Back in February 2021, Spotify made a bold promise to roll out lossless music streaming before the year was out. Fast forward nearly two years later, and there’s still no sign of Spotify HiFi.
So, what’s the deal? Spotify has been frustratingly tight-lipped about the fate of Spotify HiFi, but the company has let slip a few details about the missing service. Meanwhile, recent rumors suggests that Spotify HiFi may still see the light of day.
Here’s what we know–and don’t know–about when Spotify HiFi might finally arrive.
As it stands, Spotify streams audio at 320Kbps in the “lossy” Ogg Vorbis format, which means the audio stream has been compressed and is losing a fair amount of detail in the interest of conserving bandwidth.
When will Spotify HiFi come out?
The short answer is that we don’t know when Spotify HiFi will arrive. However, some recent chatter suggests it may still be in the works.
We know that HiFi quality audio is important to you. We feel the same, and we’re excited to deliver a Spotify HiFi experience to Premium users in the future. But we don’t have timing details to share yet. We will of course update you here when we can.
We reached out to Spotify shortly after that announcement, but a rep would only say that the company did “not have anything further to share on HiFi beyond the excitement for the future launch.”
Again, we don’t know for sure, but according to the “Spotify Platinum” rumor detailed above, the purported survey pegged the price at $19.99 a month, or double the $9.99/month Spotify Individual plan. Ouch.
While Spotify has never come out and said that HiFi would cost extra, the wording of its initial announcement–“Premium subscribers in select markets will be able to upgrade their sound quality to Spotify HiFi”–suggests that HiFi is either an add-on or included in a new plan, such as the possible Spotify Platinum tier.
Spotify never gave a precise release date for Spotify HiFi, but during its 2021 announcement, it said the feature would arrive “later this year” in “select” markets.
Of course, it’s fair to say that Spotify HiFi missed its launch window by a fairly large margin.
Why hasn’t Spotify HiFi come out yet?
Good question. Back in February 2022, Spotify CEO Daniel Ed blamed “licensing” issues when asked about the fate of Spotify HiFi during a company earnings call. Here’s the exact quote, as reported by TechCrunch:
“Many of the features that we talk about and especially that’s related to music ends up into licensing,” Ek told investors. “So I can’t really announce any specifics on this other than to say that we’re in constant dialogue with our partners to bring this to market.”
There is another reason that Spotify might have delayed Spotify HiFi: because it got caught flat-footed by Apple and Amazon.
Following the Amazon and Apple announcements, the prospect of paying extra (most likely) for only CD-quality music and (probably) no spatial audio began to lose its luster, so perhaps Spotify chose to retreat and regroup.
Will Spotify HiFi offer high-resolution music streaming?
Plenty of Spotify’s streaming music rivals, including Amazon Music Unlimited, Apple Music, Qobuz, and Tidal, offer “high-resolution” music streaming–that is, audio that’s encoded at a higher resolution and sampling rate than CD-quality 16-bit/44.1kHz audio tracks.
Most industry types agree that 24-bit/48kHz is the threshold for high-resolution audio, and those streamers that support it deliver high-res streams all the way up to 24-bit/192kHz.
But Spotify never said anything about high-resolution audio in its initial Spotify HiFi announcement; all it promised was “CD-quality” audio, which qualifies as “hi-fi” but not “hi-res.”
As for the “Spotify Platinum” rumors, the purported survey makes mention of a “Studio Sound” feature in addition to HiFi. Could “Studio Sound” mean hi-res music? Hmmm.
Ben has been writing about technology and consumer electronics for more than 20 years. A PCWorld contributor since 2014, Ben joined TechHive in 2019, where he covers smart speakers, soundbars, and other smart and home-theater devices. You can follow Ben on Twitter.