Amazon just announced its “highest quality lossless audio” streaming service, the Amazon Music HD. The launch also makes Amazon the first of three three major audio streaming services in the market to offer high-definition (HD) sound to its consumers.
Amazon’s service will be offering recordings that are encoded with FLAC (free lossless audio codec, which means they can be compressed without a loss in quality) with more than 50 million songs in High Definition, and millions of songs in Ultra High Definition, which it claims is the highest quality streaming audio available. It stresses that the service is high definition, not hifi or hi-resolution.
The audio streaming market is brimming with players, both at international stage and at regional levels across the globe. In terms of international brands, Spotify and Apple are the current hotshots dominating the industry in terms of subscriber numbers. While Tidal and Deezer have both offered high-quality audio for years and Qobuz, a French high-quality-only service, launched in the U.S. earlier this year, Amazon Music is the first of the three top streaming services to offer this option.
Let’s now consider Amazon’s price bracket for which HD Music is being offered. Needless to mention that it comes with a 90 day free trial offer. The official website write-up goes like – “This offer applies only to the Amazon Music HD Individual Plan and the Amazon Music HD Family Plan and is available only to new subscribers to Amazon Music Unlimited. After the 90-day trial, your subscription to the Amazon Music HD Individual Plan or the Amazon Music HD Family Plan, as applicable, will automatically continue at the monthly price of $14.99 ($12.99 for Prime members) plus applicable tax (if you selected the Amazon Music HD Individual Plan) or $19.99 plus applicable tax (if you selected the Amazon Music HD Family Plan) until you cancel.”
We still need to wait on the sustainability of this price band, which is currently receiving mixed reactions from consumers and critics alike. Nevertheless, the company somehow got Neil Young to offer a testimonial. “Earth will be changed forever when Amazon introduces high quality streaming to the masses,” Young said. “This will be the biggest thing to happen in music since the introduction of digital audio 40 years ago.” So as expected, Amazon nails it when it comes to marketing each time.
Hearing such news, Spotify VP Paul Vogel wasn’t quite impressed . He remarked that sound quality has “not been a big differentiator” between streaming services. He said Spotify does not have plans to release its own high-quality service any time soon.
Amazon Music HD will be offering customers more than 50 million lossless HD songs, with a bit depth of 16 bits and a sample rate of 44.1kHz (CD quality). In addition, customers can stream millions more songs in Ultra HD (better than CD quality), with a bit depth of 24 bits and a sample rate up to 192 kHz.