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Scratching my head - getting Apple music to HiFi

tgray

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Ahh I see. It appears that Apple Music is streaming lossless to me now, but I don’t know what happens if I then Airplay it.
 

lordhumungous

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Here you go not directed at me another Simon. I like Mike are regulars on Naims forum as we have their kit. I trust what he says.
6f97ef2fbe0c583405efe31c4b63c3c1313b6014_2_32x32.ico
Naim Audio - Community – 8 Jun 21 10
5599372b375cd162269181e43849e57dec6f8489.jpeg

Apple Music HiFi Tier incoming? 10
Hi @simon-in-Suffolk et all, Currently Apple are forcing an aac link on Airplay2 when using Apple Music, even if the ui is saying lossless. This was documented on one of their FAQ pages. So example: Now lets turn on the internal metrics...


The fact that Apple also do not mention Airplay at all on their FAQ is a bit of a clue I guess
https://support.apple.com/en-gb/HT212183
 

wgb113

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This was such a dumbfounding decision on Apple's part. I really really don't understand this at all, I would love to have heard that discussion in the conference room.

A: So, as you can see, this new Apple TV4K is set to release and with our lossless Apple Music initiative, and we can just add back in an optical output for only an additional $1.43 of build cost, and then we can own the living room, and we can charge a ridiculous amount of money, but people will pay for it
B: No
A: No? What do you mean, no? This new Apple TV box would appeal to tv, movie and music lovers alike. People just need a way to hook this to their stereo systems to be able to take advantage of our lossless and Dolby Atmos music - and then it's perfect and could be a revolutionary device.
B: No.
A: Why in the world would we not do this? It costs us practically nothing. It makes perfect sense
B: Cause fuck 'em, that's why

Why not include RCA, Balanced, Coax and 3.5mm and hey let's throw in Composite, S-Video and Component hook-ups as well to cover all of our bases?

Oh, that's right, it's where YOU'D draw the line that makes sense...:rolleyes:
 

dkinric

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Why not include RCA, Balanced, Coax and 3.5mm and hey let's throw in Composite, S-Video and Component hook-ups as well to cover all of our bases?

Oh, that's right, it's where YOU'D draw the line that makes sense...:rolleyes:
? Not sure I understand where you are coming from. My point was they are rolling out these new audio services, but their new flagship living room entertainment device has no way to connect to an existing audio setup (other than HDMI, which is mostly used to go to the tv anyway). If they had included a common audio output (toslink, usb, coax), it would have broadened the ability of many to fully use the new services, especially since you need an external DAC and Dolby Atmos decoder to take full advantage.
Seems like a big miss to me.
 

bevok

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It’s two days since this rolled out! I’m sure the hardware support will continue to grow, just as other services are.
The court is still out on the airplay lossless question I think, I agree it’s not mentioned on the kb but then it also seems odd that the GUI would display lossless yet actually pull the aac stream then upsample it to alac and airplay it. Stranger things have happened. I’ve always thought aac sounded really good anyway, I’m obviously one of the “99%” https://www.billboard.com/articles/...y-cue-spatial-audio-lossless-future-of-music/
 

psf1

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But are any of these options ideal for wireless control of lossless audio? Currently I use Roon for Tidal and Qobuz on my ipad, which controls the hard wired Rasberry Pi output to my DAC. Works flawlessly.
I want to be able to sit on my couch and run Apple music app on my ipad, wirelessly controlling the music stream that is running via Cat6 ethernet into my DAC. Airplay does some funny conversions with an audio signal and is limited to 24/48 anyway (which is fine, but another discussion).
Is there a device that will act as an endpoint for Apple Music that will output a bit perfect lossless signal to my DAC that can be controlled wirelessly from an ipad running Apple Music App?
Will an older Apple Airport Express 2 act as this endpoint? Or is it just streaming over Airplay from the ipad?

I use my Macbook Air running apple music and the remote app on my phone. MacBook Air (m1) - HDMI - Denon 3808 - Amps. Denon shows it as 24/192 when I play the new High Res lossless from Apple Music. I control the music from the phone and this also [should work with the] new Dolby Atmos/High Res 24/192 into an Atmos capalbe processor.

You may see in another post I am looking for a new processor to get the ATMOS upgrade. I am putting four speakers in the ceiling for this purpose and look forward to testing if my setup works for Atmos out of the MacBook Air to something like the Marantz 8805A. But I did NOT like what I read on this great website about the shortcomings of their implementation. I also want Dirac. But this is not on topic. So forgive me.
 
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ToD_

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Using a MacBook Pro, I tested Apple Music with Airplay on both Volumio and a Denon receiver. When I select my airplay device as output in the Music app, the lossless logo does not appear. As soon as switch to the internal speakers or headphones connected to the MBP's headphone port, the lossless logo reappears. When I select the Airplay device as a system wide output, the lossless logo does stay enabled. Whether it's actually using lossy or lossless codecs at this point is not clear, however, as I have no way to test this (surely not my ears). Both Airplay devices behave in the same way.

I also connected an old USB DAC (Yulong U100) to see if Apple Music would provide a HiRes stream. Interestingly, as soon as I connected the DAC, music stopped playing entirely. For this combination to work, it turns out I have to ensure the bit and sample rates are set to match or exceed the rate of the track that's playing. For example, if the DAC was set to 16/44 and the track is 24/48, it would not play at all. If I set the DAC to 24/96, everything appeared to work just fine. Not great, and it would also be nice if it would automatically adjust bitrate. I'm pretty sure Tidal does this on macOS.
 

chelgrian

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? If they had included a common audio output (toslink, usb, coax), it would have broadened the ability of many to fully use the new services, especially since you need an external DAC and Dolby Atmos decoder to take full advantage.
Seems like a big miss to me.

You can't get Dolby Digital Plus, which is necessary for Atmos, down SPDIF/Toslink it requires HDMI.
 

DimitryZ

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I will second the upthread recommendation to use a recent vintage iPad and a lightning to USB adapter with power.

In my case, that output goes to a powered USB hub and is distributed to 4 DACs, with only one being ON at any given time. Works very well - once in a great while I reseat the iPad so it recognizes the DAC.

If one desires a remote control, Apple does provide an app for controlling one IOS device with another -Switch Control. So an iPad mini or an older IPhone....

I prefer iPad to Windows for a streaming device. The streaming apps work well, are not "heavy" like they are in Windows and an equivalent of "auto-wasapi" seems to have been implemented.

In this setup, a variety of DACs worked well - OPPO 205, M2TECH Young III, D90, Mytek Liberty, Musician Pegasus and an even an AD1865 based DAC. The only inconvenience was that Topping's USB input remained live with the DAC soft-switched off and it competed with other DACs - so had to be physically switched off with the back power switch.
 
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eas

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Using a MacBook Pro, I tested Apple Music with Airplay on both Volumio and a Denon receiver. When I select my airplay device as output in the Music app, the lossless logo does not appear. As soon as switch to the internal speakers or headphones connected to the MBP's headphone port, the lossless logo reappears. When I select the Airplay device as a system wide output, the lossless logo does stay enabled. Whether it's actually using lossy or lossless codecs at this point is not clear, however, as I have no way to test this (surely not my ears). Both Airplay devices behave in the same way.

I did some tests of my own, I used the amount of data being transferred from my Mac to my AirPlay endpoints as a proxy for identifying the codec being used.

  • Apple Music set to Lossless playback using a 1st generation AirPort Express as the output: No lossless icon. Steady 800-1000kbps data rate to AirPort Express. Interpretation: Apple Music is decoding 256kbps AAC and sending over AirPlay to the AirPort Express as ALAC using realtime mode.
  • As above, but with Apple Music output set to "Computer" and System Audio output set to 1st Gen AirPort Express: Lossless icon displayed. Steady 800-1000kbps data rate to AirPort Express. Interpretation: Apple Music is receiving lossless stream, sending data to system mixer, which is then transferring the audio AirPlay to the AirPort Express as ALAC using realtime mode.
  • Apple Music set to Lossless playback using a 2nd generation AirPort Express as the output: Lossless icon displayed. Bursty ~256kbps (avg) data rate to AirPort Express. Interpretation: Apple Music is receiving a lossless stream which it then compresses to 256kbps AAC before sending over AirPlay to the AirPort Express using buffered transfer.
  • As above, but with Apple Music output set to "Computer" and System Audio output set to 2nd generation AirPort Express: Lossless icon displayed. Steady 800-1000kbps data rate to AirPort Express. Interpretation: Apple Music is receiving lossless stream, sending data to system mixer, which is then transferring the audio AirPlay to the AirPort Express as ALAC using realtime mode.
  • Apple Music playing back a self-ripped ALAC file to a 2nd generation AirPort Express as the output. No lossless icon. Bursty 800-1000kbps (avg) data rate to Airport Express. Apple Music is sending the audio data in the ALAC file over AirPlay to the AirPort Express using a buffered transfer.
In your case, I'd guess that the Denon is an AirPlay v1 device, based on the behavior you describe. I believe Volumio uses shairport-sync, which definitely is AirPlay v1.

Apple seems to deliberately avoid sending lossless music unmolested over AirPlay. I have to wonder if it's to inhibit piracy of lossless data since AirPlay v1 has been "cracked" and it may only be a matter of time before AirPlay 2 is (I suspect having access to decrypted lossless music tracks would sweeten the prize).

Many of us though AirPlay was a lossless medium. We didn't realize that Apple changed all that in 2018 when they released AirPlay 2. The signature features of AirPlay 2 were support of stereo pairs (and surround?) of HomePods + multiroom audio from iOS devices (previously available on AirPlay 1 from Mac devices by sending individual streams to each endpoint). To help serve those ends, Apple added support for buffered playback, reducing the impact of network problems on synchronized playback. Adding and using support for AAC reduced the amount of data that needed to be transferred, which reduced power demands on iOS devices, it also reduced network load, and allowed more data to be buffered on the endpoint devices. The most common use-cases of AirPlay started with AAC audio in the first place.

AirPlay 2 does still support lossless audio, in both buffered and real-time modes. People working to reverse engineer the protocol established (somehow) that a variety of codecs are now supported by the protocol (but not necessarily all endpoints). In addition to AAC-LC, it also added AAC-ELD, Opus and PCM along with 48KHz sample-rates and single-channel modes.
 
OP
Jimshoe

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With Airplay (Shairport) a clunky mess on the SHD I have opted to buy an Apple TV box and use an HDMI splitter on its ouput. It works fine but pis*ed off to have to buy another Apple gizmo (for basic connectivity).
 

drfous

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You could pick up an older iPad (say a Gen 6) which can be had for $200-$300 and set it up as a dedicated streamer with the CCK. Uninstall all unnecessary apps and turn off all notifications. It makes a very nice streamer. I have one I’m using this way, hardwired to the RME:

this
 

mukka

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I have an idea that needs to be verified, but it cost approximately the same as buying some adapters (I have a spare Raspberry here, so I only need a little time to mess with it :)):

Run a Raspberry with Android, install Apple Music, check if one of the Android EQs listed in this forum works properly, there are multiple remote control tools for android (vnc is one for sure), I use my headphone next to my workstation and I prefer to do the searching/control with a keyboard/mouse (otherwise using an older tablet sounds good).

The LinageOS Raspberry build states that it has a working USB support along with "Audio DAC (using PCM512x DACs e.g. Hifiberry DAC+)".

I have an external DAC so I don't think there should be a lot of trouble making it work.
All things considered this is probably the best option to make Apple Music work in 'headless' mode for now.

BTW I also considered using a headless browser on top of a linux but I read that the browser based version is not lossless.
 
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mukka

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I have an idea that needs to be verified, but it cost approximately the same as buying some adapters (I have a spare Raspberry here, so I only need a little time to mess with it :)):

Run a Raspberry with Android, install Apple Music, check if one of the Android EQs listed in this forum works properly, there are multiple remote control tools for android (vnc is one for sure), I use my headphone next to my workstation and I prefer to do the searching/control with a keyboard/mouse (otherwise using an older tablet sounds good).

The LinageOS Raspberry build states that it has a working USB support along with "Audio DAC (using PCM512x DACs e.g. Hifiberry DAC+)".

I have an external DAC so I don't think there should be a lot of trouble making it work.
All things considered this is probably the best option to make Apple Music work in 'headless' mode for now.

BTW I also considered using a headless browser on top of a linux but I read that the browser based version is not lossless.

I managed to set this up and get sound through the 3.5 onboard jack.
IMG_1588.JPG


The usb-sound output didn't work out of the box, probably this can be done as some people are using their android phones with external DACs. Anyway this LinageOS build doesn't support it and there aren't many Android builds out there that support raspberry. The biggest problem of all is that the Raspberry is just too slow for this to be considered even remotely acceptable. (used a Raspberry Pi 3 model B, I don't think using a RPi 4 would make a huge difference).
 

Taddpole

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I managed to set this up and get sound through the 3.5 onboard jack.View attachment 143855

The usb-sound output didn't work out of the box, probably this can be done as some people are using their android phones with external DACs. Anyway this LinageOS build doesn't support it and there aren't many Android builds out there that support raspberry. The biggest problem of all is that the Raspberry is just too slow for this to be considered even remotely acceptable. (used a Raspberry Pi 3 model B, I don't think using a RPi 4 would make a huge difference).

Are you running it from micro SD, was reading that Android doesn't run well from that. Might be worth trying from USB drive if you have one lying around.

Pity that USB sound didn't work as that's listed as being working. Oh well
 

mukka

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Are you running it from micro SD, was reading that Android doesn't run well from that. Might be worth trying from USB drive if you have one lying around.

Pity that USB sound didn't work as that's listed as being working. Oh well

I haven't had the chance to check what is the bottleneck but the sd card used was a class10 and I used to run baked roms on it without any trouble, but things might be different with the Rpi.

Anyway based on some youtube videos it seems achieving a pretty ok performance is possible with different roms, maybe it was this particular rom that ran slowly on the Rpi3. I will give it another chance (with an USB dongle) if I have some time.

While I like the idea of running the Android on a raspberry for this purpose it's probably easier to find an android tv/set top box that runs android out of the box and doesn't have battery (connecting a device like a phone/tablet to the main power 24/7 makes me somewhat uncomfortable despite I know some people use old android phones for baby cameras without any trouble)

It seems using a dac with an android(tv) works well:
https://darko.audio/2020/10/15-more-thoughts-on-the-xiaomi-mi-box-s/
https://www.reddit.com/r/AndroidTV/comments/4ufeaa
I could play the music from my mac directly as I use my headphones while I work but it's not possible to switch between MacOS accounts (which I do somewhat frequently) and keep the music playing, this is the reason I'm looking for an Apple Music 'streamer'.
Since the DAC/AMP/headphone is next to my workstation I don't really care if it doesn't have a screen as I can access the android with teamviewer/vnc, but this solution might not be ideal for many.
 
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archerious

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You could pick up an older iPad (say a Gen 6) which can be had for $200-$300 and set it up as a dedicated streamer with the CCK. Uninstall all unnecessary apps and turn off all notifications. It makes a very nice streamer. I have one I’m using this way, hardwired to the RME:

View attachment 133896

Another option would be a Raspberry Pi 4 running Ropieee XL. You can reliably Airplay to the Raspberry Pi, though the controlling device does still need to be running, unlike with Roon or Spotify Connect.

I tried using the iPad method but for headphones it’s fine but if I’m on the couch listening to speakers it’s a pain in the ass having to get up to change songs.
 
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