Spotify HiFi arriving later this year with lossless, CD-quality audio

23 February 2021
Will be available in select regions.

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  • Anonymous

I very much enjoy your explanations on audio quality/volume.
And thinking about it I'm also interested in a more professional music industry (kinda ironic)

  • Anonymous

unxpctd, 25 Feb 2021The elephant in the room is the mastering process. Loud, ov... moreYup, loudness wars are unending and push everything to the upper bands of the available dynamic range. Very few artists and engineers resist this temptation (in recent times, Daft Punk's 'Random Access Memories' is an exception to the quest for loudness).

I was listening to some of Bruce Swedien's work on Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones records, and such level of engineering and clarity is hard to come by today.

The elephant in the room is the mastering process. Loud, overly compressed music doesn't magically get better if it's in lossless or lossy format. Nothing can help by this point. High resolution and bad mastering do not exist in the same sentence. Want to know what's mastered the worst? Modern pop music, especially the late 2000s. Is lossless useless then? No, but it's effect isn't as great.

High sample rate audio for playback is useless and just makes you use more data for nothing and even worse, potential ultrasonic spikes. However, if you are running realtime DSP, it will be appreciated by DSP.

Lossless audio is like TIFF/RAW vs JPEG. The former will always be superior, but take up much more space than most want. JPEG is the distribution format. It may be worse, but with dithering and everything else, you may not perceive any flaws. If you take an already low resolution or quality image though, the format doesn't matter anymore.

What is a Billy Elish?

  • Kalai

Anonymous, 23 Feb 2021Yea absolutely. The actual correct term is High Fidelity (H... moreI learnt alot more from your post.Thank you for your tremendous insight on how its actually done and delivered.

I own a couple of recording studios around the world and boutique AV gear, cabling, ancillary equipments costing well over 5M US$.

However I just wanna put my penny thoughts, without getting technical, I leave that to my staff. I only finalise what my "Golden Ears" perceive. Also I have no limitations to cost as far as getting the best media and equipment money can buy for my customers, staff & company..

Whether its Mp3 / Vinyl / Hi-Rez formats / gear, music & video. If its out there i will have it.

It is not just about what we see and hear. But also energies invisible to the eye and ear. I feel more energies, details & depth dynamics from my vinyl, less noise from SACD, Sterile presentation from MiniDisc, distortion & noise galore from WAV, Details & Dynamics lost in MQA.

Bottom line its silent invisible people like us who move the market into research and better products, creating jobs, passions and pursuits. For us cost dont matter. Even if its placebo. Im buying & chasing it..

Spotify should be giving customers what they want especially to their premium subscriptions. And not deciding for us what is best in formats for us to hear. Spotify does not know my background or wha gear I own !! My dolphin, monkey, dogs & bats friends, groove to the high rez music i play. I donr know what they're hearing but I dont stop the format they enjoy dancing to !

I guess Spotify has licencing & copyright & broadcasting issues they dont want to pay premiums for to record labels..My local radio station has been playing the same crap for the last 20 years !! And they will still say " call us now and tell us what you like to hear "

  • Neil

Lossless would be welcome but my biggest issue with Spotify has always been the inconsistency of quality. 320kbps even using vorbis should be good enough but have always suspected the quality of the masters for a lot of stuff is not good, especially for older material.

Anonymous, 23 Feb 2021Yea absolutely. The actual correct term is High Fidelity (H... morei have stopped arguing about this. even educated audiophiles still refute this fact. since 2011 i was a premium subscriber of spotify and have defended its choice of 320kbps (no bit depth) as "high quality" in that i assumed there really is no difference between this and the lossless formats. then i got a phone certified for hi-res and started downloading cd quality flacs, and i found i was totally wrong- the richness and clarity of cd quality is.... then i tried to move forward by investing in home hifi system that supports up to "hi-res" and found it to be no better than cd quality indeed. you actually still with find scientists and engineers refuting this; that's why the continued debate; but i trust my own ears. 10 months ago i switched to deezer hifi as it is the only lossless streaming service available in the philippines, but i sorely miss the better ui and curation of spotify.

  • Talisay Cebu

use FLAC end of story.

  • Igor

How much we will pay for that? Love to upgrade , but do not want to pay $20 a month:)) I am in Canada.

  • Anonymous

Anonymous, 23 Feb 2021Yea absolutely. The actual correct term is High Fidelity (H... moreSuperb info! Take a bow!

  • Anonymous

Anonymous, 23 Feb 2021Yes, I think the discussion went a bit astray with CD vs SA... moreYea absolutely. The actual correct term is High Fidelity (Hi-Fi). "CD-quality" is a bit misleading and frankly, an outdated term used in the 1990's because CD quality which capped at 16bit 44.1/48khz was the best quality audio engineers/recording studios could produce AFFORDABLY back then. 24bit was still very new at the time and you needed ridiculously expensive equipment to make use of it.

Actually, the reason why you often hear industry people use the 24bit/96kHz format because it was (and still is) the standard format which recording audio engineers (the guy playing with all the controls and dials you see in recording studios) use to this day. The higher bitrate and sampling frequency allows them to have EXTRA/EXCESS digital "overhead", noise floor and dynamic range to mix, edit and master a track. They can take very loud recordings and make it very soft, or vice versa, take very soft recordings and pump the volume up, mix them together on the same track without creating distortion or losing fidelity in the process.

Once the song/audio track is complete, they will "trim" or compress the 24bit/96khz file format down to 16bit/48khz to not only save memory space but also remove all the EXCESS digital overheads and dynamic range which contains NO AUDIO in it.

"Audiophiles" like to claim that the original studio mastering 24bit/96khz file is the best and only way to listen, is because they believe that with audiophile grade equipment, they can hear all the "details" with no form of compression/trimming.

This is honestly, quite ridiculous because as mentioned, the excess noise floor or digital overheads have absolutely no sound or "details" in it, there's nothing to listen there. The excess dynamic range is also something we cannot hear, it's frequencies which only dogs and bats can, and even if the animals can hear it, it'll probably be an irritating digital hiss that came from the electronic equipment used (like the motherboard of your PC).

However, 24bit/192kHz DOES have a benefit though. At 192kHz and above, you can actually record and play back audio that's FASTER than our human ears can hear. We have enough computing power to record audio reaching supersonic speeds. The best example is if you were to record the sound of a modern assault rifle firing full tilt at crazy speeds, provided the microphone is sensitive enough, you can record the sound of each individual bullet being fired and the reverb (excess air) from it. Many video game and film companies actually use this method to record gun shots or explosions. But can the human ear actually discern/hear every single bullet shot at that speed? Unfortunately, still no.

The audio blind testing was repeated several times from the 1990's till early 2000's and so far the results remain the same; although we can already easily record and master audio at 24bit/96khz, double the standard 16bits/48khz, our human ears just cannot discern well enough. This is why engineers say our research in audio in many aspects has gone beyond our biological human hearing.

Spotify made the right choice to finally bring HiFi audio to us consumers, the issue of computing power and memory space in our electronics isn't a problem anymore.

  • Anonymous

Anonymous, 23 Feb 2021Sorry i need to correct one thing: SACD can serve as a d... moreYes, I think the discussion went a bit astray with CD vs SACD, which are closely tied to physical media. But the story title itself is perhaps to blame for that ('CD quality').

My actual point was that greater number of bits and higher sampling rates should have been targeted to address the audiophile segment. There is some evidence that 24bit 96Khz audio is better able to match the dynamic range which an average human ear supports.

But, if actual studies with real listeners indicate that 16 bit 44.1 KHz audio is indistinguishable from 24 bit 96 KHz audio, then my whole point falls flat on its face, and Spotify using CDs as source material is a sound decision.

  • Anonymous

RandomPiash, 23 Feb 2021Umm..yes. it's analogue and it's the cream of the... moreYou're not even close.

  • Anonymous

Anonymous, 23 Feb 2021Why do SACDs exist, then?Sorry i need to correct one thing:

SACD can serve as a digital master copy of the audio track in a PHYSICAL format (a plastic disc, technically a DVD or a Blu-ray disc can store way more data than SACD).

However, SACD is outdated and outclassed by pretty much every new digital storage we have nowadays like hdd/ssd, micro sd cards, pendrives etc etc. You can store and playback your entire album collection of songs straight from your smartphone, PC or audio player.

The whole debate about audio quality and whether we humans can hear a difference is mainly about digital audio sampling rate; between 16bit 44.1/48kHZ or anything above it (example 24bit 96/192khz). There's even newer digital formats like DSD and MQA which can play back sampling rates of 32bit/384khz and above, but that's a whole other thing altogether.

  • Anonymous

Anonymous, 23 Feb 2021Why do SACDs exist, then?To serve as a master digital copy of the audio track.

Studies already show that when doing blind testing between Redbook and SACD among humans, only got a 49.8% chance of telling the difference/getting it right, which is just chance guessing (like flipping a coin), not an outright winner. You need a 90% and above accuracy to say yes, humans can hear above 16bit/44.1 or 48kHz.

Even if you are young with excellent hearing, trained to spot or look out for difference between the 2 formats (which some researchers claim this can also be a form of bias training/placebo/external influencing), still came to the conclusion that the difference was "small and difficult to detect,".

  • Anonymous

Anonymous, 23 Feb 2021yea it's lossless. Human hearing cannot discern above ... moreWhy do SACDs exist, then?

  • Anonymous

Deezer has amazing sound quality lossless and 360 sound with good speakers/headphones it can not be beat

  • Anonymous

PetrSP7, 23 Feb 2021CD-quality, technology from 1982, is "lossless"??... moreyea it's lossless. Human hearing cannot discern above 16bit/44.1khz sampling rate.

PetrSP7, 23 Feb 2021CD-quality, technology from 1982, is "lossless"??... moreUmm..yes. it's analogue and it's the cream of the crop of the audio enthusiasts

  • Anonymous

If CD quality is the benchmark, why aren’t we going back?