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Apple Music vs. Spotify HiFi? Not Happening in Q1 2022

2021 saw some exciting developments in digital music streaming. Spotify HiFi was not one of them as we look forward.

Apple Music vs. Spotify Premium

January 10, 2022 Update:

Spotify has started to take some heat from users who want to know when Spotify HiFi is arriving.

Spotify has responded by confirming that the new service is forthcoming, but would not commit to a new timeline saying, “we don’t have timing details to share yet.”

Spotify HiFi Status Update 2022-01-07
Source: Spotify

The bottom line is that Spotify doesn’t have a date yet and I would not expect to see it in Q1 2022.

If we take a look back at 2021, Spotify made a huge deal about Spotify HiFi and even hired the services of Billie Eilish to promote their massive foray into “hi-res” streaming.

Even when that was only going to be 16-bit/44.1kHz streaming for its premium subscribers.

Those of us who understand the power of Spotify saw this as a huge opportunity for the high-end audio industry to reach a new audience.

Spotify is clearly the Godzilla of the streaming world. With almost 175 million Premium subscribers, the streaming titan has a sizable percentage of the digital music streaming category.

With plans to expand to an additional 85 new markets and launch Spotify HiFi, there is no chance for any rival to overtake them. Except perhaps for the folks in Cupertino. Apple actually did what it promised in 2021 and launched Apple Music with Spatial Audio.

A quick look at the calendar reveals that it is 2022 (I need to remember to redo my passport) and that Spotify HiFi is a giant no-show.

I know this means that the service will show up on Monday, but did people actually forget about this and what does that say about interest in lossless streaming?

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Nothing good.

Apple was clearly spooked by Spotify’s announcement and made the jump into lossless hyperspace.

With hundreds of millions of iPhones and iPads being used around the world, it’s not like Apple didn’t have a captive audience to sell lossless streaming to.

Apple have actually sold more than 2.2 billion iPhones since inception. Not a typo.

Name one high-end audio product that ever sold 1% of that total.

So why the sudden change?

Spotify HiFi and Amazon Music HD.

Amazon also delivered on its promise — granted, it was a knee-jerk reaction to the competition and growth of TIDAL and Qobuz.

So where does that leave Tidal and Qobuz?

Qobuz and Tidal are audiophile streaming platforms that appeal to a different audience than Spotify. Tidal announced some significant price changes in 2021; those who have zero interest in MQA or Hi-Res can select a new lossless tier that caps out at 16-bit/44.1kHz. Hi-Res support is going to cost $6 more per month.

Qobuz announced a new partnership with Sonos which will help expand their reach into the mainstream market.

Both hi-res brands are now working with the premium television manufacturers to offer their services via an app on your smart TV. We think that was a brilliant move by both who desperately need greater brand awareness with mainstream customers.

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But what about Spotify? Why go through all of the hoopla to announce such a dramatic shift and just let it fizzle out?

Very odd.

We will be watching this with great interest in Q1 2022.



  1. Mark McCoskey

    January 1, 2022 at 11:14 am

    And here I am using basic free Pandora (for more than a decade), through Firefox browser (with uBlock plugin), on a 4 year old Intel NUC Win10, USB to iFi Zen DAC V2, out to either Sennheiser HD 560S’s or the XTZ Edge A2-300 and Walnut KLH Model 5’s (lower volume, midfield listening). Still very much enjoying my music. It certainly doesn’t take much.

  2. ORT

    January 1, 2022 at 1:17 pm

    I have SiriusXM, Pandora Plus (Family Plan) and Amazon Ultra HD. They all work just fine and I cancelled the Amazon Ultra HD because to be HONEST, I could NOT hear a difference.

    And then Amazon just made the UHD de facto. Okay…In the middle of the Aridzona desert SiriusXM is there for me. Siriusly Sinatra, Real Jazz, Classic Vinyl, et al. No cell signal above Gen 2? Not problem, I have SiriusXM via Satellite. When in town I have that and Pandora and Amazon. I do NOT need nor want anything with MQA. I have never given a thought to TIDAL (yuck) nor QOBUZ (huh?). Not a person I personally know can hear any difference in formats, sampling rates, etc. “Lossless”?! Really?! MQA?! Puhleeeeeze! LOL!

    It is not that QOBUZ is “bad”, but rather that I am not falling for that line. I am not a doormat for their format BS. And TIDAL?

    TIDAL is stupid and I will NEVER pay for that joke. I will never support a company that props up MQA. Never. “The FARCE be with you” should be their tag line.

    I have affordable equipment that gives me what I want and need. It serves my needs, not my ego. My “streamers” (oh lordy but I hate that term) have colour displays and show album information and other information as it is available. I don’t fixate on the technical details that frAudiophiles thrive on but cannot prove in double blind testing. Do I hear Johnny Mathis? Yup. Good! Is there album cover artwork/ Yup. Great!

    Is the equipment “Roon Ripoff Ready”? Nope. GREAT!! Is there a blue K-Mart light beaming at me to let me know the FARCE is with me? Nah. Superb!

    I have a soundtrack to my life. I listen to music, not equipment. I look at equipment because looks matter. If the equipment looks good to me and plays my life’s soundtrack then I am satisfied.

    I will never strain at a bit and swallow a lie. That is for frAudiophiles. And yes, that is a word of my own making and it fits for a great many of the typists masquerading as “writers”. Not saying that includes you. I have my favourites and among them are Ken Kessler and Doug Schneider to name but two. I enjoy much of your writing. If I think you’re being a typist, I will let you know, LOL!

    When you “type”, you type to impress yourself. When you “write”, you do so to inform your readers. So far, I enjoy your writing.

    Pandora is excellent. SiriusXM is too. Amazon Music is also pretty durn good. TIDAL is for fools that embrace the FARCE. QOBUZ I cannot begin to hope to pronounce and fApple Music? No thanks, fApple. In all ways and for always, be well, sir.


    • Ian White

      January 1, 2022 at 1:41 pm


      Funny that you mention Ken (my favorite of all-time) because I was just conversing with him over the holidays. One of the best and always helpful.

      I don’t disagree with you in regard to the various streaming services and I will confess to using Qobuz 90% of the time. Tidal and Spotify split the remaining 10%.

      I started with TIDAL at the very beginning because (and readers should know this) the “typists” were given free access for the first few years. Possibly all of us. I’ve been paying for TIDAL and Qobuz every month for years and I have to concede that there is a lot of overlap. TIDAL’s change of ownership also changed its direction.

      I have zero use for MQA and I’ve tried it extensively.

      I listen to SiriusXM in the car 1-2 hours each day and love it. I’ve not listened to Pandora in years and you are not the first recently to point me back at it.

      Wishing you a wonderful 2020.


      Ian White

      • ORT

        January 1, 2022 at 6:13 pm

        Ian, like Ken I think you are a good man in whom I find no deceit. Please tell him hi Cashew brother in America sends him well wishes for a prosperous New Year!

        He SHOULD know me by that alone. If not, it has been a while since last we corresponded.

        All the best to you and your family. If you are in England, then I adjure you to continue working hard to put the great back in Great Britain! My mother-in-law and her sister did so nigh on twenty years ago and they highly recommend that I and my wife take the trip! I hope to visit there one day before I pass on.

        Be well, good sir.


        • Ian White

          January 1, 2022 at 6:28 pm


          I will pass that on to him.

          I am in New Jersey — a very long way from the UK.

          Have a wonderful New Year and all the best to your family as well.

          Ian White

  3. Olof

    January 2, 2022 at 10:35 pm

    Without having any special insight into the situation, I suspect that Spotify simply haven’t been able to license the uncompressed music at an acceptable price.
    Personally, although considering myself very interested in good quality audio, I will pay extra for CD quality streaming but have no interest in 24/96 or similar. I haven’t seen any compelling evidence that the human ear can distinguish that from 44.1/16.
    I use Qobuz through USB Audio Player. Weirdly, Qobuz’ (and if I remember correctly, Tidal’s) android apps will download high resolution files and display them as such, but it all goes through the android driver (and is thus downsampled). A bit misleading, to say the least. But since nobody is actually able to hear a difference anyway, I suppose no harm, no foul.

    • Ian White

      January 3, 2022 at 12:34 am


      I have to think that Spotify would have worked those details out before making the announcement but you might be right.

      They did force Apple and Amazon to jump which was probably part of the plan. Let them put all of their cards on the table and see how things looked.

      I’ve used TIDAL and Qobuz since they were both available in the US and I generally use the 16-bit or 24-bit/96kHz streams. I do hear a difference on my systems but it’s not night/day better.

      I don’t use MQA very often. Not a huge fan.

      Ian White

  4. Steven Denfeld

    January 13, 2022 at 12:45 am

    I’m gonna be that guy who flies in the face of the cynics here (every crowd has them!) and state that Qobuz Hi-Res streams (24bit) have a discernible increase in tonal purity, detail, layering, and air and width of soundstage. My 47 year old ears have gleaned these improvements over an iPhone out through the USB3 Camera Kit, sending the pure digital stream to my two lowly Topping DACs to handle. Whether through headphones (ZMF Vibro MKII planer-magnetic and Final Audio E5000 IEMs) or speakers (Audioengine A5+), I hear and appreciate the—as Ian said above, subtle—improvements with each step up the kHz streaming chain up to 192kHz. I suspect those who claim no difference is heard are either not getting a full proper stream (Android kills that—LAME!) or are letting their cynicism deny them the opportunity to even try. Anyway, Spotify is much more handy in much of my listening so I am very eager for lossless quality as that is where the single strongest bump in quality is found—no more course, grainy, narrow, constricted lossy sound. Cheers!

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