The HD tier – which previously cost users an additional £5 a month on top of Amazon Music’s Unlimited Individual and Family plans – will be free for all Unlimited users from the next billing cycle.
Amazon Music HD allows users to stream more than 70 million tracks in lossless, HD quality with a bit depth of 16 bits and a sample rate of 44.1kHz, matching CD quality. Amazon also offers a further seven million songs in 24 bit/192kHz, better than CD quality, Ultra HD.
“When we first launched Amazon Music HD, our goal was to lead the industry by enabling music fans around the world to stream the best quality recording, the way artists intended their music to be heard”, said Amazon Music VP, Steve Boom.
“We’re thrilled now to make Amazon Music HD available to everyone at no extra cost. All music fans should have access to this quality of music, and now they do!”
The announcement comes as Apple officially confirmed its own support for lossless audio following weeks of rumours. Apple’s lossless audio will be coming to subscribers this June at no extra cost as well.
Amazon uses FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) files to deliver lossless music, while Apple plans to make its catalogue of more than 75 million songs available as lossless audio using its own Apple supported ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec) format.
By including lossless audio in their respective premium packages, Amazon and Apple have effectively raised the bar for music streaming sites. Spotify and Tidal may need to consider dropping their own prices if they want to match the value offered by their rivals.
This is especially bad news for Spotify, who recently announced its own HiFi tier and raised the subscription prices of its Student, Duo and Family tiers in the UK. Spotify has yet to reveal how much (or whether) the HiFi tier will cost more than its Premium package, but Amazon and Apple’s announcements could put Spotify HiFi in the awkward position of being the pricier option of the three.