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Spotify CEO says a HiFi option ‘has value,’ but only for ‘aficionados’

Spotify on an iPhone.
Phil Nickinson/Digital Trends

Still waiting for the long-awaited (and long overdue) Spotify HiFi service? Don’t continue to hold your breath. (Which really would be a feat, given that this has been going on for more than two years now.)

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek was relatively mum on any new details for a “lossless CD-quality” streaming option — announced in February 2021 — during the company’s second-quarter 2023 earnings call, though he did at least string together some words in response to a question about the possibility of a higher audio quality.

“HiFi remains something that we think has value,” Ek said. “But it has value to more aficionados in the streaming market. And we’re interested in, obviously, how we can use that as one tool to, in the future, increase our value even further.”

And that was that. The thing is, Ek isn’t wrong. Lossless streaming isn’t for everyone, if only because it currently requires at least a wired connection, if not additional hardware like a standalone digital-analog converter. For most folks, lossy audio over a Bluetooth connection is perfectly fine.

But audiophilia isn’t anything new. There is a market for it — Spotify just has to make it make sense in terms of a business strategy. Chances are if it does eventually launch the option it very obviously was getting close to launching — you don’t get Billie Eilish to make a video about it if you weren’t — it’ll cost more. And given that Spotify just increased its Premium pricing across the board, it makes sense that it might want a little distance between that and either another increase, or at least another paid option.

Spotify may be the most popular streaming music service (and it’s the only one of the majors that actually gives subscription numbers), but it’s also one of the few major services that lacks any sort of high-fidelity option. Amazon Music has HD and Ultra HD options. Apple Music uses its own Apple Lossless Audio Codec. Tidal (albeit a much smaller service) has MQA and is working on FLAC (though we’ve found Tidal’s FLAC implementation to be lacking).

Spotify says it finished the second quarter with 551 million total monthly active users, 220 million of which are Premium subscribers.

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Phil Nickinson
Section Editor, Audio/Video
Phil spent the 2000s making newspapers with the Pensacola (Fla.) News Journal, the 2010s with Android Central and then the…
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