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Amazon Music can now play spatial audio on your favorite headphones

Amazon Music can now play spatial audio on your favorite headphones


Spatial audio is the buzziest music streaming feature of 2021

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Image: Amazon

Amazon has announced that, beginning today, Amazon Music Unlimited subscribers will be able to listen to spatial audio music tracks with their favorite headphones with the Amazon Music app for Android and iOS. The company is supporting two formats of spatial audio: Dolby Atmos (which is also offered by Apple Music) and Sony’s 360 Reality Audio.

The Atmos mixes are provided by record labels, so the “immersive, multidimensional audio experience” should be largely similar between Amazon and Apple’s services — with the exception of head tracking, which Amazon doesn’t support. Apple’s new third-gen AirPods, AirPods Pro, and AirPods Max all have the option for dynamic head tracking, which provides a unique sound experience as you move your head in various directions.

Amazon has offered spatial audio since 2019, but it was limited to a short list of devices including the Echo Studio and Sony’s SRS-RA5000. Now it’ll work with whatever pair of headphones you’ve got. You’ll see an Atmos or 360 badge in the Amazon Music app when playing spatial audio tracks. Like Apple, Tidal, and others that have gone in on the experience, Amazon claims spatial audio delivers a “multidimensional audio experience, adding space, clarity, and depth that is not achievable with traditional stereo music.”

But as I found when sampling Apple Music’s initial batch of spatial audio tracks, quality can vary wildly and producers / artists need to put some work into Atmos mixes for them to sound their best.

Also starting today, Amazon Music subscribers will get access to lossless HD and hi-res Ultra HD audio tracks without having to upgrade their account to do so. Amazon dropped the extra premium it had been charging for lossless on the same day that Apple began streaming the high-quality files, but you still technically had to add the feature to your account. Now it’ll just be a regular part of the service for all Amazon Music Unlimited subscribers. Amazon says it has over 75 million songs available in the CD-quality HD tier and “millions” in Ultra HD.

Amazon Music Unlimited is priced at $9.99 per month (or $7.99 for Prime subscribers). The cheaper single device plan does not allow for HD, Ultra HD, or spatial audio playback.

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