One thing we did not expect to see on this Spring Monday morning was a high-quality audio duel between two of the world’s biggest music streaming services.
At around 9 a.m. ET, Apple announced that its Apple Music is bringing “industry-leading” sound quality to its subscribers, with the addition of Spatial Audio with support for Dolby Atmos. According to the announcement, Spatial Audio “gives artists the opportunity to create immersive audio experiences for their fans with true multidimensional sound and clarity.” Apple Music subscribers will also be able to listen to more than 75 million songs in high-quality Lossless Audio — the way the artists created them in the studio. These new features will be available for Apple Music subscribers starting next month at no additional cost.
Approximately 35 minutes later, Amazon Music today announced that Amazon Music HD, the high-quality streaming tier it launched in 2019, will be available to all eligible Amazon Music Unlimited subscribers, also at no extra cost; it was previously available for an additional $5 per month. Its customers can stream more than 70 million lossless, high definition songs, with a bit depth of 16 bits and a sample rate of 44.1kHz (CD quality); customers can also stream more than 7 million songs in Ultra HD (better than CD quality).
Back in February, Spotify announced that Spotify HiFi, which also will offer high-quality, lossless audio, will lauch later in the year.
Spotify and Apple Music — the two largest streaming services in the world — are getting into the high-definition audio game comparatively late: Tidal was the first global streaming service to do so, in 2017, followed by Amazon two years later; the smaller, French-based Qobuz had been offering the product for even longer. For whatever reason, the services are racing forward on the product now,
“Apple Music is making its biggest advancement ever in sound quality,” said Oliver Schusser, Apple’s vice president of Apple Music and Beats. “Listening to a song in Dolby Atmos is like magic. The music comes from all around you and sounds incredible. Now we are bringing this truly innovative and immersive experience to our listeners with music from their favorite artists like J Balvin, Gustavo Dudamel, Ariana Grande, Maroon 5, Kacey Musgraves, The Weeknd, and so many more. Subscribers will also be able to listen to their music in the highest audio quality with Lossless Audio. Apple Music as we know it is about to change forever.”
Dolby Atmos is a revolutionary, immersive audio experience that enables artists to mix music so the sound comes from all around and from above. By default, Apple Music will automatically play Dolby Atmos tracks on all AirPods and Beats headphones with an H1 or W1 chip, as well as the built-in speakers in the latest versions of iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Apple Music will be adding new Dolby Atmos tracks constantly and will be curating a special set of Dolby Atmos playlists to help listeners find the music they love. In addition, albums that are available in Dolby
J Balvin said: “I’m really excited to be part of this project with Apple Music because I always want to be a step ahead and I think this is one of those steps. With Lossless, everything in the music is going to sound bigger and stronger but more importantly, it will be better quality. Hearing myself and my music in Dolby Atmos for the first time, it was just crazy, it blew my mind, it’s indescribable. I think fans will really love this new experience.”
Users can find a list of compatible devices at apple.com/apple-music.