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Where is Spotify HiFi?

2021 could have been the yr that Apple lastly embraced lossless music streaming and costs for hi-fi listening got here down at Amazon and Tidal. But the most important subscription music service of all, Spotify, appears prone to miss its unique goal for launching a higher-quality streaming plan.

Spotify HiFi, first introduced all the best way again in February, has but to roll out regardless of the corporate’s early estimate that it could debut “later this year.” At the time, Spotify stated HiFi can be accessible in choose markets and that the corporate would “have more details to share soon.”

Over the subsequent 10 months, these particulars by no means got here.

Meanwhile, Spotify’s rivals didn’t wait round. Apple Music rolled out lossless and hi-res playback in June, providing the improved audio high quality at no additional cost. Before that shift, companies like Amazon Music Unlimited and Tidal had been demanding an added premium for the characteristic. But on the identical day that Apple introduced its plans for lossless streaming, Amazon stated it could ditch the upper subscription value and embody HD high quality as a part of the common premium plan. It’s formally desk stakes now.

There have been occasional indicators of Spotify HiFi all year long; a “HiFi” button may (very briefly) be noticed within the app again in May — full with explainers on utilizing the characteristic. And an onboarding video for HiFi was leaked in August.

As 2021 stretched on, Spotify had lots to say about podcasts however stored mum with regards to HiFi and declined remark at any time when The Verge requested about its standing. Barring a last-minute vacation shock, it appears we’ll be ready till someday in 2022 for Spotify HiFi. Hugely standard platforms are inclined to keep away from launching main new options on the tail finish of the yr.

It’s potential that Spotify has had second ideas about launching the characteristic — or at the very least is now not in a rush to ship it. You may argue that the corporate doesn’t have to hassle with HiFi in any respect. Spotify already enjoys highly effective mindshare with shoppers for its playlist algorithms and person expertise; the current wave of Spotify Wrapped posts throughout social media was one other recent reminder of that.

Plus, there’s now not any monetary incentive. Apple has basically pressured Spotify’s hand to supply CD-quality streaming with out wringing extra money from clients. And if it’s not contributing to the underside line, what’s the purpose? There’s additionally the chance that Spotify ran right into a authorized quagmire in making an attempt to replace its music offers for HiFi.

Lossless music is basically a distinct segment characteristic that’s at odds with how music is usually consumed today. In a world of Bluetooth headphones and earbuds, Apple and Amazon are way more all in favour of hyping spatial Dolby Atmos audio than higher-bitrate streams that solely shine on costly gear. Even then, some individuals simply can’t distinguish it from the usual, lossy high quality they’ve been listening to for years. Spotify has but to verify whether or not it too will provide Atmos tracks — and even hi-res audio that exceeds 16-bit/44.1kHz.

Personally, I nonetheless hope Spotify HiFi does ultimately launch. There’s a big ecosystem of speaker {hardware} that’s suitable with Spotify Connect, making it simpler and extra handy to get pleasure from the additional constancy. And as we progress additional into the streaming period, it looks like the choice to get pleasure from music at increased high quality ought to be there for many who need it.

The Verge has reached out to Spotify for an replace on the place issues stand with HiFi as 2021 involves an in depth.

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