviewers say you'll love Rdio.
If you're indifferent about those social features, on the other hand, experts say that MOG offers the best streaming music experience overall. Rdio's myriad social options are front and center, which some reviewers find distracting. Rdio won't commit to a firm audio quality rate, either, and expert reports vary as to how the service sounds; some love it, others are disappointed. All say the streaming audio quality is poor on mobile apps, however. Finally, while Rdio's free version is blissfully ad-free, the monthly listening limit is very low.
Some of the best sources for Rdio reviews are big-name technology publications such as Gizmodo.com, Laptop Magazine, MacLife and CNET. TechCrunch.com, ReadWriteWeb.com and Tested.com compare the mobile apps from several different streaming music services, including Rdio, while InnerFidelity.com provides an enlightening review that details Rdio's performance on mobile phones and home electronic devices. Lifehacker.com and VentureBeat.com also cover Rdio.
Rdio is named the second-best streaming music service available in this comprehensive roundup, losing only to Spotify. The strong social aspects of the service couple with the polished and functional UI, Covert says, but he notes that audio quality is lacking on mobile apps.
Review: The Best Streaming Music Service, Adrian Covert, Feb. 4, 2011
2. Laptop Magazine
Rdio sneaks into fifth place in Laptop Magazine's list of the top five streaming music services, which was written before Spotify became available in the U.S. "If you're already active on social networks (and aren't overwhelmed by them), and you're interested in learning about new music from friends, not strangers, Rdio is a great choice," Mike Kobrin writes. If that's not you, he says there are better options available.
Review: Rdio Review, Mike Kobrin, Feb. 3, 2011
Reviewer Adam Berenstain loves the look and feel of Rdio's website and Mac client, but reports running into a number of crashes with the iOS app. He also ran into several gaps in the service's song coverage, which leads to a 3.5 (out of 5) rating and a second-place finish to MOG.
Review: Which Cloud Jukebox Rises to the Top?, Adam Berenstain, April 4, 2011
Although Rdio claims to stream at up to 320 kbps bitrates, audio enthusiast John Grandberg says he just doesn't hear that level of quality while streaming Rdio through home electronics or mobile apps. "Unfortunately the great user experience is let down by disappointing sound quality," he writes.
Review: Comparing the Audio Quality of Streaming Music Services at Home and Portably, John Grandberg, Nov. 15, 2011
Rdio plays second fiddle to MOG and Spotify once again in this roundup. The social aspects and user interface win praise once again, but like InnerFidelity.com's John Grandberg, Sean Ludwig is let down by the sound quality. "I thought Rdio's bitrate usually sounded somewhere between Spotify and Rhapsody," he writes -- and neither of those services are known for having stunning sound.
Review: Top 5 On-Demand Streaming Music Services Feat. Spotify, MOG and Rdio, Sean Ludwig, Sept. 17, 2011
Karyne Levy's review of several major streaming music services focuses on who should use the particular service -- and who shouldn't use it. Levy says that social-minded types will love Rdio, but she's irked by the lack of an ability to import your personal collection. "And if you have weird taste in music, Rdio has the fewest songs," she writes.
Review: Which Music Service Should You Use?, Karyne Levy, Nov. 18, 2011
Josh Constine appreciates the Rdio iPad app's Heavy Rotation music discovery feature and clean interface, but MOG outshines it in every other respect, he reports.
Review: What's the Best iPad Streaming Music App? MOG's New iPad App vs Rdio vs Spotify, Josh Constine, March 26, 2012
Rdio's app offers strength after strength, Ryan Whitwam reports; it's colorful and (mostly) intuitive, and the fast-loading tunes have good audio quality. However, he likes the feel of MOG's Android app just a bit more, and he definitely prefers its 320 kbps bitrate. "It's MOG by a nose," he writes.
Review: Rdio vs. Spotify vs. MOG vs. Rhapsody: Streaming Music Subscriptions on Android, Ryan Whitwam, Dec. 9, 2011
Rdio lands on a list of the top five streaming music services as selected by Lifehacker.com readers. Unfortunately, discussion is brief, although it is noted that Rdio is highlighted by its strong social features.
Review: Five Best Streaming Music Services, Alan Henry, July 24, 2011
This roundup comparison of MOG, Rdio and Slacker Premium Radio is fairly short and light on information. Rdio stands apart from the others, largely due to its polished iPhone app and (surprise!) strong social options.
Review: Slacker vs. Rdio vs. MOG: Which Streaming Music Service Is Worth Your $10/Month?, Sarah Perez, May 17, 2011