Spotify HiFi is MIA

Posted on January 10, 2022 by Paul Thurrott in Spotify with 17 Comments

Having missed its self-imposed 2021 deadline for a lossless tier of its music service, Spotify now says it has no idea when it will be ready.

“We know that HiFi quality audio is important to you,” a message to the Spotify Community forums notes. “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.

Spotify announced its coming HiFi service in February 2021 as a response, of sorts, to the lossless audio solutions then offered by Amazon Music HD, Tidal, and a few other niche players. Apple would later embrace lossless—and spatial—audio as well. But unlike Spotify, Apple has already shipped its new offerings.

Spotify said that HiFi will offer CD-quality, lossless audio via smartphones, tablets, and Spotify Connect-enabled speakers. But for now, that is just a promise.

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Comments (17)

17 responses to “Spotify HiFi is MIA”

  1. ronv42

    Not holding my breath but High Quality Spotify already sounds good on the paired Echo speakers compared to Amazon and other music services.

    • j5

      That's how we use our Echos in our home, with Spotify. We have several placed through out our living room and the music sounds great! My wife and I wouldn't be able to tell the difference with our setup nor really care, long as it just sounds good to us. I think the HiFi streaming features are legit but really only a small percentage of paying customers care about that.

  2. Daekar

    This is a non-issue for most folks. Not only do most people listen to music on devices that are incapable of sufficient fidelity to tell the difference, but I would be willing to bet that most people couldn't tell the difference between 192kbps mp3s and lossless even if they were given audiophile quality equipment. There is no reason for me to ever need anything beyond 256kbps mp3s, and I darn sure wouldn't encourage anyone to stream more data thean required.

  3. JH_Radio

    I'll gladly pay. I can tell the difference and use equipment that will showcase it. It'll give me a reason to try their service again to see if I like their UI or not. Last time I tried it was January 2015.

  4. jdjan

    I can see why Spotify is dragging their heels on this. Lossless audio is a waste of bandwidth for most people most of the time and would increase their operating costs without enhancing the user experience.

    I know a lot of folks who just use cheap speakers or earbuds where the difference (if any) of lossless vs. AAC/MP3 is hard to appreciate. Worse - many folks (myself included) mostly use bluetooth listening devices which can't even carry a lossless stream.

    If Spotify implements it then many users will simply opt for lossless because it is 'best' (even when they are using $10 crappy earbuds) and Spotify's bandwidth bill will skyrocket. It's kind of like those folks who stream in 4K HDR video to their smartphones!

    • jim_vernon

      I tried a hifi service and compared it to Spotify using some rather expensive Sony headphones...I couldn't tell the difference.

    • lvthunder

      They more than likely cache the music so you only download it the first time you stream it. Unless you listen to a song once and never again.

    • SWCetacean

      Indeed, I use Spotify but I'm not particularly bothered by the current lack of lossless options. I mainly use Spotify for music discovery, and it having the largest catalogue makes it optimal for that. If I like a song, I will purchase a lossless copy of it from another storefront like Qobuz to add it to my offline collection. That way I don't have to use up bandwidth streaming lossless audio. Plus, streaming pay rates for most services are very low, so purchasing the songs provides more benefit to the artist anyway. I'd rather see Spotify add Dolby Atmos music to their catalogue than lossless.

  5. red.radar

    I would guess that for most people listening through headphones and smart speakers that 256k AAC is good enough

    The HiFi enthusiast can't be a huge market to court.

    • lvthunder

      Even if the listener can't hear the difference it can be a deciding factor when you compare Spotify to the other services. Especially if the price is the same.

      • SvenJ

        Always good to have a checkmark in a column, even if it makes no real difference.

        • mattbg

          Checkmarks are good, but what if it genuinely adds no business value beyond being a checkmark?

          I think the main issue for Spotify is that they'll are being expected to offer this for free, rather than as a higher-priced tier (which they likely originally planned to do). This is essentially an anti-trust issue because we know that Apple and Amazon are subsidizing the cost of doing this through their other businesses.

          Personally, I hope Spotify either (1) ignores HiFi and proceeds as if it doesn't exist or (2) damns the torpedoes and charges extra for it . Most people will not care. The others can pay for it if they really want it.

          • lvthunder

            And how do we know Apple and Amazon are subsidizing the costs?

            • mattbg

              Because they bundle the service with their other offerings and charge less when you do that. Google does it as well by bundling music with YouTube Premium.

              All three of these companies operate their own global cloud infrastructure that is shared between their music service and their other offerings.

              I have an elevated offer in the Settings page of my iPhone right now offering me 6 months of Apple Music for free on account of me buying a pair of AirPods Pro 2 years ago. Is Spotify allowed to put an ad there? Presumably, Apple knows I am a Spotify user.

              • xamzara

                Still, you or I don’t really know if Apple is offering Music at cost. They don’t have a free tier at all, for starters.

                Spotify has a massive number of free tier users and the ad revenue per user is minimal. That’s a choice they’ve made.

                Still, Spotify is the dominant streaming service, especially outside USA. They are not the underdog.

  6. will

    They had to make a change and Apple (and others) forced them to do it. The wording now suggests it will be for premium users and I would guess they had to go back to the record companies to get new contracts in place.

  7. sekim

    I'm more concerned about Spotify's pushiness over podcasting than I am about missing HiFi. I understand some people were waiting for it, so their failure to deliver stings, but seriously, Spotify. I have a podcast player. I'm happy with it. I'm not using you for podcasts, and making podcasts exclusive to your platform is simply a dick move.