Lossless Streaming Coming To Spotify

Word. The The Verge reports that Spotify subscribers are receiving teaser offers for Spotify's not-yet-available lossless streaming tier ranging in price from $5 to $10 on top of the $10/month Premium Service fee. This puts Spotify's lossless service within or on the same plane as Tidal HiFi's $19.99/mo.

Many users prefer Spotify's music selections and features while other's, as in some audiophiles, are tempted by Tidal's "Masters" (MQA) hi-res streaming. Any way you look at, having a choice is always good for everyone.

The rollout date for Spotify Hi-Fi is still TBD at the time of writing. It's also worth noting that Pandora and Rhapsody/Napster will also offer Hi-Res Streaming this year.

The times they are a changin' (I'd say for the better).

markbrauer's picture

I signed up for Tidal as soon as it became available. Was very disappointed that it did not support multiple levels of "folders" for organization of playlists like Spotify does. With over 1500 playlists the single long list in Tidal just didn't cut it. So I have stuck with Spotify. I will be signing up for lossless Spotify as soon as they offer it to me.

tubefan9's picture

Starts supporting Spotify, I'm dropping tidal for sure.

foxhall's picture

The vast majority of my listening is classical and, as a Tidal lossless subscriber, I get frustrated when new releases show up on Spotify but hit Tidal much later if at all.

I'm also a dedicated Roon user and, according to Roon staff, Spotify isn't interested in a partnership which is a deal breaker for me.

Anton's picture

It will be interesting to see if there are 'different sounds' of each service, especially the Spotify/Rhapsody/et al hi rez vs. Tidal's MQA.

hb72's picture

I guess that would be the point where Spotify needs to allow selection of sound drivers and operation in exclusive mode (WASAPI) in Win-PCs. Look at foobar for inspiration.

Shp's picture

We are reluctant Tidal and Roon users. Taylor Swift aside, Tidal is just missing too many tracks compared Spotify, it's software is definitely second- (or even third-) rate. And for me, Roon has a lot of usability issues. (Their customer service has been very responsive.)

I imagine when Spotify makes this live we'll switch. If Spotify does a good job with local music libraries (and DSD), we'll use it exclusively. Or we'll use Spotify for streaming and switch to JRiver when I'm listening locally.

Tidal is about to find out what happens when you lag in all features that attract large user bases (vs. niche crowds) and then find your one competitive advantage become commoditized.

Anton's picture

Those were great points, the disruptive event is upon us.

oldominion's picture

My teenage sons listen to Spotify but I've never used it. As someone who's really enjoyed Roon/Tidal, and as someone who listens to as much jazz and classical as anything else--in addition to rock and some very weird experimental stuff (bummed that Tidal has no Sun City Girls)--I'd love for someone to take a few minutes and to expand on the previous comments that have claimed Spotify is better than Tidal. Sounds like more content? Less Top 40? Better interface? Roon/Tidal is faultless on so many levels...am consistently amazed at how many searches I conduct that bear fruit.

Shp's picture

I'll chime in. The exact number of tracks on each service is constantly changing. Historically Spotify has had more music than Tidal. That obviously doesn't matter if Tidal has all of the ones you want. But to give some examples, Taylor Swift isn't on Spotify and is on Tidal. Carly Rae Jespin's Call Me Maybe is not on Tidal and is on Spotify. Spotify has Duke Ellington's The Far East Suite; Tidal does not.

(To be clear, I pay for Tidal but use the Spotify free/ad-based service.)

Whatever the numbers are at a given moment, Spotify's brand is better in terms of catalog.

I find almost everything about the Spotify app and search features better than Tidal's. I listen to the same music (more or less) on both services. Currently Tidal is queued up for an Yngwie Malmsteen track; before that I was listening to Eric Johnson, both guitar players. The Recommended albums section lists 16 acts. I've heard of Ryan Adams but none of the others - I'm confident none are hard rock or based at all on my listening habits.

Spotify by contrast offers three daily mixes that list EXACTLY the kind of music I've been listening to on the service, with a few that I don't like but that are in the same ball park.

As for Roon, I get the appeal and I use Roon every day, but I don't love it and my girlfriend positively hates it. It's everything from small issues (side to side navigation of material) to big ones (it has no library management features, so I need another tool around and the library can get messy fast on tracks that Roon's matching software can't identify). I can't use a physical remote to control it - I always have to launch an app. Playing a song is almost always a two step process (if you've paused Roon Radio, it sees your next play request as something for the queue, not to play now). It often can't find things I know are there; this is partly a function of poor library management features. Although my girlfriend and I have our own profiles, somehow she has two and we can't delete the duplicate. And in any case it's not at all clear what the profile really does. We can't say "this album is really for her, and this one is for him." "What's going on in your library today" is the same for all profiles.

Roon's claim to fame -- metadata -- is mostly outsourced from Rovi and a few other sources. It's not proprietary content. Sure it's nice that I can click from the "drummer" line in one track to see where else the musician has played but that's a simple UI change in the other packages - again, nothing proprietary. And in the case of Yngwie's Black Star, released in 1984, a man named Sherman Edwards is listed as a composer. Edwards was born in 1919 and died in 1981. I'm suspicious that he played a role in composing a neoclassical shred medal track.

Lastly, because Roon cannot stream to my phone, if I'm cleaning around the house and want to listen to music on my headphones, I have to use Tidal directly or I load JRiver remote for my own library. With Spotify I'd have one tool for all purposes.

jtnt's picture

Well put. I share your sentiments.

I don't know why all the audiophile software makers can't hire decent design UI/UX designers (or just copy other good software design for Pete's sake). All of them - Roon, Audirvana (what I use), JRiver, etc. - are atrocious. And most are buggy to boot. Even Tidal itself is ugly and buggy (don't try to use it on an old iPad, trust me).

I'm hoping that the new Pandora Premium, which launches tomorrow and is what became of their acquisition of Rdio, will have a hi-res option/level. Rdio was an absolute joy in all ways. One of the best pieces of software I've ever used.

valius55's picture

I f you like classical spotify is years ahead of tidal. same on jazz ....

skikirkwood's picture

I own over 2,000 CD's. Of all the streaming music services I've tried (which is all of them), I thought Spotify was by far the best. I'm a collector. If I really love an album, I'll buy the CD (or download a lossless version) and rip it to my music server.

But for music discovery, nobody can touch Spotify. Their R&D group that has developed music recommendations with the Discover Weekly and Spotify Daily Mixes using advanced machine learning technology can not be touched. Tidal and Pandora recommended music either I owned or was familiar with. Spotify recommends music I am not familiar with, but often find is awesome. Spotify connect is great.

So with Spotify introducing lossless streams, Tidal is toast.

oldominion's picture

So......Spotify would be impossible to access via Roon/MicroRendu, yes? Since Roon does not allow for Spotify compatibility, and since MR is a Roon endpoint? Just making sure! Would be *bummed* if the investment into Roon/Tidal/MR turned out to be money wasted...

oldominion's picture

...but not as great as expected...Spotify does in fact have the full slate of Sun City Girls releases...Wow.

skikirkwood's picture

I think this is a good example of where open source systems offer consumers a better platform for audio playback. I tried Roon and it was impressive, but it didn't support Spotify. I looked at the software of the MicroRendu and while it leveraged all open source software, its software was closed and proprietary. Only the company behind MicroRendu can update the software and add new features.

In contrast, open source audio platforms such as Volumio, Rune, and piCorePlayer have active communities of developers improving them every day. There's no vendor lock-in. As the ecosystems of these platforms grow, they will further increase the velocity of new features and improvements that no one proprietary platform could match.

Just in the way that Enterprise companies have learned to steer away from proprietary software and have adopted open source solutions, I believe that the audio community will increasingly realise the benefits of these open source audio platforms.

Full disclosure, I am a major contributor to Volumio's Spotify plugin.

deckeda's picture

Stepping back and looking at this somewhat philosophically (perhaps) ...

I'm learning more and more that I don't yet fall into the camp of wanting any subscription-based service. My primary reasoning is that I don't wish to ever be limited by whatever catalog I sign up for. Strikes me as being limited to what record store I can go to. Or rather, being forced to shop in a store that doesn't have what I want. Expensive.

This attitude is of course quaintly naive, as without a subscription service I'm forever vastly limited by my small, personal physical collection and its insistence I stay at home to hear it.

Backing up, my first thought, tho: Remember when CDs were $20 each? Now you get "a zillion" for $20 each month. True story: My most recent CD (never say "never" ...) was last month, and yes for $20, purchased from a folding table at the local high school where we saw the Fisk Jubilee Singers perform live (for free!). Acapella spirituals, and essential music. And the freakin' CD is the most dynamic thing I've heard in ages.

Full disclosure: I enjoy Netflix, with all of its limitations, probably because it still doesn't have much viable competition. Hypocritical of me? Perhaps. That said, I don't additionally pony up for Hulu and the others, just to have access to more content.

Or maybe I "enjoy" Netflix because it's not yet $20 for the "HiFi version" (HD, not SD) delivery. Hmm, that's a thought for music services ... charge just one price and deliver the best-quality file the end-user can swallow. Should it be that hard to do, if they can already do that for VIDEO?

It's 2017, and amazing that the few remaining big record labels haven't decided to [collude] in some way to create/support services that offer *everything* such that once you sign up for 2-3-4 services you have everything. Or even better, have a variety of services that all have the SAME content ...

And isn't that that goal, so that everyone has their turf, so that the "this one's better" argument is irrelevant? That's one reason why I stay away. Freedom with complaint.