When will it end? Amazon Music HD offers two streaming tiers: High Definition (HD) which is CD-quality, and Ultra HD which is the same thing as saying hi-resolution. Do we really more confusion when it comes to streaming and hi-res? Do we really need Amazon remastering anything?
We certainly don’t and the music industry needs another misleading moniker as much as the world needs another fast food chain. The thing about hi-resolution, or hi-res, or Ultra HD is these are meaningless terms unless we know the full story about the origins of the end product and the process used to make it. If we don’t have answers to questions like what is Amazon using to create their “Ultra HD” files and what are they doing to these sources to make them Ultra HD, we may as well call this new Amazon remastering process Ultra HA (Hot Air).
Here’s Steve Boom, VP of Amazon Music:
With this partnership, we are building upon that promise by upgrading existing recordings to make the listening experience even better, and preserving artistic legacy for future generations. We are thrilled to have the support from Universal Music and Warner Music to deliver key recordings from their catalogs, exclusively for Amazon Music customers.
We’ll continue to work with more labels to upgrade the digital quality of even more audio recordings, and provide customers with all of the emotion, power, clarity, and nuance of original recordings across all genres.
Sound familiar? Remember Neil Young’s Pono? And I have to point out that “preserving artistic legacy for future generations” and “exclusively for Amazon Music customers” is a contradiction only a corporation could love.
Of course we already have two great options for streaming hi-res music: Tidal HiFi ($19.99/month) and Qobuz Studio Premier ($14.99/month). Tidal’s hi-res content comes courtesy of MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) who has been working with Universal and Warner for years, among others, encoding their catalogs to the MQA. Qobuz offers straight ahead hi-res FLAC also from UMG and WMG, among others. Both companies have catalogs numbering in the tens of millions of albums, comprised of CD-quality and hi-res, so I have to ask — who the hell needs Amazon sticking their already all-consuming hands into the remastering business in order to create Amazon-exclusive content?
In case you were wondering, the answer is Amazon.