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Lossless ‘CD quality’ streaming coming to Spotify?

  • File under substantiated rumours.

    I opened the Android app today and received a “special offer since I was in the app” to upgrade to Spotify Hi-Fi. It was an extra $7.50 a month for “hi-fi quality lossless” on top of the regular premium features. I closed that out but I was wondering if anyone else had got it since I can’t find anything about it online.”

    That’s user rhiley alerting fellow Reddit users of Spotify’s in-app offer for a lossless streaming service, one without Spotify Premium’s 320kbps lossy Ogg Vorbis compression, but for an additional US$7.50/month. In other words, CD quality streaming for a monthly fee.

    Twitter user Cody Kloepfer was given a similar in-app offer but for a different price: an additional US$5/month.

    Per this report from The Verge, the Spotify Hifi tier doesn’t yet appear to be online and functional. Rather, the streaming company is testing selected customers’ price sensitivity with in-app offers.

    Still, the signs are good.

    If Spotify Hifi comes to fruition, its impact on rival services could be sizeable, especially if Spotify’s greater industry clout – 43 million subscribers – allows it to offer a lossless tier for less than the US$20/month asked by Tidal (3? million subscribers) or Deezer (7 million subscribers).

    Furthermore, many listeners prefer Spotify’s UX, both on smart and desktop devices, to that of Tidal and Deezer. Others point to Spotify’s broader selection of more niche material over its competitors. Spotify Hifi could see some of Tidal and Deezer’s audiophile-centric users make the switch to Spotify.

    Or perhaps Spotify Hifi will grow the lossless pie for all players instead. The conversation surrounding such a service sends a message to the mainstream that quality matters.

    As for whether or not Spotify can return lossless audio to a large portion of the mass market, many listeners with entry-level hardware quite understandably find 320kbps lossy streams to sound good enough.

    Then there’s lossless audio’s greater impact on monthly download quotas. For the average Joe forgoing a home internet connection in favour of his smartphone, the average 6-8Gb/month will be eaten up a good deal faster by Spotify Hifi than an existing Spotify Premium subscription.

    Negativity aside, lossless Spotify streaming is bigger news than MQA coming to Tidal or another hi-res streaming service’s inception. Spotify aren’t a fringe player. They are firmly rooted in the mainstream’s consciousness and better sound quality for the mainstream is a big, big deal.

    Further information: The Verge

    John H. Darko

    Written by John H. Darko

    John is the editor of Darko.Audio, from whose ad revenues he derives an income. He is an occasional contributor to 6moons but has previously written pieces for TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile. John used to live in Sydney. Now he lives in Berlin.

    Follow John on YouTube or Twitter


    1. yeah, after that article came out, upon any google search of ‘spotify’ and many other audio related sites were going over this, too….and think of it: spotify has 30 million PAID subscribers vs 14 million for apple and a piddly 1.5–3million (depending on Tidal’s real ‘stats’).

      john what do you think of Roon getting into the action with them now that they’re offering lossless and have a huge customer base….i mean think of it: 1% of 30 million who might 1/want to try lossless and then also a ‘free for 60 day’ Roon trial membership…i wonder if they’re salivating at the prospect…already are tied in well with Sonos, which i hear plays well with Roon.

      • I think it’s less a question of Roon wanting to work and more of Spotify wanting to work with Roon.

        • I wish Spotify would do it … as much as I love Spotify I find browsing Artist Info in the mobile app useless so as a result I generally don’t go much further than clicking to see if they have many albums.

        • You nailed it.

          However, we are going to try again; it’s been a few years since they flat out rejected our working implementation.

    2. I hope the Vinyl offer happens, I’d certainly be in.

      As much as I’d like to try MQA on Tidal but don’t have the hardware that would work (most of the house is currently using Sonos) and am more than happy with Spotify Family.

    3. i also wonder if Spotify is also trying to get the jump on Apple, who’s rumoured to offer high res/lossless with their iphone 8 in the fall.

    4. Gotta have MQA to make it worth it over Tidal. If they do get lossless and MQA then Tidal might as well give up.

    5. As soon as Spotify offers hires and Roon supports Spotify I will cancel my Tidal subscription. Already/also have Spotify for other peoples playlists, girlfriend uses it with Google Cast and my DAC does not support MQA anyway…

    6. Lossless… Lossy… Wilco… Schmilco … it’s all a mute argument for on the go use (native mobile apps for both Tidal and Spotify). It’s one thing to ask for and use one of these services as integrated in Roon or Auralic Lightning DS software, but the native mobile apps for both these services are horrible. There is no concept of controlling the play queue in Spotify mobile, in fact they just prefer you hit shuffle play and be done with it. At least Tidal allows you to add music to the play queue and you can view the queue. Of course Tidal has the annoying ‘spinning wheel’ and has a ‘suggested tracks’ list front and center as opposed to the actual play queue. As an iPhone IOS user, I find the mobile apps to just be downright annoying and I hate using them.

      • You can access and alter the queue on mobile by tapping the top right corner from the now playing screen.

    7. Even if Roon does not enter Spotify’s universe, or vice versa, I would still like to see a more album-cover-driven interface in Spotify. I keep 20 or so genre-oriented playlists of up to 200+ first tracks from albums in each one, then just click on “go to album” to pull up the whole thing. It can be hard remembering what something is that I cataloged two years ago from reading the artist, album title and first track, but I *never* forget an album cover.

      In any event, this is a promising development and one I would spend another $5/mo on today. My uninformed guess is that Spotify is afraid of Apple, but not of anyone else, so that’s why they are taking this potentially pre-emptive step.

    8. Defensive posture by Spotify looking into the future and realising this thing is gathering genuine momentum…..! Good!
      Why the hell would anyone buy in and pimp out super hi res tv etc and not apply the same logic to their music?

      Really hope roon get to integrate if this happens I guess that is currently a big if on both counts. Are they too close to tidal also considered a niche player?

      • Because it isn’t yet doing any unfolding, merely passing the the 24bit file onto the DAC.

    9. Slightly tangential to this but an interesting point nevertheless, is the ongoing improvement to ‘lossy’ formats.
      I listen a lot to Soma FM (internet radio) and have always been very happy with the SQ, both via Sonos, my various in-ears and my Shure 1840’s.
      So I was amazed to discover that Soma streams HE AAC at 64kbps. It’s sounds great to my old ears and I cannot detect so much as a skerrick of graininess or harshness.
      I can quite understand that some people struggle to hear the difference with CD quality files. In fact I have several classical albums from Chandos, free with their monthly newsletter, that are 320 lossy files and they sound stunning and frequently indistinguishable from 16/44.1.

    10. DO you think that they will add the option to choose the Audio Output and the Asio support?
      I have an Exasound dac and it’s pretty complicated to use it with Spotify 🙂

      • No idea on that. Very hard to speak for what a big corporation like Spotify may or may not do.

    11. With the risk of sounding inflammatory … (not something that stopped me in the past 🙂 )

      Exciting times … Given the poor quality of Tidal software, I’m ready to ditch them. The Tidal apps are crappy both in terms of missing features and playback.

      E.g., Tidal apps can’t do caching. Also, you can only add one track to a playlist. Yes, you can mark specific playlists as offline in mobile apps (not desktop), but that requires a lot of manual management (also because of the one-by-one issue). With Spotify caching just works.

      With respect to playback of hifi tracks, despite having a good internet connection, streaming freezes are very common. That might have been alleviated by a caching system, but see the previous point.

      The difference between Tidal and Spotify is that one cares about the artists, whereas the other cares about its users. To me, releasing such poor quality software is a equivalent to giving a middle finger to the users.

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