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Article: Amazon Music HD With iOS, macOS, Windows 10, BluOS, and a Sonos Port

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There is a thread commenting on Amazon Music HD active for one month now at the Amazon forum. Posters have been complaining about sound quality on Windows 10 and lack of exclusive mode from the start and Amazon keeps posting the same polite canned responses thanking for feedback with no indication they are actively addressing the problems we have with the service. It looks like posting has slowed down as readers are realizing Amazon does not appear to be really interested in correcting problems audiophiles have with Amazon Music HD.

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Thanks Chris,

As long as Amazon doesn't offer an exclusive mode for the Win10 app it's a non starter for me. That's a shame since there's so much potential at hand to offer HD level music at a very reasonable cost.  :(


"The gullibility of audiophiles is what astonishes me the most, even after all these years. How is it possible, how did it ever happen, that they trust fairy-tale purveyors and mystic gurus more than reliable sources of scientific information?"

Peter Aczel - The Audio Critic

no-mqa-sm.jpg

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I have a Bluesound node 2i directly connected to a AustinTrew power amp and Focal speakers.

 

Really simple to navigate and sounds great, no interest in bit perfect, exclusive mode etc, etc, I listen to and enjoy the music not chase numbers and technical details that don’t prove that you will enjoy what you are listening to, isn’t that the whole point of music?


Setup:

Amazon Music HD >Bluesound Node2i> Antelope Zodiac Gold with Voltikus PSU > Austin Trew AT5000 > Focal 806

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Thank you Chris. I also hope Amazon improves the service. I've had a pretty good experience so far and will continue using it when my trial ends. I don't love the UI but I'm getting used to it. Nor do I much like Bluesound's integration. A Bluesound support dude on their forum stated once Amazon releases some new code (which they are currently working on) Bluesound will update their integration.

 

I've been going back and forth between my Bluesound Node 2 and Sonore microRendu. The Node 2 is very convenient. I have it wired via analog out and digital out to my DAC. Both sound quite good with the digital connection edging out the analog. I like that both outputs are active at the same time .. sometimes I just don't want to fire up the DAC.

For the microRendu I use Shairport (AirPlay emulator) in conjunction with Amazon's iOS app/AirPlay on my iPad. Shairport is limited to 16/44.1 (according to a member here who enlighted me) thus everything above that rate is down-converted. The sound quality is fantastic nonetheless. In fact, I'd venture to say it's better than the Node 2 at any bit/sample rate.
 

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For Sonos, it would be interesting if someone could clock the Sonos device on their router while playing "HD" and "Ultra HD" tracks to determine if both are in the right bitrate range for 16/44.1 FLAC.

 

I figured that Amazon Music would also have a "HD" 16/44.1 version of every track they have in "Ultra HD", rather than doing real-time downsampling to each Sonos device, for example...unless Sonos can downsample.

 

Heos (at least built-in Heos) supports "HD" and "Ultra HD" at their native bit depths and sampling rates.  But, as I've mentioned before, the Amazon Music app within Heos in clunky and lacks My Music. 

 

Not sure if the Heos Link HS2 will do 24/192 from the digital outs, but I would guess it can.

 

If Heos adds My Music, it will become a great platform for Amazon Music HD.  The $350 Heos Link HS2 is not "too bad" of an add-on cost, IMO.

 

I'm surprised Amazon does not make a streaming box that can decode and digitally output the full native native bit depths and sampling rates.  Seems like they should have had this available at the time of the launch.  However, if such a box existed, it's not clear how it would integrate with the Amazon Music app, since Alexa Cast only directs the "SD" lossy stream, IME.

 

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I have used Tidal and Qobuz before with a node2i running both optical and analog out to my Outlaw rr2160 for comparison of the DACs in the node2i and the receiver.  They sound pretty much the same to my 61 year old nonaudiophile ears.  I am trialing Amazon HD and find the sound quality to be just as good as CD or MQA or PCM (Qobuz) from the other services.  I can find all of the music I want but the Bluos app on Android isn't as efficient in finding music on Amazon as it is on Tidal or Qobuz.  Maybe it will improve?  My receiver does flash the sampling rates on an optical input so I know I'm getting 192k when it's available.  Frankly I can't hear the difference between sampling rates anyway.  I do think the sound is a touch more detailed on 24bit as opposed to 16bit but it also depends on the quality of the recording.  My bottom line is I'm committed to streaming as my main listening mode and Amazon sounds as good as Tidal and Qobuz at a significantly lower cost.  I'll stick with Amazon after the trial with an annual subscription which is even more cost effective.

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Amazon certainly knows that both Tidal and Qobuz offer exclusive mode playback. Who enters a market without checking out the competition?

 

Considering they aren't addressing complaints on their own forum they may feel that the current product is "good enough" at the price. I think the best chance we have for bit perfect playback on our computers is if they open their API to Audirvana or Roon, and I don't believe we will hear about that until it happens.

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In my Philly apt for the work week I have a Yamaha RN-303 with a Marantz Cd Player and Focal 716 speakers - I also have a Gen 1 Amazon Fire TV box.  The Yamaha has integrated pandora and Spotify but alas no Amazon music app.

 

WRT the Amazon music Ultra HD= hi res- I have 2 data points to share in case they are helpful to someone in the forum:

Content that Amazon says is 24/196 is transmitted via toslink from the fireTV to the Yamaha at 16/44.
The same content transmitted via airplay from an iPad using the Amazon music IOS app to the Yamaha plays at 16/44.  
16/44 still sounds pretty good, to me, though it seems to drain the batter of my iPad about 4X.


Best Stereo System: Wired Sonos Connect -> AQ Cinammon Digital Coax -> Marantz SA-8005 -> AA Black Momba 2 interconnects -> Marantz PM-15S2 -> Kimber 8TC speaker Cables -> Zu Soul Superfly speakers.

 

Ingest> NAS> Distribution: Sony Vaio Laptop ripping via ITunes to Apple Lossless, manually synced to WD Mycloud NAS, Linksys 1900AC Router, Netgear Gig E switch, generic Ethernet cables, TPLinc ethernet power line extenders.

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Thanks for the article.  
 

in my case, in my system,  it works through my Mac mini connected to my DAC which required change of but rate through midi.  But compared to Tidal through Audirvana + on the same machine, there is no contest.  Audirvana + through microRendu is even better.

 

I listen to it in my car now until the free trial runs out.  After that I will get it if it is incorporated into Audirvana +.  I have posted a massage to Amazon saying that and they thanked me, saying my comments are important to them and have been forwarded to their tech group for feasibility.


2 Channel: Mac mini with Audirvana + & A+ Remote -> Netgear AC170 -> microRendu -> Chord Mojo -> oppo HA-1 -> Arcam  P49 -> B&W 804 D3

5 Channel: Apple TV/Sony XBR-65A9G -> Rotel RSP-1098 -> oppo HA-1 (bypass) -> Arcam P49 -> B&W 804 D3 (L/R), Arcam P349 -> B&W 804 D3 (C), B&W 805 D3 (RR/LR)

 

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1 hour ago, bluesman said:

"Communication with Amazon has been nearly impossible".....and typical of their interaction with stakeholders who aren't major players in their business plan.  I've been building an internet startup for about 2 years now, and signed the business up as an Amazon Affiliate over a year ago so we could host ads on our website for relevant items and generate some operating revenue along with exposure. 

 

Their requirement for maintaining Affiliate status is at least one sale by click-through within the first 180 days.   We had 5 - but they canceled the account anyway.  When I asked why, I got a bizarre response that they don't count purchases made by anyone already known to our business because they have this program to generate new customers.  My response was that the purchases were made by individuals from IP addresses easily verified as independent of us and on the other side of the country, and that so many people already have Amazon accounts that it's almost impossible to find customers truly new to Amazon. I got no response to this.

 

Amazon has some of the finest, most creative minds on the planet working for them, along with world class solution designers, coders, etc.  And their IT infrastructure is among the best in the world.  I migrated my entire web presence (5 active sites at present) to AWS about 2 years ago because it's so good and such great value. They must also have some experienced audiophiles among their ranks.  So they really ought to be able to come up with a more elegant solution than this one, given that they have the entire music supply chain covered from source material through delivery.

 

they might let you "chat" with a 12 year old in India

 

or, you can Email Jeff - that worked for me


"The overwhelming majority [of audiophiles] have very little knowledge, if any, about the most basic principles and operating characteristics of audio equipment. They often base their purchasing decisions on hearsay, and the preaching of media sages. Unfortunately, because of commercial considerations, much information is rooted in increasing revenue, not in assisting the audiophile. It seems as if the only requirements for becoming an "authority" in the world of audio is a keyboard."

-- Bruce Rozenblit of Transcendent Sound

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18 hours ago, jdjaye said:

In my Philly apt for the work week I have a Yamaha RN-303 with a Marantz Cd Player and Focal 716 speakers - I also have a Gen 1 Amazon Fire TV box.  The Yamaha has integrated pandora and Spotify but alas no Amazon music app.

 

WRT the Amazon music Ultra HD= hi res- I have 2 data points to share in case they are helpful to someone in the forum:

Content that Amazon says is 24/196 is transmitted via toslink from the fireTV to the Yamaha at 16/44.
The same content transmitted via airplay from an iPad using the Amazon music IOS app to the Yamaha plays at 16/44.  
16/44 still sounds pretty good, to me, though it seems to drain the batter of my iPad about 4X.

 

Also - from my ipad (2018), either from the internal speakers or the 3.5 mm headphone jack, the same 24/192 track is reported as playing out at 24/48


Best Stereo System: Wired Sonos Connect -> AQ Cinammon Digital Coax -> Marantz SA-8005 -> AA Black Momba 2 interconnects -> Marantz PM-15S2 -> Kimber 8TC speaker Cables -> Zu Soul Superfly speakers.

 

Ingest> NAS> Distribution: Sony Vaio Laptop ripping via ITunes to Apple Lossless, manually synced to WD Mycloud NAS, Linksys 1900AC Router, Netgear Gig E switch, generic Ethernet cables, TPLinc ethernet power line extenders.

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"How does the user know which sample rate is being streamed from Amazon?". 

 

I don't understand. If you click on the Ultra HD square it tells you. It also tells you what your device is capable of. So if I play from my iPhone using the Apple dongle it recognizes it's only capable of 48/24. If I plug in my Dragonfly it recognizes it's capable of 96/24. And it always says it's playing at the resolution it was downloaded at--unless it's 192/24 and it has to downgrade it to my device's upper capability. So if I download a 96/24 album it says it's playing at 96/24 with the Dragonfly but only 48/24 when I rely on Apple's dongle or my Bluetooth headphones.    

 

I'm not an audiophile expert, but I'm not understanding the issue. Unless Amazon is lying, aren't these tracks already playing at the resolution they are supposed to be playing at?

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On 10/16/2019 at 2:11 PM, The Computer Audiophile said:

I agree with some of what you say in that we never know how close a recording is to the actual event, if there was an actual event, because we weren't there. However, to use an extreme example,  we could take one's favorite music and keep reducing the quality until it isn't recognizable. Then go back up the quality scale. There are points on this continuum where music is more enjoyable than others. That's my point. Music can be more enjoyable for many if the quality is increased. This has noting to do with accuracy to an event, but accuracy to the recording as delivered by an artist. 

+1 

Without an available exclusive stream path, who knows what SQ you'll end up with at the speakers after the stream navigates whatever digital paths your individual system may be putting it thru.

In the end you might be better off with the still cheaper Spotify Premium with which "Spotify Connect" can send it's stream directly into many of todays media players. Spotify still has arguably the largest catalog of music and best UI of all the current streamers.


"The gullibility of audiophiles is what astonishes me the most, even after all these years. How is it possible, how did it ever happen, that they trust fairy-tale purveyors and mystic gurus more than reliable sources of scientific information?"

Peter Aczel - The Audio Critic

no-mqa-sm.jpg

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I see that (amongst a number of others) that Arcam are displayed as a 'preferred brand' for Amazon Music. Does anybody know what support for Amazon they are bringing to their line-up of streamers? Or is it more vaporware?

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