There are a ton of music streaming services out there, and most of them have turned to high-quality audio. However, not all of them have the same specifications, and depending on your setup, it can make a difference. We’ve seen Apple, Amazon, and other services bring lossless audio to the masses, incentivizing more people to seriously upgrade their audio hardware. Whether its though headphones or speakers, hi-res can really help enhance your setup, so let’s delve into which platforms offer it.
What Is Hi-Res?
You may think that all lossless digital audio is hi-res, but that’s not the case. Hi-res refers to digital audio with resolutions beyond CD quality(16bit/44.1kHz). Many audio products such as DACs you’ll find will advertise sample rates and bit depths that exceed CD quality by quite a lot. You’ll see specs like PCM 32bit/384kHz on products like the iFi Go Link. Music streaming services that offer hi-res audio don’t go higher than 192kHz, but if you’ll still get more out of your gear rather than standard CD quality.
One of the most popular music streaming sevices, Apple Music has offered hi-res audio pretty much since day one. At least, since the platform surprisingly upgraded their entire library to lossless a few years ago. You’ll be able to use Apple Music as your high-res source for sample rates up to 192kHz, not just through standard stereo, but through spatial audio with Dolby Atmos as well.
Amazon Music HD
Amazon’s music streaming platform also offers hi-res lossless audio. Like Apple Music, you can stream your tracks at 192kHz, both in standard stereo and with Dolby Atmos. You also won’t have to pay an extra charge for their hi-res tier.
While it’s more of a niche service, Qobuz will also stream hi-res music. It will allow you to listen to FLAC files that go up to 24bit/192kHz for both of its streaming plans. Unlike Apple and Amazon though, Dolby Atmos is not offered. However, you’ll still get to experience spatial audio through THX playlists.
You may be surprised to not see other services like Tidal or Deezer here. While they support lossless audio streaming, they do not yet offer hi-res up to 192kHz. Tidal’s highest streaming tier goes up to 24bit/96kHz FLAC, while Deezer only offer standard CD quality. It’s not yet known if Deezer plans to go hi-res, but Tidal is already working on supporting hi-res up to 192kHz, while at the same time keeping MQA. Then there’s Spotify, which is arguably the most well-known music service. Spotify still has yet to move over to lossless streaming like its competitors, and so far, there has been no word on hi-res integration.