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Apple Music vs Tidal

Crunchynut

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The second part of this thread has a series of comments on whether IOS devices pass lossless over Airplay or not. It got a bit confusing for me - sorry.

So - is there a definitive answer to my question - which is - if I download a lossless file from Apple Music and stream it to my hi-fi (iFi Zen Stream in my case) using Airplay (Airplay 1 I presume) is it truly at 16bit 44.1 kHz per the source file with no manipulation, or has it undergone some down sampling and up sampling?

Thanks
 

acbarn

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The second part of this thread has a series of comments on whether IOS devices pass lossless over Airplay or not. It got a bit confusing for me - sorry.

So - is there a definitive answer to my question - which is - if I download a lossless file from Apple Music and stream it to my hi-fi (iFi Zen Stream in my case) using Airplay (Airplay 1 I presume) is it truly at 16bit 44.1 kHz per the source file with no manipulation, or has it undergone some down sampling and up sampling?

Thanks
IMG_0325.JPG
 

acbarn

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That’s clear. Thank you! One question though - how do I know if I’m using Airplay 1 or Airplay 2 when sending from my iPad or iPhone to my iFi Zen Stream?
It depends upon the receiver. Being a newer device, the Zen Stream is almost certainly using Airplay 2.

Most likely Apple downsamples for Airplay 2 to reduce the bandwidth demand on your LAN when streaming to multiple rooms. So they’re trading what is likely inaudible differences for more stable multi-room streaming. Airplay 1, of course, can’t stream to multiple end points, which negates the need to preserve bandwidth for those devices.

If you’re wanting to use AirPlay 1, you could replace your Zen Stream with a Raspberry Pi running Ropieee XL, or a used Apple Airport Express.

PS - there is one anomaly in the above chart. I have been able to get bit perfect streams from iOS via USB to an RME DAC. This may be a difference in the DACs used to run the tests, I’m not sure.
 
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bevok

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It depends upon the receiver. Being a newer device, the Zen Stream is almost certainly using Airplay 2.

Most likely Apple downsamples for Airplay 2 to reduce the bandwidth demand on your LAN when streaming to multiple rooms. So they’re trading what is likely inaudible differences for more stable multi-room streaming. Airplay 1, of course, can’t stream to multiple end points, which negates the need to preserve bandwidth for those devices.

If you’re wanting to use AirPlay 1, you could replace your Zen Stream with a Raspberry Pi running Ropieee XL, or a used Apple Airport Express.

PS - there is one anomaly in the above chart. I have been able to get bit perfect streams from iOS via USB to an RME DAC. This may be a difference in the DACs used to run the tests, I’m not sure.
His tests to verify USB bit perfect performance were on the basis of the HDCD light coming on when feeding the audio to a Berkeley Audio Design Alpha DAC Reference Series 3, which is obviously a specific set of circumstances. I'd be really interested in some more generic testing of this. I found the absence of the light and its behaviour odd and would love to know why this was occurring. The Apple Music interface definitely talks about bit-for-bit accuracy specifically so I can't help feeling something else is going on. Any links to other testing or your own results?
 

dufferdan

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Hello,

Am contemplating changing from tidal to Apple Music

Read a lot about Apple Music being better in terms of sound quality in comparison to Tidal.

Also i dont like tidal’s approach to mqa and their deceiving tactics.

Additionally is half the price where i live and it would integrate perfectly with my Apple products.

That being said, i have a hegel amp and I dont see a way to stream to it lossless…

Does anyone know a way?

If there is not, would it be worth to switch to apple
Music and stream to hegel via airplay considering that airplay is fairly good on hegel?

Is apple music lossless that much better to justify using airplay instead of tidal?
I posted about a comparison I did mid last week as a tribal between Apple Music hi-res lossless and a CD quality lossless rip to my computer. I used an old iPad 2 connected to a camera adapter/card reader that is also powered by Lightning input. The Apple Lossless hi-res file was definitely underwhelming via USB compared to the Squeezebox Touch streamed 16/44.1 CD rip. However, two potential issues. The DAC is around 13 or 14 yrs old (Beresford Caiman) so I am guessing the USB implementation is poor relative to todays equipment. Also, the file may be more compressed for listening on earnuds or other noisy environments.

my plan is to order a new Topping D70S MQA DAC to replace the out dated Caiman. I will likely re-run the A/b comparisons Best I can then. Since I am rolling a new big figure in age, I am likely to revamp my entire two channel system, but a new DAC is badly needed regardless.

edit to add…I am basically fully into the Apple ecosystem. Having subscribed to Apple News, and Apple Music a while ago on a family plan, so the family can also use it, I went whole hog and did Apple TV and the complete package. Essentially, for an extra $3 a month over the two subscriptions I now have Fitness, TV, and a bunch of other stuff.. so unless I see a huge advantage, I am unlikely to subscribe to Spotify, Amazon Music or Tidal. And yes, I have used the Fitness workouts and such. Many of the “trainers” are annoying as heck, but they are decent workouts.
 
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elliott

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Also something to note is that apple gets 24 bit masters from artists and compresses those, not CD rips, so the version you're hearing on Apple Music may not be the same version elsewhere. For a lot of funk music at least, I prefer Apple's versions better despite differences in sound quality.
 
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