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Spotify’s HiFi tier was MIA in 2021. Will 2022 be any different?

Spotify announced almost a year ago that it would launch a new subscription tier for its Premium members called Spotify HiFi before the end of 2021. As the name suggests, Spotify said the new, more expensive tier would distinguish itself by offering “lossless CD-quality” audio — a significant step up in quality over the company’s current maximum streaming quality, which is still based on a lossy compression system. But 2021 is now in our collective rearview mirror and, so far, there’s still no sign of Spotify HiFi.

And concerns are growing that even Spotify can’t say for sure when or if it will actually launch the new tier. Now, 9to5Mac has spotted a message from the company on its community support site that doesn’t exactly fill us with confidence:

Hey folks,

We know that HiFi quality audio is important to you. We feel the same, and we’re excited to deliver a Spotify HiFi experience to Premium users in the future. But we don’t have timing details to share yet.

We will of course update you here when we can.

Take care.

Digital Trends reached out to Spotify to ask about the timing for Spotify HiFi, but a company spokesperson simply replied with the exact same message as above. So while it’s clearly too early to declare Spotify’s lossless audio ambitions dead, it’s safe to say the feature is in critical condition, with an uncertain prognosis for survival. We’d like to think that if Spotify HiFi was merely delayed due to some last-minute hiccups, the company would offer its members something to cling to timing-wise, but it instead went with the frustratingly vague “in the future.”

Meanwhile, Spotify’s competition have been happily touting their superior audio quality. Both Amazon Music and Apple Music now have lossless audio libraries that are the same size as their lossy catalogs, and both services include additional catalogs of hi-res audio and Dolby Atmos Music at no extra charge. Tidal, Deezer, and Qobuz also offer higher-quality catalogs, but these plans cost a bit more than their normal paid subscriptions.

Does “lossless CD-quality” audio matter and can you really tell the difference? These might seem like the same questions, but there are subtle differences. Yes, when listening to lossless CD-quality audio on a high-quality speaker system that gets its audio stream direct (as opposed to via Bluetooth from your phone), you can hear the difference. It can vary from track to track, but in general, it’s better than the lossy compression you’d normally hear.

But it’s much harder to say if it matters to most listeners. Given the immense popularity of wireless headphones and true wireless earbuds, which must already contend with the lossy compression of Bluetooth audio, a majority of Spotify listeners might not even own the equipment they’d need to hear the improvement.

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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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