Spotify HiFi: release date news, price prediction, quality, and latest rumours

 Spotify HiFi: quality, price, release date and latest news.
Credit: Spotify

Spotify HiFi is the popular music streaming service's long-anticipated entry into lossless-quality streaming. The tier was announced over three years ago (but teased as many as seven years ago) and promised to launch sometime in 2021... and yet we still don't have it. It is definitely still coming, Spotify confirmed last year, though it could be called Spotify Supremium or, according to the very latest leak, even simply materialise as a 'Music Pro' add-on. It is looking ever likely that hi-res audio quality is on the cards, too: a step up from the 'lossless, CD-quality' initially promised.

When it does finally arrive, it should (fingers crossed) be worth the wait.

The idea is that Spotify HiFi (as we shall keep calling it for now) will allow Spotify Premium subscribers to 'upgrade' their membership to a pricier plan so they can listen to much higher-quality streams over Spotify Connect. This 'lossless' streaming could actually surface within a pricier plan, or as an "add on" alongside extra playlist, podcast, headphone and interface features, according to the ever-churning rumour mill.

Spotify said that "high-quality music streaming" has consistently been one of its users' most requested new features. After years of waiting for Spotify HiFi to show up after an initial teaser in 2017, we began to wonder whether it would ever get the green light. And then, on 22nd February 2021, the company officially announced Spotify HiFi to the world at its 'Stream On' event. A leaked video followed, giving us a glimpse of HiFi, and since then unearthed app code has suggested a few twists and turns in the Spotify plan. And now we wait. And wait. And wait.

Spotify is yet to share concrete details such as price, launch date and full device compatibility, but recent leaks have revealed plenty. We've pieced together all the latest Spotify HiFi news, leaks and rumours to build a likely picture of what might prevail. Here's everything we know so far...

  1. An excruciating timeline of our seven-year wait for Spotify HiFi

  2. How to cancel Spotify Premium – and should you?

Spotify HiFi release date and launch date delay

Spotify HiFi: quality, price, release date and latest news
Spotify HiFi: quality, price, release date and latest news

In February 2021, Spotify promised to launch Spotify HiFi "beginning later this year". That phrasing led us to believe it would be nearer the end of 2021 rather than imminently. As the year drew to a close, our fingers remain crossed that Spotify HiFi would indeed be the streaming giant's Christmas present to us all. But we are now in the middle of 2024 and there's still no Spotify HiFi. Yes, it's late.

In January 2022, Spotify responded to the endless queries on its Spotify Community Forum with this statement: "We know that HiFi quality audio is important to you. 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."

This was cemented by CEO Daniel Ek's subsequent comments to investors and analysts. During an earnings call in February 2022 – almost a full year after Spotify HiFi was announced – he failed to confirm if the service would even launch in 2022. He said the service was caught up in licensing negotiations, and added that Spotify was in "constant dialogue" with music labels about bringing the feature to market.

Hopes were high that it would launch imminently when a Reddit user spotted a HiFi icon in their Spotify iOS app, and then there was a leaked video, posted online by another Reddit user, that seemed to offer a brief tour of the streaming giant's much-anticipated lossless audio tier.

After months of dormancy in the Spotify camp, it was awoken in March 2023 by a Reddit user who, upon cancelling his Spotify Premium account to switch to Apple Music, claims to have been sent a survey by Spotify mentioning a hypothetical premium tier called... Spotify Platinum. Oh. The survey supposedly asked user u/nearlymind if they would consider switching to Spotify Platinum in the "next 30 days" for features that include 'HiFi' and various others including 'Studio Sound', 'Headphone Tuner', 'Library Pro' and 'Playlist Pro', for a rather steep monthly fee of $19.99.

But is it Platinum or 'Supremium'? According to a report last year (Bloomberg, June 2023) that's what the new tier was being referred to as – and this was backed up by source code revealed on Reddit. The report claimed it would arrive sometime in 2023 and in addition to higher-quality audio, would also offer expanded audiobook access.

But here we are in 2024, with news (The Verge, April 2024) that the 'Supremium' name has been nixed in favour of packaging the high-res streaming as a 'Music Pro' add-on instead, alongside other features such as headphone optimisation and advanced mixing tools.

Whatever it turns out to be called, the bottom line is that higher-quality streaming is still coming. Spotify co-president Gustav Söderström told The Verge last year that offering lossless audio is still the plan, though he stopped short of giving any kind of timescale on when it would be available. "We are going to do it," Söderström said, before doubling down with a Spotify HiFi "is coming at some point".

"We’re going to do it in a way where it makes sense for us and for our listeners," he went on. "The industry changed and we had to adapt." This is no doubt referring to Apple, Amazon and most recently Tidal deciding to offer lossless, hi-res streaming at no extra cost since Spotify announced its HiFi tier.

Indeed, from a technology perspective, Spotify HiFi has reportedly been ready to go for years – Spotify employees can supposedly access the service's entire catalogue in lossless quality. It's just the economics of it all that Spotify is still apparently working out.

When it does come, it should land in several markets. In the original blog post announcing Spotify HiFi back in February 2021, the company said: “Beginning later this year, Premium subscribers in select markets will be able to upgrade their sound quality to Spotify HiFi and listen to their favorite songs the way artists intended.”

Spotify is currently available in some 180 markets and in 60 languages, so chances are Spotify HiFi will land in different territories at different times. The good news for subscribers in the US and Europe is that Spotify typically launches new features in those key markets first.

The Spotify HiFi release date could also depend on the type of device you use. Spotify HiFi will reportedly deliver higher-quality streams through Spotify Connect, so it's possible that newer Connect-enabled devices (such as the PlayStation 5) could get the HiFi upgrade before certain older devices.

Spotify HiFi price predictions

Plenty of rival music streaming services already offer their own hi-res and/or CD-quality subscription tiers at around £11 / $11 / AU$13 per month. Apple's lossless CD-quality and hi-res tier is free to all Apple Music subscribers for that price. That spurred Amazon to offer the same shortly after. And Tidal – one of the originators of hi-res streaming – has just reduced its subscription fee to price-match its competitors. Qobuz is another hi-res streaming option. So while Spotify's popularity and consequent existing subscription base could see Spotify HiFi front the pack before long, its price will no doubt be a key factor in its uptake.

The most recent report (Bloomberg, June 2024), has suggested that Spotify HiFi will add an extra $5 onto whatever level the user is currently subscribed to. That's in addition to a price hike last year and a second one this year, and will result in an approximately 40% uplift in monthly cost for most users. When many of its competitors are offering it for free, that's a pretty ballsy move.

Will it damage the new Spotify tier's uptake? Probably. But then again, Spotify is effectively the Coca-Cola of music streaming so there's no reason for it to get into a price war with Amazon, a company with some of the deepest pockets in tech. Especially when some 150 million Spotify Premium users happily pay £11.99 / $11.99 / AU$13.99 a month for standard-quality streams.

Spotify HiFi free trial

Good news: whatever the monthly fee, some sort of Spotify HiFi free trial is likely on the cards – most probably, we would imagine, for both Spotify Premium users looking to upgrade and new Spotify users who may have historically been put off the service due to its lack of higher-quality audio.

On the latter point, those who have found a high-quality haven in rival services such as Tidal and Amazon HD may well need teasing away from their probably highly personalised profile.

Spotify already offers a 1-month free trial of Spotify Premium, while Amazon Music HD recently offered new subscribers a 3-month free trial. Tidal offers users a 30-day free trial, while Deezer dangles a 1-month free trial in front of visitors to its website.

Keep an eye on this page and we'll alert you if/when news of a Spotify HiFi free trial breaks.

Spotify HiFi quality

Spotify HiFi: price, release date, streaming quality, free trial and latest news
Spotify HiFi: price, release date, streaming quality, free trial and latest news

Streaming quality could be another dealbreaker, so just how good will Spotify HiFi sound?

According to Spotify, HiFi subscribers will be able to consume “music in lossless audio format, with CD quality”. Given that bitrates for lossless, CD-quality audio are around 1411kbps, Spotify HiFi should be a big step up from existing Spotify Premium quality, which maxes out at a rather lowly 320kbps. For the uninitiated, lossless, CD-quality audio files carry more data and are consequently richer in detail. Hi-res audio files carry more data yet again. Check out our complete guide on high-resolution audio for a lowdown on what higher bitrates actually mean.

Spotify has yet to reveal the technical details of its higher-quality streams, but when it first teased Hi-Fi way back in March 2017, Premium subscribers were offered 1411kbps streams – i.e. CD quality. That said, the latest reports suggest that Spotify will offer next-level hi-res audio streaming to compete with that offered by Apple, Amazon, Tidal and Qobuz. Their hi-res streams max out at 9216kbps (24-bit/192kHz), though most have bitrates between 24-bit/44.1kHz and 96kHz. The latest unearthed app code suggests Spotify streams will max out at 24-bit/44.1kHz, and recent leaked screenshots back that up, with support for up to 2117kbps.

Spotify following in its competitors' footsteps seems almost imperative if it wants to stay competitive, and currently it looks to be falling a little short. The proof will be in the listening though, so we will withhold judgement until then.

Elsewhere, Spotify hasn't said whether it will support immersive audio streams, such as 360 Reality Audio, spatial audio and Dolby Atmos Music, as supported by Tidal, Amazon and Apple. With more and more focus on this from music producers, it will be interesting if this is introduced at the same time as high-res, or if we'll have another wait on our hands...

Spotify HiFi device compatibility

Spotify HiFi: price, release date, streaming quality, free trial and latest news
Spotify HiFi: price, release date, streaming quality, free trial and latest news

Spotify confirmed that its planned CD-quality streams would be compatible with Spotify Connect, which is an easy way of wirelessly playing streams from the native Spotify app on a phone or tablet to a Connect-compatible device over wi-fi. It cuts out convoluted Bluetooth pairing.

That said, Bluetooth aptX and aptX HD can stream in CD-quality, so as long as a user's source (say, the Spotify app and the phone it's playing on) and receiver (a Bluetooth speaker or pair of wireless headphones) both support that Bluetooth codec, that higher streaming quality should be upheld.

The finer details over Spotify Connect compatibility are yet to be revealed, but presumably Spotify HiFi subscribers will be able to easily play high-quality streams between their phone (via the iOS and Android apps) or computer (via the desktop app or web player) and the ever-increasing mass of Connect-enabled speakers, TVs and audio systems on the market. (This is certainly suggested by the leaked screenshots mentioned earlier.) Spotify Connect really has become one of the most popular streaming features, so the majority of networked, streaming-savvy devices out there should support the protocol.

"We’re working with some of the world’s biggest speaker manufacturers to make Spotify HiFi accessible to as many fans as possible through Spotify Connect," reads Spotify's statement.

Could we even see Spotify HiFi launch alongside a high-end Spotify-branded speaker? We'll find out soon enough. In the meantime, here's a rundown of our favourite wireless speakers, many of which support Spotify Connect.

Spotify HiFi catalogue

Spotify HiFi: price, release date, streaming quality, free trial and latest news
Spotify HiFi: price, release date, streaming quality, free trial and latest news

Spotify Premium claims to offer access to "over 100 million songs" – but how many of those tracks will also be available in CD-quality (or hi-res) to HiFi subscribers?

Unsurprisingly, the company has yet to release any details as to which songs will be available in lossless CD quality, but it's likely to be in the tens of millions – figures it will share with its rivals. For example, Qobuz claims to offer the "biggest catalogue of CD-quality lossless and Hi-Res albums in the world", putting the size of its offering at 60 million songs, while Amazon Music HD claims "60 million songs in HD". There's no reason to think Spotify won't offer the most (or at least joint-most) streams in CD quality on the market, considering its deals with major record labels.

Spotify isn't only reputed for the size of its catalogue, though; its catalogue is also among the smartest, most versatile and best presented. Its hugely popular "Discover Weekly" feature uses AI and machine learning to generate a playlist of 30 songs that are relevant to your listening habits, so no doubt that will be put to good use to highlight any exclusive, CD-quality content.

The company has also invested heavily in podcasts, including Renegades: Born in the USA, featuring Barak Obama and Bruce Springsteen.

We'll update you as soon as we know more about Spotify HiFi, but one thing's for sure: the competition isn't going away.

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