Jump to content
IGNORED

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


Recommended Posts

17 minutes ago, Rsbrsvp said:

 

Look, anyone with apple music and amazon music who plays a AAC 256 file on apple and the same file on Amazon in FLAC- even without exclusive mode will hear that the FLAC is better- as it is not cutting any information.  Bit perfect would be anothe improvement, but just because amazon is not playing bit perfect does not mean that a FLAC (lossless) file has no advantage over a AAC or MP3 file.

 

Using the same logic, anyone with amazon music who plays a FLAC file on Amazon and the same file on Qobuz in FLAC bit perfect will hear that the Qobuz is better. So, something is lost somewhere.

 

Amazon, Apple and MQA all use the marketing definition of lossless.

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, Daren F said:

 

Using the same logic, anyone with amazon music who plays a FLAC file on Amazon and the same file on Qobuz in FLAC bit perfect will hear that the Qobuz is better. So, something is lost somewhere.

 

Amazon, Apple and MQA all use the marketing definition of lossless.

Not sure it means information was lost.  Perhaps- modified.  Perhaps not delivered by my network in the same way.

Link to post
Share on other sites

By the way- If I were a marketing consultant to the big three I would tell them- do you guys want to double your subscribers overnight?

 

Just add bit perfect exclusive mode and all of Tidal and Qobuz subscribers are yours within days.  

 

For this reason alone the big three should get this bit perfect thing right.  It is worth a fortune to them.

Link to post
Share on other sites
31 minutes ago, Rsbrsvp said:

By the way- If I were a marketing consultant to the big three I would tell them- do you guys want to double your subscribers overnight?

 

Just add bit perfect exclusive mode and all of Tidal and Qobuz subscribers are yours within days.  

 

For this reason alone the big three should get this bit perfect thing right.  It is worth a fortune to them.

 

A good portion of Tidal and Qobuz subscribers do so because of their integration with Roon.

Link to post
Share on other sites

OK- that's fair.  So they will loose half their customers to the big three if they get bit perfect right.  If the big three bring in Roon, Audrivana, ect, then thy get all of their customers.

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Rsbrsvp said:

By the way, my next prediction is that Tidal and Qobuz will be out of business within a few short years, especially if the big three do lossless correctly.

Qobuz has a good understanding HiFi/Audiophile customers such as myself, and I’m a happy subscriber to the top tier service. Apple has no understanding of this market, and serving that market consists of a lot more than ‘doing lossless correctly’. I own Apple products, but I’m never going to use their music services.

System (i): (Stack Audio Link/MoOde > 2Qute+MCRU psu; Gyrodec/SME V/Ortofon 2M Black/EAT E-Glo Petit/Magnum Dynalab FT101A) > Glow Amp One > Klipsch RP-600M

System (ii): iUSB3.0 Nano/Allo USB Signature/MoOde > Bel Canto uLink+AQVOX psu > Chord Hugo > (Tandy LX5; JBL LSR305 ; Audeze LCD-3)

Link to post
Share on other sites

To tell you the truth,

 

I would never even consider Apple, Amazon, or Spotify over Qobuz if it were not for one problem.  I listen to modern genres and Qobuz has less than half of the music I want to listen to.

 

So for me- the opposite is true.  Even if the big three don't get bit perfect correct and don't understand audiophiles, I need to hear the music I like or it is worth nothing to me.

 

I find that hardware improvements like USB regenerators, OXCO clocks, my etherregen, ultra low noise power supplies and others along with software enhancements like "audiophile optimizer", "Fidilizer" etc... get this lossless although non bit perfect streaming so so good- that I do not feel I am lacking much.....  

 

If Qobuz had my music, I would be there tomorrow- period....

Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, vortecjr said:

I’m going to test Shairport-sync with stdout in the next couple days.

 

Yes, please do.

 

stdout avoids the feature of stuffing in shairport-sync.  Related settings including disable synchronization, drift tolerance, etc. may impact bit perfect delivery.

Peter Lie

LUMIN Firmware Lead

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Chris for providing a great service to us with this bit-perfect test, as you did previously with Amazon HD.

 

Your article and the discussion seem to revolve mainly around streaming lossless from Apple Music, which is understandable. I think it's also interesting to look deeper into what happens when you attempt to purchase and download lossless music from, what is still referred to as the iTunes Store.

 

I purchased the first track from Miles Davis's Kind of Blue, "So what". It showed up as lossless and this is while I had the option; "Download Dolby Atmos" checked in the Music app's General prefs.

 

The Miles Davis Album showed up as a "lossless"; but not a Spatial Audio album in the store.

 

What I got when I downloaded this track was a a file that appears within the "Apple Music" folder with an extension of .movpkg

 

This is actually a folder and when you right click on it and choose "Show package contents" you see a list of files. Some of these files end in the extension .frag

 

It is all of these files taken together which make up the actual lossless music file. Could this be why you experienced the HDCD light coming on and turning off, I wonder?

 

I've seen posts on Reddit where some folks tried to figure out ways to concatenate these .frag files together into the single music file.

 

It appears though they are also encrypted. So any attempt to concatenate them together and/or use ffmpeg to convert the result of those concatenated files to a single .mp4 file, have only resulted in a file which plays as silence.

 

Now, I don't want to get into any attempts to do this, or remove encryption from these files; but the sad fact of the matter appears to be, that Apple have re-introduced DRM into these lossless versions of the files.

 

Interestingly when I unchecked the "Download Dolby Atmos" option in the Music app, and attempted to purchase the second track, "Freddie Freeloader" from the iTunes store, I now got an AAC .m4a 256 kbps lossy file. So it appears that it's only by checking this option that you can download a file in lossless form, and remember, this is not an Atmos recording. I confirmed by re-checking the Atmos option and downloading "Freddie Freeloader" again and got the .movpkg encrypted (and fragmented file).

 

So this is sad news. From memory, Apple removed DRM protection for purchases of music from the iTunes store back in 2009. I was hoping the introduction of lossless from Apple would allow us to purchase and download lossless music from Apple, which we would then be free to play through any player of our choosing. Something we've been able to do from Qobuz from the beginning.

 

Apple have re-introduced DRM through the back door of lossless/Dolby Atmos, and the only player you'll be able to play them with, is Apple's own Music App.

 

I believe it must be these same .movpkg files that are streamed via HLS, I believe, when you use the Apple Music streaming service, and these should also stream via their web app, I guess, though I haven't tried it.

 

It is understandable that the files from Apple Music streaming would be encrypted; but I do wish this wasn't the case for purchases. I would also like to see options for purchases from Apple; just as we have on Qobuz. These could be Apple Lossless, Dolby Atmos or perhaps still AAC at 256 kbps at a lower price.

 

I'm inclined to be generous to Apple here, as they are in a period of transition, and I hold out hope that one day we'll be able to purchase and download files from the iTunes Store in Apple Lossless format ,as well as, download all our "matched" files from our iCloud Library (formerly iTunes Match), in Apple Lossless format, and play them back however we wish.

 

Apple; are you listening to us, as we try to listen to you!

 

 

Screenshot 2021-06-23 at 09.54.28.png

Screenshot 2021-06-23 at 10.02.17.png

 

Owner of: Sound Galleries, High-End Audio Dealer, Monaco

Link to post
Share on other sites

Apple Music as a subscription always had DRM even before the lossless introduction. Purchases don't have DRM. Apple sells only AAC, though.

 

Dolby Atmos is AAC. I think Apple decided to keep Dolby Atmos in AAC to reduce bandwidth. I'm not a Dolby expert. I see that it can carry up to 128 channels.

I've downloaded on my Mac a lossless / Dolby Atmos track.

The .movpkg file package contains a subfolder Data. The .data file inside it contains, among other things, an index of the various versions (emphasis is mine to spot easily main informations):

#EXT-X-MEDIA:TYPE=AUDIO,GROUP-ID="audio-stereo-256-binaural",AUTOSELECT=YES,CHANNELS="2/-/BINAURAL",NAME="songEnhanced"
#EXT-X-MEDIA:TYPE=AUDIO,GROUP-ID="audio-stereo-256-downmix",AUTOSELECT=YES,CHANNELS="2/-/DOWNMIX",NAME="songEnhanced"
#EXT-X-MEDIA:TYPE=AUDIO,GROUP-ID="audio-stereo-256",AUTOSELECT=YES,CHANNELS="2",NAME="songEnhanced"
#EXT-X-MEDIA:TYPE=AUDIO,GROUP-ID="audio-HE-stereo-64",AUTOSELECT=YES,CHANNELS="2",NAME="songEnhanced"
#EXT-X-MEDIA:TYPE=AUDIO,GROUP-ID="audio-HE-stereo-64-binaural",AUTOSELECT=YES,CHANNELS="2/-/BINAURAL",NAME="songEnhanced"
#EXT-X-MEDIA:TYPE=AUDIO,GROUP-ID="audio-HE-stereo-64-downmix",AUTOSELECT=YES,CHANNELS="2/-/DOWNMIX",NAME="songEnhanced"
#EXT-X-MEDIA:TYPE=AUDIO,GROUP-ID="audio-stereo-128",AUTOSELECT=YES,CHANNELS="2",NAME="songEnhanced"
#EXT-X-MEDIA:TYPE=AUDIO,GROUP-ID="audio-stereo-128-binaural",AUTOSELECT=YES,CHANNELS="2/-/BINAURAL",NAME="songEnhanced"
#EXT-X-MEDIA:TYPE=AUDIO,GROUP-ID="audio-stereo-128-downmix",AUTOSELECT=YES,CHANNELS="2/-/DOWNMIX",NAME="songEnhanced"
#EXT-X-MEDIA:TYPE=AUDIO,GROUP-ID="audio-alac-stereo-44100-24",AUTOSELECT=YES,CHANNELS="2",NAME="songEnhanced",SAMPLE-RATE=44100,BIT-DEPTH=24
#EXT-X-MEDIA:TYPE=AUDIO,GROUP-ID="audio-atmos-2448",AUTOSELECT=YES,CHANNELS="16/JOC",NAME="songEnhanced"
#EXT-X-MEDIA:TYPE=AUDIO,GROUP-ID="audio-atmos-2768",AUTOSELECT=YES,CHANNELS="16/JOC",NAME="songEnhanced"

#EXT-X-STREAM-INF:AVERAGE-BANDWIDTH=264995,_AVG-BANDWIDTH=264995,BANDWIDTH=267287,CODECS="mp4a.40.2",STABLE-VARIANT-ID="d8cb7044e68ba2036c03274d24e70ef6a1c6375b35fce16fae5632f4070007d5",AUDIO="audio-stereo-256-binaural"
P293742664_A1450330590_audio_en_gr256_bm.m3u8
#EXT-X-STREAM-INF:AVERAGE-BANDWIDTH=260511,_AVG-BANDWIDTH=260511,BANDWIDTH=271347,CODECS="mp4a.40.2",STABLE-VARIANT-ID="eac10af3428251ee2f8c056eb966570d813b967fd5027667c83bf865953a772c",AUDIO="audio-stereo-256-downmix"
P293742664_A1450330590_audio_en_gr256_dm.m3u8
#EXT-X-STREAM-INF:AVERAGE-BANDWIDTH=259294,_AVG-BANDWIDTH=259294,BANDWIDTH=268186,CODECS="mp4a.40.2",STABLE-VARIANT-ID="1098626e2bc698d3fea380193f55075503656719bdbd2e09647c2ee7be8ae66b",AUDIO="audio-stereo-256"
P293742664_A1450330590_audio_en_gr256.m3u8
#EXT-X-STREAM-INF:AVERAGE-BANDWIDTH=70918,_AVG-BANDWIDTH=70918,BANDWIDTH=75373,CODECS="mp4a.40.5",STABLE-VARIANT-ID="7f82811019138e2e2c0dcb6d6ae14ee0bb30d90dba7831696b9260759d814dfe",AUDIO="audio-HE-stereo-64"
P293742664_A1450330590_audio_en_gr64.m3u8
#EXT-X-STREAM-INF:AVERAGE-BANDWIDTH=74656,_AVG-BANDWIDTH=74656,BANDWIDTH=76988,CODECS="mp4a.40.5",STABLE-VARIANT-ID="ee326e45b1d644ad57f56a20971eca4c967802c57db831bef805ffa4ae30c4d1",AUDIO="audio-HE-stereo-64-binaural"
P293742664_A1450330590_audio_en_gr64_bm.m3u8
#EXT-X-STREAM-INF:AVERAGE-BANDWIDTH=71685,_AVG-BANDWIDTH=71685,BANDWIDTH=77809,CODECS="mp4a.40.5",STABLE-VARIANT-ID="b24912204d3bd110e11669069ed0f3d9eaa20ecdadd241cbaba7d58ce284ea17",AUDIO="audio-HE-stereo-64-downmix"
P293742664_A1450330590_audio_en_gr64_dm.m3u8
#EXT-X-STREAM-INF:AVERAGE-BANDWIDTH=132080,_AVG-BANDWIDTH=132080,BANDWIDTH=139028,CODECS="mp4a.40.2",STABLE-VARIANT-ID="dfb08389c21b5b8cff34ac9c3ff2ab65cd0eb4ab896eecde483241dab02604db",AUDIO="audio-stereo-128"
P293742664_A1450330590_audio_en_gr128.m3u8
#EXT-X-STREAM-INF:AVERAGE-BANDWIDTH=134888,_AVG-BANDWIDTH=134888,BANDWIDTH=137584,CODECS="mp4a.40.2",STABLE-VARIANT-ID="d68193e91e715e107dd1b1d76e3779a57b67c4f7ea67c909510add1cb9e23e95",AUDIO="audio-stereo-128-binaural"
P293742664_A1450330590_audio_en_gr128_bm.m3u8
#EXT-X-STREAM-INF:AVERAGE-BANDWIDTH=131847,_AVG-BANDWIDTH=131847,BANDWIDTH=137378,CODECS="mp4a.40.2",STABLE-VARIANT-ID="2659ce21a0707f412ce382b2c096554c6443d3beb1c51948401e48160d591963",AUDIO="audio-stereo-128-downmix"
P293742664_A1450330590_audio_en_gr128_dm.m3u8
#EXT-X-STREAM-INF:AVERAGE-BANDWIDTH=1650502,_AVG-BANDWIDTH=1650502,BANDWIDTH=1745984,CODECS="alac",STABLE-VARIANT-ID="561e16644b039475f6a2aa0739a2281398f639ee7934180c027ec4042f1bbee8",AUDIO="audio-alac-stereo-44100-24"
P293742664_A1450330590_audio_en_gr2116.m3u8
#EXT-X-STREAM-INF:AVERAGE-BANDWIDTH=450221,_AVG-BANDWIDTH=450221,BANDWIDTH=450191,CODECS="ec-3",STABLE-VARIANT-ID="5ac776f49c9709c22da6c83f603d6354be78b352e9ae3122f6b2043953319443",AUDIO="audio-atmos-2448"
P293742664_A1450330590_audio_en_gr2448.m3u8
#EXT-X-STREAM-INF:AVERAGE-BANDWIDTH=770212,_AVG-BANDWIDTH=770212,BANDWIDTH=770191,CODECS="ec-3",STABLE-VARIANT-ID="bb1ee4d3bea1c3fb25f0795af98d2b9a25825c28bcab87b05ac383062aee8ab0",AUDIO="audio-atmos-2768"
P293742664_A1450330590_audio_en_gr2768.m3u8

The codecs of the two Atmos versions are marked as EC-3 which is a lossy format. The only ALAC version is the 44.1 kHz/24 bit.

I've downloaded then another song from another album which isn't Dolby Atmos. It contains of course only AAC and ALAC versions.

 

HLS, as you said, it's an audio/video streaming format (.m3u8) composed by chunks (fragments). I guess that if you disable Dolby Atmos in Music preferences, then the download provides a regular .m4a files instead of .movpkg (always with DRM of course).

 

Edit: I just read that you have already tested the "disable Dolby Atmos" thing to check how it changes the download.

Link to post
Share on other sites

“Apple sells only AAC, though.”

 

Well it’s also selling these HLS files (.movpgk) if you have Download Dolby Atmos turned on.

 

These should stream as lossless local files to an appropriate DAC, I believe,

Owner of: Sound Galleries, High-End Audio Dealer, Monaco

Link to post
Share on other sites

You're right. It's a new "thing" that Apple introduced. It surprised me.

 

I'm now afraid – as it seems to me, you are – that Dolby Atmos it's a sort of Trojan horse to reintroduce DRM.

 

I rarely purchased music from Apple because I prefer lossless files. Now with this HLS trick it's even less attracting.

 

I agree: it'd be nice if Apple provided an option to purchase ALAC music.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Correct me if I'm wrong, @Geoffrey Armstrong.

 

A quick recap:

Non Dolby Atmos purchase + "Download Dolby Atmos" unchecked = lossy m4a without DRM

Non Dolby Atmos purchase + "Download Dolby Atmos" checked = movpkg package with DRM containing lossless and lossy m4a

Dolby Atmos purchase + "Download Dolby Atmos" checked = movpkg package with DRM containing lossless, lossy m4a and Dolby Atmos

 

 

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
19 minutes ago, Marco Klobas said:

Correct me if I'm wrong, @Geoffrey Armstrong.

 

A quick recap:

Non Dolby Atmos purchase + "Download Dolby Atmos" unchecked = lossy m4a without DRM

Non Dolby Atmos purchase + "Download Dolby Atmos" checked = movpkg package with DRM containing lossless and lossy m4a

Dolby Atmos purchase + "Download Dolby Atmos" checked = movpkg package with DRM containing lossless, lossy m4a and Dolby Atmos

 

 

 

 

You are correct as far as my understanding goes, yes.

 

 

Owner of: Sound Galleries, High-End Audio Dealer, Monaco

Link to post
Share on other sites
48 minutes ago, Geoffrey Armstrong said:

You are correct as far as my understanding goes, yes.

 

Thanks.

 

Basically, the information that spread when Apple Music lossless launched claiming that purchases aren't lossless isn't correct (DRM aside).

Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Geoffrey Armstrong said:

Something we've been able to do from Qobuz from the beginning.

 

 

 

There's the answer right there. Why the sudden need to download albums from Apple? Qobuz works - just use it. Apple doesn't need any more of our $$ - the Cayman Island banks are full. 

SERVER CLOSET (in office directly below living room stereo):NUC 7i5BNH with Roon ROCK (ZeroZone 12V on the NUC)>Cisco 2690L-16PS switch>Sonore opticalModule (Uptone LPS 1.2)>

LIVING ROOM: Sonore opticalRendu Roon version (Sonore Power Supply)> Shunyata Venom USB>Naim DAC V1>Witchhat DIN>Naim NAP 160 Bolt Down>Chord Rumor 2>Audio Physic Compact Classics. OFFICE: opticalModule> Sonore microRendu 1.4> Matrix Mini-i Pro 3> Naim NAP 110>NACA5>KEF Ls50's. BJC 6a and Ghent Catsnake 6a JSSG ethernet; AC cables: Shunyata Venom NR V-10; Audience Forte F3; Ice Age copper/copper; Sean Jacobs CHC PowerBlack, Moon Audio DIN>RCA, USB A>C. Isolation: Herbie's Audio Lab. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it comes down to the issue of whether or not you "own" media which you purchase and what exactly you're at liberty to do with it. When you purchase a movie on disc, of course you don't own the media, the studio (or whoever) does. The same with music. You are at liberty to play it on whichever device you wish though, … and when you purchase a CD or Vinyl LP, nobody dictates which CD player or Turntable you have to play it on.

 

Apple on the other hand is restricting your ability of playing back Lossless purchases to the Apple Music app. So the situation is no different to streaming that same music.

 

No incentive to purchase then!

 

… and although Apple AAC 256 KBPS was always touted as all you need, and as good as it gets, the record labels together with Apple, don't seem to value it as highly as Lossless, since they are not placing those restrictions on purchased AAC 256 KBPS files.

Owner of: Sound Galleries, High-End Audio Dealer, Monaco

Link to post
Share on other sites

Apple’s press releases clearly stated that they would only be selling AAC versions and that lossless and spatial audio would be streaming only. Lossless/ALAC tracks download in the same .movpkg format.

 

Streaming files on Apple Music have always had DRM, so they are not reintroducing it. It has always been there. Every streaming service uses DRM, which I am sure the labels insist on.

 

I see no indication that Apple is trying to reintroduce DRM for purchased music. They were very clear that the music store would not be selling lossless or spatial audio versions.

 

I do think that Apple is deliberately sabotaging music purchases in favor of streaming and that they will likely kill the music store in the not-too-distant future. But honestly, who buys music from them anymore anyway?

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
26 minutes ago, new_media said:

Apple’s press releases clearly stated that they would only be selling AAC versions and that lossless and spatial audio would be streaming only. Lossless/ALAC tracks download in the same .movpkg format.

 

Streaming files on Apple Music have always had DRM, so they are not reintroducing it. It has always been there. Every streaming service uses DRM, which I am sure the labels insist on.

 

I see no indication that Apple is trying to reintroduce DRM for purchased music. They were very clear that the music store would not be selling lossless or spatial audio versions.

 

I do think that Apple is deliberately sabotaging music purchases in favor of streaming and that they will likely kill the music store in the not-too-distant future. But honestly, who buys music from them anymore anyway?

 

I admit, I didn't read those press releases. So thanks for clarifying that. What's still confusing to me is that I was able to purchase and download a .movpkg file, and I believe I can stream that to a suitable DAC locally. In other words, I'm not forced to stream it, and can play it offline, without an internet connection, I believe. I haven't tried that though, admittedly.

 

If Apple will only sell AAC versions, then why didn't the iTunes Store only allow me to purchase and download the AAC version?

 

In any case I think the structure of those HLS/movpkg files may explain why Chris had those experiences with the HDCD light going on and off periodically, since the same files are obviously used for pure streaming.

 

That's the main point I wanted to make.

Owner of: Sound Galleries, High-End Audio Dealer, Monaco

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


×
×
  • Create New...