Spotify HiFi CD-Quality Streaming Announced
Spotify HiFi has finally been officially announced, but it's not quite the hi-res audio streaming service we have been expecting since back in 2018.
Initially, we thought that the Swedish streaming service would come out guns blazing with a quality challenger to Tidal and Qobuz. Instead, the service has announced it will offer “lossless CD-quality streams” in comparison to its current offering topping out at 320kbps, whereas Tidal can best 96 kHz / 24-bit audio.
The Spotify HiFi service will start later this year and be available as an upgrade to Premium subscribers in select markets, which we are taking as an added cost option.
Although it has taken much longer for Spotify to get on the CD-quality+ train with the likes of Deezer and Amazon HD joining the established hi-res streamers of Qobuz (rumoured to be launching in Australia soon) and Tidal ahead of it, we are told that “high-quality music streaming has consistently been one of the users' most-requested features”. The green streaming giant even got Billie Eilish in to act on Spotify's behalf during the company's Stream On livestream event.
During the announcement, it was made clear that this will be rolled out to limited territories in the first instance, as is usually the way. What hasn't yet been made clear is which those territories are, when they will get the CD-quality streams, or how much it will actually cost.
The good news is that if you already own components or speakers that feature Spotify Connect, and you subscribe to Spotify HiFi, you will be able to access those higher-quality streams without having to do anything extra. We're also assuming that the same can be said via the Spotify mobile app and desktop web player.
Spotify told StereoNET:
We're working with some of the world's biggest speaker manufacturers to make Spotify HiFi accessible to as many fans as possible through Spotify Connect.
Spotify HiFi's Challenge
Whether-or-not Spotify takes off will probably be down to the all-important pricing. In the UK, Amazon Music HD costs £12.99 per month for Prime members or £14.99 for non-Prime members. Tidal's lossless hi-res level (1411 Kbps) comes in at £19.99 per month, and Qobuz costs £14.99 per month (£12.49 if you pay annually) for its Studio Premier level offering FLAC 24-bit up to 192 kHz.
Spotify has to challenge those price points while also keeping in mind that Apple's streaming service could also be announced soon, adding another player into the mix. Furthermore, here at StereoNET, we are expecting Apple to announce better than CD-quality streams more inline with Tidal and Qobuz.
Hopefully, the consumer will be the one to benefit from the ensuing price war.
Which service do you subscribe to? Do you shop by stream quality, price or how much they pay the content provider, i.e. the musicians whose work you are listening to? Let us know in the StereoNET Streaming Music forums.