Spotify HiFi beats Apple Music to the punch with lossless streaming

Spotify HiFi
(Image credit: Spotify)

Spotify will at last offer lossless HD music playback this year, with the arrival of a new Spotify HiFi subscription tier. 

The upgrade will provide CD-quality streaming similar to that already offered by Tidal and Amazon Music HD, and could deal a blow to Apple Music — one of the few remaining streaming services that doesn’t have an HD audio option.

Spotify will “begin rolling out in select markets later this year,” it explained at its Stream On event, and will deliver music in a high-definition lossless format. As with other HD audio streaming services, you won’t need actual hi-fi equipment for playback.

Spotify HiFi will be compatible with Spotify Connect devices like smart TVs, though Spotify said it will work “to make Spotify HiFi accessible to as many fans as possible through Spotify Connect,” suggesting not all devices will have the feature at launch. 

HD lossless audio is spared the quality-lowering compression of “lossy” formats, such as Apple’s favored AAC, so many listeners find it sounds clearer and more detailed. 

It has been notably absent from Spotify’s toolbox until now. So this announcement is likely to go down well with the more audiophiliac portions of the service’s massive user base, even if pricing and release date details remain unknown.

As with Amazon Music HD, it seems that Spotify HiFi will require a separate, likely more expensive subscription to the existing $10-per-month Premium tier. And not every song currently in Spotify’s library will be available in HD format.

Still, given the enormity of this library, it’s probably a good bet that Spotify HiFi will eventually end up with a catalog of lossless songs that could rival the more established Amazon Music HD and Tidal.

Spotify also explained that “HiFi will be coupled with Spotify’s seamless user experience, building on our commitment to make sure users can listen to the music they love in the way they want to enjoy it.” So familiar features like personalized playlists, offline playback and easy music sharing could all carry over to Spotify HiFi.

Hopefully, more details will emerge shortly, as Spotify HiFi is shaping up to be an exciting (if long overdue) addition to music streaming. 

It’s also a warning to Apple Music: Cupertino's music service has long been rumored to be gaining a lossless streaming option, But Apple will need to be quick to avoid getting left behind on HD audio.

James Archer

James is currently Hardware Editor at Rock Paper Shotgun, but before that was Audio Editor at Tom’s Guide, where he covered headphones, speakers, soundbars and anything else that intentionally makes noise. A PC enthusiast, he also wrote computing and gaming news for TG, usually relating to how hard it is to find graphics card stock.