NEWS: Spotify HiFi service to deliver CD quality music later in 2021

Hoku

Active Member
Have tried Tidal for better sound quality and Apple Music for improved integration with CarPlay and Apple Watch. They are just not as good at suggesting and curating music to my tastes. Hopefully Spotify will do as a free upgrade for Family packages so I can justify upgrading to that at the same time.

I find Tidal great with Apple Car Play personally. Works really well. I did have an older iPhone with much older iOS and I did have problems with that. I had to start the album playing on the phone, because the car would take ages to figure out what was on my phone downloads within Tidal.

But I don't get that issue now with the current iOS.

The only thing I don't like about Tidal within iOS is what John Darko referred to the other day: you have to have the app open on screen for it to continue to download albums for offline listening, whereas apparently Android you can ask it to download overnight and it'll do it behind the scenes without any issues.

But I just keep half a dozen albums offline at a time, and change them regularly.
 

the hoff

Active Member
Spotify has been using lossless FLAC files for months, not sure how accurate/relevent your blog post is.
I didn't know this...is this just when downloading to a computer or on a phone as well?

Not so important now (for very obvious) reasons but I had/have a lot of music downloaded on my phone for when I am on a plane and had always assumed it was 320kps using their Ogg Vorbis codec. I listen using bluetooth headphones which can utilise the LDAC codec, so it would make a difference I'm sure if I could download as FLAC files. I can definitely tell the difference between my own FLAC and MP3 cd rips (I have a few albums where I only have the MP3 rip and am lazy)

I would definitely be interested in the hi-fi option if it's not stupidly expensive, as there is much to love about Spotify's user interface and the way it integrates with the likes of Sonos etc.
 

flashf1

Active Member
I find Tidal great with Apple Car Play personally. Works really well. I did have an older iPhone with much older iOS and I did have problems with that. I had to start the album playing on the phone, because the car would take ages to figure out what was on my phone downloads within Tidal.

But I don't get that issue now with the current iOS.

The only thing I don't like about Tidal within iOS is what John Darko referred to the other day: you have to have the app open on screen for it to continue to download albums for offline listening, whereas apparently Android you can ask it to download overnight and it'll do it behind the scenes without any issues.

But I just keep half a dozen albums offline at a time, and change them regularly.
I don't get this... or am i missing something? It only takes about 20-30 seconds to download an album to your phone for offline listening... So you can download plenty and put your phone down beside you unlocked and let t download for a few minutes / 1/2 hour, whatever. Also why limit yourself to 6 offline albums when you can have a 100. or plenty more...?
 

williemaykit

Active Member
That's EXACTLY the reason I didn't continue with Tidal after a 3 month trial. Even after all that time it still thought my favourite act was Drake, even though I'd never played a single track of his.

I could definitely hear the difference between Tidal and Spotify, but the interface and algorithms were too off putting so I went back to Spotify.



I had the same experience - Tidal sounds better than Spotify Premium but the user experience with Spotify is way better.

Discovery is one of the things that Tidal doesn't do well. It is getting better. It wasn't always like that. In the early days, Tidal had actual humans and guest artists/dj's/etc curating the playlists. It was a USP in the early days. I discovered a lot of great music through those playlists. Nowadays most of the recommendations are based on hip hop and rap (I enjoy a wide range of genres including hip hop/rap) even though I have favourited different types of music. Despite all that, I stick with Tidal for the audio quality. Having high-res audio as part of the hi-fi package does it for me.
 

Hixs

Distinguished Member
Huh!

I was getting ready to close my Spotify account once our fiber was hooked up, now maybe not!

I've tried them all at one point and Spotify is by far the easiest to use.
 
Interestingly I cancelled my Qobuz subscription as I found myself using Spotify more often and I have a family subscription shared with other family members.

Spotify just works, Qobuz UI is terrible and I find it hard getting good mixes etc.

I mostly used Qobuz for living room listening of specific albums which is only a small fraction of my music listening, most of the time spent listening in garage, doing exercise, cooking in kitchen, whilst working... All scenarios where Spotify just works nicely.

Interested to see how they price this as my partner has zero interest in higher res.
for me Qobuz is missing some things. A radio feature to carry on playing similar music after i listen to an album, ive discovered bands i wouldnt have known about on spotify with this. Having a volume normalization feature if you are listening to a playlist as well.

The main gripe i have though is if i search for an artist and want to see their albums on spotify it lists if hey are singles, albums or compilations but on Qobuz it just lists everything. Lost count of the number of times ive wanted to listen to an album and gone through so many items to find they are one track singles. Thats fine if you know the artist well but not if you are just discovering their catalogue.

The spotify user interface is so much better than the others. Qobuz is great if you are listening to an album but assuming Spotify dont do something stupid with the price ill be jumping onto their service right away.
 
in fact listening to spotify through my naim uniti atom right now and i honestly cant believe some people say they cant tell a difference. I can only assume it depends on what equipment you are listening to but for me there is such an obvious difference in the quality.
 

jonno73

Active Member
I’ve been badgering Tidal support for years to ask why they wont add support for Amazon Alexa in the UK. It’s there in the US afterall...

I’ve got multiple Sonos points in the house, but if I use voice activation Alexa will defer to the free Amazon service. If I want Tidal, then out has to come my phone and then into the Sonos app and so on.

Spotify is supported though, so this may well do it for me. Tidal support have been rubbish on this matter, which is galling as ive been with them for longer than I can remember. It might finally be the time to wave them goodbye.
 

Garjen

Active Member
Spotify has been using lossless FLAC files for months, not sure how accurate/relevent your blog post is.
Spotify state on their website that they use AAC the highest quality being Very high: Equivalent to approximately 320kbit/s,
Compare that to tidal Lossless quality audio (1411kbps or 16bit / 44.1kHz)

So even if Spotify currently do use flac (not advertised) I doubt the encoding would be running anywhere near 1411kps.
 

RichardG

Active Member
Spotify has been using lossless FLAC files for months, not sure how accurate/relevent your blog post is.
Can you explain what you mean by that?

FLAC is a lossless audio "packet" (like a .zip file), which means that when it is unpacked all the original data is there. Nothing is lost, but if the source is OggVorbis 320kbps, then that's all the FLAC file will contain. Technically it is lossless but if the source is lossy, then that's what you'll get. That's my understanding anyway.

FLAC doesn't mean CD quality - I've got 96/24 and 192/24 hires files that are still FLAC format. I think Spotify's FLACs are still 320kbps.
 

MrSmithers

Standard Member
Well why bother going higher than 1411kbps on digital - there's no audible difference to the human ear if you go higher, only snake oil & unproven elitist claims. CD quality is where it's at on digital.
If music has been recorded originally on analogue tape (which is most stuff from the 20th century/a lot of great albums) then there is every benefit in capturing it with more data. A 24/96 bit/sample rate is a much sweeter spot. It most certainly is not snake oil!

I would advise anyone curious to actually test this out for themselves - on any modest stereo setup upwards the results should be noticeable. And then they can have their own proof...

With that I would suggest this is why Spotify's move is completely lacklustre and behind the times. You could do better with your subscription money by buying and ripping second hand CDs to build your own collection. 🙂
 
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flashf1

Active Member
If music has been recorded originally on analogue tape (which is most stuff from the 20th century/a lot of great albums) then there is every benefit in capturing it with more data. A 24/96 bit/sample rate is a much sweeter spot. It most certainly is not snake oil!

I would advise anyone curious to actually test this out for themselves - on any modest stereo setup upwards the results should be noticeable. And then they can have their own proof...

With that I would suggest this is why Spotify's move is completely lacklustre and behind the times. You could do better with your subscription money by buying and ripping second hand CDs to build your own collection. 🙂
we could go back and forth all day with this, but I'm not going to, except to say the human ear cannot distinguish between listening to "CD quality" & HI RES", there is scientific white papers to read along with abx testing. Most people cannot tell 320 vs cd quality!

Also, I think it may be you who are behind the times, if you think the masses are interested in hi-res when they don't even care about cd quality. Spotify don't have to do this, nobody (99%) cares unfortunately. I'm not a spotify subscriber, but am happy they are doing this as I'm a 6 year Apple music subscriber so would hope they follow suit
 

MrSmithers

Standard Member
we could go back and forth all day with this, but I'm not going to, except to say the human ear cannot distinguish between listening to "CD quality" & HI RES", there is scientific white papers to read along with abx testing. Most people cannot tell 320 vs cd quality!
Yep agree to disagree! But I am aware of the Nyquist theory and not just saying it sounds better because it has higher numbers. Thankfully I can be content listening to my own collection... 🙂

Also, I think it may be you who are behind the times, if you think the masses are interested in hi-res when they don't even care about cd quality. Spotify don't have to do this, nobody (99%) cares unfortunately. I'm not a spotify subscriber, but am happy they are doing this as I'm a 6 year Apple music subscriber so would hope they follow suit
Well, people can follow things like a herd - who would ever have predicted the resurgence of vinyl?! It would only take a few major artists to delete their catalogues from a particular streaming site for people to consider their subscription... But yes it's true, I am in a niche. I actually listen to mainly multichannel music so actually I'm in a niche within a niche, ha!

I agree this is good news in that it should push Apple into upgrading to at least CD quality (possibly for the current price) as they could then upgrade previous purchases like they did with 4K movies. That would be a smart business move I'd say...
 

anlygi

Well-known Member
Given the massive market shift towards Bluetooth headphones, with many not even capable of aptX HD, LDAC etc, then I don't think too many people will be in a position to notice much difference. We have a family subscription and I might be willing to pay a bit more to hear if it's worthwhile, but I rarely listen to music through speakers these days unless I'm alone in the house, which is practically never this past year! I also can't remember the last time I used my wired IEMs as, working from home, the Bluetooth ones are much more convenient.
 
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interbear

Well-known Member
Have used Apple Music family sub for years with HomePods but decided to get something with a little more versatility than the HomePods. As the new unit supports Spotify Connect, I thought I‘d try Spotify Premium for the first time and have taken up a 3 month free trial. Thus far my experience is that using Spotify Connect sounds better than using Apple Music via Airplay. A distinct improvement to my ears. So I’m thinking that this Spotify HiFi upgrade, when it comes, will be a further improvement via Spotify Connect. It may well propel me to ditch Apple Music eventually although I’m sure Apple will respond with their own HiFi service, which may be better via Airplay (I’m sure I read somewhere that Airplay is capable of streaming CD quality).

My main concerns on switching to Spotify are (1) that as a family we use all of the Apple One Premier services which is decent value so buying some of them separately and adding Spotify would be more expensive per month. And, if I dropped Apple Music how would I play music that I purchased via iTunes, I’ve no idea how Spotify does that. Or, could I still use Apple Music with the purchased iTunes files via Airplay but no streaming service at zero cost?

I suppose what I’d really prefer is an Apple Music equivalent to Spotify HiFi or Amazon HD quality streaming, using a Spotify Connect type feature on 3rd party devices (not just HomePods) that doesn’t rely on transmitting the stream via the phone, as with Airplay.
 

flashf1

Active Member
Have used Apple Music family sub for years with HomePods but decided to get something with a little more versatility than the HomePods. As the new unit supports Spotify Connect, I thought I‘d try Spotify Premium for the first time and have taken up a 3 month free trial. Thus far my experience is that using Spotify Connect sounds better than using Apple Music via Airplay. A distinct improvement to my ears. So I’m thinking that this Spotify HiFi upgrade, when it comes, will be a further improvement via Spotify Connect. It may well propel me to ditch Apple Music eventually although I’m sure Apple will respond with their own HiFi service, which may be better via Airplay (I’m sure I read somewhere that Airplay is capable of streaming CD quality).

My main concerns on switching to Spotify are (1) that as a family we use all of the Apple One Premier services which is decent value so buying some of them separately and adding Spotify would be more expensive per month. And, if I dropped Apple Music how would I play music that I purchased via iTunes, I’ve no idea how Spotify does that. Or, could I still use Apple Music with the purchased iTunes files via Airplay but no streaming service at zero cost?

I suppose what I’d really prefer is an Apple Music equivalent to Spotify HiFi or Amazon HD quality streaming, using a Spotify Connect type feature on 3rd party devices (not just HomePods) that doesn’t rely on transmitting the stream via the phone, as with Airplay.
What new speaker(s)/unit are you using?
 

HeadBanger

Well-known Member
If music has been recorded originally on analogue tape (which is most stuff from the 20th century/a lot of great albums) then there is every benefit in capturing it with more data. A 24/96 bit/sample rate is a much sweeter spot. It most certainly is not snake oil!
It really is snake oil and marketing at it's very best. Each bit increases the resolution / dynamic range.

Old analogue master tapes will have had around 80dB dynamic range tops. That's just over 13-bit of data digitally (6dB per bit) meaning you end up with 10-bit of converted.......nothing/noise. People that convert LPs to 24-bit digital end up with around 12 bits of nothing. 16-bit is plenty.

Next the marketeer's go on about the extended frequency response higher sample rates give you. That's great if you can hear above 22Khz (and also believe that music even has any valuable content up there). Increased sample rates do not increase the resolution - it's the number of bits that do.

So is CD quality good enough for Spotify? Of course it is and so is the very high bit rate Ogg Vorbis that Spotify also use for 99.999% of the population.

HB
 
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interbear

Well-known Member
What new speaker(s)/unit are you using?

Just bought a Technica SC-C70MK2 Ottava all-in-one. Needed something compact and so far, it's excellent. Good offer at JL currently, the smaller wireless speaker C30 free of charge too. That's in the kitchen and is also excellent.

 

SunnyIntervals

Well-known Member
Perhaps the real problem with listening to music these days is that so many listeners are using low tech to play it on. Smart speakers and blue tooth speakers have, for many people, replaced the stereo system they would have once had.

I recently put back together a system I bought 20 years ago and listened to some CDs and Vinyl, and I was blown away by how great it sounded. For me, this is the real challenge music faces; the convenience of streaming music coupled with "convenient" small, single, speakers (bye bye stereo) which can't begin to compare to the systems previous generations would have used. There's no point any service offering hi-res if the speaker it's playing through is no bigger than a stack of biscuits.
 

xafier

Active Member
Perhaps the real problem with listening to music these days is that so many listeners are using low tech to play it on. Smart speakers and blue tooth speakers have, for many people, replaced the stereo system they would have once had.

I recently put back together a system I bought 20 years ago and listened to some CDs and Vinyl, and I was blown away by how great it sounded. For me, this is the real challenge music faces; the convenience of streaming music coupled with "convenient" small, single, speakers (bye bye stereo) which can't begin to compare to the systems previous generations would have used. There's no point any service offering hi-res if the speaker it's playing through is no bigger than a stack of biscuits.
My living system cost a fair chunk but it's mostly used for TV and movies.

95% of my music listening is headphones or background music using Bluetooth speakers whilst doing other activities such as exercise, cooking, DIY.

Therefore 95% of the time 320kbps Ogg Vorbis vs CD or HiRes FLAC is kind of a mute point.

I'm probably not alone in this regard?
 

BMox81

Distinguished Member
My main concerns on switching to Spotify are (1) that as a family we use all of the Apple One Premier services which is decent value so buying some of them separately and adding Spotify would be more expensive per month. And, if I dropped Apple Music how would I play music that I purchased via iTunes, I’ve no idea how Spotify does that. Or, could I still use Apple Music with the purchased iTunes files via Airplay but no streaming service at zero cost?

I suppose what I’d really prefer is an Apple Music equivalent to Spotify HiFi or Amazon HD quality streaming, using a Spotify Connect type feature on 3rd party devices (not just HomePods) that doesn’t rely on transmitting the stream via the phone, as with Airplay.
The value of Apple One given what you get makes it hard to shift.

Spotify do allow your own files to be played on their app, but you have to set them up as a playlist and they then have to be downloaded as a local file. So for me with a ton of stuff in the cloud where I can just stream it as and when I want, that’s not an option.

And if I remember correctly, when you stop your sub to Apple Music, your ability to sync/see your library across all your devices disappears.

If I’m being honest, it would only be me that would want to move to a different service-no-one else would probably notice any difference in terms of quality and they like the UI of the Music app (on Phone and TV) It’s easy to navigate and it works.

I hope Apple create their own version but they won’t be rushed into it that’s for sure.
 

interbear

Well-known Member
The value of Apple One given what you get makes it hard to shift.

Spotify do allow your own files to be played on their app, but you have to set them up as a playlist and they then have to be downloaded as a local file. So for me with a ton of stuff in the cloud where I can just stream it as and when I want, that’s not an option.

And if I remember correctly, when you stop your sub to Apple Music, your ability to sync/see your library across all your devices disappears.

If I’m being honest, it would only be me that would want to move to a different service-no-one else would probably notice any difference in terms of quality and they like the UI of the Music app (on Phone and TV) It’s easy to navigate and it works.

I hope Apple create their own version but they won’t be rushed into it that’s for sure.

Indeed, the sensible choice for me would be to stick with Apple One. All of my music is in Apple Music including ripped CDs and iTunes album purchases. However, the less sensible me did an audition of my new Technics streamer / speaker that supports both Spotify Connect and Airplay 2. I tried 10 songs from various artists and preferred the sound quality via Spotify Connect every single time. I actually wish I hadn’t done that now. I’m tempted to go with Spotify for that reason and have a 3 month free trial period to decide, even if the sensible financial decision would probably be to stick with Apple and buy CDs for albums I particularly enjoy, for that quality boost.

EDIT - a few more tests today and Apple Music via Airplay won a few times, so it's not quite as clear cut and probably pushes me towards sticking with Apple One.
 
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