Amazon has announced that its bringing Hi-Res Audio to its music streaming platform, Amazon Music Unlimited.
Called Amazon Music HD, the new streaming tier will give audiophiles and casual music fans alike access to "the highest quality streaming audio available", according to the tech giant.
Over 50 million lossless songs will be available in CD-quality, with more tracks available in even higher resolution; Amazon says they'll go up to "a bit depth of 24 bits and a sample rate of up to 192 kHz".
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Amazon Music HD is currently being rolled out in the US, UK, Germany, and Japan, and it'll cost $12.99 / £12.99 for Prime members, and $14.99 / £14.99 for everyone else – cheaper than Tidal's lossless streaming tier, which costs $19.99 / £19.99.
That works out at around AU$19 / AU$22, but there's no word on when the service will go truly global.
If you already have an Amazon Music Unlimited subscription, you'll just need to pay an additional $5 / £5 per month on top of your existing fee.
Taking audio seriously
According to Steve Boom, VP of Amazon Music, part of the company's motivation to enable Hi-Res Audio on its platform came from a desire to allow customers to hear music "as it was originally recorded" – instead of the compressed digital streaming files many of us have become used to.
Boom also revealed that Amazon consulted with musicians when created Amazon Music HD, including rock icon Neil Young – and Young believes that it will be the "biggest thing to happen in music since the introduction of digital audio 40 years ago".
With Amazon gearing up for a large launch event in Seattle on September 25, we could potentially see new Amazon Echo devices with a greater focus on audio fidelity – could we be in for an Echo Plus that rivals the best wireless speakers like the Sonos One?
We'll have to wait until the end of the month to find out, but it's clear that Amazon is finally taking high quality music-streaming seriously.
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