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Amazon Music expands spatial audio to more devices

Amazon has announced that its streaming music service, Amazon Music, is going to significantly expand the number of devices that let subscribers listen to tracks in spatial audio. Starting October 19, you’ll be able to hear Dolby Atmos Music and Sony 360 Reality Audio (360 RA) tracks on both iOS and Android devices using any set of stereo headphones or earbuds. The move comes a few months after Apple Music added the ability to listen to spatial audio on all iOS, iPadOS, tvOS, MacOS devices, and select Android devices.

“We’ve always believed that the highest-quality audio possible should be the norm for streaming music,” said Steve Boom, vice president of Amazon Music, in a press release, “and that’s why today, we’re making spatial audio available to our customers without any special equipment needed, and no upgrade required.”

Amazon used to distinguish between quality tiers on Amazon Music, keeping its Amazon Music HD tier — with hi-res, lossless, and spatial audio tracks — at a different price point from its standard Amazon Music Unlimited tier. Since May 2021, all Amazon Music Unlimited tier members have had access to Amazon Music HD for no extra charge. Starting October 19, there will be no distinction between tiers, with all Amazon Music Unlimited memberships getting equal access to all content: $8 per month for Prime members, $10 per month for non-Prime members, and $15 for Family Plan members.

Until today’s announcement, Amazon customers could only hear spatial audio tracks if they owned Amazon’s $200 Echo Studio smart speaker. Now, in addition to being able to hear spatial audio on iOS and Android, you’ll be able to use Alexa Cast to hear these tracks on compatible soundbar systems like Sony’s HT-A9, HT-A7000 or HT-A5000 and the company’s dedicated spatial audio stand-alone speakers, the SRS-RA5000 or SRS-RA3000.

Amazon also took the opportunity to repeat Sonos’ announcement that Amazon Music’s spatial audio offering will also work on compatible Sonos speakers later this year, including the Sonos Arc and Sonos Beam Gen 2 smart soundbars.

Amazon doesn’t publish the number of spatial audio tracks that its subscribers can access, but it does list some of the highlights people can expect: Remi Wolf’s debut album Juno, Finneas’ recently released album Optimist, and Rüfüs Du Sol’s fourth album, Surrender. Alicia Keys’ full catalog of songs will be available in 360 RA, including albums like Songs in A Minor and Girl on Fire. In November, Amazon Music will exclusively release Mercury – Act 1 (Amazon Music Live), an EP from Imagine Dragons, mixed in Dolby Atmos. The five-track EP features music from the band’s album release livestream, which was recorded from the rooftop of the Amazon Music office in Brooklyn.

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Simon Cohen
Contributing Editor, A/V
Simon Cohen covers a variety of consumer technologies, but has a special interest in audio and video products, like spatial…
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