NOTICE: Another month, another vague update on the status of The HiFi level of Spotify. It’s still reported to be coming in 2023 (maybe), but we’ve been talking about Spotify HiFi for so long that I’ve become rather puzzled as to its existence.
I’m not saying it’ll be a disaster – when it does launch it’ll probably be a hit given the quality of service as it is, but while I was excited about the initial announcement in 2021, I’m become ambivalent in the years that followed.
For what? I already have access to high quality sound.
The way people talk and report Spotify Hi-Fi, you would think that the whole music industry is waiting for its launch. That’s true to some extent in that Spotify is still the biggest and most popular music streaming service, but Tidal beat it years ago, as did Qobuz, while Deezer has had lossless CD quality and immersive sound for years. Apple seemed to push a button and unlock all lossless tracks in its library.
Spotify has been too slow to adopt, and one could say in recent years that it is no longer the top service despite its popularity among users. It’s almost the de facto choice in the market due to its association with music streaming. But if you really wanted to listen to music in better quality, you would have already subscribed to another service.
At first it seemed like the issue behind the delay was getting all the deals in place with the music studios to allow lossless CD music and more. Now, it seems the question is how much Spotify can charge for that access, and how unique Spotify’s proposition might be. What spoiled the work was Apple’s decision to unlock lossless audio and Dolby Atmos support without adding a new, more expensive tier.
When it comes to lossless and Hi-Res Audio, Spotify is at the back chasing the rest of the pack. It’s not a bad position in itself, you can see what others are doing and potentially capitalize on the mistakes of those before you. But other streaming services are set in their pace, they have a purity of purpose in what they do. Spotify, especially in recent years, comes across as rather confused and indecisive.
I subscribe to Tidal and when I can, I listen to Qobuz for testing purposes, and little by little these two services are my reference for better quality music. The question is do I really need Spotify HiFi in my life right now, and the answer is, not really.
While that’s nice to have, unless it’s doing something drastic or at the very least different from what’s been established, then it’s just another hi-res streaming service, and we’re there. already have access if people choose to subscribe to it.
It feels like Spotify has missed the mark and is trying to reassess what it can offer in this current market, but the longer it takes, the less it feels like it’s a must buy. If Spotify HiFi is to have the desired impact, it has to wow people, but this Spotify ‘umming’ and ‘awwing’ seems to just be hedging its bets.