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Apple Music vs Tidal

bevok

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You and Naim forum users are confused.

Apple Music is managing the audio stream between Apple servers and your device. The stream quality is variable and displayed on the track selected. Not all devices can accept every format.

Airplay on the other hand is managing the audio stream between your device and amplifier or active speaker. It always use Apple lossless codec called ALAC and for music it is always at 16-bit 44.1kHz. These are explained on Apple developer documents and verified by 3rd parties.
So did you read the post by Stevesky and look at the debug output? Wouldn't you agree that if it is passing AAC-LC as the audio format as it appears to be (and still was in late September on iOS 15) when using Airplay 2 it is irrelevant whether it is using ALAC for the actual Airplay stream itself?

Apple Music: See also Stevesky's post of June 9
1636423534522.png


Qobuz on iOS (ref. Stevesky's post of June 13)
1636423682623.png

See https://community.naimaudio.com/t/apple-music-hifi-tier-incoming/16445/699 for full posts

I like Apple Music and incidentally don't really give a hoot if it is passing AAC as I think it sounds great, just wanting to be accurate.

NAIM forum aside Apple Music's very detailed and carefully written support article which has been updated since May with the various additions such as Android and Homepod still doesn't mention Airplay as an official method of playing music losslessly.

Testing by others (Audiophilestyle forum) seems to show a bit perfect lossless stream over Airplay 1 however (in his scenario anyway).
 

sarumbear

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A draw back with apple music at least with iphones is the inability to eq your headphones as far as I know.

@sarumbear you seem very versed on things apple, In my listening room I am using a mac mini as a source to an external dac and eq'ing with sound source. I like the headphone specific presets they provide. But on my office setup is just an iphone with no ability for installing on a work computer. Are you aware of any parametric eq software for iphones that aren't jailbroken?
You should search the App Store. There are a few apps show up when you search with the key word: equaliser. I have not used any.
 
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sarumbear

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So did you read the post by Stevesky and look at the debug output? Wouldn't you agree that if it is passing AAC-LC as the audio format as it appears to be (and still was in late September on iOS 15) when using Airplay 2 it is irrelevant whether it is using ALAC for the actual Airplay stream itself?

Apple Music: See also Stevesky's post of June 9
View attachment 164280
The thread on Naim forum is about Apple's hi-res format, not the lossless format. Maybe some hi-res formats are compressed, especially if they are in Atmos. As far as I know Atmos is a compressed format but I'm not sure.

To sum it up: if you stream an Apple Music lossless track, your computer/mobile will receive uncompressed audio. If you then send that to an amplifier or compatible speaker via AirPlay they will receive an uncompressed audio too.
 
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bevok

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The thread on Naim forum is about Apple's hi-res format, not the lossless format. Maybe some hi-res formats are compressed, especially if they are in Atmos. As far as I know Atmos is a compressed format but I'm not sure.

To sum it up: if you stream an Apple Music lossless track, your computer/mobile will receive uncompressed audio. If you then send that to an amplifier or compatible speaker via AirPlay they will receive an uncompressed audio too.
I do see talk about hi-res and lossless in that thread, but the example Stevesky uses showing that Apple Music is passing AAC to Airplay is when he is playing a lossless track in 16/44.1 resolution (see the screenshot above the debug output), so we are definitely talking about Apple Music not passing lossless over Airplay 2.

I agree that the computer / mobile will receive uncompressed/lossless audio on a track in that format (as it does when outputting to Bluetooth as well). What is clear from Stevesky's debug output though is that Apple Music itself is using AAC for the Airplay 2 stream, as opposed to some other music streaming apps (he gives Amazon Music and Qobuz as examples) which do output in 'legacy ALAC' 16/44.1 lossless.
 

jhaider

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A draw back with apple music at least with iphones is the inability to eq your headphones as far as I know.

The source is a stupid place to shove EQ anyway. I listen to Apple Music over headphones on an iPhone every day with EQ. The EQ is just in the proper place: built into the headphones on active units, in the amp (Qudelix 5k) on passive units.
 
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The source is a stupid place to shove EQ anyway. I listen to Apple Music over headphones on an iPhone every day with EQ. The EQ is just in the proper place: built into the headphones on active units, in the amp (Qudelix 5k) on passive units.
Thanks I'll look into this for at the office use.
 

Weeb Labs

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The thread on Naim forum is about Apple's hi-res format, not the lossless format. Maybe some hi-res formats are compressed, especially if they are in Atmos. As far as I know Atmos is a compressed format but I'm not sure.

To sum it up: if you stream an Apple Music lossless track, your computer/mobile will receive uncompressed audio. If you then send that to an amplifier or compatible speaker via AirPlay they will receive an uncompressed audio too.
Bevok is correct in that there currently exists a bug within the AirPlay 2 implementation under iOS 15, which results in the AAC encode of selected tracks being played rather than the ALAC encode.
 

acbarn

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A draw back with apple music at least with iphones is the inability to eq your headphones as far as I know.

@sarumbear you seem very versed on things apple, In my listening room I am using a mac mini as a source to an external dac and eq'ing with sound source. I like the headphone specific presets they provide. But on my office setup is just an iphone with no ability for installing on a work computer. Are you aware of any parametric eq software for iphones that aren't jailbroken?
The Quedelix 5K has a nice companion app with full featured 10-band PEQ. It’s extremely popular with headphone enthusiasts. https://www.qudelix.com/
 

acbarn

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The source is a stupid place to shove EQ anyway. I listen to Apple Music over headphones on an iPhone every day with EQ. The EQ is just in the proper place: built into the headphones on active units, in the amp (Qudelix 5k) on passive units.
Oops, I just saw your post after posting about the Quedelix. :)
 

Jazz

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It is my understanding that, if you send Apple Lossless via USB from iOS, it is Lossless at whatever the resolution of the recording is.
If you send Airplay to an Airplay 1 receiver, it will be 16/44.1 Lossless.
But jury is still out on Airplay 2 receivers getting 16/44.1 Lossless.
(On MacOS Lossless, set Audio MIDI Setup to integer multiple upsampling of most music 24/176.4, for now. Hopefully Apple fixes this no MacOS exclusive mode problem soon.)
Here is guide to a THX DAC but will work for any. https://www.thx.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/THX-Onyx-for-Apple-Music-Lossless.pdf
 

acbarn

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It is my understanding that, if you send Apple Lossless via USB from iOS, it is Lossless at whatever the resolution of the recording is.
If you send Airplay to an Airplay 1 receiver, it will be 16/44.1 Lossless.
But jury is still out on Airplay 2 receivers getting 16/44.1 Lossless.
(On MacOS Lossless, set Audio MIDI Setup to integer multiple upsampling of most music 24/176.4, for now. Hopefully Apple fixes this no MacOS exclusive mode problem soon.)
Here is guide to a THX DAC but will work for any. https://www.thx.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/THX-Onyx-for-Apple-Music-Lossless.pdf
Just to clarify, the exclusive mode issue is an Apple Music issue, not a MacOS issue. Tidal, for example, is currently capable of exclusive mode on the Mac at their higher tiers.
 

sarumbear

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I do see talk about hi-res and lossless in that thread, but the example Stevesky uses showing that Apple Music is passing AAC to Airplay is when he is playing a lossless track in 16/44.1 resolution (see the screenshot above the debug output), so we are definitely talking about Apple Music not passing lossless over Airplay 2.

I agree that the computer / mobile will receive uncompressed/lossless audio on a track in that format (as it does when outputting to Bluetooth as well). What is clear from Stevesky's debug output though is that Apple Music itself is using AAC for the Airplay 2 stream, as opposed to some other music streaming apps (he gives Amazon Music and Qobuz as examples) which do output in 'legacy ALAC' 16/44.1 lossless.
You are still confused. AirPlay is a connection between the streaming device that receives the audio stream from Apple Music and the AirPlay is a connection between that device and the amplifier/wireless speaker. Apple Music has no control over the AirPlay connection. It doesn't have the means to know how you are listening that stream.

[Apple Music] --Internet--> [Streamer] --AirPlay over Wi-Fi--> [Amplifier/Wireless speaker]

Streamer below can be any one of those: Naim unit, Computer, Mobile device, etc.
 

sarumbear

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Bevok is correct in that there currently exists a bug within the AirPlay 2 implementation under iOS 15, which results in the AAC encode of selected tracks being played rather than the ALAC encode.
Source please. Also, as we are talking about a Naim streamer what has that to do with an iOS bug?
 

Dxnc

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Bluesound staff also confirmed that Airplay from iOS devices is converted to 256 AAC (forum post 3 months ago):


"Due to limitations of certain Apple Products, currently, the only way to get Apple Lossless to your Bluesound Player is via AirPlay from a MacBook. This means, today, your NODE 2i will support it to the same extent as the new NODE N130.

When a BluOS Player is selected directly from the list of Airplay compatible devices in the Apple Music app, lossless audio is converted to AAC at 256 kbps. As a workaround, when the system-wide audio output on a Mac is set to a BluOS Player, the AirPlay Content is sent up to 16 bit 44.KHz using ALAC or Apple Lossless."
 

sarumbear

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Bluesound staff also confirmed that Airplay from iOS devices is converted to 256 AAC (forum post 3 months ago):


"Due to limitations of certain Apple Products, currently, the only way to get Apple Lossless to your Bluesound Player is via AirPlay from a MacBook. This means, today, your NODE 2i will support it to the same extent as the new NODE N130.

When a BluOS Player is selected directly from the list of Airplay compatible devices in the Apple Music app, lossless audio is converted to AAC at 256 kbps. As a workaround, when the system-wide audio output on a Mac is set to a BluOS Player, the AirPlay Content is sent up to 16 bit 44.KHz using ALAC or Apple Lossless."
I understand now. However, this is a bug in the iOS Apple Music app not a systemic limitation or behaviour. I was posting about how the system works as many post were showing confusion in the matter.
 

Jazz

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Just to clarify, the exclusive mode issue is an Apple Music issue, not a MacOS issue. Tidal, for example, is currently capable of exclusive mode on the Mac at their higher tiers.
Yes, of course. I never mentioned Tidal and Tidal does not play ALAC (aka Lossless in Apple parlance) but only FLAC. Playback on macOS, just like in Windows, is dependent on the system and in macOS that is the Audio MIDI Setup application, not Apple Music (except being sure you set your prefs right from the start to Lossless, see THX link). Also, the assumption is that all/most here know Tidal and Amazon play exclusive in macOS. Hence, the problem Apple needs to address in Apple Music on macOS. But not iOS. The current macOS handling of this using Audio MIDI Setup needs to be made like iOS. Exclusive. Frustration free. Shocking that at least the M1 does not do this now, as the M1 is basically running iOS apps. I run a few on it now. But, Apple Music is not one… :-(
For now, setting Audio MIDI Setup to 24/176.4 is the best option, unless users sit there and change it for every Apple Music track they play in Lossless…
 

Jazz

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I should mention, again, that using the macOS Airfoil app seems to overcome all these conversions and allows you to play Lossless or FLAC to multiple Airplay 1 and Airplay 2 devices simultaneously from a Mac. (There is a Windows version too but I know nothing about it or what it can or cannot do.)
 

bevok

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I understand now. However, this is a bug in the iOS Apple Music app not a systemic limitation or behaviour. I was posting about how the system works as many post were showing confusion in the matter.
Exactly, this is a bug (or possibly design choice until they are happy with multi room performance).
I understand now. However, this is a bug in the iOS Apple Music app not a systemic limitation or behaviour. I was posting about how the system works as many post were showing confusion in the matter.
Yes that is exactly what I have been saying all along, I understand fine how it works hence why I was pointing out that Qobuz and Amazon Music receive lossless content from the streaming server, then pass it on losslessly via Airplay end to end.
 
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