After months of speculation, Amazon Music HD is now officially launching today as the online giant targets competitors Apple Music and Spotify with a new high-resolution streaming tier. Amazon is slated to charge $15 per month with a $2 discount for Prime members. As Tidal continues to hang on with a $20 monthly plan, one can’t help but wonder if this is going to be one of the final nails in the coffin for the high-resolution streaming service. A catalog of over 50 million songs will be a significant selling point for Amazon as it rolls out its new streaming plan. However, you’ll want to pay close attention to how Amazon Music HD is labeling these HD tracks. More details below.
Amazon unveils HD tier for music streaming service
While Amazon claims to have over 50 million HD songs available at launch for its new high-resolution streaming service, things get a bit murkier when you dive into the details. Officially, Amazon describes high definition as being songs with 16-bit and a 44kHz sample rate. That’s arguably a loose definition, depending on your audio preferences. Amazon is also said to have millions of songs in its stable of content at 24-bit and up to 192kHz, which is more in-line with what we’d expect from a premium tier audio subscription. These are called “ultra HD” samples.
“We spoke with many artists while developing Amazon Music HD, who were excited about the potential for fans to be able to stream their favorite music, and hear it as it was originally recorded,” said Steve Boom, VP of Amazon Music. “From rock to hip-hop to classical and pop, we believe listening to music at this level of sound will make customers fall in love again with their favorite music and artists. As we usher in a new listening experience for our customers and the industry, we’re combining the convenience of streaming with all of the emotion, power, clarity and nuance of the original recordings.”
Comparing with Apple Music and Spotify
Amazon is undoubtedly making a notable move here with its new high-end audio subscription model. But it appears to still lag significantly behind Spotify, which has over 100-million customers while Apple Music is thought to have around 50% less. However, today’s news continues Amazon’s long-term play for its music streaming service. With its collection of smart home speakers powered by Alexa, there is an excellent synergy for the brand which Spotify lacks without first-party speakers. However, I would hardly venture to say that Amazon’s Echo speakers offer the type of internals to take advantage of the high-resolution audio they are touting today.
Amazon Music HD is expected to be compatible with various speakers, including the latest from Sonos. Anyone using an iPhone and most Android devices won’t be able to take advantage of the features here unless an external DAC is present. The same can be said if Bluetooth is in the mix, where audio quality will inevitably drop.
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