Amazon takes on Tidal with new high-def music streaming service

Amazon Music HD launches with two lossless audio options in four countries

Amazon Music Introduces Highest Quality Audio for Streaming with Amazon Music HD

Quite possibly. Roon is where Tidal and Qobuz hold audiophile trump cards and they might cede less audiophile ground to Amazon Music by licensing their own version of Spotify Connect to more streaming hardware manufacturers.

More specifically, Amazon says that Music HD offers 50 million lossless songs which have 16 bit depth and a 44.1kHz sample rate, which is equal to CD quality. This new Hi-Res music streaming tier is priced at $12.99 per month Dollars for Amazon Prime members, and $14.99 for non-Prime members.

That works out at around AU$19 / AU$22, but there's no word on when the service will go truly global. It costs £12.99/$12.99 a month for Prime subscribers, or £14.99/$14.99 if you don't have Prime.

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Amazon Music VP Steve Boom says, "we're at a point in the evolution of music streaming where audio quality has gone from niche to mass market". If you're already a subscriber to Amazon Music Unlimited, you can upgrade to Amazon Music HD for an extra $5 per month. In addition to individual plans, a family package is available, giving up to six users the ability to stream music from one account.

This move by Amazon is a first among the "big three" players in the music streaming industry.

"This will be the biggest thing to happen in music since the introduction of digital audio 40 years ago", he added.

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Music Week has tested the new Amazon HD service, which delivered impressive results via iPhone with an external DAC playing on a hi-fi system, across multiple genres ranging from rap and classic rock to pop and classical.

In a press release, Amazon said the service will reveal audio nuances "that were once flattened in files". The streaming 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 others. Additionally, included are "millions more" tracks available in Ultra HD designated as 24-bit / up to 192 kHz FLAC.

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