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Apple Music Hi-Res Audio Playback Methods Agglomeration

DavidMcRoy

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Pardon the “public radio vocabulary.” (Agglomeration = a bringing together, sort of. I had to use Google to find a single word for that.)



Given the arduous and frustrating lengths that ASR members and others around the world have taken to get Lossless and/or Hi-Res audio out of the Apple Music App, Apple having made its Byzantine requirements to make that happen so mysterious, I created this thread to establish, at this late date, exactly what it takes to deal with this half-baked rollout:



  1. Play Lossless audio 44.1kHz/16-bit PCM into non-Apple headphones, earbuds or into a loudspeaker-based sound system
  2. Play Hi-Res audio into non-Apple headphones, earbuds or into a loudspeaker-based system


I mean, “how hard can it be?” I know that some of this rudimentary information is scattered around various threads on ASR and elsewhere around the web, but I think it would be helpful to summarize what has been discovered that works and what doesn’t work.



NOTE: This thread is meant to focus on Lossless and Hi-Res audio and to ignore that other issue, Dolby Atmos playback, a good topic for another thread.



To begin, I have tried Apple’s instructions for listening to Lossless and Hi-Res audio from Apple Music via an external DAC that supports such data, as they appear to apply to my own setup. (I am only using Apple phones and pads, not my Mac Mini nor my Windows-based PC.) The signal and power paths are as follows:



iPhone or iPad Lightning Port > Apple Camera Connection Kit (CCK) Lightning Plug

Apple CCK USB-A Port > USB Port of a self-powered external DAC

USB AC (Mains) power > Apple CCK Lightning Port



In the above configuration, the external DAC gets its power independently from the circuit. The iPhone or iPad receives power through the Apple CCK’s Lightning Port.



Now, this all produces some kind of audio, and Apple strongly implies that it’s Lossless and/or Hi-Res audio, being passed into the external DAC. My DAC, a Topping D30, has no display except for “power” and “signal present,“ so I can’t verify what it is. Others have stated that the Apple CCK converts everything to something other than the original data, so who knows? Does that just pertain to what’s feeding the CCK’s own 3.5mm stereo audio jack? I suspect that it does.



To further complicate matters, there are nearly a dozen different types of “Apple CCKs” featuring various combinations and numbers of connections. Mine has a Lightning Plug for the iDevice on one end and 3 Ports: Lightning, 3.5mm stereo audio and USB-A. I don’t think they even maker that one anymore, but they’re probably pretty common.



Am I getting Hi-Res audio into the external DAC, or not?
 
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DavidMcRoy

DavidMcRoy

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Here is what I use for headphone listening with an external DAC that supports Lossless and Hi-Res audio:

AC (Mains) power via USB-A Plug > USB-A Port/Splitter to power the DAC (see attached photo and link)

iPhone or iPad > Apple Camera Connection Kit (CCK) Lightning Plug

Splitter USB-A Plug > Apple CCK USB-A Port

Splitter USB-C Plug > E1DA 938D DAC/Headphone Amplifier

AC (Mains) power via USB > Apple CCK Lightning Port to power the iDevice (NOTE: This connection SHOULD ideally power the iDevice as it does in other setups, but does not do so in my particular case, so the iDevice must run off of its own battery. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Also, it seems to be necessary to wait until all the other connections are established BEFORE connecting power to the DAC, or the iDevice will think the DAC is drawing too much power from IT, and will put an end to the proceedings.)

Am I getting Lossless and/or Hi-Res audio into the DAC?
 

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Blaspheme

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Well, you could have used assemblage. But I like to agglomerate. If you'd said 'list' I'd have to put you on ignore. :)
 
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DavidMcRoy

DavidMcRoy

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Thanks for your confirmation that an Apple CCK like yours passes the data relatively unscathed. Yours is a different Apple CCK from mine. (Mine is older, and I think discontinued.) Does your iPad get power through this configuration? With my CCK, I have to power the iPad through a Lightning Port on the bottom of the CCK.
 
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Blaspheme

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Playback from iPhone via Apple CCK—the smaller Lightning to USB-A version, not the larger adaptor with USB-C (data and/or power I think, I have to check this*)—to Chord Mojo DAC then headphones.

Mojo indicates playback sample rate but not bit depth. Playing Beatles Sgt Peppers—which offers hi-res lossless and Atmos— indicates 48 kHz when 'High Quality' (AAC 256 kbps) is enabled, also 48 when 'Lossless' (ALAC up to 24-bit/48 kHz) is enabled, 96 kHz when 'Hi-Resolution Losslesss' (ALAC up to 24-bit/192 kHz) is enabled, and also 96 when Atmos is switched to 'always on'. I assume bit depth is 24 in all cases based on previous digging into download/file metadata.

*edit: ok the small one I'm using is now called the 'Lightning to USB Camera Adaptor'. You can't power the iPhone at the same time when using that. I also have a couple of larger adaptors: the 'USB-C Digital Multiport Adaptor' (with USB-A and C plus HDMI) for iPad Pro, and the Lightning version of the same thing for non-Pro and iPhone. I haven't tried these for any Music app testing yet. I don't have the 'Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adaptor' (with USB-A and Lightning for power) which many are referring to. I don't know if the small one is USB 3, my guess is no.

another edit: not bitrate, I meant sample rate, fixed.
 
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acbarn

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Yours is a different Apple CCK from mine. (Mine is older, I think.) Does your iPad get power through this configuration? With my CCK, I have to power the iPad through a Lightning Port on the bottom of the CCK.
Yes, I have two cables plugged into the CCK: one for sending data to the RME, another from a 20W Apple charger to power the iPad.
 
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DavidMcRoy

DavidMcRoy

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Mojo indicates playback bitrate but not bit depth. Playing Beatles Sgt Peppers—which offers hi-res lossless and Atmos— indicates bitrate 48 kHz when 'High Quality' (AAC 256 kbps) is enabled, also 48 when 'Lossless' (ALAC up to24-bit/48 kHz) is enabled, 96 kHz when 'Hi-Resolution Losslesss' (ALAC up to 24-bit/192 kHz) is enabled, and also 96 when Atmos is switched to 'always on'. I assume bit depth is 24 in all cases based on previous digging into download/file metadata.
.

This is the first I’ve ever heard about what’s being delivered to the DAC from an Apple CCK. Thank you!
 

acbarn

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Thanks for your confirmation that an Apple CCK like yours passes the data relatively unscathed. Yours is a different Apple CCK from mine. (Mine is older, and I think discontinued.) Does your iPad get power through this configuration? With my CCK, I have to power the iPad through a Lightning Port on the bottom of the CCK.
And just to confirm, the RME bit tests that I ran indicated that the data is being delivered bit perfect at all sample rates (44.1 up to 192).
 
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DavidMcRoy

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And just to confirm, the RME bit tests that I ran indicated that the data is being delivered bit perfect at all sample rates (44.1 up to 192).

Eureka! So, flying blind more or less, I stumbled on what works after all.

That settles it then: I can barely tell any difference among anything from Apple AAC on up. LOL! I mean, if I’m hearing differences, they’re so subtle to me that they are completely swamped by artifacts which may arise from shortcomings in the master. There. I said it.
 
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Blaspheme

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This is the first I’ve ever heard about what’s being delivered to the DAC from an Apple CCK. Thank you!
I'd been testing on Mac previously. It's easier to see from iPhone because sample rate switches automatically (I said bitrate in error originally, but you got what I meant).

That RME is a useful bit of kit.
 

acbarn

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Eureka! So, flying blind more or less, I stumbled on what works after all.

That settles it then: I can barely tell any difference among anything from Apple AAC on up. LOL! I mean, if I’m hearing differences, they’re so subtle to me that they are completely swamped by artifacts which may arise from shortcomings in the master. There. I said it.
Yup, I like the idea of bit perfect lossless, but I can’t hear any difference compared to 256 AAC when listening to music normally (I‘ve done my share of AB tests and no longer have an interest in going there).
 

Katji

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^^^It solves the problem. If there is any audible difference, for you, particular use cases, problem/question removed from the equation.
 
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DavidMcRoy

DavidMcRoy

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^^^It solves the problem. If there is any audible difference, for you, particular use cases, problem/question removed from the equation.

My question arose because I had no way of knowing what I was listening to. Getting an answer solved the problem posed by the question, which was “Am I getting Hi-Res audio into the DAC, or not?” It’s pointless to try to compare CODECs when what you’re listening to can never be identified.
 
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DavidMcRoy

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^^^Yes, sure. Need to know...that you are getting the best you can.

Well, I wanted to know what I was hearing in order to determine whether any differences I might find were audible or important to me. As an older guy who lived through much of the pre digital era, I find digital artifacts pretty benign compared to what I had to put up withv back in the day, and far less of an issue than the sound of say, a fashionably nasty-sounding microphone, or distortion in an analog mic preamp, mixing console, processor, tape deck, etc. in signal path during the production process. ”Forest for the trees” stuff.
 

Katji

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Well, something I thought of yesterday was that the difference between 7 singles and LPs was far worse than between 128 Kbps MP3 and say 320 Kbps or better. .....I can only think of two, though, that I had.

But I just want "set and forget."
 

gags11

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Some of you may have done this already, but wanted to share.

I used a Apple lighting to USB-B cable from Amazon. Playing or streaming music from Apple Music on iPhone delivers 192Khz to Topping D90SE connected to the USB port of the Topping.

tempImagefM1mW5.jpg


AF9B82B2-A0D0-4709-B3E3-4321AD627B97.png

AB52E97E-024C-42A0-AC17-1C5C9AA86DD1_1_201_a.jpeg
 
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