Amazon just rolled out a new streaming music tier that it hopes will draw users away from competing services such as Spotify and Apple Music. The advantage of the new Amazon Music HD subscription option is, simply put, higher quality audio feeds, with more than 50 million songs offered in high definition and "millions" of songs in ultra HD.
What exactly does that mean? Amazon is offering music listeners access to lossless tunes. What Amazon is calling HD music boils down to 16-bit, 44.1kHz audio, which is basically CD-quality audio. On top of that, there are millions of even higher quality tunes, specifically at a bit depth of 24-bit and a sample rate up to 192kHz. This is what Amazon refers to as Ultra HD.
"We spoke with many artists while developing Amazon Music HD, who were excited about the potential for fans to be able to stream their favorite music, and hear it as it was originally recorded," said Steve Boom, VP of Amazon Music. "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 and the industry, we’re combining the convenience of streaming with all of the emotion, power, clarity and nuance of the original recordings."
Pricing starts at $12.99 per month, which is applies to Amazon Prime members. Non-Prime members can subscribe for $14.99 per month. Those price points are competitive in the high-res music landscape—Tidal, Deezer, and Qobuz all charge $19.99 per month for access to high-res tunes, while Qobuz also offers a $24.99 per month plan for 24-bit, 192kHz audio.
None of those services are as popular as Spotify or Apple Music. Amazon now has a distinct advantage over both of those, for music listeners who care about audio quality. And for existing Amazon Music subscribers—individual and family plan—the new HD tier amounts to a $5 difference, if they want to upgrade.
If you want to try it out yourself, Amazon is offering a 90-day free trial. That applies to both new and current subscribers.