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Article: Amazon Music HD Is Still Lossy


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5 minutes ago, asdf1000 said:

@The Computer Audiophile what's the status of Amazon Music HD on the Bluesound Node 2i ?

 

That's not bitperfect with auto sample rate switching, using it's digital output?

That’s the one product I wish I had here for testing, but I don’t. My guess is that the Node 2i can’t make a lossy stream lossless if you know what I mean. 

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6 minutes ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

My guess is that the Node 2i can’t make a lossy stream lossless if you know what I mean. 

 

I def get what you mean but how do you know the stream itself is lossy?

 

From what I understood from your article, you haven't been able to confirm bit perfect playback with the stuff you have to playback (and I see that is a common frustration with people using the desktop and mobile apps for Amazon Music HD).

 

But that doesn't mean the stream itself is lossy?

 

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4 minutes ago, asdf1000 said:

 

I def get what you mean but how do you know the stream itself is lossy?

 

From what I understood from your article, you haven't been able to confirm bit perfect playback with the stuff you have to playback (and I see that is a common frustration with people using the desktop and mobile apps for Amazon Music HD).

 

But that doesn't mean the stream itself is lossy?

 

I manually setup macOS, Windows 10, and tried a Sonia Port (more on that in another article). With manual setup, I should be able to get lossless for a single sample rate if the stream is lossless. If the stream is lossless but the apps can’t reproduce a lossless stream with any configuration, this would be the first time I’ve ever seen this. 
 

The issues usually come about when switching sample rates or getting the sample rate of the output to match the input stream. Once this is manually set and all the other gremlins are tended to (no EQ, volume to 100%, etc...) the app just passes along what’s sent to it. 
 

As it stands now, if one can’t get lossless audio from a service through any known/tested means, I have to conclude its lossy. I wish there was other hardware integrated with the service.

 

If I can get a node 2i for testing I’ll get it done. 

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2 minutes ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

if one can’t get lossless audio from a service through any known/tested means, I have to conclude its lossy. I wish there was other hardware integrated with the service.

 

All noted. I would completely agree with this conclusion if you had also confirmed with a Node 2i. 

 

It's possible you may need to do a major update to your article after testing with a Node 2i (or maybe not).

 

3 minutes ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

If I can get a node 2i for testing I’ll get it done. 

 

Ok cool.

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Just now, asdf1000 said:

 

All noted. I would completely agree with this conclusion if you had also confirmed with a Node 2i. 

 

It's possible you may need to do a major update to your article after testing with a Node 2i (or maybe not).

 

 

Ok cool.

Absolutely.
 

It would be strange if the company providing the stream offered no way of hearing it unaltered, but it’s possible. 

 

Sonos Port couldn’t play Amazon bit perfect, but it also couldn’t play bit perfect from Qobuz or Tidal. My old Sonos Connect had no trouble with this. If I can find my Connect and stream Amazon through it, this will provide an additional data point. 

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1 minute ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

Absolutely.
 

It would be strange if the company providing the stream offered no way of hearing it unaltered, but it’s possible. 

 

Sonos Port couldn’t play Amazon bit perfect, but it also couldn’t play bit perfect from Qobuz or Tidal. My old Sonos Connect had no trouble with this. If I can find my Connect and stream Amazon through it, this will provide an additional data point. 

 

Even if I don't entirely agree with your current conclusion, I really don't blame you for giving up on Amazon Music HD for now, given there is the Qobuz option.

 

There are so many ways to enjoy bitperfect with Qobuz, so I definitely get ya.

 

If Amazon Music HD were available where I am, I would have tried testing with a Node 2i long ago. I tried to signup to Amazon Music HD via VPN but it ultimately needs a credit card with billing address in one of the 4 countries it has launched, so no VPN will help.

 

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5 hours ago, jcbenten said:

Amazon set up their music service to support their "smart", Alexia speakers...not to cater to a few hanging out in the corner messing around with cables, optical networks, and power supplies.  These little speakers are nifty and sound ok but are meant to be convenience devices stuck in a corner.  Much like Apple, Amazon is not going to mess around to satisfy the few even though Amazon probably has the power and $$ to make the labels create really good masterings of the music.  

I agree, but why did they need HD and Ultra HD for their crummy Alexa devices? Maybe HD is just a marketing angle, or hopefully they will provide access to more capable systems later.

“The best sounding audio product is the one that exhibits the least audible flaws.”

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8 minutes ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

If I can get a node 2i for testing I’ll get it done. 

 

The Node 2i is currently on sale for $449.00 USD. $100.00 off.

 

I had one on order specifically for Amazon HD but canceled when I read this thread.

 

DTS Play-Fi will also play amazon Music HD bit perfect.

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I compared a few Amazon Ultra HD tunes to FLAC zero compression CD rips in my NAS, through my headphone system. In each case, the CD rips sounded better.

“The best sounding audio product is the one that exhibits the least audible flaws.”

 Dr. Floyd Toole

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Just now, The Computer Audiophile said:

There’s no way to test this. Given my other testing with Play-Fi devices, I’d be absolutely shocked if this was bit perfect. 

 

I say bit perfect in the sense that the bit rate and sample rate change on my preamp to reflect what Amazon claims the track quality is.

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1 minute ago, Daren F said:

 

I say bit perfect in the sense that the bit rate and sample rate change on my preamp to reflect what Amazon claims the track quality is.

Ah, ok. 
 

This means the right sample rate is being played, but it isn’t indicative of bit perfect playback. In my tests I duplicated this by manually setting the sample rate, yet it still wasn’t lossless. 

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Hi Guys, I just put a request in to Lenbrook for a Bluesound Node 2i for testing. I explained what's going on and that I just want to provide this community with additional accurate information. If this falls through, I'll get one another way. 

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2 hours ago, audiobomber said:

I agree, but why did they need HD and Ultra HD for their crummy Alexa devices? Maybe HD is just a marketing angle, or hopefully they will provide access to more capable systems later.

 

Does not really cost Amazon anything to put those words out...and who knows?...maybe a couple of influencers will jump on and obfuscate the landscape ala MQA.

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On 10/13/2020 at 6:12 PM, The Computer Audiophile said:

It likely depends on other things like billing address but you could try something easy like Tunnel Bear and see. 

I'll try that.  I use a VPN when HDTracks or Acoustic sounds refuses to sell me materiel not 'licenced' for Canada.  It took me at least 16 years to get Ah Via Musicom 24-192.  If I was an artist, I'd be insenced that people are forbidden to buy my music because they live in the wrong country.  Kobuz should get off it's ... and open their service to those who will pay for it.

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On 10/13/2020 at 6:17 PM, Daren F said:

You can create an account with a VPN but payment will fail with a Canadian credit card or paypal account.

I may try it with Paypal, anyway.  I use it, not my card, to pay for tracks bought from HDT, with no problem.  It might work.  And, to keep it relevant: with Kobuz or other services, who needs to put even more money in Amazon Jeff's pocket?

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26 minutes ago, UELong said:

I may try it with Paypal, anyway.  I use it, not my card, to pay for tracks bought from HDT, with no problem.  It might work.  And, to keep it relevant: with Kobuz or other services, who needs to put even more money in Amazon Jeff's pocket?

 

Good luck, I hope it works for you. 

 

I even sent a message to customer service asking for an exception but they refused it.

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11 hours ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

No worries. I’ll get a node 2i one way or the other. I’d hate to have put out misinformation. 

 

This posted just last week:

 

image.thumb.png.379f03f5a7f65375655d2f511ee7b382.png

 

 

The crap UI via the BluOS app is a common complaint, but that's probably for a different article.

 

https://forums.stevehoffman.tv/threads/amazon-music-hd-weakest-link-my-streamer.955018/page-4#post-25135712

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1 hour ago, asdf1000 said:

 

This posted just last week:

 

image.thumb.png.379f03f5a7f65375655d2f511ee7b382.png

 

 

The crap UI via the BluOS app is a common complaint, but that's probably for a different article.

 

https://forums.stevehoffman.tv/threads/amazon-music-hd-weakest-link-my-streamer.955018/page-4#post-25135712

Thanks for the info. However, it’s a common misconception that sample rate = bit perfection. Think about it this way, play the right sample rate but crank the digital volume control way down. That’s chopping off tons of bits, yet the sample rate is right. 
 

I have a node 2i on the way. 

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5 hours ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

Thanks for the info. However, it’s a common misconception that sample rate = bit perfection. Think about it this way, play the right sample rate but crank the digital volume control way down. That’s chopping off tons of bits, yet the sample rate is right. 
 

I have a node 2i on the way. 

 

All noted, I don't automatically agree with that guy's conclusion either.

 

But correct auto sample rate switching on the Node 2i (if true) is already better than the official Amazon Music HD Windows and macOS and iOS apps.

 

Agreed, it Doesn't automatically mean it is bit perfect... may be, maybe not.

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No one answered, so I'll ask again. What is wrong with setting Windows to play all Amazon HD files at 24/192? Why is bit-perfect preferred?

 

I did some sound checks and found Amazon HD doesn't sound as good as a CD rip, but better than Google Play and YouTube Music. How do Tidal and Qobuz compare? A friend brought Roon/Tidal over with his Mac and I was not impressed at all. PRaT was not good.

“The best sounding audio product is the one that exhibits the least audible flaws.”

 Dr. Floyd Toole

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24 minutes ago, audiobomber said:

What is wrong with setting Windows to play all Amazon HD files at 24/192? Why is bit-perfect preferred?

This is where someone like @Miska could probably give a much better answer, but I’ll give you mine. 
 

Setting Windows to 192 means some DSP is taking place. Is the resampling done by the Amazon app or Windows? I’m guessing by Windows but I’m not totally sure. Either way, the DSP is likely of very low quality compared to the advanced processing of something like HQPlayer or a dCS Upsampler. I prefer to have a real high end app or component handle DSP rather than something that’s designed to increase compatibility like Windows processing. 

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40 minutes ago, audiobomber said:

I did some sound checks and found Amazon HD doesn't sound as good as a CD rip, but better than Google Play and YouTube Music. How do Tidal and Qobuz compare? A friend brought Roon/Tidal over with his Mac and I was not impressed at all. PRaT was not good.

 

I find that a locally stored files (rips) played with Roon or Jriver sound better than Tidal streams played with Roon.

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3 hours ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

This is where someone like @Miska could probably give a much better answer, but I’ll give you mine. 
 

Setting Windows to 192 means some DSP is taking place. Is the resampling done by the Amazon app or Windows? I’m guessing by Windows but I’m not totally sure. Either way, the DSP is likely of very low quality compared to the advanced processing of something like HQPlayer or a dCS Upsampler. I prefer to have a real high end app or component handle DSP rather than something that’s designed to increase compatibility like Windows processing. 

 

Setting default output format in Windows control panel to 192 for example means that is the format Windows audio engine doing software volume, mixing and rate conversion, outputs. It has certain output format because you could be playing hires content at the same time as email application needs to play "ding, you've got new email" notification and you watching a YouTube video on web browser. All three things mixed together into single output, although at different sampling rates from their respective applications.

 

macOS has equivalent control for CoreAudio engine.

 

Audiophile players use WASAPI Exclusive mode or ASIO driver to bypass this audio engine and claim exclusive control of the audio device. Also means that you won't get mixing of different source applications.

 

Signalyst - Developer of HQPlayer

Pulse & Fidelity - Software Defined Amplifiers

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