Amazon Music Takes Bold Step into High-Resolution Audio Quality

In a move aimed at HD-quality music streaming pioneer Tidal, Amazon Music has announced the launch of Amazon Music HD, a new tier of premium quality music with more than 50 million songs in high definition, and millions of songs in “Ultra High Definition, the highest quality streaming audio available.”

At $12.99/month for Prime members and $14.99/month for Amazon customers, or an additional $5/month for current subscribers (Individual or Family Plan), Amazon Music HD makes high quality, lossless audio accessible to stream in the US, UK, Germany, and Japan.

Amazon Music’s pricing undercuts Tidal, which is set at $19.99/month.

New subscribers to Amazon Music can receive a 90-day free trial, and current subscribers can try Amazon Music HD at no additional cost for 90 days at amazon.com/music/unlimited/hd.

“We spoke with many artists while developing Amazon Music HD, who were excited about the potential for fans to be able to stream their favorite music, and hear it as it was originally recorded,” said Steve Boom, VP of Amazon Music.

“From rock to hip-hop to classical and pop, we believe listening to music at this level of sound will make customers fall in love again with their favorite music and artists,” he said. “As we usher in a new listening experience for our customers and the industry, we’re combining the convenience of streaming with all of the emotion, power, clarity and nuance of the original recordings.”

Table: Premium High-Res Plans (Updated)

Amazon Music HD16-bit 1,411 kbps
CD quality, FLAC audio
$12.99/mo
Apple MusicNo high-res plan
Deezer HiFi16-bit 1,411 kbps
CD quality, lossless audio
$19.99/mo
PrimephonicFLAC audio (bit-rate unspecified)$14.99/mo
Qobuz HiFi16-bit 1,411 kbps
CD quality, lossless audio
$19.99/mo
SpotifyNo high-res plan
Tidal HiFi
16-bit 1,411 kbps
CD quality, MQA audio
$19.99/mo

Spotify and Apple Music Caught Looking?

Amazon Music HD uses the FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) audio format, a compressed audio format that produces lossless CD-quality music. Industry observers say Amazon’s HD service is a move to also sidestep competitors Spotify and Apple Music, which have yet to announce a high-resolution music streaming plan.

“Earth will be changed forever when Amazon introduces high quality streaming to the masses,” said rock icon Neil Young about Amazon’ds announcement. “This will be the biggest thing to happen in music since the introduction of digital audio 40 years ago.”

According to Amazon, Amazon Music HD offers customers a bit depth of 16 bits and a sample rate of 44.1kHz (CD quality). In addition, they can stream millions more songs in Ultra HD (better than CD quality), with a bit depth of 24 bits and a sample rate up to 192 kHz.

Amazon Music HD is compatible with a wide variety of devices, including desktop, mobile (iOS & Android), select Echo devices, Fire TV, and Fire Tablets. It is also compatible with many third-party devices, including most products from Denon and Marantz with HEOS Built-in, Polk Audio, Definitive Technology, Sonos, McIntosh, Sennheiser, and many more.

What to Know: FLAC Audio Format

FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) is an audio coding format for lossless compression of digital audio. Developed in 2000, digital audio compressed by FLAC’s algorithm can typically be reduced to between 50 and 70 percent of its original size and decompress to an identical copy of the original audio data.