Spotify to launch HiFi subscription for CD-quality audio later this year

Spotify's subscription offering high-quality audio will launch in 2021 in select markets, likely priced at about $20 a month.

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Joan E. Solsman
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Spotify said Monday that it will launch a new subscription offering called HiFi later this year in select markets, a new tier offering music with CD-quality sound in a lossless compression standard.

It is expected to be priced competitively with other high-quality-audio streaming tiers, which in the US can cost $20 a month. Spotify said HiFi would be considered an add-on to its regular Premium account, which is $10 a month in the US -- meaning Spotify HiFi is likely to cost about $10 in addition to the regular subscription price. 

Rival Tidal's high-quality-audio membership is $20 a month and offers lossless high-fidelity sound quality at 1411 Kbps and immersive audio with 360 Reality Audio and Dolby Atmos Music.

The news came out of Spotify's Stream On event, intended to reveal how the streaming-music giant wants to improve both creator and fan experiences on its service. Monday's two-hour virtual event was expected to bring news both for listeners of Spotify and for audio creators using the service, likely including music artists and podcasters alike.

Spotify said its HiFi subscription will deliver music in CD-quality, lossless audio format to your devices and Spotify Connect-enabled speakers. It also said it is working with some of the world's biggest speaker makers so their products support Spotify HiFi through Spotify Connect, its system to let users listen on speakers, TVs and other devices using the Spotify app as a remote.

See also: Apple Music vs. Spotify: The best music streaming service for you

HiFi will begin rolling out in select markets later this year, Spotify said without specifying where. 

Billie Eilish touted the feature during Spotify's event. "High-quality audio means more info," she said. "There are things you will not hear if you don't have a good sound system. It's really important just because we make music that [we] want to be heard in the way that it was made."

Spotify, the biggest streaming service by both listeners and subscribers, hasn't held one of these events since 2018 when it overhauled its free mobile tier. It amped up what you could hear with a free account, unlocking on-demand songs that previously were available only to paying customers. Changes like those, and Spotify's obession with expanding into podcasts of late, have vaulted the company to 345 million listeners and 155 million paying subscribers as of the end of last year. 

Check CNET's full coverage of Spotify's event.