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Article: Apple Music Lossless Mess Part 2: AirPlay


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Hi everyone, in addition to this amazing job done I would like to share with you what I've noticed on the different behavior of Apple Music depending on whether the file you play is downloaded or not.

In my case, Airplay would not work (no sound at all) if the file is stored on my iMac and Airplay (Yamaha amplifier with DAC) selected from the app. I have to select Airplay in the system-wide audio device as mentioned in the article. Strangely, It works with both of Airplay settings (App & computer) when the audio file is directly streamed from Internet (both settings streamed and downloaded are the same in the App : Lossless HQ). Works also fine from the app selected device if the audio device selected is an Apple TV 4K. Also works fine if the HQ file is stored in my iPhone 11 iOs 15.0.2 and sent to the amplifier via Airplay.

 

Last observations : if it is possible to listen the internet streamed files via the app selected device on Mac OS, it is not played with lossless quality. So you have to choose between quality or multiroom...

 

I'm wondering if there is some kind of DRM preventing the diffusion of a stored file on a non Apple official device in the Apple Music App on Mac OS. What is sure is the Apple support does not know the answer.

 

Thank you for this brilliant topic.

 

Didier

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just to inform that the recently released macOS Monterey changed nothing (as expected 🙄...) about automatic sample rate switching in Audio MIDI Setup.

 

Actually, I guess that it's specifically the Music app that should be updated to offer the exclusive mode rather than the operating system.

 

An interesting added feature is that a Mac can now act natively as an AirPlay receiver.

 

I've not tested yet the bit perfect side of this new feature.

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A follow up from Roon's forum: I made the usual Apple Music AirPlay recording/comparison test with a Mac acting as a receiver (via macOS Monterey) and the result is still not bit perfect. The AirPlay receiver in Monterey is seen as version 2; thus the result is unfortunately expected.

 

Interestingly, another user claimed that the bit perfect test is passed when a hi-res audio is sent through AirPlay to Monterey with Audio MIDI Setup properly set (Apple Music is not involved in this case). He used an RME ADI-2 DAC to prove it.

 

@The Computer Audiophile, have you already installed Monterey? Could you verify if a hi-res AirPlay audio is really possible with macOS Monterey?

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2 minutes ago, Marco Klobas said:

A follow up from Roon's forum: I made the usual Apple Music AirPlay recording/comparison test with a Mac acting as a receiver (via macOS Monterey) and the result is still not bit perfect. The AirPlay receiver in Monterey is seen as version 2; thus the result is unfortunately expected.

 

Interestingly, another user claimed that the bit perfect test is passed when a hi-res audio is sent through AirPlay to Monterey with Audio MIDI Setup properly set (Apple Music is not involved in this case). He used an RME ADI-2 DAC to prove it.

 

@The Computer Audiophile, have you already installed Monterey? Could you verify if a hi-res AirPlay audio is really possible with macOS Monterey?

I have Monterey installed, but no energy to test this one. I can't see sending audio to a Mac this way in the real world. 

Founder of Audiophile Style | My Audio Systems AudiophileStyleStickerWhite2.0.png AudiophileStyleStickerWhite7.1.4.png

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I got a Mac mini M1 a while ago and I installed all things “fresh” to start fresh on the new Apple chip. (I did not do this when Apple went to Intel and always regretted it.) Anyhow, it was a beast to do fresh installs. I am pretty much done. Leaving the high hanging fruit (little used apps) to last. One of the last apps I installed fresh (latest version) was Rouge Amoeba Airfoil. It allows you to send any audio from a Mac to Airplay, Chromecast, Sonos, and Bluetooth. I just used/use it for Airplay 1 and 2 devices. Yep, sends to multiple Airplay 1 AVRs or speakers. I have some non Apple powered speakers and an AVR that are Airplay 1 and never were upgraded by the makers. Too old.

Apple has since included this multi playback feature (but minus BT speakers which makes Airfoil unique as you could play music on Airplay speakers, a stereo with Airplay, an Apple TV 4K/HD, and maybe have a BT speaker in that mix). But I was curious, did Airfoil also bring it all down to AAC in doing so? (Minus the unavoidable BT compression on that device.)
The response from Rouge Amoeba was no:
“Airfoil sends 16-bit stereo audio at 44.1 kHz to AirPlay devices (including Airfoil Satellite), which usually means an Apple Lossless (ALAC) stream.”

I interpret “usually“ to mean; depends on the recording. But in time, end of 2021, all of Apple Music will be lossless. (Most of it is now.)
So Airfoil may be a way around the problem (if it is indeed a problem) of AAC intrusion. I can send Apple Music (or any app or web site on a Mac) to multiple Airplay 1 & 2 receivers, ATVs, and Airplay ready powered speakers as ALAC.
https://www.rogueamoeba.com/airfoil/mac/

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  • 4 weeks later...
3 minutes ago, DarwinOSX said:

Bluesound has made zero effort to integrate Apple Music when Sonos did it a long time ago.  I don't see how they are to be thanked for anything.

"A Bluesound Node 2i that supports AirPlay 2 and uses the newest version of Apple's AirPlay 2 chip"

There is no such thing as an "Airplay 2 chip".  Airplay 2 is entirely software.

Your assumption that Bluesound has made zero effort couldn’t be more incorrect. Bluesound has worked for years to get services only offered to the giants like Sonos. The company has had some successes and continues to push for more. 

Founder of Audiophile Style | My Audio Systems AudiophileStyleStickerWhite2.0.png AudiophileStyleStickerWhite7.1.4.png

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On 6/30/2021 at 9:54 AM, actuel audio said:

Give it a try anyway. I think you will like the Lossless.

So, you can't get a whole wheat bun and Kobe beef on the incredible burger from your favorite burger place. It is still a damn good burger. :-)

99% of Apple Music customers don't care about any of this which Apple knows and they just started rolling out lossless.  People are expecting too much too soon.  Plus I'm loving spatial audio and lossless for $10 a month.  Actually I pay by year so $99 a year for all of this.

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@The Computer Audiophile, I was on the verge of changing from Qobuz to Apple Music. This might look odd, but this is due to the lack of content available on Qobuz. But than I came across your tests and now have the shivers to proceed or not. I have an AURALiC Altair G1 an iPhone XS and iPad Pro 12.9 2 Gen, do I have to worry this will only work Lossy? I assume the Altair is AirPlay v1. I know I will lose true Hi-Res by losing Qobuz, but oldschool Lossless will be fine for my needs.

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12 minutes ago, Dutch Daniël said:

@The Computer Audiophile, I was on the verge of changing from Qobuz to Apple Music. This might look odd, but this is due to the lack of content available on Qobuz. But than I came across your tests and now have the shivers to proceed or not. I have an AURALiC Altair G1 an iPhone XS and iPad Pro 12.9 2 Gen, do I have to worry this will only work Lossy? I assume the Altair is AirPlay v1. I know I will lose true Hi-Res by losing Qobuz, but oldschool Lossless will be fine for my needs.

 

It's kind of a crapshoot. You can depend on using AirPlay and hope it works, knowing you have absolutely no chance of getting Apple to change if something happens. Or, you can lobby Qobuz to grow its catalog. Those guys participate in the forum here and do what they can to make us audiophile happy. 

 

However, if the music you like is only on Apple Music, then that may make the decision easy. 

Founder of Audiophile Style | My Audio Systems AudiophileStyleStickerWhite2.0.png AudiophileStyleStickerWhite7.1.4.png

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9 minutes ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

 

It's kind of a crapshoot. You can depend on using AirPlay and hope it works, knowing you have absolutely no chance of getting Apple to change if something happens. Or, you can lobby Qobuz to grow its catalog. Those guys participate in the forum here and do what they can to make us audiophile happy. 

 

However, if the music you like is only on Apple Music, then that may make the decision easy. 


well I am lobbying for over a year now, but nothing has changed… 😁 Dutch and Dance music are missing, but also something like Katie Melua - Pictures is missing…

 

But considering your tests which were more positive for AirPlay v1 than v2, do you think there is a good chance it will be Lossless in my case? And will AirPlay from within the Music App do?

 

Ps. of course we cannot change Apple, but I do hope that the v2 issues you found are start up issues or bugs rather than choices… 😉

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Thank you for this definitive piece of work!  I have done some testing of my own, using just (received) bitrate as a guide (so no claims of bit-perfection).

As you'd hope, if you downgrade the Airport Express 2 firmware to Airplay 1 support, the AE2 behaves like the old AE1.

Fingers crossed for some work by Apple on Airplay 2...!

Screenshot 2021-12-01 at 20.08.43.png

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Speaking of bit perfect playback, AirPlay 1 – as you have noticed from the tests – is somehow the least worst choice right now. AirPlay 2 is even more compromised.

 

I guess Auralic offers AirPlay 1. Lossless streaming is achievable, hi-res no.

 

AirPlay – or I should rather say Music app/iOS/iPadOS  – is lately showing other annoyances:

  • Gapless playback sometimes is broken
  • After ~8 minutes of an AirPlay session I experience sometimes a short hiccup in the audio stream

Now, I don't hold my breath waiting Apple offering hi-res audio via AirPlay or even fix the bit perfect issue. I hope Apple will fix the gapless and the hiccup issues eventually, though. It worked fine before the latest software updates...

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14 minutes ago, Marco Klobas said:

Speaking of bit perfect playback, AirPlay 1 – as you have noticed from the tests – is somehow the least worst choice right now. AirPlay 2 is even more compromised.

 

I guess Auralic offers AirPlay 1. Lossless streaming is achievable, hi-res no.

 

AirPlay – or I should rather say Music app/iOS/iPadOS  – is lately showing other annoyances:

  • Gapless playback sometimes is broken
  • After ~8 minutes of an AirPlay session I experience sometimes a short hiccup in the audio stream

Now, I don't hold my breath waiting Apple offering hi-res audio via AirPlay or even fix the bit perfect issue. I hope Apple will fix the gapless and the hiccup issues eventually, though. It worked fine before the latest software updates...


Thank you very much for your reply. I have to confirm that gapless is an issue here too. But strangely enough only the combination of Apple Music App on my iPhone with AirPlay to the AURALiC has this gapless issue. Playing the same music through the Qobuz App on my iPhone with AirPlay to AURALiC doesn’t…  I will try a song over 8 minutes tho, as mostly I go from song to song…

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1 hour ago, Rob12345678 said:

Thank you for this definitive piece of work!  I have done some testing of my own, using just (received) bitrate as a guide (so no claims of bit-perfection).

As you'd hope, if you downgrade the Airport Express 2 firmware to Airplay 1 support, the AE2 behaves like the old AE1.

Fingers crossed for some work by Apple on Airplay 2...!

Screenshot 2021-12-01 at 20.08.43.png


I think that despite (probably) transmitting an ALAC on Airplay 1, you can see even a very low-bitrate (32kpbs) file has a decent MacOS -> Airport bitrate.

 

Backing up the original findings, but something I've only just noticed:


In the Music app, if you play a High-Res Lossless file locally, or using the system sound output, the Right-click -> "Get Info" box gives "kind: High Resolution Lossless Audio".

If you select the airport as the output within Music, the Hi-Res Lossless squiggle disappears, and the the Right-click -> "Get Info" box gives "kind: AAC Audio".

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just so I understand the issue, if I play my locally stored ALAC files (personal rips from CD) via airplay to an old AE1, both will be sent ALAC, one bit perfect, one not bit perfect depending is airplay is set via music app or system wide. I’m not an Apple Music subscriber. 
 

given its airplay 1 here, and both are sent ALAC, what is the actual difference being made to the file?

 

thanks

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As Chris said:

 

Quote

macOS Notable

  1. Apple's Music App, lossless local content, AirPlay 1 to AirPort Express 1st Gen - bit perfect at 44.1.
  2. UPDATED: Apple's Music App, lossless local content, AirPlay 2 to Bluesound Node 2i - bit perfect at 44.1 only if the system-wide AirPlay device is set. If AirPlay device only selected in the Music app, the output is NOT bit perfect.
  3. UPDATED: Apple's Music App, lossless local content, AirPlay 2 to AirPort Express 2nd Gen - bit perfect at 44.1 only if the system-wide AirPlay device is set. If AirPlay device only selected in the Music app, the output is NOT bit perfect.
  4. Apple's Music App, lossless local content, USB output - bit perfect at 44.1.

 

It means that your old AirPort Express – which is AirPlay 1 – will always get bit perfect local ALAC playback. The bit perfect is lost when an AirPlay 2 device is used and when the AirPlay is chosen within Music app.

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37 minutes ago, Marco Klobas said:

As Chris said:

 

 

It means that your old AirPort Express – which is AirPlay 1 – will always get bit perfect local ALAC playback. The bit perfect is lost when an AirPlay 2 device is used and when the AirPlay is chosen within Music app.

Ok. I was confused by the MacOS notable section. I was following the macOS part Prior to this which states as per below. What does the MacOS notable section refer to?

 

Feels the two states contradict each other. 
 

thanks 

 

On macOS

  1. UPDATED: Apple's Music App, lossless streaming content, AirPlay 1 to AirPort Express 1st Gen - bit perfect at 44.1 only if the system-wide AirPlay device is set. If AirPlay device only selected in the Music app, the output is NOT bit perfect.
  2. UPDATED: Apple's Music App, lossless streaming content, AirPlay 1 to Sonore Rendu (ShairPort) - bit perfect at 44.1 only if the system-wide AirPlay device is set. If AirPlay device only selected in the Music app, the output is NOT bit perfect.
  3. UPDATED: Apple's Music App, lossless streaming content, Airplay 2 to Bluesound Node 2i - bit perfect at 44.1 only if the system-wide AirPlay device is set. If AirPlay device only selected in the Music app, the output is NOT bit perfect.
  4. UPDATED: Apple's Music App, lossless streaming content, AirPlay 2 to AirPort Express 2nd Gen - bit perfect at 44.1 only if the system-wide AirPlay device is set. If AirPlay device only selected in the Music app, the output is NOT bit perfect.
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  • 1 month later...

Thanks for the great work! 


I have the DALI Callisto 6c with Soundhub and BluSO 2i module (AirPlay 2 capable) and use my iPhone only for playing music. I have often wondered whether the streaming is really lossless. But I don't want to have to take my MacBook with me to enjoy music while relaxing on the couch.

 

In the conversation with Apple Germany, they confirmed to me today that this "problem" is not listed, so they don't know about anything. I have a call with the supervisor in charge of the department on Monday. We'll see what comes of it.

 

One thought about iOS/iPadOS and AirPlay 2: Analogous to MacOS, you could select the speakers in the control centre (top right) and not in the Apple Music app. Has this also been tested? Excuse me if this is the case.

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I understand the point. But I was specifically referring to the Control Center on iOS/iPadOS, where you can also activate AirPlay streaming (as an alternative to selecting it in the Apple Music app). As explained here:

 

https://www.iphonelife.com/content/new-ios-114-how-to-use-airplay-2-control-center-iphone

 

Perhaps there is a difference there. Unfortunately, I don't have my own devices to test this myself. Many thanks!

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