We have heard a lot about lossless streaming in the past year, from Apple Music adding Spatial Audio support to Amazon revising the pricing of their Spotify HiFi service. Now it’s time to see how well these services stack up, with a new ABX test.
Amazon revises pricing for Spotify HiFi
The launch of Spotify’s HiFi tier was promised to users by the streaming service back in February. The feature is a premium upgrade for Spotify Premium subscribers, allowing them to listen to lossless audio streams through Spotify Connect. Although a lot has been made of this feature, the actual details have remained hidden.
It was a promising announcement, one which many consumers were excited about. The company said it would roll out the feature in select markets later this year. It was also expected to cost a few bucks a month, although it has not yet been revealed how much.
There has been a bit of a lull in the development of the feature. In fact, the official Spotify account even tweeted that the feature was “on its way” nearly two years ago.
The hi-fi tier was seen as a way to improve the company’s profitability. However, it didn’t deliver on its promise.
At the same time, the company was caught up in a number of licensing negotiations, which may have hindered its development. Eventually, the company did manage to come up with a few extra features for its premium service.
Some of these included the wrapped experience, which provides information on the most listened to music. Another was Spotify Connect, which enables wireless streaming. It is a popular feature, and most networked devices should support it.
The feature also has its own little dangle in the form of a free trial. If you’re not a subscriber to Spotify Premium, you can sign up for a free month and see for yourself how well the company’s services stack up against rivals. The free trial will allow you to download any song you want, but you’ll have to pay for the rest.
While the Spotify Hi-Fi tier won’t be available to everyone, it could be a boon for some. After all, there’s a plethora of hi-res audio devices out there. And speakers and headphones are getting better all the time.
The company’s hi-fi tier was the most exciting new feature it had to offer. The company’s official blog praised the feature as a “high-end, CD-quality streaming service.” It’s not a given that this will be available to all, though.
Apple Music adds Spatial Audio and Lossless support last year
Last year, Apple introduced two new features to their music service. The first was Dolby Atmos, which allows listeners to experience a cinematic sound experience. The second was Spatial Audio, a multidimensional listening experience. Now, more than 50% of Apple Music subscribers are using the feature to stream music.
Apple recently announced that the next version of their music app for Android will include Lossless Audio, which allows listeners to experience music in near-original quality. The company said that its entire catalog of over 75 million songs would be available in the new format.
The company is also providing support for Dolby Atmos. Apple will create curated Dolby Atmos playlists and add Dolby Atmos-enabled tracks to the Apple Music library. The service will automatically play Dolby Atmos-mastered tracks on Beats headphones with the H1 chip, AirPods, and Apple TVs.
The company plans to provide an educational program for independent artists who want to create songs in Dolby Atmos. It has also added an additional Dolby Atmos-enabled studio in major markets, which will double the amount of Dolby-enabled studios worldwide.
The new features are available to all Apple Music subscribers. However, many users have not yet been able to access the latest updates. Some have reported that the feature is working with older versions of iOS and tvOS, while others have said that the update has not arrived on their device.
The new feature will be offered to all Apple Music subscribers at no additional cost, though. The company is promising industry-leading sound quality. It also plans to add more new songs to the music library and continue to improve the quality of mixing on the songs. It will also create more curated Spatial Audio playlists.
In addition to these changes, Apple will also allow users to add songs in the Lossless Audio format. Users can search for songs in the new format and see them in the library with a badge on the detail page.
Apple is building these immersive music-authoring tools into Logic Pro, which should arrive later in the year. In the meantime, the company is offering programs to help independent artists add Spatial Audio-compatible releases to the Apple Music library.
Qobuz claims to offer the “biggest catalogue of CD-quality lossless and Hi-Res albums in the world”
While there are several streaming music services vying for the top spot, Spotify has been a bit sexy lately. The company recently announced a new mobile app and in doing so, has piqued the interest of many an old skool aficionados. One of the biggest draws to its service is that it offers a slew of freebies if you’re willing to take the bait. Among other things, the company is promoting its new a la carte music catalogue. In fact, the company is taking a page out of Amazon’s playbook by introducing an on demand music library. Having said that, the company’s premium subscription service remains on the bookshelf, and will be without a tether once the music service’s latest and greatest takes flight. In the meantime, Spotify isn’t about to rest easy. It’s still a question of when it’ll be ready for a second go around. As a result, a well deserved snidefration may be in the offing for all involved.
ABX test for lossless streaming
The ABX test for lossless streaming on Spotify is a simple yet powerful way to determine the difference between lossy and lossless audio. Using two reference samples, the ABX High Fidelity Test will show you how much better a lossless track sounds over its lossy counterpart. It also includes hot keys for a quick test.
This is the most accurate and statistically sound measure of blind audio quality. The test compares a lossy MP3 file to a lossless FLAC file. The average size of a lossless compressed audio file is around one half the original recording.
The ABX test is a great way to train yourself on the differences between lossy and lossless audio. A lot of people can’t tell the difference. But after awhile, you’ll start to be able to identify the difference between lossy and lossless.
If you want to know how much a track is worth, you can use the ABX test for lossless streaming on the music service. Spotify has an extreme quality stream that uses the Ogg Vorbis format. However, it’s not the highest-quality stream available. The HiFi stream is supposed to be a step up from the standard quality, although it’s not likely to match Amazon’s HD.
The general perception of lossless music streaming has changed with services like TIDAL and Amazon. Now, most consumers are starting to abandon their wired headphones and go for wireless ones. That means there’s a good chance Spotify will introduce a HiFi tier. If it does, it will likely launch around the time of New Year’s.
While a HiFi tier hasn’t been announced yet, it’s possible that it’ll come at no extra cost in the near future. It’s also possible that Spotify is working on releasing a HiFi-enabled speaker from an OEM partner. Regardless of whether it’s true or not, a lossless tier would definitely make Spotify a more attractive option to audiophiles.
The new HiFi level will be available on wireless systems, as well as on Spotify Connect enabled speakers. But it’s unclear if the company will actually support lossless CD quality songs.