Amazon is reportedly readying a high-fidelity music streaming service that's set to launch by the end of the year. According to Music Business Worldwide, Amazon is in discussions with various large music rights-holders regarding the upcoming launch of the new streaming platform, which is likely to cost $15 per month.
"It's a better bit rate, better than CD quality," one source told MBW. "Amazon is working on it as we speak: they're currently scoping out how much catalog they can get from everyone and how they'll ingest it."
Probably the best known hi-def music streaming service currently is Tidal's HiFi plan, which costs $19.99 per month and offers CD-quality lossless streams at 44.1 kHz / 16 bit. Subscribers to the plan also benefit from Tidal's partnership with MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) to deliver guaranteed master-quality recordings directly from the master source, which is billed as "an audio experience that the artist intended."
The rationale behind this is that while HiFi audio is a superior sound, it's still limited to 44.1 kHz / 16 bit resolution, whereas MQA audio is the highest possible resolution (typically 96 kHz / 24 bit). MBW understands that Amazon has not partnered with MQA for its own HD tier, suggesting it will use a different audio technology. It's not clear though whether the hi-fi service will be a standalone platform or a new tier option to be offered as part of Amazon's Music Unlimited service.
Apple Music streams 256kbps AAC files across the board and doesn't offer users a higher sound quality price plan, while Spotify uses the Ogg Vorbis format and lets Premium subscribers choose the bitrate depending on how they're listening. On mobile you can elect to stream in Low (24 kbit/s), Normal (96 kbit/s), High (160 kbit/s) or Very High (320 kbit/s) quality, which is handy if you're worried about using up your cellular data, but none of these options could be called "hi-fidelity" streaming.
News of Amazon's plans for a hi-fi audio streaming service comes a week after Amazon launched a free, ad-supported music streaming service for owners of devices that support Alexa, but who are otherwise not Prime or Amazon Music Unlimited subscribers.