Spotify HiFi launch looks imminent – but Apple Music will probably have the edge

the Spotify app open on a phone with some AirPods
(Image credit: TechRadar)

It looks like Spotify HiFi could launch very soon, as a video that seems to show a welcome tour of the new streaming tier has been leaked online. 

It was posted by Reddit user Nickx000x (via What Hi-Fi?) with the caption 'Here's a sneak peek at the upcoming HiFi onboarding process from modifying the app', and appears to give prospective HiFi users a backstage tour of the service:

Announced in February, Spotify HiFi is set to deliver lossless, CD-quality audio to close the gap between the streaming platform and audiophile services like Tidal – though Spotify isn't going as far as delivering truly hi-res audio like some of its rivals. 

While the video hasn't been verified as legitimate by Spotify, the fact it's leaked at all suggests that the new HiFi tier will be launching very soon. In any case, Spotify said that the service would be available "later in 2021" when it was first announced, so an imminent release date certainly isn't out of the question.

Make it good and make it free (or very cheap)

While there's a lot of excitement around the idea of Spotify HiFi, the high-quality music streaming market is pretty competitive – and Apple Music will be its biggest rival. 

Apple Music (and Amazon Music HD) has introduced hi-res audio to its streaming platform at no extra cost to subscribers, in a move that's democratized high quality audio for the first time.

Previously, audiophiles have had to pay a premium for hi-res audio on platforms like Tidal – and it could be the same story for Spotify HiFi, which is expected to cost more than a regular Spotify Premium subscription and won't even meet the minimum threshold for hi-res audio. 

Apple's delivery of true hi-res audio (as well as Spatial Audio) at no extra cost has likely put a spanner in the works for Spotify. After all, if Apple can offer a better service for less, what's stopping previously loyal Spotify subscribers from jumping ship?

The only way we can see Spotify HiFi being a true rival for Apple Music's lossless streaming tier is if the company can offer it at no extra cost to existing Premium subscribers – audiophiles won't be satisfied by anything less than 96kHz / 24-bit streams, and casual listeners probably won't care enough about CD-quality audio to fork out for it every month. 

iPhone showing music playing on Apple Music

(Image credit: Apple)

One thing that will probably work in Spotify's favor is how well-supported its wireless streaming standard, Spotify Connect, is. Many modern wireless speakers come with support for both Spotify Connect and Apple's AirPlay 2 built-in, but you'll need an Apple device like an iPhone or iPad to use Apple's AirPlay 2 with a compatible speaker. 

If you want to ensure stable connections with your devices by using your Wi-Fi network to cast your music rather than Bluetooth, being an Android user could be enough to make you want to use Spotify over Apple Music. 

We aren't holding our breath for Spotify Hi-Fi to be free for existing subscribers – and it's fully possible that some users wanting higher quality streams will stick with Spotify out of sheer convenience. 

However, we would like to see the streaming platform keep costs down as much as possible for its users – high quality music streaming is more accessible than it ever has been, and subscription prices need to reflect that.

Olivia Tambini

Olivia was previously TechRadar's Senior Editor - Home Entertainment, covering everything from headphones to TVs. Based in London, she's a popular music graduate who worked in the music industry before finding her calling in journalism. She's previously been interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live on the subject of multi-room audio, chaired panel discussions on diversity in music festival lineups, and her bylines include T3, Stereoboard, What to Watch, Top Ten Reviews, Creative Bloq, and Croco Magazine. Olivia now has a career in PR.