Can I get hi-fi sound from streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify?

Not from Spotify, but with Apple’s new Lossless services, yes you can!

Apple has finally updated its streaming music service and released Apple Lossless files across the board, with at least CD quality uncompressed, lossless 16-bit / 44.1kHz files, with some offered at up to 24-bit / 192kHz. You can now get hi-fi sound from streaming services without any additional cost in Apple’s case.

You’ll need wifi and/or a hard-wired connection to a phone or streamer to access the high-resolution files. A streamer, computer/DAC or phone/DAC combo as I use will work well. Bluetooth won’t pass these high-resolution files due to the bandwidth limits. Bluetooth sucks anyway, best off to use a hardwired connection I reckon.

I currently use my iPhone 13 Pro Max connected to a Gustard A26 High-Performance DAC with MQA decoding. This combo sounds phenomenal, as you might expect. Many are still surprised to learn that lower-resolution 16-bit / 44.1kHz Redbook files can sound better than streamed high-resolution files, but discovering all this is part of the fun. If you access really good high-res files though and have a DAC capable of extracting that resolution, and many are not, the results can be amazing.

Tidal High Resolution also offers true high fidelity, though it’s a bit more expensive. The standard 256kbps files you’ll find from providers like Spotify are not hi-fi. Their limitations are obvious, sounding thin, grainy and lifeless.

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