Amazon launches Music HD with lossless streaming
Apr 30, 2021 at 7:24 PM Post #1,591 of 1,703

senorx12562

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Anyone know if Amazon Music HD can be finagled to cast to Chromecast Audio via the Windows app? I can cast from Chrome, but I don't think that supports exclusive mode, and I've found that to make a massive difference.


The Amazon app for Windows does not support exclusive mode (in the sense of letting the native sample rate of the file control the sample rate of playback), instead playing back through the Windows audio stack at the sample rate picked in your sound control panel regardless of the sample rate of the file, up or down sampling is done by Windows. I don't know why it would be any different casting the signal to a Chromecast dongle. One of the reasons I don't use a pc for Amazon Music playback, but not the main one. I wouldn't say I noticed a "massive" difference though, but your ears must be better than mine.
 
Apr 30, 2021 at 7:33 PM Post #1,592 of 1,703

DeweyCH

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The Amazon app for Windows does not support exclusive mode (in the sense of letting the native sample rate of the file control the sample rate of playback), instead playing back through the Windows audio stack at the sample rate picked in your sound control panel regardless of the sample rate of the file, up or down sampling is done by Windows. I don't know why it would be any different casting the signal to a Chromecast dongle. One of the reasons I don't use a pc for Amazon Music playback, but not the main one. I wouldn't say I noticed a "massive" difference though, but your ears must be better than mine.
It does though, when I'm playing Amazon music through the Windows app directly going into my desktop DAC the option is there to toggle exclusive mode. I can hear a significant difference when it's toggled on, the most significant being soundstage and separation.
 
Apr 30, 2021 at 7:44 PM Post #1,593 of 1,703

roach7

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It does though, when I'm playing Amazon music through the Windows app directly going into my desktop DAC the option is there to toggle exclusive mode. I can hear a significant difference when it's toggled on, the most significant being soundstage and separation.
i agree, the exclusive mode in the windows app makes a difference and i always turn it on
 
Apr 30, 2021 at 7:59 PM Post #1,594 of 1,703

senorx12562

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It does though, when I'm playing Amazon music through the Windows app directly going into my desktop DAC the option is there to toggle exclusive mode. I can hear a significant difference when it's toggled on, the most significant being soundstage and separation.
The only thing that function does is make it so that system sounds won't hijack your dac while you are playing back music. That's it. Has no bearing on anything that could affect sound quality.
 
Apr 30, 2021 at 8:09 PM Post #1,595 of 1,703

senorx12562

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@DeweyCH, I am curious as to what function that you believe that "exclusive mode" is performing in the Amazon app whereby your sound quality is being improved. Please enlighten me, as I am always interested in improving sound quality.
 
Apr 30, 2021 at 8:12 PM Post #1,596 of 1,703

TK33

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It does though, when I'm playing Amazon music through the Windows app directly going into my desktop DAC the option is there to toggle exclusive mode. I can hear a significant difference when it's toggled on, the most significant being soundstage and separation.
Yes the Exclusive Mode switch in the Windows app seems to make a difference and I, too, toggle it on but the difference appears to be volume and blocking other apps from using it. Maybe there is other noise Windows is introducing. However, as @senorx12562 correctly pointed out, the Windows app is not streaming bitperfect and seems to resample the music through the Windows mixer. My DAC shows the sample rate it is receiving and, when I use the Windows app, it always shows whatever I set the sample rate to in Windows Sound Settings, not what the app shows as the sample rate being played back when you click the CD/HD/Ultra HD badge. This is in contrast to the Node 2i which, when output via coax or toslink to the same DAC, such DAC does show the correct sample rate. Note, this is also still an issue with Android as far as I know (i.e. everything is resampled to 48khz when using an external DAC).
 
Apr 30, 2021 at 8:43 PM Post #1,597 of 1,703

senorx12562

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It is also entirely possible that Amazon has changed somehow the function of the exclusive mode setting since I last compared them, which was no more than two weeks or so after that option was added to the app. At that time, I couldn't discern any difference in sound quality between having it enabled or not. The pc I did use at the time was a headless cpu dedicated to music that I manually attempted to optimize for music playback by minimizing or disabling the non-music playback related processes as much as possible, so the exclusive mode might have literally been a duplication of those efforts and actually doing nothing. That's why I am curious about how it actually functions.
 
May 2, 2021 at 11:20 AM Post #1,598 of 1,703

originalsnuffy

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When I want the best possible quality I go to my Hi Res tracks from HDTracks, the late great Pono, or self created rips from various physical hi res media that I have lying around. When I want convenience, I use HD Tracks. I would venture that for me Amazon HD gives me about 95% of the experience of the native track. Sometimes I get short gaps in the music and other anomalies, and I have every reason to believe that internally the app does some processing which probably means the music is not presented as bit perfect. But it sounds pretty good overall and I generally settle for that.
 
May 2, 2021 at 11:43 AM Post #1,599 of 1,703

senorx12562

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When I want the best possible quality I go to my Hi Res tracks from HDTracks, the late great Pono, or self created rips from various physical hi res media that I have lying around. When I want convenience, I use HD Tracks. I would venture that for me Amazon HD gives me about 95% of the experience of the native track. Sometimes I get short gaps in the music and other anomalies, and I have every reason to believe that internally the app does some processing which probably means the music is not presented as bit perfect. But it sounds pretty good overall and I generally settle for that.
I am curious, what are the reasons you believe that?
 
May 2, 2021 at 7:09 PM Post #1,601 of 1,703

senorx12562

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You said you "have every reason to believe that internally the app does some processing which probably means the music is not presented as bit perfect." I am curious what reasons you have to believe that there is some processing going on that renders the music as not bit perfect.
 
May 2, 2021 at 10:19 PM Post #1,602 of 1,703

originalsnuffy

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There are any number of posts by technically proficient music lovers that have analyzed the Windows version of Amazon HD and that was their shared conclusion. I think if that is of interest its worth doing a search on this site and google to hear more from others.

I have no reason to doubt the conclusion that the service is not bit perfect, and that it why I worded my previous post as such. But if that statement is true, I for one can't hear any obvious problems from the resampling. I would imagine that one reason to not be bit perfect would be to discourage piracy.

I do hear glitches (pauses mainly) in music with the app from time to time. That is my primary issue; again please note that I actually LIKE Amazon music.
 
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May 7, 2021 at 11:28 AM Post #1,603 of 1,703

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The more you guys say about the app, the more happy I am with my sound card. Seems like all the issues mentioned are solved with the "Stereo Direct / Bit Accurate Playback" option it has.
So, in the Amazon app, I have to make sure the loudness normalization option is off, the audio quality set to highest possible and the exclusive mode enabled. I can tell the Bit Accurate Playback is kicking in because it makes a pop sometimes when the sampling rate changes.
Changing any of these options makes a noticeable difference in the sound.
 
May 7, 2021 at 12:10 PM Post #1,604 of 1,703

DeweyCH

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@DeweyCH, I am curious as to what function that you believe that "exclusive mode" is performing in the Amazon app whereby your sound quality is being improved. Please enlighten me, as I am always interested in improving sound quality.
As I understand it the "exclusive mode" option bypasses the Windows audio mixer. It really, really does make a difference. Not a placebo. Not a change in volume. But an audible difference in clarity and a huge difference in soundstage. If I were to guess, I'd say that the Windows audio mixer condenses a single stream of audio into its own interpretation of L/R, but hell if I know why. I just know the sound is dramatically different. Turning it off and it almost feels like the left channel is just... gone. It's still there, but it's practically mono in comparison.

Who knows, maybe my Windows audio settings are borked and bypassing them un-borks them.

My setup right now:

Windows 10 Amazon Music HD --> SMSL SU-8 --> Liquid Platinum --> ZMF Auteurs.
 
May 7, 2021 at 12:56 PM Post #1,605 of 1,703

TK33

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As I understand it the "exclusive mode" option bypasses the Windows audio mixer. It really, really does make a difference. Not a placebo. Not a change in volume. But an audible difference in clarity and a huge difference in soundstage. If I were to guess, I'd say that the Windows audio mixer condenses a single stream of audio into its own interpretation of L/R, but hell if I know why. I just know the sound is dramatically different. Turning it off and it almost feels like the left channel is just... gone. It's still there, but it's practically mono in comparison.

Who knows, maybe my Windows audio settings are borked and bypassing them un-borks them.

My setup right now:

Windows 10 Amazon Music HD --> SMSL SU-8 --> Liquid Platinum --> ZMF Auteurs.
Does your SMSL SU-8 actually show the correct sample rate that the Amazon app claims it is currently playing at? When you change tracks does the sample rate shown on the SU-8 (not the Amazon app) change accordingly?

I dont disagree with you that toggling "Exclusive Mode" sounds better(i use it too) but I dont think that is evidence that it is bypassing Windows mixer and is bitperfect if the DAC is still receiving resampled data. At least for me, the sample rate the DAC seems to show is whatever you set the sample rate to in Windows Sound Settings. If yours works, maybe I need a new DAC. I have tested using an Aurender Flow, Dragonfly Cobalt and Grace Design m900 with a Windows desktop PC and a Dell XPS 13 9310 and Exclusive Mode does not work as you described. Worked perfectly on Qobuz.

I do get the correct sample rate when using my Node 2i instead of a Windows 10 PC or laptop to my Aurender Flow or Grace m900.
 

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