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Spotify will add a lossless hi-fi option later this year

During its live Spotify Stream On event today, the streaming music company announced that it will launch Spotify HiFi, a new option for its premium subscribers that will give them access to lossless, high-quality music streams, later this year.

Spotify describes the audio as “lossless CD-quality,” which is a considerable step up from the company’s current 320kbps, lossy streaming quality. It said that high-quality music streaming is consistently one of the most requested new features by its users.

Spotify has not yet revealed when the new HiFi tier will launch or what it will cost, saying only that “premium subscribers in select markets will be able to upgrade their sound quality to Spotify HiFi and listen to their favorite songs in the way artists intended.”

Several other music streaming services like Tidal and Amazon Music have offered lossless quality audio for years, with pricing that comes in around double what you’d pay for the standard service. With Spotify’s massive reach and subscriber numbers, its HiFi service could be the move that finally pushes other players like Apple Music and YouTube Music into the lossless CD-quality space — something they have so far resisted.

Stream On: The power of HiFi - Billie Eilish & Finneas

Spotify showcased the new service with a video from Billie Eilish and Finneas, in which the pair discuss the importance of having a high-quality sound system when listening to the tracks the duo have created in the studio.

“High-quality audio means more info,” Billie Eilish says in the video. “There are things you will not hear if you don’t have a good sound system.”

Letting people stream high-quality audio is one thing, but if your speakers aren’t set up to receive that improved stream, you won’t hear much of a difference. So Spotify says it’s working with “some of the world’s biggest speaker manufacturers” to make sure that Spotify HiFi works seamlessly when using Spotify Connect.

It’s worth noting that lossless, CD-quality streaming tiers like Spotify HiFi, Tidal HiFi, and Amazon Music HD are best when you listen via Wi-Fi on a high-quality wireless speaker. Bluetooth connections — even ones that use better codecs like aptX — are still considered lossy and will add some additional compression to these streams before you hear them on your wireless headphones or true wireless earbuds.

We should also point out that while lossless CD-quality is way better than typical music streams, it’s not considered hi-res audio, which is generally classified as being better-than-CD quality.

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Simon Cohen
Contributing Editor, A/V
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