It’s been nearly 10 months since Spotify announced that lossless, CD-quality music streaming would be coming to the service “later this year.” But with just three weeks left in 2021, time is running out for Spotify to make good on its promise.
Revealed back in February during its Stream On event, Spotify HiFi is supposed to bring “CD-quality, lossless audio” to both the Spotify app as well as Spotify Connect-enabled speakers. Spotify didn’t reveal whether Spotify HiFi would be included with its standard subscription tiers or cost extra, nor did it narrow down a launch window beyond the “this year” timeframe.
But since that initial announcement, we haven’t heard a peep from Spotify about its HiFi feature, and the streaming giant didn’t respond to a recent query from TechHive. For now, Spotify’s music streams still max out at 320Kbps in the lossy Ogg Vorbis format.
In the meantime, Spotify’s competitors have made some major moves in the lossless audio department. Apple and Amazon made the biggest splash back in May, with the two companies rolling out lossless music streaming at no extra charge for paid subscribers. (Lossless streaming was brand-new to Apple Music, while Amazon had previously been charging extra for its lossless music tracks.)
Besides simply offering CD-quality lossless music tracks, Apple and Amazon also boast a couple of additional features that (for now) go beyond the scope of Spotify’s announced HiFi service: support for high-resolution (or 24-bit) audio, as well as spatial audio powered by Dolby Atmos and (on Amazon Music) Sony’s 360 Reality Audio technology.
With Apple and Amazon bringing lossless music streaming to the masses for no extra charge, hi-fi music streamers that were charging a premium for CD-quality and high-resolution audio tracks had to rejigger their plans. Qobuz, for example, lowered its Qobuz Studio plan from $15 a month to $13/month, while Tidal recently bowed a cheaper CD-quality tier for $10 a month in addition to its $20/month high-resolution streaming plan.
Of course, it’s not like Spotify has been sitting on its hands all year. The streamer has been pushing hard on its multimillion-dollar podcasting business, rolling out paid podcast subscriptions to worldwide users last month.
Spotify also finally got around to launching lyrics on the Spotify app, a feature users had long pined for.
And while Spotify hasn’t said anything official about HiFi since its initial announcement, there’s been evidence that work on the project has proceeded behind the scenes. Eagle-eyed users spotted a “HiFi” icon in the app back in May, while a leaked “Hi, HiFi” video made the rounds in August.
Spotify still has a few weeks left in 2021 to surprise us with its HiFi feature, but it’s starting to feel like we’ll need to wait until at least next year for CD-quality streams from the streaming giant.