With a new take on innovation; Amazon Music is focusing on a new subscription tier in an effort to boost the quality of music consumption for the streaming service and it’s subscribers. With a new take on quality music availability, the company has announced that their new subscription level is focused on providing ‘HD’ quality audio for those who want to experience their music in the highest level of quality possible.
This high definition audio tier is not available on main streaming giants Apple Music and Spotify; and although the difference in quality may not be entirely noticeable to mainstream listeners, the technical details involved in high fidelity audio are quite substantial.
The high definition audio now offered to subscribers boast around 50 million tracks; and in layman’s terms essentially offers CD quality audio; the same quality as if burning a CD to one’s computer – which to many people’s surprise, is higher quality than the tracks currently offered by the majority of streaming services. This CD quality audio in technical terms allows for 44.1 kilohertz sampling rates with 16-bit audio files.
The technical differences in high definition audio and ‘Ultra HD’ runs much deeper: the ‘Ultra HD’ audio which will be available for a portion of tracks on the streaming service – is described offers a format that is completely lossless – when compressed digitally, unlike with other formats such as mp3, still retains the highest quality aural information retained from the original recording / source.
This format titled FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) differs in quality as it preserves all original audio information; such as sampling rates and bit depth, which determines the overall quality of the track as well as allowing for a smaller file size and faster online streaming. In technical terms, this allows for 24 bit files at 192 kilohertz which, even with little understanding of technicalities, shows a jump as opposed to CD audio quality.
Although other services do offer high quality audio, as previously mentioned; the majority of people are unable to distinguish between the various types of audio formats. Audiophiles, on the other hand, such as musicians, producers and sound engineers are easily able to tell the massive difference in quality and often prefer to retain FLAC audio formats in order to preserve as much audio information as possible; and could likely give hour long lectures about the difference in production.
With this being said, there are questions as to whether these subscription tiers which are obviously valued at a higher price are of value to the average listener, if they are generally unable to distinguish between formats such as MP3 and FLAC.
The HD service provided by Amazon Music is going at $12.99 per month for users already subscribed to Amazon Prime; whereas regular customers will be looking at a subscription price of $14.99. There is also the option to pay an extra $5 fee per month for Family and Individual plans, and current subscribers.