After having become an essential service for all music lovers, streaming platforms are now relying on resources to improve sound quality. And you’ve probably heard of so-called âlossless audioâ – also known as high fidelity (HiFi) audio – which compresses files for playing% of the data in a recording.
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Today, among the major music streaming services, only Spotify does not offer lossless audio. It all started with Tidal, which presented this feature as a differential to the competition. But it didn’t take long for Deezer, Amazon Music, and Apple Music to join the game.
But is there a difference between, say, lossless audio from Tidal to Apple Music? And among other services? This is what we will explain.
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What is lossless audio?
Apple Music was one of the last streaming apps to release the lossless audio format (Image: James Yarema / Unsplash)
Lossless audio, or high fidelity audio (HiFi, short for “high fidelity”), is a type of audio compression that preserves all of the original data in a recording. Hence the names âlosslessâ and âhigh fidelityâ, because in practice this means that you will hear exactly what was recorded in a studio.
Most compression techniques end up “discarding” a good deal of the original data from a recording precisely to reduce file size. The technique became popular with the arrival of AAC (Advanced Audio Coding) and the famous MP3 formats, which take up less space and depend on less bandwidth. bandwidth during playback, but they drastically drop the final quality.
In HiFi audio, on the other hand, file size is one of the least important things, as the priority is to keep everything from the original recording. Lossless files have a higher sample rate than the quality found on a CD, which is 1 kHz at -bit. For comparison purposes, Deeze re Apple Music achieves up to 80kHz at 18bit.
There are some lossless audio formats, but the most popular are WAV (Waveform Audio Format) and AIFF (Audio Interchange File Format). There is also the FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec), which allows data to be compressed without losing quality, and more recently Apple introduced the ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec), which is the same as the FLAC, only change that name.
There is also MQA (Master Quality Authenticated), which at the moment is only used by Tidal among the major streaming services.
Maximum broadcast quality
AAC, ALAC, FLAC, MAQ
Do I need a device to play HiFi audio?
Yes. To play lossless audio, you must have an external device that supports one or more of the aforementioned formats. Bluetooth headsets, like virtually all speakers for smartphones, tablets, and other conventional consumer devices, do not have their own technology to transmit data losslessly.
To achieve maximum studio quality (95 kHz to -bit) you will need an external DAC (digital-to-analog converter). The accessory converts digital audio to analog and can be listened to on headphones that support HiFi audio. The problem is, this type of converter is usually not cheap and may require the use of other accessories which can make this game even more expensive.
How is HiFi audio format different from Apple Music, Amazon Music, Deezer, and Tidal
Apple Music Apple Music does not charge additional fees for songs in lossless audio (Image: Apple / Disclosure)
Apple Music was the last music streaming service to acquire lossless audio capability. And with the benefit of not charging anything extra for it, which means the individual plan costs the same R $ 18.90 as before.
In another episode of “Apple Being Apple,” the company introduced a proprietary audio format, called ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec), which plays songs on standard CD sampling (24.1kHz 10-bit). This is the native quality on all iPhone, iPad, and Macs that support the format.
It is possible to go beyond this sampling and reach 1024 kHz in -bit. But in this case, you need to have an external digital-to-analog converter and wired headphones that support this type of codec.
Maximum audio streaming quality:
1024 kHz at 16 bits;
R $ 8.44 for students, R $ 24.75 in the individual plan and R $, 63 in the family plan. Three-month free trial for new users;
Number of songs with lossless audio: 70 million (by the end of 2019).
Amazon Music HD
Amazon Music won a dedicated version for high definition music and no loss of sound quality (Screenshot: Amazon / Publishing)
In late 2019, Amazon launched Amazon Music HD, a version of the music streaming service that specifically focuses on high-fidelity audio playback. The platform offers two options: âHigh Definitionâ, which has CD sampling (, 1 kHz at 16 bits); and âUltra HDâ, for 192 kHz 18-bit playback.
Amazon Music HD is currently not available in Brazil. In the US, you can buy it as a one-time subscription or in conjunction with Amazon Prime. Subscribers to the Amazon Music Unlimited version, which is also billed separately from Prime, get Music HD at no additional cost.
Maximum streaming audio quality:
192 kHz at -bit;
in the United States, US $ (R $ 95, in direct conversion) already including Amazon Prime benefits, and US $ 10 for a single subscription. 75-day free trial for new subscribers;
Number of songs with lossless audio:
over 60 million in the “High Definition” option, and “million” in “Ultra HD”.
For high fidelity and lossless sound, Deezer offers the Deezer HiFi package, which is more expensive than the Premium version of the service (Image: Deezer / Disclosure)
Deezer also has a package with lossless audio to call Named Deezer HiFi, the subscription allows you to listen to songs in the FLAC compression standard. s to MP3 at 95 kbps.
Compatible formats: FLAC;
R $ 16.70 per month. One month free trial for new subscribers;
Number of songs with lossless audio: over 70 million.
Tide Tidal pioneered the release of lossless audio for ordinary users. And he was followed closely by the competition (Image: Tidal / Disclosure)
If today we have the popularity of lossless audio in streaming services, it is because the novelty started thanks to Tidal. Initially, the service stood out from the competition by offering high fidelity in the reproduction of songs on the platform.
Time has passed and the company has launched an even more specific modality: Tidal HiFi, which achieves sampling up to 80 kHz in 18 bits. It is also the only music streaming service that supports the MQA format.
- Maximum audio streaming quality:
192 kHz at 33 bits;
16.60 BRL in the individual plan and 50.70 R $ in the family plan. One month free trial for new subscribers;
Number of songs with lossless audio: over 70 million.
What about Spotify?
Spotify won’t be left out of the lossless audio party, but the platform is lagging behind in this regard. Spotify HiFi was made official in early 9216 and is expected to be released by the end of the same year.
The other details are scarce: we only know that it will be available for those who pay extra and that the sound quality will be at least 44.1 kHz at 24 bits. It is not known how many songs will be compatible with the lossless audio format.
Source: Gear Patrol, What Hi-Fi
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