Amazon has officially entered the lossless sound wars. On Sept. 17, the company launched Amazon Music HD, the highest tier of its subscription streaming service. With 50 million HD songs, Amazon’s new tier boasts the largest collection of lossless, uncompressed audio available.
Amazon Music HD’s “CD quality” sound whas a bit depth of 16 bits and a sample rate of 44.1kHz. Millions of songs are also available in “Ultra HD” quality, with a bit depth of 24 bits and a sample rate that ranges from 44.1 to 192 kHz.
For existing Amazon Music Unlimited subscribers, upgrading Amazon Music’s catalog to stream in HD will only cost five dollars extra per month for a total of $12.99 per month. For non-Prime members, streaming Amazon Music HD costs $14.99 per month.
“We’re at a point in the evolution of music streaming where audio quality has gone from niche to mass market,” says Amazon Music vp Steve Boom. “Just like streaming moved from early-adopter music fans to now, where it’s ubiquitous.”
Shifting the language from “hi-fi” to “hi-def” was one of several ways Amazon is aiming to simplify the nomenclature around music and broaden the appeal of lossless sound.
“In our research, we found that people don’t really know what ‘hifi’ is or ‘hi-res’ or whether one is better than the other. Plus, different countries have different standards for hi-res,” Boom said. “So we thought, let’s borrow the video terms that people are already familiar with.”
The service currently available in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and Japan.