What Is Amazon Music HD, and How Does It Work?

Learn about Amazon's lossless music service

Amazon Music HD is a streaming music service featuring lossless audio; that is, audio with little to no compression. Compressing files degrades audio quality, but it also makes the file smaller, so it’s not taking up a lot of storage space, and it’s quick to download. Tidal, which offers a hi-fi plan that uses the FLAC file format, is Amazon Music HD’s direct competitor.

Amazon Music HD uses lossless FLAC files, which preserve audio quality. Its library includes HD audio (CD-quality; bit depth of 16 bits and a 44.1kHz sample rate) and Ultra HD audio (24-bit with sample rates that range from 44.1kHz up to 192kHz). Whether you can tell the difference depends on your ears and your audio equipment.

Need help understanding these specs? Learn about common audio terms, including sample rate (Khz), bit-depth, and bit-rate.

Amazon Music HD desktop app.

How Is Amazon Music HD Different from Prime Music and Amazon Music Unlimited?

The difference between Amazon Music HD compared to Prime Music and Amazon Music Unlimited is the HD audio, as well as pricing. All three Amazon Music options are ad-free.

There are a few differences between Prime Music and Music Unlimited. Prime Music comes with Prime memberships. Prime members get a discount to Amazon Music Unlimited, which has a larger library than Prime Music (about 50 million vs 2 million tracks).

What You Need to Use Amazon Music HD

There are a few requirements for listening to Amazon Music HD.

  • You need an Amazon account, but you don’t have to have a Prime membership.
  • Then, you need to download the desktop app to get HD features, which the web doesn't support.
  • Amazon recommends a reliable internet connection of 1.5 to 2 Mbps for HD streaming and 5 to 10 Mbps for Ultra HD streaming, which is typically available in LTE signals.
  • For data usage concerns, HD audio typically consumes up to 5.5 MB of data per minute, and Ultra HD audio up to 12 MB of data per minute (when listening at the highest sample rates).

Compatible devices:

  • Alexa-enabled Echo devices (2nd generation and later), Fire TVs, and Fire Tablets all support HD quality audio. The Echo Studio supports Ultra HD quality audio.
  • Most iPhones and iPads released since 2014 (devices running on iOS 11, or later) can support HD/Ultra HD (up to 24-bit, 48kHz) without any additional equipment. To play songs at higher sample rates (96 or 192 kHz), iPhone customers can connect an external DAC capable of supporting those higher sample rates. Apple AirPlay supports HD quality playback.
  • Most Android devices released since 2014 can support HD/Ultra HD playback (up to 48kHz). Please ensure that your device is running on Android Lollipop, or later. Chromecast doesn't support Amazon Music HD.
  • PC support for HD and Ultra HD playback depends on the built-in audio player and DAC (digital-to-analog converter), which varies by device. Check your computer’s specs or contact Amazon to determine if you’re compatible. (Alternatively, attempt to install the Amazon Music HD desktop app.)  
  • Any Mac from 2013 or later supports HD and Ultra HD, but you need to adjust the audio settings. Open the Launchpad, go to the Other folder, and open the Audio MIDI Setup app. (Its icon looks like a piano.) Adjust the speaker or headphone Format setting to the highest sample rate for 24-bit (96 kHz or 192 kHz).
Mac Other folder.

How to Sign up for Amazon Music HD and Choose a Plan

Amazon offers a free 30-day trial. You can see the expiration date of the trial in your settings, and there’s a convenient option to get a reminder three days before. 

Amazon Music HD subscription renewal reminder.

To take advantage of the trial, go to amazon.com/music/unlimited/hd. Click Try it free. Then you’ll be prompted to sign in to your Amazon account. Next, you need to choose a plan.

Amazon Music HD free trial page.

You’ll see two options (both available month-to-month or annually):

  • Individual
  • Family (Up to 6 members)

Prime users get a discount on Individual and Family plans. Click Are you a student? to check if you are eligible for a discount. If you are enrolled at a degree-granting university or college, you can get the Individual Plan for a significant discount.

Amazon Music HD student discount form.

Amazon uses SheerID to verify student status. If you don't find your school in its system, you can request that SheerID add it