Amazon is planning to launch a new high-fidelity music streaming service with better-than-CD-quality audio, reports Music Business Worldwide. The new service is expected to cost around $15 a month, and it would sit alongside Amazon’s existing music services. These include Prime Music and Music Unlimited, which currently offer streams at a maximum of 256 Kbps, well below the 1,411 Kbps bitrate of CDs.
“It’s a better bitrate, better than CD quality,” said one of MBW’s sources, indicating the new service will put Amazon in direct competition with Tidal’s $20-a-month hi-res streaming tier. Tidal is able to offer these “Master” quality recordings, thanks to a partnership with hi-res music technology company MQA, although Amazon is reportedly intending to offer a better bitrate than CDs without a similar partnership.
The report claims that Amazon is in discussion with music rights holders to license tracks for the new service and that one major record company has already signed up to the new service.
Although Spotify, Amazon Music’s biggest rival, has previously experimented with lossless, CD-quality audio, the maximum bitrate it currently offers is 320 Kbps. Meanwhile, Apple Music tops out at 256 Kbps, which is the same as Amazon.
Although higher-quality streaming sounds appealing, Amazon’s new service will further inflate its confusing array of streaming options. There’s the free, ad-supported Amazon Music service, which you can use through Alexa devices, and there’s another tier that gives you access to 2 million tracks that’s included with Prime.
If you want access to more tracks (48 million more, in fact), then you can pay more for Amazon Music Unlimited, but prices vary depending on how many devices you own and whether you’re an existing Amazon Prime subscriber. You can pay just $3.99 to listen on a single Echo speaker, $9.99 for a standard subscription without Prime, or $7.99 with Prime.