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Musicophile

New Macbook Pro 15 inch touch bar 2017 - internal DAC only 48khz?

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54 minutes ago, Decodering said:

The company doesn't have to go as far as supporting DSD and other niche-within-a-niche formats and such. But it could so easily build its ecosystem around CD-quality playback. At the very least, it could decide that ALAC is the new lowest common denominator and leave AAC in the same dustbin as many of the other technologies it's ditched over the years. Apple is in a position to explain to millions and millions of people why music fidelity is important and act to show people the difference. It just doesn't seem interested in doing so.

Not for as long as the music labels prevent Apple from selling Red Book quality ALAC in the iTunes store. It would not make any commercial sense, since it would slap itself in the face by saying ALAC is better than AAC, but not have any ALAC available in the iTunes Store or available for streaming via Apple Music. However, that does not mean that the larger hardware eco-system should use AAC as the de facto standard and start dismantling any high-fidelity hardware support. iPods and iPhones only support 16/44.1 and 16/48 music, whatever the file format, but it would be really a move backwards to then strip the ability of the computers to handle higher resolutions.


The road to Hell is paved with good intentions...

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3 minutes ago, foodfiend said:

Not for as long as the music labels prevent Apple from selling Red Book quality ALAC in the iTunes store. It would not make any commercial sense, since it would slap itself in the face by saying ALAC is better than AAC, but not have any ALAC available in the iTunes Store or available for streaming via Apple Music. However, that does not mean that the larger hardware eco-system should use AAC as the de facto standard and start dismantling any high-fidelity hardware support. iPods and iPhones only support 16/44.1 and 16/48 music, whatever the file format, but it would be really a move backwards to then strip the ability of the computers to handle higher resolutions.

If the labels are really the culprit behind the lack of Redbook quality playback (if something verifiable has been published to that effect, I'd be interested in seeing it), I highly doubt Apple couldn't negotiate ALAC as a distribution standard. And while it would take some doing to change their ecosystem, it's not like it doesn't already have all the tools necessary to do so.

 

All Apple has to do is say that AAC was a major breakthrough many years ago (it definitely was a step up from mp3) but that advances now allow for better sound reproduction. In doing so, they get to look good, show now much they love music, and get an opportunity to move the ball forward. It really would be pretty simple and completely in line with ways they've marketed changes in the past.

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I don't see why the surprise. Neither the iPod plays higher than 48 and it doesn't oven do 24 bits afaik (files are truncated down to 16 bits). 

 

Imho also the iPod 6 was a step down from the 5/5.5 in terms of audio quality.

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6 minutes ago, Decodering said:

If the labels are really the culprit behind the lack of Redbook quality playback (if something verifiable has been published to that effect, I'd be interested in seeing it), I highly doubt Apple couldn't negotiate ALAC as a distribution standard.

When Apple launched iTunes back in 2007, music was in 128 kbps AAC. Then came iTunes Plus - 256 kbps AAC, available from only EMI and some independent labels (not Sony or Warner Music). Then in 2009, the whole music store moved to 256 kbps AAC. The evolution of what was available in iTunes Plus to the general availability of 256 kbps AAC shows the power of the music labels in licensing deals.

 

Not sure if it is still 100% accurate, but the music labels still have a lot of power. With the sales of downloads falling, I am not sure if Apple will be too bothered about this anyway. They would just focus on growing Apple Music.


The road to Hell is paved with good intentions...

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Just now, foodfiend said:

When Apple launched iTunes back in 2007, music was in 128 kbps AAC. Then came iTunes Plus - 256 kbps AAC, available from only EMI and some independent labels (not Sony or Warner Music). Then in 2009, the whole music store moved to 256 kbps AAC. The evolution of what was available in iTunes Plus to the general availability of 256 kbps AAC shows the power of the music labels in licensing deals.

 

Not sure if it is still 100% accurate, but the music labels still have a lot of power. With the sales of downloads falling, I am not sure if Apple will be too bothered about this anyway. They would just focus on growing Apple Music.

I agree with your thoughts on Apple Music. It's just that Apple could focus on that AND improve the quality of playback with no downside and lots of feel-good marketing benefits.

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6 minutes ago, unbalanced output said:

Imho also the iPod 6 was a step down from the 5/5.5 in terms of audio quality.

That was a change in DAC chip. In the iPhone 7, the really tragic fact is that a better DAC sits in the phone for the speakers, but cannot output to analogue headphones without the headphone jack. Instead, we are saddled with the poorer DAC on the adapter, or to use Bluetooth (with its limitations) for wireless transfer.


The road to Hell is paved with good intentions...

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2 minutes ago, foodfiend said:

That was a change in DAC chip. In the iPhone 7, the really tragic fact is that a better DAC sits in the phone for the speakers, but cannot output to analogue headphones without the headphone jack. Instead, we are saddled with the poorer DAC on the adapter, or to use Bluetooth (with its limitations) for wireless transfer.

 

That's a very weird arrangement - the quality of the audio through the speakers is anyway objectionable to be polite.

 

The Video is the only Apple player I have, and I had to fight for a refurbished 5.5 unit after the 6 was launched. Luckily it is still working a good 15 years later.

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2 minutes ago, Decodering said:

I agree with your thoughts on Apple Music. It's just that Apple could focus on that AND improve the quality of playback with no downside and lots of feel-good marketing benefits.

Well, if everyone streams and stops having AAC/mp3/ALAC copies of music, the real happy people will be the cellphone companies! As far as I know, there are no real unlimited data plans for the mobile Internet, so there is still the pressure to keep files small while offering decent audio quality.

 

Let us remember that Apple is now primarily an i-Device company, rather than a computer company. So most of their $ would go to support the mobile segment. iDevices are still quite constrained in storage (since there is no ready expansion option), which is another argument to support compressed lossy formats, like AAC.

 

In the computer market, especially the desktop market, many people have unlimited data plans, and streaming music over the Internet is easy over ADSL, cable or fibre. HDDs are also cheap. So here is where the ALAC argument holds well.


The road to Hell is paved with good intentions...

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3 minutes ago, unbalanced output said:

That's a very weird arrangement - the quality of the audio through the speakers is anyway objectionable to be polite.

Tragic, but altogether true fact!


The road to Hell is paved with good intentions...

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15 hours ago, foodfiend said:

That was a change in DAC chip. In the iPhone 7, the really tragic fact is that a better DAC sits in the phone for the speakers, but cannot output to analogue headphones without the headphone jack. Instead, we are saddled with the poorer DAC on the adapter, or to use Bluetooth (with its limitations) for wireless transfer.

You can still use the camera adapter to connect it to almost any USB DAC, can't you? That's an acceptable situation, IMO.

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On 8/11/2017 at 11:25 AM, Musicophile said:

Tried Audio/Midi set-up (wow, haven´t used that app for a LONG time), and again, only 48 khz. Looks like Apple is moving backwards.

My mid-2013 Macbook Air goes up to 96kHz sampling, but the thing is its builtin analog lowpass kicks in right above 20kHz, so it doesn't have the bandwidth you'd expect based on the sampling rate. The benefit of playing 96kHz files on that headphone jack is extremely marginal, much smaller than on an outboard DAC with full bandwidth.

 

You might say that limiting the playback sample rate to 48kHz is a more honest approach than supporting higher rates while incorporating a design that negates their advantages.

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4 hours ago, Jay-dub said:

You can still use the camera adapter to connect it to almost any USB DAC, can't you? That's an acceptable situation, IMO.

Question: How many USB DACs are available for a mobile solution? Audioquest Dragonfly, Chord MoJo, Arcam Music Boost, Res? There are very few options, and most are originally targeted at being used on a laptop computer instead of a mobile phone.

 

If what Apple's marketing speak is true, they removed the headphone jack because they believe that wireless headphones are the future. However, the support for wireless is then reduced to AAC over Bluetooth, and no support for lossless or Hi-Res music. Considering how popular the AirPod's are, it seems that the majority of people are blissfully unaware of the limitations with the implementation, and rather listen to poorer quality audio (if they even know that) and look cool.

 

I guess that I am just one of the few people who actually stores music as ALAC on my iPhone, so I really would appreciate a lossless option, besides using a convoluted solution of iPhone to adapter to DAC to headphone. That solution is so clumsy that it looks like an accident waiting to happen when you are walking around, or on your daily commute.


The road to Hell is paved with good intentions...

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8 hours ago, Musicophile said:

FYI, I noticed that the 48khz limitation only applies to the headphone output.

 

I guess the 96khz works for the internal speaker.

This is hilarious! As if the internal speakers will ever yield better sound quality that what you can potentially get through your headphones! :P

 

This is kind of like the iPhone 7 with the higher spec'ed DAC that is in the phone linked to the speaker, and the lower spec'ed DAC that is in the adapter for the headphones. I suppose Apple will argue that not everyone uses the adapter, but almost everyone uses the speaker (for the click sounds when you use the UI).


The road to Hell is paved with good intentions...

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