The music streaming service Spotify is currently testing a new subscription tier offered to a select group of users. Baptized Spotify Hi-Fi, this new offer includes all the functions of a Spotify Premium account, while adding lossless CD-quality streaming and discounts on limited edition vinyl records.
What is CD-quality streaming?
Currently, audio files played via Spotify undergo a compression process. Tracks are streamed in Ogg Vorbis format, which may be compared to other lossy compressed formats such as MP3 or AAC (iTunes). The user may select from a variety of data rates by choosing one of the quality levels proposed in the Settings panel of Spotify’s mobile or desktop app. The highest quality level presently available offers a data rate of 320kbps. This is about 5 times less than the original lossless CD-quality file, which for its part offers a data rate of 1.5 Mbps.
What are the benefits of CD-quality streaming?
With Spotify Hi-Fi, the user may listen to music as it was originally released, without any loss in quality. In concrete terms, the three registers–lows, mids and highs–are delivered with more details and a wider dynamic range. The sound is more natural and the listening experience more enjoyable. It’s precisely this last point which Spotify is trying to confirm with the assistance of those trying out the beta version of Spotify Hi-Fi before making the offer available to all users.
An additional 5 or 10 euros per month
Spotify Hi-Fi’s testers have received offers to listen to CD-quality audio files directly via the Spotify app. Depending on the user’s subscription plan, Premium or Family, the upgrade may cost anywhere from an additional 5 € to 10 € per month. Not an insignificant sum, which may certainly be explained by the impact on Spotify’s servers. Although it is highly likely that lossless FLAC codec will be used to store millions of audio files, this will double or even triple the bandwidth required for streaming. On the user’s end, this upsurge in data consumption shouldn’t have any noticeable consequences when listening at home. When on the go, however, many users may find it important to keep tabs on data usage.
Spotify Hi-Fi, the same as Deezer Elite?
Two years ago, Deezer launched its Elite subscription plan which, for 19,99 € per month, granted access to CD-quality streaming (FLAC). However, this offer was only available to owners of Sonos devices. As such, it was impossible to enjoy CD-quality streaming with a computer, smartphone, or network amplifier. In contrast, Spotify Hi-Fi should be accessible via all Spotify apps: iOS, Android and Desktop. It has yet to be announced whether updates will be proposed to allow for streaming in CD-quality (FLAC) format via the thousands of devices compatible with Spotify Connect (hi-fi DLNA amplifiers, wireless speakers, etc.).French