Monday, January 17, 2022

Where is Spotify HiFi?

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2021 can have been the 12 months that Apple lastly embraced lossless music streaming and costs for hi-fi listening got here down at Amazon and Tidal. But the largest subscription music service of all, Spotify, appears more likely to miss its authentic goal for launching a higher-quality streaming plan.

Spotify HiFi, first introduced all the best way again in February, has but to roll out regardless of the corporate’s early estimate that it could debut “later this year.” At the time, Spotify mentioned HiFi can be out there in choose markets and that the corporate would “have more details to share soon.”

Over the following 10 months, these particulars by no means got here.

Meanwhile, Spotify’s opponents didn’t wait round. Apple Music rolled out lossless and hi-res playback in June, providing the improved audio high quality at no additional cost. Before that shift, companies like Amazon Music Unlimited and Tidal had been demanding an added premium for the function. But on the identical day that Apple introduced its plans for lossless streaming, Amazon mentioned it could ditch the upper subscription worth and embody HD high quality as a part of the common premium plan. It’s formally desk stakes now.

There have been occasional indicators of Spotify HiFi all year long; a “HiFi” button may (very briefly) be noticed within the app again in May — full with explainers on utilizing the function. And an onboarding video for HiFi was leaked in August.

As 2021 stretched on, Spotify had quite a bit to say about podcasts however saved mum with reference to HiFi and declined remark every time The Verge requested about its standing. Barring a last-minute vacation shock, it appears we’ll be ready till someday in 2022 for Spotify HiFi. Hugely in style platforms are inclined to keep away from launching main new options on the tail finish of the 12 months.

It’s potential that Spotify has had second ideas about launching the function — or at the least is now not in a rush to ship it. You may argue that the corporate doesn’t must trouble with HiFi in any respect. Spotify already enjoys highly effective mindshare with shoppers for its playlist algorithms and consumer expertise; the latest wave of Spotify Wrapped posts throughout social media was one other recent reminder of that.

Plus, there’s now not any monetary incentive. Apple has primarily compelled Spotify’s hand to supply CD-quality streaming with out wringing extra money from clients. And if it’s not contributing to the underside line, what’s the purpose? There’s additionally the likelihood that Spotify ran right into a authorized quagmire in making an attempt to replace its music offers for HiFi.

Lossless music is essentially a distinct segment function that’s at odds with how music is typically consumed today. In a world of Bluetooth headphones and earbuds, Apple and Amazon are much more occupied with hyping spatial Dolby Atmos audio than higher-bitrate streams that solely shine on costly gear. Even then, some individuals simply can’t distinguish it from the usual, lossy high quality they’ve been listening to for years. Spotify has but to verify whether or not it too will supply Atmos tracks — and even hi-res audio that exceeds 16-bit/44.1kHz.

Personally, I nonetheless hope Spotify HiFi does finally launch. There’s a major ecosystem of speaker {hardware} that’s appropriate with Spotify Connect, making it simpler and extra handy to get pleasure from the additional constancy. And as we progress additional into the streaming period, it seems like the choice to get pleasure from music at greater high quality ought to be there for individuals who need it.

The Verge has reached out to Spotify for an replace on the place issues stand with HiFi as 2021 involves an in depth.

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