Why Doesn't Spotify Have Lossless?

There’s probably no point in introducing music fans to Spotify. It seems that this streaming service has already reached maximum heights.

Now all that’s left for Spotify to do is to launch lossless music streaming so that all major streaming platforms have the option. As already announced, Spotify HiFi is likely to launch in some markets later this year with the same promises as other services: to offer the audio experience as the artist imagined it, as if they were in the studio.

But do you have to pay more to get the full experience and what is the current broadcast bad?

To understand the real importance of high quality music in streaming services, you definitely need good playback equipment. It usually doesn’t come cheap. So whoever can buy expensive hardware can also pay for the cost of the most expensive version of a music streaming service. At least, this is the logic used by the marketers of the streaming platforms.

Apple recently announced, without any fuss or advertising, the addition of a lossless catalog to Apple Music and released an alternative to users with no increase in price, unlike before. Everyone was very surprised by such a quiet upgrade, which, by the way, was a pleasant surprise for many quality music lovers.

Although Spotify has not yet joined the lossless club, we know that the HiFi plan, which will presumably be called Platinum, will cost extra.

Essentially, lossless is the sound quality that exists on a CD, which brings files in WAV format. Today, streaming services are trying to go the opposite way, going back to their roots instead of reducing data consumption.

Digital audio is a more efficient way to store large amounts of information, but instead of doing it through the physical grooves on vinyl records, which wear out over time, are subject to dust and have technical and physical limitations, the CD does it through digital data in a process called sampling.

During music recording, a microphone sends electrical signals to an analog-to-digital converter (ADC), which measures the electrical waveform to create a digital representation of that change. Thus, this signal is affected by two characteristics: sampling rate and bit rate.

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On a CD, the theoretical signal-to-noise ratio is 96 decibels. With some advanced methods it reaches 120 decibels. The fact is that in order for you to hear the background noise of CD audio, you would have to turn the music up to chainsaw volume.

Today, even though it’s a lossy compression format, MP3 is already much more elaborate and different from what was popular in the 2000s, when Internet speeds were low for downloading lossless files or the storage capacity of your device for playback was small.

To give you an idea, an MP3 song at 256 kbps can take up about 6 MB, while in lossless format you can reach 36 MB in the same three minutes (considering 48 kHz at 24 bits). If you think there are songs lasting five minutes or longer, those files can take up a lot of space, then that’s a problem.

Spotify itself starts with files from 24 kbps to 320 kbps. The difference in these compressions is how much of the original sound is lost.

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