It’s been rumored for weeks but now it’s finally a reality. Amazon has announced its new Amazon Music HD tier with both higher resolution music that also comes at a higher cost.
Amazon Music HD features 50 million songs available at CD quality (44.1kHz/16 bit) with several million more available at 24bit. There’s also another part of the tier that features music that has sample rates up to 192kHz known as Ultra HD that’s available at no additional charge. These will all be delivered in the FLAC lossless format.
The new HD tier is priced at $12.99 a month for Amazon Prime members and $14.99 a month for non-Prime members, while current Amazon Music subscribers can upgrade to the HD tier for an extra $5 a month. There’s also a free 90 day trial for the new service as well.
This move is significant in a number of ways. First of all, there are a several other services available with high-resolution tiers, but the price for those is a higher $19.99 and more. The second is that Amazon has beaten Apple to punch on high-resolution, even though the Apple was requiring high-res masters for submission for the last 8 years through its Mastered For iTunes program.
There have been many industry observers (I was one) who predicted that Apple would be the first to hi-res, but that never came to pass even though the company has been in position to do so for years. Perhaps this could be the impetus the company needs, since Amazon is becoming a formidable force in the streaming world with a reported 32 million subscribers as of a few months ago.
While it’s true that streaming music users aren’t exactly clamoring for hi-res streams (aside from fans of classical music), this may very will be a case like HD television, where once a viewer experienced the clarity they found it nearly impossible to go back to standard-res.
Let’s hope so. The sooner that lossy formats become obsolete, the better.