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Amazon adds high-definition music streaming plan

Amazon announced that it is introducing a high-definition streaming music option. More than 50 million songs will be available in high-definition, with lossless, CD-quality audio. The service will also offer millions of tracks in Ultra HD, which is even better quality than CD audio. The service is available now in the U.S., UK, Germany, and Japan.

Access to the Amazon Music HD subscription will cost $12.99 a month for new subscribers who already have the Prime subscription or $14.99 a month for non-Prime listeners. Current Amazon Music subscribers can get HD as an add-on to their existing plan for an extra $5 per month.

“We spoke with many artists while developing Amazon Music HD, who were excited about the potential for fans to be able to stream their favorite music, and hear it as it was originally recorded,” Amazon Music Vice President Steve Boom said.

It seems revealing that Boom’s comments focus on the artists as driving this new service. A cohort of performers have long complained about the impact of compression on digital audio files. Amazon even tapped long-time advocate of master-quality audio Neil Young for a comment on its HD efforts to include in its press release. Young delivered with his trademark nuance and deep understanding of technology: “Earth will be changed forever when Amazon introduces high quality streaming to the masses.”

But Amazon isn’t the pioneer here. There are several other services that have been catering to audiophiles with lossless streaming for years, so Amazon’s coming to the game late. And while it does have some branded hardware for playing music, it seems unlikely that someone who’d value high-definition audio would bother to stream it on an Echo Dot.

Anna Washenko

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