Amazon launches premium streaming service with lossless audio

Shawn Knight

TechSpot Staff
Staff member

Amazon on Tuesday announced a new streaming music tier that offers more than 50 million tracks in “High Definition” and millions of additional songs in “Ultra High Definition,” the highest quality streaming audio it offers.

Amazon describes High Definition as music with a bit depth of 16 bits and a sample rate of 44.1kHz, or CD quality, while Ultra HD is said to have a bit depth of 24 bits and a sample rate up to 192kHz. The company says its streaming service will automatically play the highest quality audio supported by the user’s device and network conditions.

The new service, dubbed Amazon Music HD, is now available to listeners in the US, the UK, Germany and Japan. It’s available to try free for 90 days for both newcomers and existing Amazon Music subscribers. After that, you’ll pay $14.99 per month (or $12.99 per month for Prime members) or an additional $5 on top of your current individual or Family Plan subscription.

That’s a bit more affordable than Tidal which many consider to be the leader in lossless streaming. Tidal offers a base plan at $9.99 per month but if you want its highest-quality option, it’ll set you back $19.99 per month.

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Roy Mepham

TS Rookie
I use Tidal at the moment. I can benefit from the higher streaming quality because I have a streming device hooked up to a high quality amp and speakers. The quality upgrade is VERY noticable - on a good system or quality headphones - but a waste of money on desktop speakers.
 

Morris Minor

TS Addict
It won't take off, I remember when dvd audio and sacd came out and no one brought them. instead, people went for the low-quality mp3
 

ShagnWagn

TS Guru
Can the average user tell the difference? Or do you need high end headphones/speakers?
Depends on how well your hearing is, plus how "high end" your speakers are (whether home theater, desktop, or headphones). I went from a mid-high end to a high end system. There are songs that blow me away from the sound that I never otherwise would listen to them (such as the song Ai Du or similar songs). Pure ear candy. I use spotify right now at their "extreme quality" which I think is 320k. I haven't tried lossless streaming yet. https://www.theverge.com/2017/4/5/15168340/lossless-audio-music-compression-test-spotify-hi-fi-tidal
 
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ZackL04

TS Guru
For your average Joe it'll be as mind-blowing as swapping a 42" 4K TV for a 42" 8K TV. I'm sure a lot of people will tell you how this is going to completely transform your life.
And if you dont have the big sub and high end tower speakers to support the larger range it will be like pumping a 720p source through each of those TVs as well
 
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spaceotter

TS Rookie
Can the average user tell the difference? Or do you need high end headphones/speakers?
You'll want better than ear buds or a sound bar, but that doesn't mean it'll cost you thousands. There's a headphone made by Koss kph30i that is 29 bucks and they are amazing. You can get a decent portable dac and amp for no more than 300. Your set after that, and it's worth it if music is a big part of your day.
 
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p51d007

TS Evangelist
Considering some of the stuff on the radio today, to me, it wouldn't be worth it.
I'll just listen to my play list on spotify. 50's to the 80's rock, blues & jazz, big
band music of the 40's.
 

wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
I was offered a free-trial of crApazon's standard streaming service, and all I can say is that I listened for about 5-minutes to a classical piece. Classical pieces are typically known for having high production values and, perhaps, among the best recorded music. What I heard on crApazon's regular service sounded like total :poop: - so much so that listening to that service for 5-minutes was enough for me even though it was free. For me, it was total trash - not even worth listening to - even though it was free.

I have a DSD file of Handle's Water Music that I used to audition new speakers. There is a tympani passage that sounded like mush on my old speakers, but on the new ones, that same section is crisp and clear. I can't say I've compared that DSD file to other sources, however, it sure sounds excellent to me - especially on my new speakers. :)
 

RaXoR

TS Addict
I use Tidal at the moment. I can benefit from the higher streaming quality because I have a streming device hooked up to a high quality amp and speakers. The quality upgrade is VERY noticable - on a good system or quality headphones - but a waste of money on desktop speakers.
Depends on the quality of the desktop speakers as well. Some systems are actually also decent
 
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