Amazon Music has become the first of the “big three” streaming services to offer music in CD-quality audio.
The service, which costs £5 more than a standard Amazon subscription, will also offer some albums in “Ultra HD”, which promises to be better-than-CD quality.
Until now, Amazon, like its main rivals Apple and Spotify, only streamed music in compressed formats like MP3 and AAC.
Some smaller services like Tidal, Deezer and Qobuz already offer lossless, high-fidelity streaming.
Amazon is calling its service “HD” because customers are familiar with the term from television, but it will actually use the same file format – FLAC – as its competitors.
All three of the major record labels have signed up, with music by Fleetwood Mac, Kendrick Lamar, Taylor Swift, Stormzy and Ed Sheeran now available in Ultra HD.
The big question, according to Chris Cooke of Complete Music Update, is whether “Amazon can take what has traditionally been a niche product and make it more mainstream”.
There have been several attempts to market HD audio in the past, from DVD-Audio and Super Audio CDs to high-quality download stores like Neil Young’s ill-fated Pono service. But their audiences have been “generally quite small”, said Cooke.