Amazon Music Makes HD/Lossless Music Available for No Additional Cost

Posted on May 17, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Amazon, Music + Videos with 33 Comments

Responding to today’s blockbuster Apple news, Amazon is making Amazon Music HD available to Amazon Music Unlimited subscribers at no extra cost. This offer is available in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United States, and the UK.

“When we first launched Amazon Music HD, our goal was to lead the industry by enabling music fans around the world to stream the best quality recording, the way artists intended their music to be heard,” Amazon vice president Steve Boom says. “We’re thrilled now to make Amazon Music HD available to everyone at no extra cost. All music fans should have access to this quality of music, and now they do!”

Amazon announced Amazon Music HD in September 2019 at an additional cost of $4.99 per month when compared to the normal Amazon Music offering. (So, a total of $12.99 per month for Amazon Prime subscribers and $14.99 per month for everyone else.) The service provides most of Amazon’s catalog in High Definition (16-bit, 44.1 kHz; essentially CD quality) and some millions of songs in Ultra High Definition, a lossless format (24-bit, up to 192 kHz).

With this change, Amazon Music Unlimited subscribers can access the High Definition and Ultra High Definition songs for no additional charge over their normal monthly fee, which is $7.99 per month for Prime members and $9.99 per month for everyone else. There’s also a Family Plan at $14.99 per month.

When Amazon Music HD first launched, the catalog had over 50 million songs. Today, that sits at 70 million songs, all of which are available in High Definition. 7 million of those songs are also available in Ultra HD.

You can learn more about Amazon Music HD from the Amazon website.

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Comments (33)

33 responses to “Amazon Music Makes HD/Lossless Music Available for No Additional Cost”

  1. JH_Radio

    So they're gonna give me a refund for what ever is left for my year that I paid in full right? right ? lol Sure keep dreaming.

    • davey346

      Yep, I had six months left on an annual HD music subscription, and for a second or two, I actually thought Amazon was going to make good on that. Strangely, I went into my subscriptions, and the HD payment I made last fall has been wiped out (I was going to click on it and lodge a concern). I’m not going to pursue it further with a rep, as I’m afraid the rep will inadvertently delete my music account, which could mean months of lost work developing my playlists. Amazon wins this one!

  2. buzzmodo

    The one thing that I haven't seen anyone comment on is, say one has a Sonos Beam and two Sonos 1s, will the improvement in quality of the sound of the music be noticeable?

    • Cardch

      I would love to know the answer to this too. At what point on the hi-if hardware scale is this actually discernible to a ‘normal’ listener?

  3. scovious

    Since Apple gave Amazon preferential treatment with a lower developer Apple tax for Amazon, (one of the world's most wealthy companies) it comes as no surprise that Amazon can afford to match Apple's first party music streaming service when it comes to price. It's a shame that Spotify (and every other developer) doesn't get that kind of generous treatment on the App store since it props up the entirety of iOS.

  4. glenn8878

    The next step is throwing in a high fidelity system that "works with" lossless streaming. There's no more retailers that sell these systems anymore. You have to look online. Most places sell bluetooth mono speakers that sound okay with lossy standard definition.

  5. VMax

    If a fairly minor spec bump in the content available from an Apple streaming service is a "blockbuster" announcement, I'm excited to see what the next iPhone release is classified as under this new Spinal Tap-inspired ranking system ?

    • Paul Thurrott

      That's not funny, and it's not fair. This isn't a spec bump, it's a significant change that includes both lossless and spatial audio. More to the point, the "blockbuster" bit is that Apple just upended the market by not charging extra for this, as Amazon WAS doing, and as Spotify is/was planning to do. That's big news. But thanks for the editorializing.
      • VMax

        It just struck me as a strange word to use for a change that the majority of people using the service(s) simply won't notice, let alone the rest of the world. It's a big and important change to a certain number of people, but I just don't think that subset is very big. I apologise for misreading the situation and for the failed attempt at a joke.

  6. JanesJr1

    I don't think most people would notice the difference. Those who do notice (1) don't depend on the weak phono stage of their computers and have an external DAC like Dragonfly to bypass it; (2) actively listen to genres and music sources that benefit from audiophile recording; and (3) have good playback equipment like headphones or stereo systems with ability to reproduce music with a flat frequency response, fast transients, detailed timbres, etc. Don't take it as snob factor; some people just spend time and money to get better sound, and the sound source (like Amazon HD) is just one part of a chain of things that bring it out. If so, then the sound is, in fact, better for many recordings.

  7. jwpear

    This feels like a useless tech spec war, like CPU clock speed. Do normal people really pay attention to this? Would they really notice a difference?

    We have used both Apple Music and Spotify in our family. I prefer Spotify for recommendations and dynamic play lists. In my opinion, it excels over Apple Music in that area. That and a sizeable catalog are more important to me than getting the music in lossless format.

    Yes, there are some that would notice the difference lossless makes, but I bet most wouldn't or just don't care. It's good enough. I say Spotify is still in it. I'm happy to see some competition though.

    Am I way off here?

  8. bschnatt

    I'd love to switch to Amazon Music Unlimited, but their PC app *still* doesn't allow you to divert music to Echo devices (or pause/play music playing on said Echo devices), even after all these years (and my complaints). Amazon *invented* Echo and Alexa, so I'm dumbfounded why they refuse to fix this. Yes, it's a show-stopper. Yes, I pay $2 more a month to be able to do this with Spotify, and yes, it's worth it... #smh

    • richfrantz

      I don't own an Echo so this is just guessing on my part, but I don't think you'd hear the difference HD/lossless audio brings on that device. Personally, I pair my phone to my receiver and the Amazon Music app fills the room nicely.

  9. jgraebner

    Does Amazon own and completely control one of the 2 dominant mobile platforms?

  10. nbplopes

    See. No anti trust.

    Anti trust is played on the App Store policies and how it unbalances the relationship between first party and third party digital services in way not recoverable by digital services in general.

    • Paul Thurrott

      That's not how things work. Amazon also subsidizes its music service. In fact, it sells some of its speakers at a loss to gain marketshare. That's predatory, anticompetitive behavior too.
    • nbplopes

      Simply put, App Store policies demanding digital services to build their own devices and OS in order compete with Apple digital services is an abuse of power considering that the Apple devices are highly dependent on third party businesses provide value to their customers.

      The iPhone would a brick without digital services. After all the third party support that helped the company to reach such high levels to than enforce a more aggressive digital siphon (App Store in app purchases) it’s an abuse of market power.

  11. toukale

    Specially since this is how Amazon operates, they drove everyone out to the books market doing similar thing. I did not see tons of articles calling antitrust, governments even gave them the ok to do it, strange world we are in.

  12. crunchyfrog

    People keep tossing around the "Free" word with these announcements. It's "Included" now in the monthly cost which was or is arguably being charged too high anyways.

  13. will

    The last one to make any sort of announcement will be Spotify. Now that Apple and Amazon both are going to offer this for FREE, I am curious if Spotify will have to do the same. They talked about this coming a couple months back, but it sounded then like it would be a slightly higher price tier or add on.

    Is it a big deal if they charge an extra couple of dollars, not really. But would that be enough for people to just move to Apple or Amazon for the same product but less cost?

    I guess the part from Apple is if they can not beat Spotify on features, they will work to beat them on price.

    • toukale

      If Apple/Amazon/Google wanted Spotify out of the market they can do so by subsidizing their music streaming for free for a couple years. I doubt it would costs those company much money in the grand scheme of things. Spotify would go under just that quick. There is nothing Spotify is offering that is different from everyone else, they all have access to the same library and software is just software. Essentially what we are talking about is which interface one is used to that's about it. We are all creature of habits after all.

      • will

        While the content maybe close to the same on the services, you are correct it is how and where the service operates that helps it shine. I used to use Apple Music for about a year and then gave Spotify a try. Since then I have been with Spotify because the music recommendations it gives me are really pretty good. Apple music was not near as good at recommendations. Maybe one day I will give it a try again, but I am a creature of habit :)

        • ivarh

          I am paying for apple music on a family plan but like you, I found Spotify superior in their auto-generated playlists. I ended up using an app called song shift to transfer the playlists from Spotify over to AM and play them there. So I was paying Spotify for a premium sub but never playing much music there. Then they blocked the API used to transfer their playlists out, which ended up blocking their access to my wallet as well since that was the only reason I paid for my subscription with them. I was a paying member since Spotify opened up here in Australia. Their idiotic policy cost them a customer that was paying for a service but not using it in a way causing them to have to pay the suppliers of their music since I was never playing any of it.

  14. toukale

    So, should spotify add Amazon to their antitrust complaints to now? If your business model is dependent on your competitors to play nice with you then you don't control your destiny and only exist because they allow you to.

    • IanYates82

      Amazon doesn't have an OS platform of any note where it, as the platform maker, pre-installs its app, neuters the ability of other apps to work with the voice assistant, and doesn't charge itself a commission on the monthly fees.

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