Experts say that Rhapsody is a solid streaming music service, but it just doesn't do much to differentiate itself from the other services available. Streaming song quality is just average. The 14 million-plus song library is on par with the rest of the field, but reviewer after reviewer complains that the service's user interface is nowhere near as attractive or useful as the interfaces of Rhapsody's competitors. Rhapsody's mobile apps are also clunky, unattractive and slow, yet still functional, experts report. Rhapsody is also the only streaming music service without an ongoing free listening plan -- though a 14-day free trial is available -- or a $5 web-only subscription plan.
Rhapsody does have a couple of standout features, however. First is its large and comprehensive downloadable music store, which lets you purchase songs and albums outright at 256 kbps quality -- much higher than the quality of the streaming music Rhapsody offers. Another head-turning feature is Rhapsody's vast home audio electronics support; Pandora ($36 per year; free version available) offers more well-rounded device support overall, but Rhapsody is available on home music players from Sonos, Logitech, Denon and more, as well as home theater receivers from several different manufacturers.
Rhapsody has been around for a long time; more recent reviews paint a more accurate picture of the service than older ones. Of those, the coverage is best at major technology publications such as Gizmodo.com, Laptop Magazine, CNET and MacLife. VentureBeat.com gives Rhapsody a brief yet informative review as part of a larger roundup, while Tested.com examines the service's mobile app alongside several others. Macworld offers a deep if somewhat dated review of four streaming music services, including Rhapsody. Finally, Engadget.com readers say that Rhapsody is one of the best streaming music services available in a discussion thread with hundreds of comments.
Reviewer Adrian Covert doesn't find a lot to like about Rhapsody. He praises the depth of its song catalog and device support. "From there, however, everything goes downhill," he writes. He finds the interface and audio quality particularly poor.
Review: The Best Streaming Music Service, Adrian Covert, Feb. 4, 2011
2. Laptop Magazine
Rhapsody earns an Editors' Choice award and a 4-star rating from Laptop Magazine. The extensive catalog, widespread device support and community features are the best part of the service, Kobrin says. He misses the absence of high-quality streams and a cheaper web-only listening subscription plan, however.
Review: Rhapsody Review, Mike Kobrin, Feb. 4, 2011
Levy says that Rhapsody is a good choice for families or people with mobile devices, as its $15 Premier Plus plan lets you cache songs for offline use on up to three devices. The lack of a Mac client and an awkward interface are listed as negatives.
Review: Which Music Service Should You Use?, Karyne Levy, Nov. 18, 2011
Reviewer Adam Berenstain says that Rhapsody has a deep catalog and a nifty iOS app, but the ho-hum radio functionality and "chilly, unexciting website" drop the service into last place in the roundup with a 3 (out of 5) rating.
Review: Which Cloud Jukebox Rises to the Top?, Adam Berenstain, April 4, 2011
Rhapsody comes in fourth on this list, just ahead of Napster, which Rhapsody actually acquired soon after the review was posted. The major issues keeping Rhapsody from ranking higher are its lack of a $5 web-only subscription and its 128 kbps audio quality, which "easily sounded worse than the rest of the services" during Ludwig's examinations.
Review: Top 5 On-Demand Streaming Music Services Feat. Spotify, MOG and Rdio, Sean Ludwig, Sept. 17, 2011
Ryan Whitwam reports that Rhapsody's Android app is clunky, slow and horrible at downloading songs for offline use. "For an Android user that wants the best mobile music experience, we can safely toss Rhapsody out immediately," he writes.
Review: Rdio vs. Spotify vs. MOG vs. Rhapsody: Streaming Music Subscriptions on Android, Ryan Whitwam, Dec. 9, 2011
Rhapsody tops both MOG and Rdio in this detailed review, which compares the services across several subcategories such as price, audio quality and radio implementation. Breen likes Rhapsody's Sonos sound system support and deep catalog, although Rdio and MOG have caught up in those categories since this article was published.
Review: Four Music Subscription Services Compared, Christopher Breen, Oct. 12, 2010
Nearly 350 comments are left in response to a simple question: Which streaming music service deserves the asker's money? The responses are far-flung and often heated, but Rhapsody is one service mentioned over and over again by readers.
Review: Ask Engadget: Best Streaming Music Solution?, Darren Murph, Oct. 29, 2011