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Article: UPDATE: Amazon Music HD Is Still Lossy*


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I bought a Node 2i, and it's terrific for Qobuz when played through a good but modest system (Bifrost, NAD, B&W CM-1), but could not come close to matching local files on my primary system (Yggy, McIntosh, B&W 805).  When everything needs to be perfect, streaming is not (yet...)

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@The Computer Audiophile

 

My hunch was correct - it's just an issue with Amazon's apps (desktop and mobile)...

 

All they need is to do is workout proper 'Exclusive Mode' which they still haven't figured out. It's there but not working correctly. 

 

Glad to see my nagging you to get a Node 2i (to bypass their apps) worked well.

 

Thanks for testing this. I don't have Amazon Music HD in my country to test.

 

Maybe for a different review but I've read a lot about how shit Amazon Music HD is to use via the Bluesound, compared to their desktop apps, in terms of UI / UX.

 

And this is no fault of Bluesound - on their forum they say they are constantly asking Amazon for better API support but hearing nothing back.

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5 hours ago, whell said:

 

Interesting that you found MQA content on Amazon.  Which album lit the MQA indictor?  Was it one of the albums mentioned above?  Had no idea that Amazon was working with Bob Stuart and company.

 

 

It's the same issue with Qobuz , like with 2L recordings

 

Chris tested a couple 2L albums for me in the MQA thread.

 

So it's a label thing not streaming service thing

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Man, I'm confused.  Have the Amazon app on my music Mac Mini, pay for HD version, and who I played a couple of new albums yesterday - Dave Grissom's, Matt Scofield's and a tune by Scary Goldings with Josh Smith (I like guitar).  It all sounded pretty nice and my Mytek B+ displayed that the files fed by USB from Mini to B+ were CD quality? 

 

Not sure how to find stuff on Amazon Music HD that is higher resolution than CD quality to test? 

 

FWIW, the Mini is connected to the web by WiFi (Netgear hub is in next room, 6 ft linear from the Mini).

 

 

Tone with Soul

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4 hours ago, 57gold said:

Man, I'm confused.  Have the Amazon app on my music Mac Mini, pay for HD version, and who I played a couple of new albums yesterday - Dave Grissom's, Matt Scofield's and a tune by Scary Goldings with Josh Smith (I like guitar).  It all sounded pretty nice and my Mytek B+ displayed that the files fed by USB from Mini to B+ were CD quality? 

 

Not sure how to find stuff on Amazon Music HD that is higher resolution than CD quality to test? 

 

FWIW, the Mini is connected to the web by WiFi (Netgear hub is in next room, 6 ft linear from the Mini).

 

 

The issue is the Amazon app sends it to Windows mixer where it gets altered. If you set your Windows mixer to hi-res then it will stay in that sample rate. Still won't be bit perfect.

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Listening: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)+Schiit Freya>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: RPi 3B+ running RoPieee to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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7 hours ago, 57gold said:

Man, I'm confused.  Have the Amazon app on my music Mac Mini, pay for HD version, and who I played a couple of new albums yesterday - Dave Grissom's, Matt Scofield's and a tune by Scary Goldings with Josh Smith (I like guitar).  It all sounded pretty nice and my Mytek B+ displayed that the files fed by USB from Mini to B+ were CD quality? 

 

Not sure how to find stuff on Amazon Music HD that is higher resolution than CD quality to test? 

 

FWIW, the Mini is connected to the web by WiFi (Netgear hub is in next room, 6 ft linear from the Mini).

 

 

No worries. Sample rate isn’t a decent indicator of bit perfect audio. You can take a CD quality WAV file and convert it to MP3. It will still be 16/44.1 but irreversibly damaged / lossy. 
 

The Amazon interface shows stuff as HD and UHD but will only show sample rate once playback starts. 

Founder of Audiophile Style

Announcing Polestar | Quick Community Reviews and Ratings

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1 hour ago, MWDeBoard said:

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could tell the difference by just listening and didn’t need some sort of visual confirmation?

Of course one can tell the difference between good sound, great sound, and lousy sound.  No visual confirmation required.  But if you want to know if you are getting the best sound for a particular piece of music, you do need something more.  Chris's piece here is one aspect.  The Dynamic Range Database is another.  AS's ongoing Best Version Of series is a third.

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4 hours ago, firedog said:

The issue is the Amazon app sends it to Windows mixer where it gets altered. If you set your Windows mixer to hi-res then it will stay in that sample rate. Still won't be bit perfect.

 

Guess I don't understand sample rate versus bit perfect. Par for the course for me as I miss 80% of the tech talking here. 

 

 I use a Mac so where does Amazon app "send it" to get altered, iTunes?

 

FWIW, the Amazon HD files sound better than MP3s, made the mistake of assuming that iTunes sold CD quality downloads years ago and bought an album (Gregg Allman's) and it sounded miserable. 

Tone with Soul

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46 minutes ago, 57gold said:

 

Guess I don't understand sample rate versus bit perfect. Par for the course for me as I miss 80% of the tech talking here. 

 

 I use a Mac so where does Amazon app "send it" to get altered, iTunes?

 

FWIW, the Amazon HD files sound better than MP3s, made the mistake of assuming that iTunes sold CD quality downloads years ago and bought an album (Gregg Allman's) and it sounded miserable. 

Hey @57gold, you’re in the same boat as most people. Thanks for asking the questions/making the points. 
 

Sample rate vs. bit perfect:

 

Start with a CD quality file. It’s 16/44.1.  Play it without altering anything and it’s bit perfect at 16/44.1. 
 

Using iTunes, turn down the volume 90% and it will still be 16/44.1, but no longer bit perfect because the digital volume control removes bits to reduce volume. 
 

In this case it’s simple to hear the loss because it’s a massive volume reduction. All DACs and software that only show sample rate will still say 16/44.1, which doesn’t indicate the bits are no longer all present. 

Founder of Audiophile Style

Announcing Polestar | Quick Community Reviews and Ratings

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The non-bit-perfect investigation is interesting, but my question is, how does Amazon HD sound versus Tidal and Qobuz? 

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

 Dr. Floyd Toole

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If only Amazon HD had Spotify's apps and algorithms!  For now I will stream lossy proudly.  I let my Amazon HD expire in favor of staying with the green and black.

RIG:  MB Pro - Benchmark DAC3 L - LA4  AHB2 | Paradigm Sig S6 Cables:  Van Damme, Canare 4S11, Lifatec optical, Wireworld and IsoTek power

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12 hours ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

Hey @57gold, you’re in the same boat as most people. Thanks for asking the questions/making the points. 
 

Sample rate vs. bit perfect:

 

Start with a CD quality file. It’s 16/44.1.  Play it without altering anything and it’s bit perfect at 16/44.1. 
 

Using iTunes, turn down the volume 90% and it will still be 16/44.1, but no longer bit perfect because the digital volume control removes bits to reduce volume. 
 

In this case it’s simple to hear the loss because it’s a massive volume reduction. All DACs and software that only show sample rate will still say 16/44.1, which doesn’t indicate the bits are no longer all present. 

 

OK, may be a dumb question...but if the shoe fits!

 

So, if I stream from Amazon HD on my Mini with both the app volume and iTunes volume maxed, and then use the analog attenuator on the B+ to modulate volume, do I have bit perfect play back from Amazon HD?

Tone with Soul

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33 minutes ago, 57gold said:

 

OK, may be a dumb question...but if the shoe fits!

 

So, if I stream from Amazon HD on my Mini with both the app volume and iTunes volume maxed, and then use the analog attenuator on the B+ to modulate volume, do I have bit perfect play back from Amazon HD?

No. The apps for Windows and macOS are incapable of bit perfect. 

Founder of Audiophile Style

Announcing Polestar | Quick Community Reviews and Ratings

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