Direct Stream Digital Audio

Spotify announces a HiFi tier... what does it mean?

Spotify announces a HiFi tier... what does it mean?


Is this for real? Spotify offering a HiFi tier? What Happens to DSD?

Rumors of Spotify offering a HiFi tier has been going on for years. It's inevitable that better quality sound was going to come to streaming as bandwidth gets cheaper and demand for better quality is a natural next step. Think about HD TV.... it was a matter of time when all broadcasts would be in HD and become the new "normal". Some of you are old enough to remember when TV was in Black and White? We don't even discuss "color" as an option any more... it just is....

Still, going from a lossy format to a lossless is going to increase the demand for space on Spotify's end... no easy feat when you're talking about 100,000,000 and more songs. That means all the songs need to be replaced or a new version added. Considering Spotify's version of "HiFi" is a lossless rendition of 44.1 / 16 bit or "CD Quality". So what Spotify is doing is going back to the format that 95% of the artists deliver for upload in the first place. Not a big deal.

Notice the use of "HiFi" and not "hi resolution" or HD... why is that? Well, technically, "HiFi" is not high resolution (which in most circles is at least 24bit). So, they've managed to nt cross any lines. Also "HiFi" is a general term used by most people to indicate a little better.

If you're reading this now, you're probably laughing at the whole concept.... DSD is one bit with millions of samples per second and will still sound far better if the original recording sounds good. Even PCM at 9624 and higher will sound better, depending on the source.

Paying more money for a subscription tier that offers CD Quality is kind of laughable. Qobuz (with 192 FLAC) and Tidal (with MQA) already offer much better sound.

So, is there any benefit to Spotify's new HiFi tier? Much like Amazon HD (which is still a bit of a joke for those who know what's up), this will probably be good news for mid-fi electronic manufacturers who will get a boost in buying while Spotify touts the reasons we should like better quality sound. Good news for all audiophiles who listen above CD Quality because more attention in general will be paid to sound quality in recording. And yes, even DSD will benefit from the attention music will get.

Will this translate to more money to the musicians so they can afford better sound recordings? Probably not. The trend is less and less payouts per stream. As the file sizes get bigger and better sounding, the streaming rate remains the same... and in some cases the service provider charges the musicians MORE money per stream to store the files. Better quality to the listen and less money to the artists and labels. Does that make any sense? No.

Read more at Spotify's own site about these developments.