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    The Computer Audiophile

    Amazon Music HD Launches

    Amazon launched it's Amazon HD music streaming service today. Much more to come as details come out and people sign up. The cost is $12.99 for Prime members and $14.99 for everyone else. An interesting quote from Neil Young on this announcement, "earth will be changed forever when Amazon introduces high-quality streaming to the masses.” 

     

    So far it looks like CD quality music and "higher" up through 24/192. No mention of MQA in the first press releases. 

     

    I'm attempting to sign up right now and will release more as I have more. 

     

    Here's a link to get details from Amazon and sign up. It's an affiliate link so we make a a couple pennies if you sign up. We are beta testing this on items like books and music. 

     

    Amazon Music HD

     

     

     

     

     

     

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    Screen Shot 2019-09-17 at 10.18.10 AM.jpg

     

     

    Screen Shot 2019-09-17 at 10.20.03 AM.jpg

     



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    Oh, well. Amazon is clearly not going for the audiophile market. Too old, too small I guess. That leaves Qobuz and their limited catalog and Tidal with heir MQA fetish. Oh, well. 

     

    (If Tidal would dump MQA or at least provide a filter or better yet hifi only tier I'd reactivate my subscription in a heartbeat.)

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    5 hours ago, rn701 said:

    I thought maybe Amazon's $13/month might be worth it. Not really. Especially since it isn't "audiophile" grade. Might as well use Spotify for $10/mo.

     

    I synched up a couple of songs between Amazon and Spotify with the Mac desktop players and I could not hear any difference.  At least not enough for me to give up the better Spotify UI and playlists.  I used Norah Jones "I don't know why" and Leon Bridges "Beyond".  Maybe Spotify is secretly pushing out lossless as a social experiment, probably not.

     

    The Amazon HD implementation kind of reminds me of when you buy things at Home Depot that say "Contractor Grade" when anyone in the know already knows that adding some badass plastic padding on a utility knife does not magically make it something you can proudly hand down to your grandkids.

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    I did. Still missing a lot.  
    Agree with rn701, though.  Amazon isn’t it, either.  

    Why can’t they just build the perfect system just for me? Very depressing.

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    On 10/5/2019 at 7:46 AM, adam2434 said:

    CCA:

    • There is no way to tell what resolution is being sent when casting from the native app to a CCA.  I suspect 256 kbps AAC based on what Alexa Cast does.  I suspect that even when the HD badge is lit, the CCA is still just receiving 256 kbps AAC, but I can’t confirm this.
    •  It would be interesting if someone had the capability to clock the CCA on their router when playing some HD and UHD tracks to confirm whether the average bitrate is in line with 256 kbps AAC or 16/44.1 FLAC.

     

    Thanks for your report! Re just the Chromecast Audio section, the head of Amazon Music HD has stated that they do not (yet?) support Chromecast. The Amazon Help page says they support CCA only in "Standard quality":  https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=GNPY8ZGH6BMS7UJQ

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    1 hour ago, left channel said:

     

    Thanks for your report! Re just the Chromecast Audio section, the head of Amazon Music HD has stated that they do not (yet?) support Chromecast. The Amazon Help page says they support CCA only in "Standard quality":  https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=GNPY8ZGH6BMS7UJQ

    Thanks.  Sadly, that's what I figured.

     

    The CCA can handle FLAC up to 24/96, so I assume that Amazon is limiting the quality to standard when casting (and also when using Alexa Cast).

     

    In addition to Heos, I've also briefly tried Amazon Music HD with a Sonos Connect via digital coax to my Marantz processor.  Supposedly, Sonos will received the 16/44.1 FLAC streams, but there is no quality badge in the Sonos version of Amazon Music.  Someone on another forum confirmed that he was seeing bit rates in-line with 16/44.1 FLAC.  At least with Sonos, My Music is available within their version of Amazon Music.

     

    Every time I open Amazon Music within the Heos app, I'm hoping that My Music will magically appear.  It has not yet.  

     

     

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    3 hours ago, adam2434 said:

    Every time I open Amazon Music within the Heos app, I'm hoping that My Music will magically appear.  It has not yet.  

     

    Disappointing.

     

    Also disappointing is the fact that Alexa Cast is limited to lossy only?

     

    Hopefully that’s not to force people to use Alexa Voice.

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    Hi @The Computer Audiophile

     

    Have you since been able to reach anyone at Amazon?

     

    Or do you only have access to the same Support as the rest of us?

     

     

    Would be nice to know if they consider the lack of 'exclusive mode' on their official apps, an issue or not.

     

    Spotify and Apple Music don't care. I would hope with a 'HD' streaming option that Amazon would care but who knows.

     

    Would be nice to ask them about Roon too...

     

     

     

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    21 hours ago, asdf1000 said:

     

    Disappointing.

     

    Also disappointing is the fact that Alexa Cast is limited to lossy only?

     

    Hopefully that’s not to force people to use Alexa Voice.

    Yeah, I am kind of getting to the point of asking why Amazon launched HD...and why now.

     

    Sure, to make more money is the reason.

     

    It's obvious that broad hardware compatibility at launch was not a priority.

     

    If Amazon quickly launches a bunch of new hardware that supports HD and UHD, then it's easy to see that they want to sell the service and hardware to support it, kind of as a bundle.

     

    But as of now, seems like they launched HD to grab the attention of the average consumer who is willing to spend a few bucks more a month for a "Premium" service, but does not really understand or care about the resolution they are getting on their devices.  The launch was not aimed at enthusiasts who know and care about how the streaming resolutions should work on their equipment, IMO.

     

    I hope that, in a couple months, I'll be able to look back at the launch and say that it was a rough start, but Amazon quickly implemented solutions across multiple hardware platforms...but huge companies are rarely quick.

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    54 minutes ago, adam2434 said:

    Sure, to make more money is the reason.

     

    It launched with a 90 day free trial?

     

    For new users?

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    1 hour ago, adam2434 said:

    If Amazon quickly launches a bunch of new hardware that supports HD and UHD, then it's easy to see that they want to sell the service and hardware to support it, kind of as a bundle.

     

    Well, shortly after launch they announced Echo Studio to go with this service (and Atmos, and Sony 360). They'd like you to buy those in pairs, thank you very much. Also at launch they announced they'd partnered with quite a few hardware brands that can deliver Music HD via HEOS, BluOS, etc., all of which Amazon just happens to resell.

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    1 hour ago, asdf1000 said:

     

    It launched with a 90 day free trial?

     

    For new users?

    I was thinking along the lines of people paying for the HD tier after the free trial runs out...or people forgetting to cancel after the free trial.  🙂

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    38 minutes ago, left channel said:

     

    Well, shortly after launch they announced Echo Studio to go with this service (and Atmos, and Sony 360). They'd like you to buy those in pairs, thank you very much. Also at launch they announced they'd partnered with quite a few hardware brands that can deliver Music HD via HEOS, BluOS, etc., all of which Amazon just happens to resell.

    Yeah, BluOS seems like the best option, as it will receive the native resolutions and My Music is present.

     

    Heos is pretty compromised because My Music is not present, although it will receive all the native resolutions.

     

    Just seems to me that not having a feature like Spotify's Connect (that works so ubiquitously) is going to limit the acceptance of Music HD. 

     

    We'll see.  With the 90 day free trial, I've got no skin the the game, but would likely enroll if they can at least get My Music to work with Heos.

     

     

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    4 hours ago, adam2434 said:

    I was thinking along the lines of people paying for the HD tier after the free trial runs out...or people forgetting to cancel after the free trial.  🙂

     

    Noted. They have 2.5 months to get their act together. Fingers crossed.

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    So far, I’m pleased with the new Amazon music service.

     

    I had the old Amazon music service for a while, but dropped it because the SQ to me didn’t seem nearly as good as my Pandora subscription.  So for a radio and music discovery application, Pandora seemed better.  

     

    For library listening, there was no comparison between the old Amazon music and my server based system.  But now, with the new Amazon Music HD, the streamed music seems pretty comparable to my music library via the Sonos network configuration.

     

    Sonos does not support the Ultra HD Amazon music (nothing above 16/44k) but when I listened to a Ultra HD recording of a classic piece from my PC with a usb dac and headphones, I was very impressed.  I haven’t done a scientific ceteris paribus A-B test yet, but I see that Amazon music has sever albums in ULtra HD - what we usually call High-Res on this site, - and am looking forward to exploring it more.

     

    PM me if you want more information about my setup or experience.

     

     

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    I have spent time listening to both Amazon Music HD and my preferred Qobuz using the Audirvana+ player on Win 10. Qobuz sounds noticeably better using my Yggdrasil DAC. The same tracks on Amazon Music HD sound less involving and dynamic, with loss of sound stage depth, width and imaging. The music is less clear and when I switch to Qobuz a veil is lifted.

     

    I blame the poorer sound quality on Amazon routing sound through Windows mixer in shared mode so there is up and down sampling. You can't trust the sample rate and bit depth displayed in Amazon Music HD for a track. Everything is resampled to the user settings in Windows Sounds as shown by the display on my DAC. Sure there may be some limited 24/192 files on Amazon but when I play them they are down sampled to the 24/96 I have set in Windows Sounds.

     

    We can't really tell how good the masters Amazon is using sound because, unlike Tidal and Qobuz, Amazon Music HD has no provision for playback in Wasapi Exclusive mode. Will they add it? Who knows, I suspect their is a greater chance that instead of improving the app they may open their API for a fee to Audirvana.

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    Anyone have problems with skipping? I have 500mb internet so bandwidth shouldn't be an issue. My mesh network give priority to my computer. Can't imagine Amazon wouldn't provide enough bandwidth on their side. 

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    14 hours ago, HC515 said:

    Anyone have problems with skipping? I have 500mb internet so bandwidth shouldn't be an issue. My mesh network give priority to my computer. Can't imagine Amazon wouldn't provide enough bandwidth on their side. 
     

    nope used it all day in the UK and it’s been perfect.

     

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    I think my USB cable from computer to DAC is too long at 10 ft. I read that USB is prone to errors on cables that are too long. I'm going to try a 2M cable. Laptop is next to my listening chair but I don't want to get up too often when shuffling through music if I have to move it closer to the equipment. 

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    I figured it out it's the laptop I was using it's too underpowered. It's a HP Stream I had lying around that I cleaned up only for Amazon Music but it's too weak. I used my Pixel 3a as the source and no skipping or stuttering even with the same 10 ft cable. 

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