You won’t hear any difference with Spotify’s new HiFi audio

Recently, Spotify announced that it would add a new level of lossless HiFi to its music streaming plans. However, it is almost certain that the user will not be able to hear the difference.

Spotify announced its plan super-premium for the first time in 2021, but it was never released. Now it looks like he's coming, but… it may already be too late. Rivals Apple and Amazon already have a lossless option included in their pricing plans, so charging more seems like a losing proposition. And, as we will see, the most users will not benefit from this in any way.

Actually, there are significant downsides to streaming these files extra large.

Yes, there is definitely a difference between lossless audio and lossy audio, but I don't think the average user can tell the difference. The mainstream music fan, especially on a streaming service, loves their music on the go - listening to it with relatively inexpensive headphones and earphones.

Michael L. Moore, creator of the Devoted to Vinyl website, told Lifewire.

But then… lossless, lossy, HiFi?

Streaming music is compressed to reduce the data needed to stream it, much like MP3s were compressed to save space on computers that had limited storage compared to today. This compression works by discarding the data, which is why it's called "lossy" encoding. However, the conversion is done in a way that exploits the idiosyncrasies of the human ear and brain.

In short, it is very difficult to distinguish between lossy and lossless recordings. If you're listening with headphones or a Bluetooth speaker, the situation is even worse. Bluetooth itself uses lossy compression to reduce bandwidth.

It takes really good equipment to hear the audio difference, and that doesn't just mean good speakers. You also need an audio interface with high-quality AD/DA converters, a good amplifier, and most importantly, an acoustically treated room. This last aspect is often overlooked by many and without it it is impossible to hear the difference.

This makes sense for professional audiophiles or engineers, but not for the 90% of people who are just consumers. You won't hear the difference through an iPhone or Bluetooth headphones - there are too many weak points in the audio signal chain.

Says journalist and musician Eloy Caudet.

Lossless, or HiFi, or whatever it is called, is indeed useful. Musicians need the best possible uncompressed quality so they can mix and master the audio without it collapsing in the process. But for simple listening, lossy MP3 and AAC files are more than enough.

Tidal instead of Spotify

The situation is getting worse. The song is mastered in its target format. That is, equalizers and audio compression are applied (reducing the gap between the lowest and highest parts). With vinyl, the bass is cut considerably to prevent the needle from coming out of the groove (the bass is added during playback). With FM radio and CDs, tracks were heavily compressed to sound louder than the competition.

Okay, so what about streaming?

Today's popular music is often mixed with streaming services in mind, using less dynamic range and focusing on translating into popular formats such as wireless headphones, laptop speakers, and more. laptop and automobile. With most wireless setups, all audio is converted to a lossy format, which means you probably won't hear any difference.

The audio has been mixed to sound good in these common lossy settings. Companies like Apple recognize this fact, which is why you often see old albums being sold as mastered for iTunes. The albums are remastered taking into account current lossy formats.

Explained professional musician and audio expert Alex Mak.

So what can you do to get better sound?

Many people, if they want good sound, opt for Tidal, where even the basic level sounds better than the Apple Music versions (although this service already offers a lot of quality). Tidal tracks sound noticeably better, and it's not because of the loss or lack thereof. This is because mixing and mastering on Tidal is different and generally makes music sound better.

Thus, according to some specialists, critics and musicians, the absence of losses is little more than a marketing ploy. The trick is to find the music streaming service you like, as the differences in how they master and deliver your music will be far greater than the difference between lossy and lossless streaming. If you don't like Spotify, forget your HiFi plan and try Tidal or Apple Music for whichever you prefer.

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