Amazon Launches Ultra HD Streaming Service

Published on September 18, 2019

Amazon is not letting off the gas when it comes to meeting consumer needs. Amidst a hefty budget push, Amazon Music launched a new subscription level of its streaming service offering high-quality songs in ‘Ultra HD.’ Housed in the Amazon Music App, Amazon says people are going to have access to over 50 million high-resolution tracks at CD quality and better, thanks to support for 16-bit files and sample rates of 44.1kHz and above.

Amazon Music HD Streaming Service ‘Changes Earth Forever’

It will cost current Amazon Prime members $12.99 per month and non-Prime members $14.99 per month. “With Amazon Music HD, we’re thrilled to make it possible for our customers to stream their favorite music the way artists intended their fans to hear it,” said Steve Boom, VP of Amazon Music.

The company says that its Ultra HD service offers recordings that available uncompressed, revealing nuances that were once flattened in files compressed for digital streaming. It stresses that the service is high definition, not hifi or hi-resolution. “It’s a pretty big deal that one of the big three global streaming services is doing this — we’re the first one,” he said. “From rock to hip-hop to classical and pop, we believe listening to music at this level of sound will make customers fall in love again with their favorite music and artists. As we usher in a new listening experience for our customers, we’re combining the convenience of streaming with all of the emotion, power, clarity and nuance of the original recordings.”

Anything that comes close to what Amazon is offering is TIDAL, whose TIDAL Hi-FI subscription tier costs $19.99 per month and offers CD-quality lossless streams at 44.1 kHz / 16 bit. In addition, TIDAL also offers a ‘Masters’ quality offering for pickier audiophiles, which presents thousands of albums at 96 kHz / 24 bit. The world’s two biggest music subscription streaming platforms – Spotify and Apple Music – have yet to venture into the world of high fidelity audio.

Key features for subscribers to Amazon Music

Users of Alexa-enabled devices can access an ad-supported music service, offering radio ‘stations’ or Amazon Music playlists for free. Current Prime members can access a limited on-demand catalog of over 2 million songs via Prime Music; If Amazon Music users have an Echo they can subscribe to Amazon Music Unlimited for $3.99 per month via an ‘Echo Plan.’ The only catch is their account will be locked to their speaker. The access to a full Amazon Music Unlimited subscription can be accessed on multiple devices, which could create a direct rival to both Apple Music ($14.99 per month) and Spotify Premium ($9.99 per month).

Rock icon Neil Young and a longtime critic of digital music’s quality, said Amazon’s upgrade of its song catalog “will be the biggest thing to happen to music since the introduction of digital audio 40 years ago.” Amazon is offering a 90-day free trial and will be available in the US, UK, Germany, and Japan.

Jennifer Matthews is an Editor-at-Large at Grit Daily. Based in New York and formerly a producer at CNN, she is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists, the Recording Academy, Women in Music, and an ASCAP Affiliate. A media pro and producer of content, she mentors and advocates for diversity and is a regular on the events coverage beat for Grit Daily.

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