Spotify is tremendously popular, sure, but it has never been a platform for audiophiles. That may change soon, though — the company confirmed today that it plans to launch a Spotify HiFi service in 'select markets' later this year.
Strangely, in its infinite wisdom, the company largely declined to explain its HiFi service to viewers. Thankfully, Spotify HiFi isn’t exactly a new concept: the company teased a high-resolution streaming option as early as 2017, when it offered CD-quality audio to certain users in the United States for an additional $7.50 a month. Spotify hasn't yet revealed Spotify HiFi's cost ahead of the upcoming launch, but the focus on delivering lossless, CD-quality music remains the same.
In case you were wondering, Spotify's current maximum audio bitrate is 320kbps, which means it almost certainly sounds leagues better than the mp3s you've ferried from computer to computer for years. That said, bitrates for lossless audio can be dramatically higher — think around 1,411kbps — which effectively gives a track more data to reproduce the nuances of the recording.
“High-quality audio means more info," said Billie Eilish during Spotify's Stream On event. "There are things you will not hear if you don’t have a good sound system. It’s really important just because we make music that [we] want to be heard in the way that it was made.”
To be clear, we’ve seen many of Spotify’s streaming rivals — including Deezer, Amazon Music and most notably Tidal — embrace high-fidelity audio in earnest well before today's announcement. While Spotify isn't breaking new ground with its new focus on improved audio quality, it still stands to become perhaps the biggest player in the game because of its reach. As part of its HiFi push, for example, the company confirmed that it plans to work with "some of the world's biggest speaker manufacturers to make Spotify HiFi accessible to as many fans as possible."