Amazon has announced a major upgrade to its streaming music service, Amazon Music, designed to boost the quality of tracks streamed on the service. The Spotify competitor will now offer lossless audio files about the same quality as a CD to stream or download.
The Redmond-based retailer isn’t the first to try this approach to music streaming. Jay-Z launched its Tidal streaming service with a huge fanfare back in 2014, promising the same CD-like quality from a streaming service.
However, Tidal has struggled to gain the same foothold in the streaming wars as rivals Apple Music and Spotify.
Likewise, Amazon Music isn’t the biggest streaming service, but is the default on the company’s talkative Echo smart speakers so does have a presence in millions of homes. When Amazon last revealed numbers for the service, it boasted respectable 32 million subscribers.
According to Amazon, it already has a catalog of more than 50 million songs that it defines as “High Definition”. The company will deliver the tracks in the lossless FLAC file format, instead of the MQA format favoured by Tidal.
Dubbed Amazon Music HD, the company doesn’t see the upgraded quality as a niche offering. Instead, it wants Music HD to have a broad appeal.
Amazon VP of Music Steve Boom told The Verge, “It’s a pretty big deal that one of the big three global streaming services is doing this — we’re the first one.”
Spotify has experimented with bringing lossless audio to its service in the past, but has yet to launch a High Definition streaming plan.
Meanwhile, Apple uses its own AAC file format. The company has strived to extract as much quality from the compressed format, but has stopped short of offering Apple Music customers a lossless option.
Amazon Music HD is available now in a number of markets, including the UK.
Better yet, customers can try the service for three months without it costing them a penny. Unfortunately, the 90-day trial is only available to new customers, so if you’ve previously trailed Amazon Music Unlimited, or are currently coughing-up each month for an Amazon Music Unlimited subscription plan, you won’t be able to take advantage of the latest offer.
When the trial period ends, Amazon will charge £14.99 a month for its HD offering. Prime members will get a slight discount, with monthly plans costing just £12.99 a month.
If you’re interested in signing up, you can find all the details – and whether you’re eligible for a free trial – on the Amazon website here.
Amazon Music HD is only available in the UK, United States, Germany, and Japan to start, while more markets will be supported in the future.