Spotify launches CD-quality streaming for subscribers

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In a move that will further delight it’s growing cohort of fans, streaming music startup Spotify is launching a much-requested feature, namely CD quality streaming.

Spotify subscribers will be able to listen to music in CD quality sound as of this week. Till now the service has been available for free at a good sounding quality of 160 kb/s. But the service has moved to make “sound normalisation” an optional setting, aimed of course at paying customer.

So Spotify Premium users will be able to listen to music at double the current quality, at up to 320 kb/s using the Ogg Vorbis q9 codec – equivalent to CD quality and – they say – the highest streaming rate for any digital music service.

Initially the most popular tracks will be available at the higher bit rate, with the entire catalogue converted to 320 kb/s over the next few weeks. Other of Spotify’s Premium services – aside form removing the adverts – include access to pre-releases, concert ticket giveaways and the ability to listen in any jurisdiction.

Of course, they will have flagged this move the the music labels they license their catalogue from. Even so, I daresay there are a few music execs out there who may be breakout out in a sweat at the thought of the hottest music service suddenly jumping in quality.

The launch of CD-quality is just in time to potentially capitalise on industry moves to incorporate songs from music streaming sites into the Top 44 chart in the UK.

“Celestial jukebox” services like We7 and Spotify have taken off in 2009. However The Official UK Charts Company said although it was “bound to” include streaming and subscription services at some point, it would not do so for at least another year. This of course gives the music industry breathing space to further milk the dying cow of their existing business model.

  • Peter Taylor

    320 kb/s is not CD quality. Really good for background music, but those of us who love fine music want the full noise when we sit down to concentrate and listen.

    Great to see the quality bump up a notch, but let’s not lower expectations by throwing around the term “CD quality” willy nilly. There is a significant difference between 320 kb/s and uncompressed music for many of us.

    • JB

      Peter, I think you forget that this is Ogg Vorbis q9 in 320 kb/s and not mp3. Ogg Vorbis gives higher sound quality.

    • Tim Ferguson

      As a rabid FLAC collector, I agree with your sentiments Peter… But a 320kbps Ogg Vorbis stream will be transparent for pretty much any listener on any equipment… Nay sayers feel free to post double blind test results to the contrary. I have found that even at 160kbps the Ogg Vorbis codec is actually pretty hot considering…

      This is the move that is moving me to subscription! Good call Spotify!

  • Jules Morgan

    Certain breeds of dogs will also be disappointed by the vast difference between this and CD quality too.

    For almost everyone else (you know, the people who don’t have thousands of £s worth of amp and speaker equipment hooked up to their PCs), this will be quite satisfactory.

  • UnAmerican

    If they made it £9.99/yr I’d pay but not at £9.99/month..

    • David

      9.99 is a bit expensive when there are free services like around

    • Jules Morgan

      Yeah I agree actually. There’s zero chance of me upgrading while it costs more than 50% of my broadband (which gives me access to the whole Internet, not just specific files).

      Maybe Premium just isn’t aimed at me. That’s cool. Guess that’s why there’s a free version.

  • Chris Nee

    I KNEW I was paying them for something!

    I’m really getting into Spotify. Signing up for Premium was a decision encouraged by hosting a rowdy barbecue, but the whole listening experience is so much better that it really is worth it.

    And they’re adding quality to that too. Lovely stuff, great work.

  • mike

    I joined Spotify today – hugely impressed… initially.

    For some reason it just stopped streaming and won’t restart… anyone else getting this or is it just my slow connection? Never had this problem on…

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  • Ramon Roca-Sastre


    I swear, I dont remember the last time I bought a CD. I used to discharge all the music via emule.

    One day a friend send me an invitation to spotify… At first I thought it should be illegal.

    but NO.

    It was legal.

    Finally somehow the music industry gave me the solution to the gap that existed between the business model of the music industry and technology: the possibility of downloading all the music I wanted to my ipod, PC, or whatever illegally VS buying a CD in a musicstore at a high price. A CD that I couldnt listen to in my Ipod, etc.

    So now Im a premium member. And I hope the music industry will continue to believe in this people, in spotify, and the music collection will continue to grow.

    I’m glad of paying 10 € just so I can listen to all the music I want, legally.

    The only thing I miss is to use spotify from my 3G mobile telephone :) Hope some day it will be possible to use it in mobile devices!!!!

    Greetings from Barcelona, Spain

  • Pegasus33

    That depends what kind of CD are you talking about. MP3 CDs and Burned CDs are not as good as the original Music CD. I think of streaming bit-rates like this:
    A Music CD is 320k. A Burned CD is 256k. An MP3 CD is 192k. 128k is standard DAB/HD-radio(US) quality. 96k is FM stereo. Anything below that is MW/LW quality.
    I would also like to point out that this is for streaming audio only, not broadcast quality, as there isn’t interference from those dumb government inforced energy saving bulbs.>:c

  • Orion 88

    -Commercial Music CD, purchased at music stores, pressed from glass masters are 320k.
    -Semi-Commercial CD, purchased at gift shops or variety stores, are made from a purchased commercial Music CDs, with permission and rites from the artists, are 256k.
    -Burned CD: Home-made copies of CDs and downloaded music, are 224k.
    -MP3 CD: Are home-made music CDs, with 138 compressed MP3 files stored on them, are 192k.
    -DAB radio are usually 128k.
    -FM Stereo radio , is 96k.
    -FM Mono radio, is 56k.
    -LW radio, is 32k.
    -MW radio, is 24k.

  • asdasdas

    What a bunch of bollocks the last two comments are. This shows a complete lack of knowledge about computer systems and technology at large. You really think a burned CD is different than an original CD in any way, shape or form? I’m talking about a 1:1 copy not some lame MP3s converted back to CD. Flashnews, It makes no difference whatsoever. You guys must be working for the music industry or you are complete morons.

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