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Article: Apple Music's Lossless and Hi-Res Mess


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As an aside, there exists a (Windows) command-line utility that performs the HDCD level compensation function, but not the other dynamic EQ stuff I’ve not seen coherently explained. Still, it made a huge improvement on my Tom Petty box set. 
 

I could probably track it down again. 

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I spoke directly with Apple Support and asked them which setting in Apple Music (for Mac) would automatically adjust the audio format in Audio MIDI? They did not know and have bumped the query up the line. I will follow up with them tomorrow to hear their response.

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I land in the half-bucket as well. Apple going lossless was an “it will never happen” proposition just a couple of years ago. The new Monterrey OS will be the first completely new OS post the M1 chip launch. There will probably be many under the hood changes at that time since much of the system is on the chip. Or at least that’s what I hope. 

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Let's see.  We've got:

 

  • Amazon Music HD which dropped its pricing as a hedge against Apple Music and possibly Spotify going lossless.  But its interface is questionable, and true bit perfect hi res playback is available on a limited number of devices. 
  • Apple Music which appears to be releasing its lossless music in a "not quite ready for primetime", so we might not know what we have in this service for some time to come. 
  • Tidal, the MQA-addicted and thus (to me) worthless offering.   Pricing pressure applied by Amazon and increasing competition.
  • Qobuz, who has a very nice offering, truly lossless playback and is available on multiple devices.  However, its already dropped its pricing once in the last 12 months in response to Amazon and is facing renewed pricing and lossless streaming competition from more than just Amazon.
  • Spotify, going lossless at 16/44.1 at some point later this year.  Interface?  Great.  Lossless market availability?  Unknown.   Lossless tier pricing?  Unknown.
  • Deezer, lossless at 16/44.1, with a decent interface, but whose pricing may leave them out of step with their competitors. 

 

Enter the pool at your own risk. ;-)

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Another confirmation about Apple Music lossless turning to AAC via AirPlay comes from Shairport Sync (open source AirPlay receiver project):

 

https://github.com/mikebrady/shairport-sync/issues/1199

 

I can confirm as well that AirPlay to HomePod shows curiously as lossless streaming. 🙄

 

AirPlaying to Shairpot Sync, LUMIN T2 or AirServer (an AirPlay receiver app for Mac) show AAC lossy instead.

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5 hours ago, Marco Klobas said:

Here's the link of Naim's forum where the software director Steve Harris confirms that lossless Apple Music via AirPlay is sent in AAC (lossy):

 

https://community.naimaudio.com/t/apple-music-hifi-tier-incoming/16445/437

 

Same evidence is found on Roon's forum:

 

https://community.roonlabs.com/t/apple-music-high-res/159869/646

Strange LUMIN confirm it’s lossless and it sounds very good.

 

LUMIN + AirPlay

LUMIN is an AirPlay-compatible receiver. Streaming to LUMIN is lossless providing that the iPhone/iPad is set to maximum volume. LUMIN will appear on your iOS device with the name you have given it in the LUMIN App settings.

Setup:

Lumin D2> Roksan Blak> Focal 806

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Is Dolby Atmos the only way to play HiRes or is that only for multichannel and Apple has both 16/43 lossless and 24 bit HiRes albums available? 
I don’t currently have the Apple Camera kit (finally need to get one!) to try on my iPhone 12 Max yet and I have not yet tried on my MacBook Pro because from what’s described here, without auto switching in MIDI it just sounds like a pain in the ass! 
I did try a few albums (Sgt Peppers, Abby Road, and What’s Going On) via my Apple TV in Dolby Atmos yesterday. 
However, that goes through my Home Theater Pre Processor and not my 2 channel DAC rig. 
Also, unfortunately my multi channel amp for my Home Theater rig died on me recently, so I only have it going through my two mono amps powering the front two speakers at the moment. 
It does show the input as 5.1 Dolby, but due to my current temporary “stereo only” setup, the Home Theater processor is down sampling the 5.1 to stereo internally, so I think that defeats the HiRes anyhow (maybe not??). 
As is, it didn’t sound too bad, but not at all even a close match to Lossless, HiRes or DSD files streaming on my 2 channel rig via my Aurender server into my DAC. 
So, Qobuz for the definite win in ny setup for the moment. 
If Aurender implements and imbeds Apple Music into their ecosystem like Qobuz and Tidal, it could be equally as good, I’m hoping they may be able to eventually add it! 

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Did you try using Audirvana legacy mode, where it takes over playback tasks of iTunes but otherwise uses iTunes as front-end?

mini+Roon > dCS Rossini DAC + Rossini Master Clock 

SME 20/3 + SME V + Dynavector XV-1s > vdH The Grail

Audio Note Kondo Ongaku > Avantgarde Duo Mezzo G2

system pics

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7 hours ago, keeper said:

Strange LUMIN confirm it’s lossless and it sounds very good.

 

Yes, usually LUMIN handles AirPlay in lossless and works fine.

 

In this specific case is Apple Music that converts to AAC before sending the AirPlay stream.

 

I expected the issue with manual sample rate switching on Mac with a DAC. Disappointed to see that AirPlay is treated by Apple Music this way. I hoped at least to have a lossless stream at 44.1 kHz wirelessly.

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1 hour ago, miguelito said:

Did you try using Audirvana legacy mode, where it takes over playback tasks of iTunes but otherwise uses iTunes as front-end?

 

I've tried with Audirvana legacy mode and got the same result.

 

Now, this is interesting:

 

If I choose AirPlay in Music app, then the stream is converted in AAC, as said. If I choose AirPlay system wide (through volume icon on the menu bar) the stream remains lossless!

 

Why Music app (specifically) turns lossless AirPlay into AAC is beyond me.

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2 hours ago, Marco Klobas said:

Why Music app (specifically) turns lossless AirPlay into AAC is beyond me.


I’m guessing it’s to save bandwidth ($$); they want to limit people pulling lossless files from their servers. Especially as there is no benefit to lossless for the majority of their users.

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So, can someone give me the short "for dummies" version - is there a reasonable way to get lossless and/or losslossless hi-res to your stereo system from this service?

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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3 hours ago, Marco Klobas said:

Yes, usually LUMIN handles AirPlay in lossless and works fine.

 

In this specific case is Apple Music that converts to AAC before sending the AirPlay stream.

 

Current firmware for all models of Lumin network streamers only supports ALAC and does not accept AAC in the current implementation of AirPlay 1.

Peter Lie

LUMIN Firmware Lead

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6 minutes ago, wklie said:

Current firmware for all models of Lumin network streamers only supports ALAC and does not accept AAC in the current implementation of AirPlay 1.

 

Thanks, @wklie.

 

Strange that Music app shows AAC while streaming via AirPlay to my LUMIN T2. As said, when AiPlay is chosen system wide (not from Music app) it shows ALAC.

 

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My speculation is that in this scenario you're getting an AAC stream from the service, then it gets converted to ALAC and is sent to Lumin.  Perhaps watching a network traffic monitor may prove or disprove this speculation.

 

So it's best to choose the system wide AirPlay instead, such that the app shows it's lossless.  In this usage, please set the Mac to 44.1kHz since Lumin AirPlay is currently fixed at 44.1kHz.

Peter Lie

LUMIN Firmware Lead

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12 hours ago, wklie said:

 

For stereo tracks, at this time you get the best (neither claiming nor denying it is lossless delivery) results from having a USB DAC connected to an iOS device (via an appropriate adapter) but not a Mac.

 

I’m pretty sure, but don’t think I have the equipment to confirm, that you get lossless audio — not “hi-res lossless,” but up to 24/48 — from Apple TV boxes connected via HDMI; enabling lossless audio is, at the least, now an option in settings.

Life was so much cheaper when I couldn't hear a difference between these things.

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4 minutes ago, ChipotleCoyote said:

 

I’m pretty sure, but don’t think I have the equipment to confirm, that you get lossless audio — not “hi-res lossless,” but up to 24/48

 

A resolution of 24bit/48kHz is considered hi-res.

We will win because our NHS is the beating heart of this country. It is the best of this country. It is unconquerable. It is powered by love.

-- Boris Johnson

 

We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.

-- Jo Cox

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18 minutes ago, Cebolla said:

A resolution of 24bit/48kHz is considered hi-res.

 

Not by Apple’s definitions. :) I’m literally looking at the dropdown in iTunes for Audio Quality right now, and the options are, verbatim:

  • High Quality (AAC 256 kbps)
  • Lossless (ALAC up to 24-bit/48 kHz)
  • High Resolution Lossless (ALAC up to 24-bit/192 kHz)

Life was so much cheaper when I couldn't hear a difference between these things.

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Considering the number of things that are currently not quite right with Apple Music's new lossless & hi-res offerings, a possible typo in the Audio Quality setting's Lossless option would be par for the course.

We will win because our NHS is the beating heart of this country. It is the best of this country. It is unconquerable. It is powered by love.

-- Boris Johnson

 

We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.

-- Jo Cox

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