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Amazon Remastering Music With Universal and Warner Music


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This has serious implications for streaming, not just those of us who like quality. This content seems to be exclusive to Amazon. That stinks. 

 

The article is linked here, but is behind a paywall. Below is some info. 

 

https://www.ft.com/content/26bdd300-e907-4036-a908-ad7ac2d634e7

 

Note: If you click this link to a Google search, you may get to read the article without paying, as it's the first result and sometimes FT allows reading this way.

 

Amazon has teamed up with Universal Music and Warner Music to remaster thousands of popular streaming tracks to better-than-CD audio quality, as the music industry tries to lure listeners to pricier subscriptions. 

 

In addition to a standard $10 a month streaming service comparable to Spotify, Amazon offers a high-definition option that delivers songs to smartphones at CD sound quality or better. This service costs $15 a month, or $13 a month for members of its Prime shipping programme. The ecommerce group has spent the past year working to boost its pricier streaming service with albums from stars including Lady Gaga, Nirvana, Ariana Grande and Bob Marley in what it calls "ultra high-definition." To do so, Universal Music went back to the original recordings of albums such as Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye's Diana & Marvin and worked with sound engineers to remaster them. Amazon says the audio will "reveal nuances that were once flattened in files compressed for digital streaming or CD manufacturing." The move comes as the inflow of cash from music streaming has slowed over the past year as the market matures

 

There is a “real business case to take high-quality audio to the mainstream”, Steve Boom, Amazon’s head of music, told the Financial Times in an interview. As streaming has become mainstream in the US and Europe, Amazon is betting that sound quality will give it an advantage in the battle for customers. The only other big music service that offers high-definition streaming is Tidal, at a cost of at least $20 a month. Amazon in January said it had 55m music users. 

 

“We’re not marketing this to be just for audiophiles,” Mr Boom said. “Our focus is making this mainstream”.

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2 hours ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

 

Good to know, I've always wanted a more readable Bible ...

Frank

 

http://artofaudioconjuring.blogspot.com/

 

 

Over and out.

.

 

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Quick..someone tell these fools to leave the damn "Loudness" levels the hell alone of those probably pristine original masters they are referring to. That is,  if they want to have a chance of achieving what they are attempting to do.

 

O...almost forgot about also telling them to not try and pull off selling HiRez stuff that was just upsampled from RedBook.

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As expected, it’s a soup sandwich. Does anyone involved high high resolution audio at Amazon have any clue what’s going on? Seems like they don’t. 
 

Here’s Charles Mingus. Supposed to be newly remastered exclusive content to Amazon. But, the date on the album is 1995. Other than clicking the special button on the front page to show the exclusives, there’s no way to know what’s a newly remastered exclusive. 
 

In addition, there’s virtually no good way to play this stuff on a HiFi system. 
 

D9644304-E9BD-4C35-9890-2072767945DC.jpeg

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This is an issue as far as Qobuz’s catalog goes:  

 

https://www.musicbusinessworldwide.com/amazon-music-partners-with-universal-warner-to-exclusively-offer-streaming-albums-in-better-than-cd-quality-ultra-hd/

 

Exclusives should not be allowed to any service. Something like this was tried already years ago and thankfully the labels stopped it.  Although this is slightly different in that they are doing it with resolutions which also should not be allowed. Doesn’t bode well for Qobuz or any of the other services...

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FYI - here's a link to access the original article without having to mess around

 

https://archive.is/sc75Z

 

They could have all that remastering in the world but unfortunately getting proper access to their offerings might seem to be a futile attempt of some sort

 

https://support1.bluesound.com/hc/en-us/community/posts/360037587193-Amazon-music-support-roadmap

Quote

Thanks for your feedback. We have had discussions with Amazon about the limited experience in their service due to their Application Programming Interface (API) they provide to us and other third party services.

 

https://community.roonlabs.com/t/integration-of-amazon-music-high-resolution/68649/833

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Given that Amazon can’t/won’t do bit perfect, at least on Windows, I would venture to suggest that anything Roon did would be a meaningful improvement on that OS.

 

For Android devices, we definitely need either DTA (Direct Transport Audio) or AGLO "Android Global Lossless Output" or else it ain't gonna bypass the "automagic" audio sampling. Both features could only be found on selected few portable DAPs from China.

 

Not sure if their Amazon Music HD apps were allowed to access any USB DACs / DDCs connected to Windows PCs through this "Your Phone Companion" thingy, while bit-perfect audio could be delivered accordingly?

 

Your Phone Companion - Link to Windows

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.microsoft.appmanager&hl=en

 

Supported devices for Your Phone app experiences

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4551890/supported-devices-for-your-phone-experiences

 

How to use Microsoft Your Phone Companion on your Galaxy smartphone

https://insights.samsung.com/2020/08/14/how-to-use-microsoft-your-phone-companion-on-your-galaxy-smartphone/

Quote

Note that when placing calls from the Your Phone app on your PC, the call is really being made by your phone, but the audio will come through your PC.

 

And then we're pretty much left with this Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adapter for iOS devices, far from audiophile quality

 

https://www.apple.com/shop/product/MK0W2AM/A/lightning-to-usb-3-camera-adapter

 

Marantz and Sonos should be doing their own things but none of us would like to see anything like this

 

https://en.community.sonos.com/music-services-and-sources-228994/will-any-sonos-product-support-ultrahd-from-amazon-6830209

Quote

Nope. Sonos supports up to 16/48.

 

Gosh, what a joke and a half.

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I have some comment as I know some of the folks involved on the music side.  Amazon is not driving this- Universal is.  Universal wants to go back at an amazing catalog of titles and release them in higher rez and ATMOS.  Amazon is just the delivery channel.  That in and of itself is a fantastic development, that a company that size wants to buy higher rez music because they think we'll buy it.  Tidal is lovely, but my kids have zero awareness of it without me saying "listen to this".  They are already using Amazon or Apple or Spotify- these are sources they know and as more and more big music companies get with it, we'll get a lot of content redone.  Hopefully this Universal Music project will make money with such content and cascade into more and more investment in hi rez music and delivery systems.  I expect there will be some silliness and some very nice new material.  Abbey Road in ATMOS is amazing- and remixed/created by Giles Martin, an extremely talented son of the original mix engineer.  That mix is available on Blu Ray in the Abbey Road Anniversary release.  

 

Some of this is the drive to remix back catalog in ATMOS, which when done correctly represents a move from 2 dimensional to real 3 dimensional audio.  You need a wider bandwidth to deliver all that, so its forcing the music delivery people to figure out how to increase bandwidth- AND resolution.  

Its top level engineers being hired to do this work, it being done at Blackbird Studios, Capitol, the old House of Blues in Nashville.  There is a challenge in figuring our how to master in ATMOS, so many of the ATMOS/Hi Rez titles are not mastered at all.  Imagine, for the first time, just remixed and released.  In many cases it has deep involvement from the original artists or family if they are no longer with us.  This is not the 70s and 80s when record companies (mostly all gone) controlled everything.  Loudness wars these days mostly impacts pop music destined for top 40 play and playback systems with extremely limited dynamic range (10dB maybe?). 

 

I cannot imagine why people would not encourage this work, for we are actually removing the corporate involvement in many of these record decisions and giving it back to the artist and engineer to build something new.  Expect to see all delivery systems to creep toward high rez and some will embrace ATMOS as more and more playback systems adapt this 3D format (played back mostly through headphones I expect).  I suspect one day everyone will be offering 24/96 as a minimum.

  

Brad

 

 

Brad Lunde

www.LoneMountainAudio.com (High End Consumer Importer to the Trade) and www.TransAudioGroup.com (High End Pro Audio Importer to the Trade)

Brands we import to the US are ATC, Tube Tech, Drawmer, MUTEC, Bettermaker 

Brands from the US we distribute are A Designs, Auratone, Daking, LatchLake and Mojave   

 

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3 hours ago, dmackta said:

Hi all -- anything exclusive to Amazon is only temporary, Qobuz will have all the available 24-bit remasters from Warner and Universal after a short window. Not exactly sure how short. 

 

I am pushing the labels to give the good people of Qobuz something exclusive. 

 

Amazon is in a totally different game than us. 

Thanks. That is good to hear!

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On 10/2/2020 at 6:38 PM, The Computer Audiophile said:

In addition, there’s virtually no good way to play this stuff on a HiFi system.

I am demoing Amazon's free 90 day trial for Music HD, and use 2 ways to enjoy their hires titles through my systems.

 

1) For Alexa voice control: Fire TV Cube HDMI > Audio Extractor to S/PDIF > iFi S/PDIF iPurifier w/clean 5v power to digital input. Problem is Fire TV's 24-bit/48kHz limit; quality is OK anyway.

2) Amazon Music application running on desktop computer will supply streams up to the capability of the connected DAC. Sounds good, but no voice control.

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1 minute ago, Meridimac said:

2) Amazon Music application running on desktop computer will supply streams up to the capability of the connected DAC. Sounds good, but no voice control.

 

Thanks for the message. Have you checked to see if the audio is being sent to your audio device in its native resolution? The desktop app has been notorious for not switching sample rates and otherwise mangling the audio. 

 

In addition, there's no way to remote control it. So, it's sit at your computer and change tracks or nothing. 

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I consistently get native resolution to whichever output device I choose from an upgraded 2010 Mac Pro or a 2012 MacBook Pro.

 

The only remote control is the physical one included with Fire TV to play, pause or skip to the next song, or via voice command, or via their iOS app on iPhone or iPad. Like you, I've found nothing for the Macs.

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**In addition, for your reference, I also subscribe to Qobuz, Tidal and Roon. Possibly because I use HAF room correction filters within their convolution engine, my most realistic listening sessions are with Roon. That said, Amazon Music HD is less expensive, reasonably competitive sound-wise and offers a vast catalog of tunes that can be immediately accessed using voice command. -All pretty compelling for me.

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I just tried this and it still doesn’t work correctly. I have a DAC with a sample rate indicator, and it sends to your audio device at what you set it at. For example I was playing a 48khz song, but the indicator on my DAC shows 384khz input.

 

Maybe it might not be THAT easy then? Does it mean that the only way to confirm the TRUE sampling rate is something that's actually shown on the DAC itself?

 

mjg0Tell.jpg

 

As always their staff simply brushed a customer off just like this

 

https://www.amazonforum.com/s/question/0D54P00007SWdU3/amazon-music-hd-important-exclusive-mode-issue

 

Older discussions below

 

https://www.reddit.com/r/AmazonMusic/comments/fi3j0r/new_exclusive_mode_on_amazon_music_hd/

https://www.amazonforum.com/s/question/0D54P00006zSwiASAS/hd-and-ultra-hd-lack-of-exclusive-control-of-the-dac

 

Finally I don't really think this is getting anywhere close to a genuine solution for Mac either

 

https://audiophilestyle.com/ca/bits-and-bytes/amazon-music-hd-with-ios-macos-windows-10-bluos-and-a-sonos-port-r848/

Quote

The b bottom line with Amazon Music HD on macOS is that it's bit perfect, as long as the user sets the correct sample rate for the music. If one just streams 16/44.1, it won't be an issue. But, for those of us into true high resolution, this is a big pain and it's what spurred  the development of iTunes add-ons like Amarra, Pure Music, and Bit Perfect way back in the day. I have no desire to go back to the manual sample rate switching days.

 

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17 minutes ago, seeteeyou said:

 

Maybe it might not be THAT easy then? Does it mean that the only way to confirm the TRUE sampling rate is something that's actually shown on the DAC itself?

 

mjg0Tell.jpg

 

As always their staff simply brushed a customer off just like this

 

https://www.amazonforum.com/s/question/0D54P00007SWdU3/amazon-music-hd-important-exclusive-mode-issue

 

Older discussions below

 

https://www.reddit.com/r/AmazonMusic/comments/fi3j0r/new_exclusive_mode_on_amazon_music_hd/

https://www.amazonforum.com/s/question/0D54P00006zSwiASAS/hd-and-ultra-hd-lack-of-exclusive-control-of-the-dac

 

Finally I don't really think this is getting anywhere close to a genuine solution for Mac either

 

https://audiophilestyle.com/ca/bits-and-bytes/amazon-music-hd-with-ios-macos-windows-10-bluos-and-a-sonos-port-r848/

 

Yes, the only solution is to see what the DAC receives. 

Founder of Audiophile Style

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On 10/3/2020 at 2:38 AM, The Computer Audiophile said:

As expected, it’s a soup sandwich. Does anyone involved high high resolution audio at Amazon have any clue what’s going on? Seems like they don’t. 
 

Here’s Charles Mingus. Supposed to be newly remastered exclusive content to Amazon. But, the date on the album is 1995. Other than clicking the special button on the front page to show the exclusives, there’s no way to know what’s a newly remastered exclusive. 
 

In addition, there’s virtually no good way to play this stuff on a HiFi system. 
 

D9644304-E9BD-4C35-9890-2072767945DC.jpeg

 

Well, to me it's like trying to sell and turn to success something what has been screwed up in the past with awful mastering practices and smashed dynamic range!

--

Krzysztof Maj

http://mkrzych.wordpress.com/

"Music is the highest form of art. It is also the most noble. It is human emotion, captured, crystallised, encased… and then passed on to others." - By Ken Ishiwata

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4 hours ago, mkrzych said:

 

Well, to me it's like trying to sell and turn to success something what has been screwed up in the past with awful mastering practices and smashed dynamic range!

I hope you’re right. I wish we had access to the DR numbers of these releases. 

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Any news when Amazon Music HD will expand beyond the current 4 markets?

 

I realise the current 4 markets are the 4 biggest on the planet, so that made good sense of course.

 

But some of us outside of these 4 markets are patiently waiting.

 

 

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