Amazon has launched its new, high-quality music streaming service called Amazon Music HD. The announcement featured quite the hyperbolic testimonial from legendary musician Neil Young, who promised that it would be "the biggest thing to happen in music" since the inception of digital audio.
"Earth will be changed forever when Amazon introduces high quality streaming to the masses," Young said. "This will be the biggest thing to happen in music since the introduction of digital audio 40 years ago."
So, what potentially makes Amazon Music HD so special? According to the announcement via Variety, the more than 50 million songs available in the highest tier of its streaming service are encoded with FLAC (free lossless audio codec), meaning that the audio can be compressed without a loss in quality. Meanwhile, the recordings offered in its Ultra HD service can be uncompressed, which reveals nuances that were once flattened in files compressed for digital streaming.
It's a lot of technical jargon to be sure, and Amazon Music VP Steve Boom understands the complications that can come from that, which is why the company has specifically chosen to refer to this new feature as high-definition.
"In our research, we found that people don't really know what 'hifi' is or 'hi-res' or whether one is better than the other. Plus, different countries have different standards for hi-res," Boom said. "So we thought, let's borrow the video terms that people are already familiar with."
Amazon Music HD is now available for $14.99 per month, while Amazon Prime members can get it for $12.99 per month. Amazon Music Unlimited subscribers will need to pay an additional $5 per month for the new service.