Spotify Launching Lossless Streaming Subscription 'HiFi' This Year

The company announced plans for a lossless, 1411 Kbit service, as well as a new expansion to over 80 new markets across the world.

Credit | Spotify

In a statement today, Spotify announced a new subscription tier to the company’s ubiquitous music streaming service. Dubbed “HiFi,” the new tier is focused exclusively on increased sound quality for music and podcasts, offering lossless music.

The company said that Premium subscribers will be able to upgrade their sound quality to HiFi, later this year, indicating that the new tier is in fact an addon to the standard and premium subscription. Estimates put the future tier at around a $10-$15 addition to the Premium subscription, or about $22-$27 per month, total.

The addition of a high-quality tier isn’t necessarily unexpected from Spotify, who has experience trouble with making a profit from their free and premium users. It’s also been expected for those audiophile who require a bit of a more advanced touch to their streaming music.

What is HiFi?

HiFi seems to be Spotify’s attempt at streaming high-quality, lossless audio from their servers to your devices. Spotify uses heavy, lossy compression on your music whenever you listen through the service, compressing some of the frequencies to make the bandwidth strain on the company’s servers a little lighter, also reducing your data usage.

Compression’s usually pretty good with saving data, although many don’t really find that necessary, or want to listen to higher quality music. Compression ends up removing some of the quality of audio, making it slightly muffled, although lossless quality saves that.

Spotify already offers multiple tiers of music quality and data usage, at

  • Very High (320kbps)
  • High (160kbps)
  • Normal (96kbps)
  • Low (24kbps)

 

These are good for the vast majority of people, as most just want to be able to hear their music. Very high isn’t even that terrible, at almost twice Pandora’s top offering, and tied with Google Play Music’s highest offering.

HiFi gets rid of that compression however, allowing greater differences between tones, at the cost of higher data usage. While Spotify Premium caps at 320kbps (320 kilobits used every second to stream music), HiFi is expected to deliver CD-quality music at around 1411kbps, 4.4X higher than the current highest quality offering.

Spotify doesn’t give too much information on this new tier, other than the fact that they’ve got it efficiently integrated with their current apps, and are working on developing speakers that support Spotify HiFi.

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Why it won’t matter to most

A lot of people consider themselves audiophiles, or those that are heavy audio enthusiasts. I am not one. There are actual audiophiles, and some that want to be audiophiles. This service is for those that are actual audiophiles.

Spotify is used heavily by phone users right? And think about this: phones have bad speakers. Phone’s can’t really handle the extra quality, considering they don’t generally have enough power or clarity for generally “low-quality” streaming anyway.

This is slightly less expected with headphones and Bluetooth earbuds, such as Apple’s AirPods Pro, although it still happens. Bluetooth usually caps out at between 264-990kbps, or 18%-70% of the base quality for lossless audio. Why would you pay $10-$15 extra per month, when your headphones can’t even physically provide the audio quality that’s being gained? That’s why Spotify and other streamers haven’t even attempted higher quality, unless they had a dedicated, niche market.

People with dedicated plug-in, audiophile quality headphones, such as Sennheisers, or others, go ahead. But for everybody else that doesn’t have a specially designed, ‘HiFi’ headphone or speaker set, this really shouldn’t matter to you at all. So please stop asking for higher quality streams if your earbuds literally can’t even physically handle the quality.

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