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Amazon launches Music HD with lossless streaming

Discussion in 'Computer Audio' started by gemNeye, Apr 26, 2019.
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  1. gefski
    Yes. Compared to what I've gone through to get good music through the years, Audirvana/Tidal is like a gift. Glitch free, easy music discovery, and Redbook music files that sound nearly as good as my cd rips.
  2. loomisjohnson
    some further impressions:
    1. catalog is deep, though the search function is quirky--you have to probe a bit to find more obscure picks. i have gotten use to the ui and graphics, which are pretty good but lag spotify
    2. the discover/recommendations features are vastly inferior to spotify's, and there are far fewer playlists. it also appears that they have a limited number of radio stations and, unlike spotify you can't set a radio station for any artist you choose.
    3. as others have stated, there does appear to some eq to the sonics--compared to tidal, notes have a lot of body and bass and upper mids seems to be enhanced. it's also significantly louder than spotify. i like how it sounds; it works very well with mobile.

    overall, as presently constituted, amazon hd is excellent as long as you know what you want to listen to and are willing to set up a queue--it's not optimal for folks who want to be introduced to new stuff
  3. gefski
    For me, all the complaints by those who love to listen to music are hardly unexpected. Amazon Is looking at a WAY bigger customer base than us audiophools, a base that will go with the "Amazon HD" buzzword without any sort of critical analysis of how it sounds, and be perfectly satisfied as long as it works.
  4. TjPhysicist
    See, that makes SENSE. No one outside of a few of us in the hobby community cares ANY about "high fidelity sound" or "lossless" etc...but then why bother? are you REALLY going to notice a difference between 320kbps MP3 and a FLAC file with an iphone and bluetooth earbuds? Buzzword for sure, but again - WHY bother getting ultra HD quality stuff (arguably getting CD quality stuff may not have costed them anything extra even in terms of effort if they already had access to that and that's where they were getting their MP3s from before).
    Ken G likes this.
  5. SilverEars
    Using the term 'ultra HD' is them attempting to install the notion of the audio content being similar to 4K resolution video contents (which is also referred to as ultra HD), which isn't really how it works. It's marketed to those avg consumers that have little experience in Hifi audio. These consumers probably don't care about equipment to the point of knowing about bit-perfect audio.

    We all know that the master quality has to be on par with the spec of the original mastering, and upsampling of that will do nothing other than not sounding like the original master.

    All I care about is mastering quality. Is it true to original master (although sometimes old mastering has been redone)?
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2019
  6. TjPhysicist
    YES, exactly, sometimes that info (at least IME) has been wierdly hard to find. It's like "yea i see a 192khz stream for this song, but was it mastered at this? it's pretty old how are they getting quality that high?", then there's others which are just like "how is the best quality available here CD quality, did the master only happen at that sample rate?"
  7. SamuelLBronkowitz
    Nope, that's not what I was saying. I originally upgraded via my iPhone but that didn't seem to do the trick. It was working properly after I subsequently tried to upgrade via my MacBook. I am aware that you need to subscribe to the HD package to get HD material.

    Overall, I think it's pretty good. I like high-quality audio, but don't consider myself a true audiophile (I only use my iPhone, a Dragonfly Black, and B&W headphones). I noticed that all tracks I play on Amazon HD (including UHD tracks) light up the same shade of "light pink" on my Dragonfly. When listening to tracks on Tidal, regular CD quality lights up green, and MQA is the bright purple/pink. Two questions: 1. Does that mean that the regular HD tracks are higher quality than Tidal's CD tracks (i.e., pink represents a higher bit rate than green), and 2. While not the bright purple/pink color as found with MQA files, are Amazon's UHD files still the same level of quality? It doesn't sound like it to my ears.
  8. TjPhysicist
    When you click on teh little golden box that says HD or Ultra HD it'll pop up with a message that tells you exactly what quality teh file is at, and what quality is being played. IME, most of the files for me at least, end up being 44.1khz but 24bit instead of 16. Ostensibly Amazon's Ultra HD COULD BE better than MQA files, but do note that in some cases ultra HD is still only 44.1/24 or 88/24 because that is simply the best quality available for that song. While tidal MQA if unfolded properly results in a 96/24 thing, however I don't trust this "folding unfolding" crap tbh, so Tidals either gonna sound the same or maybe worse. But this is all dependent on the song specifically and who knows what the actual original source for these files are, none of the particularly reveal the source or master (esp. tidal sometimes I have a hard time figuring out which of the 5 different existing masters tidal is using).
  9. CANiSLAYu

    I agree for the masses who are going to listen to on AirPods, Beats, etc. the increased fidelity isn’t worth a hill of beans. Thing is, even for Joe Schmoe family man it’s a compelling argument. It’s <$17/mo for a family plan if you do the annual payment, less than $2/mo more than Apple Music family plan. And if you already have Alexa devices, why not “get the best” for effectively the same price?

    From Amazon’s perspective, why not? There’s not much downside and plenty of upside. They basically power half the internet with AWS, so the extra bandwidth is nothing for them.

    The benefit for Amazon:
    Another hook into their Prime/Alexa ecosystem, which will help with Prime membership retention and selling hardware (new hardware to be announced on 9/25).

    Then the same with everything else with Amazon; more user data. Would anyone be surprised if Amazon learned what was popular then made their own record label? Think Prime Video originals, but for music. I don’t see them doing it (they could have become a book publisher with the same process, but they haven’t done that), but it’s not far fetched.

    From my perspective, it was needed for a major player to make this push for hifi streaming to go mainstream, so I’m all for it.
    loomisjohnson likes this.
  10. TjPhysicist
    Haha "isn't worth a hill of beans", I like it very "southern". Anyways, yea, I do hope that's where it goes. But who knows, IF amazon really does push for greater quality then that's great, people start realizing that bluetooth support for Ultra HD isn't great and get back to wired headphones and good headphones. (Amazon's FAQ actually mentions or hints at some of this at least, so they're not just saying "yea just listen to it on whatever who cares"). So that's a good point!

    Now...if only amazon would fix bitperfect on at least some devices esp. android DAPs. Heck, they could work with companies like Sony...
    CANiSLAYu likes this.
  11. Tooros
    We’re a pain aren’t we. :dt880smile:
    Thing is: it’s mostly lossless streaming at cd quality, and sometimes much higher for basically the same cost as 320kbps Spotify. If all it does is kick Spotify and Apple Music where it hurts, and squeezes tidal’s pricing we’re winning.
    Raptor34 likes this.
  12. Left Channel
    If all tracks result in the same color, then the output is being resampled by the phone.

    This is from the DF Black manual:
    Red: Standby Green: 44100.0 Hz Blue: 48000.0 Hz
    Amber: 88200.0 Hz Magenta: 96000.0 Hz
  13. CANiSLAYu
    That’s a good point you inadvertently made. Wireless protocols are a bottleneck right now, but I don’t see this pushing consumers back to wired, but instead give big companies a reason to invest in actually develop better wireless protocols.

    It wasn’t worth investing to develop hifi wireless protocols because it’s a small market that cares, so why spend all this money to develop it if the services/users that could take advantage of it was so niche?

    Now if the user base continues to grow and more and more users are clamoring for it, companies will invest and hopefully we’ll see better than AptX and LDAC.
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2019
  14. Ken G
    Here is what the color results look like if you have a Chord Mojo. I guess only up to 192 means anything for Amazon HD. And for what it's worth, using my iPhone with CCK connected to the Mojo, everything shows up as 192 blue regardless of what Amazon says the bit rate is so there is definitely upsampling on the iOS app.

    : Screen Shot 2019-09-20 at 9.20.24 AM.png
    iridium7777 and tomwoo like this.
  15. exdmd
    Despite the buzzwords I don't think Amazon is going after audiophiles or they would have launched with exclusive mode enabled, I am sure they are capable of that. The question is what will they do in the next few months? Either they open their API so Roon and Audirvana can integrate or they don't. I suspect they won't, and their target demographic is millennials who mainly listen using their phone. Let's see if the audio websites start publishing some critical articles comparing Amazon Music HD to Tidal and Qobuz and what happens.
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