Amazon Music HD Offers Lossless Quality

Amazon today announced the immediate availability of Amazon Music HD, which delivers millions of songs in Ultra High Definition, the highest quality streaming audio available.

“We spoke with many artists while developing Amazon Music HD, who were excited about the potential for fans to be able to stream their favorite music, and hear it as it was originally recorded,” Amazon VP Steve Boom said in a prepared statement. “From rock to hip-hop to classical and pop, we believe listening to music at this level of sound will make customers fall in love again with their favorite music and artists. As we usher in a new listening experience for our customers and the industry, we’re combining the convenience of streaming with all of the emotion, power, clarity, and nuance of the original recordings.”

Amazon Music HD is available in the US, UK, Germany, and Japan for $5 more per month than the firm’s individual and family plans for Amazon Music: That’s $12.99 per month for Amazon Prime subscribers and $14.99 per month for everyone else. The service provides over 50 million songs 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). Amazon says that subscribers will always stream the highest-quality version of any song they listen to.

The service has one important backer, artist Neil Young, who has been promoting lossless music for years while decrying the quality of most music services.

“Earth will be changed forever when Amazon introduces high-quality streaming to the masses,” he said. “This will be the biggest thing to happen in music since the introduction of digital audio 40 years ago.”

Amazon Music HD is compatible with PC, Mac, Android, iOS, select Amazon Echo devices, Fire TV, and Fire Tablets. Amazon says the service is also compatible with many third-party devices, including most products from Denon and Marantz with HEOS Built-in, Polk Audio, Definitive Technology, Sonos, McIntosh, Sennheiser, and many more.

New users and existing Amazon Music subscribers can try Amazon Music HD for free for 90 days. You can learn more about Amazon Music HD at the Amazon website.

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Conversation 17 comments

  • Daekar

    17 September, 2019 - 10:11 am

    <p>I have never seen anything even approaching good science that indicates anything beyond CD quality is detectable to human hearing, and even that is assuming that the speaker system is high quality. If you try this, Paul, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.</p>

    • F4IL

      17 September, 2019 - 10:37 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#466828">In reply to Daekar:</a></em></blockquote><p>There was an article a while back by the Xiph foundation (vorbis, flac, opus, etc) presenting evidence to the contrary, claiming that "24/192 downloads are silly".</p>

    • karlinhigh

      Premium Member
      17 September, 2019 - 2:17 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#466828">In reply to Daekar:</a></em></blockquote><p>The most interesting would be an ABx test of some sort: Can you tell which of these 3 sound systems is playing Ultra HD audio?</p><p><br></p><p>I seem to remember reading that some great performing artist – was it Eddie Van Halen? – claimed to be able to hear if an electric guitar was connected to a 5 ft cable or a 10 ft cable. (1.5 m vs 3 m) To me, that's getting almost as far-out as the guy who could identify vinyl LP records by sight, even with James Randi providing the records in a debunking effort.</p>

  • Patrick3D

    17 September, 2019 - 10:28 am

    <p>Seems they are not offering this add-on for the single device subscription plan ($3.99/month) even though the 2nd and 3rd generation Echo Dot are supported devices.</p>

  • lvthunder

    Premium Member
    17 September, 2019 - 10:43 am

    <p>So they call the quality of the music we enjoyed in the 90's High Definition now? That's sad.</p>

  • Michael Rivers

    17 September, 2019 - 11:12 am

    <p>Great. I hope this puts pressure on Spotify and Apple Music to follow suit, and soon. I'd rather not have to change to Amazon, but I might for better sound quality.</p>

  • glenn8878

    17 September, 2019 - 11:16 am

    <p>If you're streaming on to Echo, you're overpaying. You need to download to your device and connect to a serious stereo system with high fidelity speakers. Then maybe detect the higher quality if you can tell the difference. It's a hobby for those with time and money. Music was fun in the past when there isn't so many other distractions today.</p>

  • czenisek

    17 September, 2019 - 12:17 pm

    <p>Are they using FLAC as the codec?</p>

    • rosyna

      17 September, 2019 - 2:04 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#466879">In reply to czenisek:</a></em></blockquote><p>It’s a retread of the PonoMusic failure Mr. Young tried years ago (2012). That adventure used FLAC, which Mr. Young relabeled as “Pono audio format”.</p><p><br></p><p>There’s no noticeable improvement to HE-AAC for the final song, as the 24-bit, up to 192 kHz format is <strong>only</strong> meant to prevent audio degradation when working with pro audio mixing software that use multiple tracks playing at once.</p>

  • brettscoast

    Premium Member
    17 September, 2019 - 1:08 pm

    <p>Paul just wondering if this service will be offered to Asia/Pacific region countries as well. This format is CD quality lossless format so should produce high quality listening</p>

  • Rob_Wade

    17 September, 2019 - 2:41 pm

    <p>I just find all this humorous. I have my hearing tested regularly because of my job. I have exceptional hearing (which is confirmed by every cast of every musical I've been in over the past 20 years). I gave this new service a try. Not hearing anything special. I don't spend my life walking around with flipping headphones or earbuds in. And I'm certainly not going to throw my money away for the expensive devices you apparently need to have in order to discern UHD or even HD levels. 99% of my music listening is in the car, at my work desk or in my home studio. Outside of digital editing/mixing, I fail to see the value of this. It's not readily detectable in the overwhelming listening situations.</p>

  • Texvik

    Premium Member
    17 September, 2019 - 2:43 pm

    <p>Neil Young has never understood the difference between file compression and dynamic range compression. It's not the former that destroys music, it's the latter. It doesn't matter if the file is super-duper uncompressed or lossless with 24bit/192KHz or pristine vinyl if the dynamic range was overcompressed by the mastering engineer. This is why CDs from the 90s through today sounds louder than CDs from the 80s. In order to increase the loudness of the sound, the mastering engineer has to increase the dynamic range compression. Try searching for the loudness wars and see the difference in waveforms. It gets even worse if the DRC is brick-walled, which can lead to distortion and everything sound like it's cranked beyond the limits. </p><p><br></p><p>Also, in regards to the 192KHz debate, it is well known that human hearing is limited to about 20KHz, and that limit gets lower as you age. </p>

    • dkrowe

      Premium Member
      17 September, 2019 - 3:47 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#467069">In reply to Texvik:</a></em></blockquote><p>192KHz is the sampling rate, not the audio frequency. Normal CDs are 44.1KHz.</p>

      • compunut

        Premium Member
        18 September, 2019 - 8:33 am

        <blockquote><em><a href="#467136">In reply to DKRowe:</a></em></blockquote><p>The impact of sampling rate vs human hearing is up for debate, to be sure. I think the most important thing Texvik said, though, is that dynamic range compression is the real scurge on music listening. It is nice to have higher bit-rate streams and that can add slightly to audio quality, but most modern recordings are muddled messes because of the popularity of dynamic range compression!</p>

      • Texvik

        Premium Member
        18 September, 2019 - 2:15 pm

        <blockquote><em><a href="#467136">In reply to DKRowe:</a></em></blockquote><p>Yeah, sorry, my bad. Of course I know that. Senior moment…..</p>

  • dallasnorth40

    Premium Member
    17 September, 2019 - 3:15 pm

    <p>I just upgraded my existing Amazon Music account and tried it. I think the difference is noticeable. I can clearly hear instruments that I didn't before. I look forward to listening with the much better equipment I have at home. There is a lot of music for which HD (or Ultra HD) is NOT yet available, but still worth the minor amount of extra money, for me anyway.</p>

  • bpaul14

    17 September, 2019 - 3:33 pm

    <p>There are fewer things more enjoyable than seeing the greatest rock 'n roll rebel of all time team up with the brawniest capitalist of our era."Rock 'n Roll will never die, 'Cause Amazon streams it from the sky". Sorry Neil for the paraphrasing!</p>


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