Spotify HiFi, a lossless audio version of the music streaming service, will launch later this year with a higher subscription than the standard Spotify Premium membership. But are your ears good enough that the service is worth it?
Here’s what Spotify said about the next option:
Spotify noted that one of the most requested features by artists and users is searching for higher quality audio. In response, the platform will launch “Spotify HiFi” in select markets later this year.
“Spotify HiFi will deliver music in CD-quality lossless audio format to your Spotify Connect-enabled device and speakers, which means fans will be able to experience more depth and clarity while enjoying their favorite tracks.”
Spotify hasn’t shared how much the new HiFi access will cost, but we were able to confirm with the company that it will be an add-on for Spotify Premium subscribers. We also don’t know when it will hit “select markets” other than “later this year.”
There are many audio tests available, where you can listen to the same tracks in different audio formats, even lossless, to find out if you can hear the difference.
Even if you have performed these tests in the past and have been able to identify them correctly, that does not necessarily mean that is the case today.
First, that’s because lossy formats today are better than those used a few years ago. Spotify uses 320kbps Ogg Vorbis files, while Apple Music uses 256kbps AAC files. Both are significantly better than the 256 kbps mp3 files that used to be the “high quality loss” standard. (Free Spotify accounts get much lower quality.)
Second, because everyone’s hearing deteriorates as we age. I have done many of these tests in the past and my hit rate has always been significantly better than chance, although well below perfect. However, today I had the same experience as TNW’s Napier Lopez: My latest results fell into the “above 50% but not statistically significant” category.
If you’re like most audio enthusiasts, let alone most ordinary people, you probably won’t be able to hear the difference. I did the test with a $ 400 headset and didn’t know.
We both use the Digital Feed ABX test, which is a test where you are not trying to figure out which track is better; you are trying to match what you heard with two other versions, one of which is identical, one of which is different. The track you are trying to match may be lossless or lossy. This tends to be a more reliable method.
One weakness of these tests is that you are listening to random tracks, rather than the ones you know. But even so, it will give you a good idea of whether lossless is worth what Spotify decides to charge for it.
So far there have been no signs that Apple Music plans to offer a lossless level of music.
Photo by Ekaterina Bolovtsova from Pexels
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