Yesterday, one of Apple Music's biggest rivals, Amazon Music, announced that subscribers to its Amazon Music Unlimited tier can now stream music mixed in spatial audio on iOS and Android devices with their existing headphones – no special equipment required – and on select devices that support Alexa Cast.
It's not the first time that Amazon Music has dabbled in immersive audio. Back in April, Sony announced that customers in the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain could enjoy 360 Reality Audio content on Sony’s premium home wireless speakers via Amazon's top-tier Amazon Music HD – an option that Amazon actually made free for all Amazon Music subscribers in May.
In fact, spatial audio (not to be confused with Apple Music's own, proprietary spatial audio) was originally introduced to Amazon Music subscribers in 2019. Now though, customers can hear new releases from artists including FINNEAS, Lil Nas X, and Remi Wolf in the immersive, multidimensional tech with no upgrade required, from their Android or iOS devices and on their current headphones.
Amazon Music subscribers can hear brand new albums in spatial audio, including Rüfüs Du Sol’s fourth album, Surrender, out this Friday. Fans can also hear Alicia Keys’ full catalogue in 360 Reality Audio, including classic albums like Songs in A Minor and Girl on Fire. And in November, Amazon Music will exclusively release Mercury – Act 1 (Amazon Music Live), a brand-new EP from Imagine Dragons, mixed in Dolby Atmos. The five-track EP features music from the band’s album release live stream, which was recorded from the rooftop of the Amazon Music office in Brooklyn.
In addition to listening with their existing headphones, Amazon Music Unlimited members can stream spatial audio with Alexa Cast on select devices, including the Echo Studio. Other devices that support 360 Reality Audio with Alexa Cast include Sony’s SRS-RA5000 or SRS-RA3000 wireless speakers, and home theatre systems such as HT-A9, HT-A7000, or HT-A5000.
And that's not all! Later this year, customers will also be able to hear music mixed in Dolby Atmos on the Sonos Arc and excellent Sonos Beam (Gen 2) soundbars when streaming Amazon Music from the Sonos app.
To summarise: Amazon Music Unlimited subscribers with an Individual, Family, or Student Plan will now automatically have access to spatial audio and to HD and Ultra HD music at no extra cost to their subscription (ie. £7.99/ $7.99 per month in the UK or US for the Individual membership if you're already a Prime member, or £9.99 / $9.99 / AU$11.99 otherwise) – access that was previously only available as a separate tier of streaming.
Want to try it for yourself? For a limited time, new customers can subscribe to Amazon Music Unlimited free for three months.
Amazon Music Unlimited offers more than 75 million songs in 16-bit/44.1kHz (CD quality, which it calls 'HD'). Subscribers can also stream more than 7 million songs in 'Ultra HD' (better than CD quality, also known as hi-res music), with a bit depth of 24-bit/192 kHz.
The firm says that Amazon Music’s selection of Ultra HD songs has tripled since the format was introduced in 2019. Unlimited subscription-holders also have access to a rapidly growing catalogue of songs mixed in Dolby Atmos and Sony's 360 Reality Audio, an offering that (according to Amazon) has grown by more than 20 times since spatial audio was originally introduced to its listeners.
Still no sign of Spotify HiFi though...
Check out 11 of the best spatial audio tracks in Dolby Atmos on Apple Music
See also AirPods 3 are official, support Dolby Atmos spatial audio with head tracking
Read our pick of the best music streaming services 2021: free streams to hi-res audio
Only interested in hi-res streaming? Consult hi-res music streaming services compared: which should you sign up for?
I also tried apple spatial audio with my air pods max and apple music and the only music that seemed to benefit was the jazz spatial audio playlist which was pretty darn cool.