Better than Apple Music? Better than Spotify?
If you’re an audiophile who listens to music by streaming it from Apple, Spotify, Pandora or Amazon, there’s good news: Amazon can now stream music in ultra-high definition. Launched just last week the new service costs more per month than Prime Music does now, but the music is played at higher bitrates which, according to Amazon, sounds like you’re listening to it on a compact disc.
Prime Music Ultra HD can be seen and browsed when you open the Amazon Prime Music app on a smartphone or device and songs in Ultra HD are identified with a yellow “HD Audio” icon.
Looking at the information listed on a song by Brushland, Amazon says the track quality is 24-bit and 96kHz which is higher than the same song streaming on another service.
According to Amazon, standard definition audio has bitrates of up to 320 kilobytes per second while songs in the new Ultra HD is lossless and is up to 3730 kbps, or 10 times the bitrate of other streaming services. Amazon says it’s also capable of playing songs at 192 kHz, the songs I found are mostly at 96 kHZ. Still, that’s an improvement.
To get second and third opinions on whether there’s much of a difference to the average streaming music listener I asked Dylan Ward to listen to a track on Spotify and then the same song in Ultra HD on Amazon Music. The first time he said there was only a slight difference but listening to a song by Ed Sheeran the difference was noticeable.
“I think I can definitely tell a difference,” Ward said. “It’s more precise and full.”
Crystal Cook said she listens to streaming music throughout the day, especially when she’s at the gym. She compared a standard definition version of The Eurythmics “Sweet Dreams are Made of This”.
“I always just blamed my headphones but then I hear something like this and I feel like I’m in my car,” she said.
Millions of Amazon Prime members have access to Prime Music for free. An additional $7.99 per month subscription gives members access to ad-free listening to over 50-million songs. Prime Music HD will cost those subscribers an extra $5 per month.