Amazon rumored to launch high definition music service by end of 2019

Posted:
in General Discussion edited April 25
Amazon is reportedly in discussions to license high definition content for a new premium subscription music service rumored to launch by the end of 2019, a move that could give the online retailer a leg-up over industry competitors Spotify and Apple Music.




Citing sources familiar with the matter, Music Business Worldwide on Thursday reports Amazon is in talks with large music rights holders to license tracks for an as-yet-unannounced high fidelity streaming service. The company has already wooed one major record label, the report said.

According to industry insiders, Amazon is targeting a subscription price point of $15 per month, well above fees made standard by competing services. Spotify and Apple Music, for example, both cost $10 a month for "normal" bitrate audio, while Amazon's own Music Unlimited tier comes in at $8 a month.

Like other companies marketing hi-def recordings, Amazon appears to be taking aim at consumers willing to pay a premium for high quality sound. Tidal is among those catering to audiophiles and offers CD-quality streaming (44.1 kHz / 16 bit FLAC) and a limited number of "Masters" tracks (96 kHz / 24 bit FLAC files with MQA encoding) through its $20 per month HiFi tier. In March, Tidal extended Masters access to iOS devices.

Details of Amazon's supposed service, including bitrate figures, compression and encoding methods, and song availability, are as yet unavailable. The company has not partnered with Master Quality Authenticated, owners of the MQA codec, suggesting the service might rely on a different audio technology. Still, those in the know say Amazon is shooting for better-than-CD streams.

"It's a better bit rate, better than CD quality," said an unnamed source. "Amazon is working on it as we speak: they're currently scoping out how much catalog they can get from everyone and how they'll ingest it."

News of the initiative arrives a week after Amazon launched a free, ad-supported tier of its music service for owners of Echo devices and other Alexa-enabled products. The free-to-stream product anchors Amazon's music range, which includes the ad-free Amazon Music Unlimited and a limited -- but ad-free -- tier for Prime members.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 41
    mobirdmobird Posts: 143member
    I guess when Apple "perfects" Hi-Def audio they will jump on the band-wagon and offer their service as well...
  • Reply 2 of 41
    doggonedoggone Posts: 182member
    Unlikely to be a big revenue generator for Amazon but definitely could disrupt the streaming industry quite a bit.  Spotify may be more affected than Apple due to its free service.
  • Reply 3 of 41
    burnsideburnside Posts: 15unconfirmed, member
    Perhaps they'll release an audio device with sufficient quality to tell the difference
    tenthousandthingsFatmanravnorodomasdasddewmedeminsdsergiozMisterKituraharawatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 41
    Headphones that can accurately play back 24 bit audio cost $600+. Who wants to buy that?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 41
    matrix077matrix077 Posts: 645member
    With HomePod this is what Apple should do.. last year. 
    mobirdanantksundaramurahara
  • Reply 6 of 41
    Music services are already providing a very good level of audio quality. However the point is moot if amazon continue to market speakers with lousy audio reproduction.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 41
    KuyangkohKuyangkoh Posts: 328member
    Music services are already providing a very good level of audio quality. However the point is moot if amazon continue to market speakers with lousy audio reproduction.
    Good point, hi-def music but the player is low def....hahahaha why??
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 41
    FatmanFatman Posts: 291member
    I would like Apple to do the same, however the market is small for those that 1. Have high quality speakers to reproduce hi def audio 2. Can actually hear the difference. Furthermore it always gets back to the source recording - many albums were not mastered at a resolution where delivering music on formats higher than CD will even make a difference. My guess is that Apple has been analyzing and will only put out a product if there is 1. Demand for it, and 2. They can make a profit. This may change when super speed 5G is ubiquitous many years from now, and the additional data needed for hires audio won’t have a meaningful impact.
    bakedbananaswatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 41
    I have a pretty advanced hifi setup (compared to most people but the nerd-fi crew); it’s good enough to hear differences when I use better power and signal cables; even a better HDMI cable carrying the I2S connection between the USB conditioner and the DAC made a difference.

    That being said, I use Apple Music as source. I’d prefer to have used Spotify from my native Sweden, but unfortunately, their sound compression is vastly inferior to Apple’s (freeware Ogg Vorbis vs AAC licensed from the Fraunhofer Institute). I don’t need Apple to go high-resolution audio, lossless would suffice.

    I’d also like too see Apple doing a better/simpler API to Apple Music. Most hifi streamers support Spotify and Tidal, but only Sonos supports Apple Music. And let’s face it, without an USB output, Sonos Connect isn’t very hifi. 
    EsquireCatsbakedbananaswatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 41
    pigybankpigybank Posts: 164member
    This will fail.  It’s basically another tidal. The major services might gain some small bit of market share by increasing the fidelity of their streamed music, but very few people want to pay the premium for an all HiFi service. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 41
    doggone said:
    Unlikely to be a big revenue generator for Amazon but definitely could disrupt the streaming industry quite a bit.  Spotify may be more affected than Apple due to its free service.
    That's what Amazon is all about. Disruption.
    They are big enough to target a market and handle the losses for years until all the competition are driven out of business and then raise their prices and bingo profit. I call it the Walmart Model.
    IMHO, it is fairly obvious to me that they want to rule retail, be the last man standing so we will all be beholden to them for everything including food.

    Sadly, I have to report that I made my first purchase (all $52 of it inc shipping) from Amazon of the year at the weekend. I hope it is my last. That is my aim.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 41
    asdasdasdasd Posts: 5,293member
    Fatman said:
    I would like Apple to do the same, however the market is small for those that 1. Have high quality speakers to reproduce hi def audio 2. Can actually hear the difference. Furthermore it always gets back to the source recording - many albums were not mastered at a resolution where delivering music on formats higher than CD will even make a difference. My guess is that Apple has been analyzing and will only put out a product if there is 1. Demand for it, and 2. They can make a profit. This may change when super speed 5G is ubiquitous many years from now, and the additional data needed for hires audio won’t have a meaningful impact.
    I was going to ask that? I’m no expert but what can be done for old tracks recorded pre? What. The 80s? 

    Also is homepod now capable of reproducing any of this? 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 41
    deminsddeminsd Posts: 141member
    pigybank said:
    This will fail.  It’s basically another tidal. The major services might gain some small bit of market share by increasing the fidelity of their streamed music, but very few people want to pay the premium for an all HiFi service. 
    Do you know anything about Tidal?  HEAVILY RAP / HIP-HOP.   You're saying the Amazon service will be the same?  If not, then it's not "basically another Tidal".

    Can you link to your research that supports your claim that "few people want to pay the premium"...for hi-res music?  Maybe you aren't, but I'm guessing Amazon did their research before deciding to make this move.
    edited April 26 anantksundaram
  • Reply 14 of 41
    dewmedewme Posts: 2,071member
    There's so much more to the enjoyment of music by specific individuals than the faithful reproduction of a recorded source, and most of it is very very subjective and taste specific. Sure, few people want to be subjected to unwanted distortion caused by the audio processing and reproduction, but it basically boils down to how each individual's unique sense of hearing, interpretation, cognition, emotion, and sense of musicality that determines whether the end result is pleasing or a big hot mess. There's a huge difference between the fidelity and accuracy of the audio processing required to extract the acoustic signature of a modern diesel submarine running on batteries in a challenging acoustical environment and what's needed to blast K-pop at your daughter's birthday party. For the former you'll be "listening" through a finely tuned pipeline of DSPs and spectrum analyzers and for the latter you'll be listening through your big dumb ears. Fortunately, for the costs that we're talking about here, if you believe the "higher bitrate" music tracks sound better to you, no problem. It's only a few bucks more a month, so even if it's only a placebo effect for many, nobody's missing their utilities payments to subsidize the difference. But please, don't break out the spectrum analyzers or show me frequency response curves and try to convince me why the higher bitrate music is "better." My big dumb ears aren't hearing it.
    pscooter63watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 41
    Apple could offer this sort of service, particularly through Apple TV boxes. There is already a niche market for Blu Ray audio, with music being remixed and remastered in high definition and surround sound options. ATV is already capable of playing everything up to Dolby Atmos audio, but currently only attached to video content. For Apple, the technology is already there and wired to appropriate playback gear in many homes. Apple would just have to license the content and make it available. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 41
    burnside said:
    Perhaps they'll release an audio device with sufficient quality to tell the difference
    This comment -- I understand it's meant to be sarcastic -- makes no sense. They have no need to.
  • Reply 17 of 41
    chabigchabig Posts: 624member
    "Amazon appears to be taking aim at consumers willing to pay a premium for high quality sound." I would have said this is aimed at consumers willing too pay for higher bit rate sound. It's impossible to say what the quality of reproduction will be on individual equipment.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 41
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,268member
    I think most Golden Ears folks are already on Tidal Premium and Qobuz. 

    Amazon will grab some share from price sensitive people but their service will likely 
    be 2nd rate. 
  • Reply 19 of 41
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,260member
    Music services are already providing a very good level of audio quality. However the point is moot if amazon continue to market speakers with lousy audio reproduction.
    Exactly.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 41
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 7,631member
    So Apple is crazy for selling a high-quality music speaker for the home when Amazon sells crappy but “good enough” Alexa speakers...but it makes sense for Amazon to sell a high-quality music service? To play on “good enough” speakers?
    watto_cobra
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