Spotify takes on Tidal with new 'HiFi' lossless audio plan
Popular music streaming service Spotify has announced plans to introduce HiFi audio streaming. It will allow Premium subscribers to listen to CD-quality lossless audio. The music service is also working on enabling HiFi streaming for speakers with Spotify Connect. Rival music streaming platforms such as Deezer, Tidal, and Amazon Music HD already support streaming HiFi audio with better quality than Spotify's offering.
At the company's virtual Stream On event, Spotify said it plans to deliver music in CD-quality, lossless audio format to devices and Spotify Connect-enabled speakers. At present, Spotify uses Ogg Vorbis format files on desktop and mobile, and AAC on the web player. The company didn't specify the bitrate and codec it plans to use for the HiFi service.
Spotify's announcement specifies CD-quality audio, which is technically limited to 16-bit/44.1kHz. In stark contrast, rival service Tidal HiFi offers audio at up to 24-bit/192kHz, which is more than four times the resolution. Evidently, serious audiophiles still wouldn't consider switching over to Spotify's HiFi audio plan as it doesn't match the audio quality offered by its competitors.
Meanwhile, the company has also announced its plans to work with speaker manufacturers to make more devices Spotify Connect-compatible, thereby making HiFi audio more accessible. Connect allows you to 'cast' your music to a compatible TV/smart speaker over a common Wi-Fi network. However, Spotify didn't say if HiFi will be a part of the Premium subscription or if it will be billed separately.
The service will go live only in select markets. This is because licensing agreements with music labels do not allow lossless streaming in some countries. In India, the music streaming service has seen growth driven by Spotify Premium Mini subscriptions. Mini plans are daily or weekly subscriptions for ad-free streaming allowing download of up to 30 songs.
Reports indicate that since 2017 users have been randomly chosen for testing Spotify's lossless audio streaming. The announcement is a welcome move for customers who put up with 320kbps music even with the streaming quality dialed up to maximum. However, if the new service limits itself to CD-quality audio, it won't count as an improvement in audiophiles' books. It will release later this year.