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Using ASIO with Amazon HD ... a partial solution?

JanesJr1

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I use Amazon HD but have been frustrated that the service has no API to use ASIO. I think I have a partial solution.

The problem is that in order to match the bitrate to source material, one has to go through layers of Windows Settings menus to set the bit rate for each song. If you just set Wndows to default to a high bit rate in playback, as I understand it, the playback involves upsampling or something similar to modify the signal if the source bit rate doesn't match the playback bit rate. Can you hear it? My experience is often it is very subtle, but once in a while I will hear something that just doesn't sound right at all. Hence, having to go through the windows menus to modify the bitrate all the time. Or just leaving it at 44.1... which isn't bad despite the downsampling or whatever, but not ideal.

However, I found that I can use ASIO with the firmware drivers supplied with my hardware. For my JDS labs DAC/AMP, the XMOS ASIO driver is supplied. For my Hidizs mobile DAC/AMP, I have a TempoTec ASIO driver. Either allows me to set sampling rate, Hz bit rate. Windows confirms that for either driver, changing the setting there changes the setting in Windows as well. Leaving either driver open on the PC desktop makes it much easier to change settings on the fly. However, neither driver re-sets the bit rate based on the source material automatically... which it should, methinks!

I am a noob on this subject. Am I interpreting things correctly?
 

Propheticus

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Would the Wasapi exclusive mode not solve your problem? This would autoswitch formats.
To enable exclusive mode, click the Devices icon on the player and check the Exclusive Mode option.

What is exclusive mode?
When exclusive mode is enabled, the Amazon Music app will block sounds from other applications while music is playing. This provides a number of sound quality benefits, notably that it allows the Amazon Music app to play music in the highest possible quality supported by your playback device. It also reduces the likelihood of playback errors that can occur when multiple applications are playing audio at the same time. It is important to note that other applications will not be able to play audio when a song is playing while exclusive mode is enabled
 
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JanesJr1

JanesJr1

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I am not sure that the Amazon "exclusive" mode is a true implementation of Wasapi, at least as I understand it. What it seems to enable is that Amazon plays at whatever resolution I input through Windows, NOT the native sample rate of the music. I picked up on similar observations from others somewhere. It may indeed prevent interference from other Windows processes that involve audio.
 

Propheticus

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Strange. To me that does not follow logically from the bit where they state "it allows the Amazon Music app to play music in the highest possible quality supported by your playback device".
Did you confirm this by looking what format your DAC/amp reports? Since the Exclusive Wasapi mode does not allow resampling and bypasses the mixer, you don't see a change in the Windows audio device properties. Example below using Foobar2000.
Foobar_96kHz_WasapiExcl.jpg

96kHz_WasapiExcl.jpg
 
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JanesJr1

JanesJr1

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It doesn't say wasapi in the Amazon description nor autoswitch in fact. It just processes at the sampling rate that I manually set. There is no reporting of what the actual source sampling rate is, other than the "HD" or "Ultra-HD" indicator in Amazon. I have seen much confusion on this point and on the vagueness of the Amazon description of the exclusive mode. I've seen more than one assertion that Amazon simply doesn't have an API for wasapi or asio available for anyone to work with, either. I've seen no comment from Amazon on this; especially as to whether they will create such an API. I assume there is automatically upsampling or downsampling by Amazon to match to the rate set in Windows. That said, I am also confused by what the ASIO firmware packages for my two DAC/AMP combo's actually do. I can set a wide variety of sampling rates and bit rates via the ASIO software, and it is exactly reflected in the Windows settings. But it "feels like" I'm not using a direct connection to Amazon so much as using the ASIO firmware to adjust a Windows setting. I am not clear how the firmware is interfacing with Amazon, if at all, other than to signal the available resolution at the user end. I don't know why if the ASIO firmware can change the hardware processing rate, why it doesn't match it to the original source. Very confusing, but on the other hand, I have no technical depth. It's just that I've seen no knowledgeable commentary by more techno-savvy audiophiles that could clarify this. I'd kind of like to continue using Amazon; but OTOH I'd like to get this to work. Why have an "ultra HD" label on music selections if you can't tie into it correctly as a user? I can get great sound out of Amazon HD, but I'm pretty convinced that there is sometimes a penalty from trying to match the user resolution to the source resolution in the absence of more detailed info, and I just shouldn't need to fiddle with this. It should be fire-and-forget.
 
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JanesJr1

JanesJr1

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PS you asked what my DAC/AMP reports. Neither DAC has a display. I have to rely on the Windows display or the ASIO firmware. However, the rate displayed is always the rate I selected, and which Amazon may have altered the digital stream to match. Or whatever, if someone else can explain it better.
 
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JanesJr1

JanesJr1

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PPS in the Wasapi images you provided, the sample shows 32/44.1 for the speakers, but the DAC display seems to show a source of 24/96. I am not experienced enough to understand what that difference means, nor what "shared mode" is. (Thank you for the example, BTW.)
 

Propheticus

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The example is to show the Windows setting is ignored and irrelevant when using an exclusive mode. The whole mixer is bypassed.
It's not Amazon offering an API here, it's using one. One offered by Windows.
The Asio switching rates means this is a shared mode. In shared mode multiple sources can play sound simultaneously, but all sources not matching the chosen rate are resampled.
 

LDvo

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FYI - Amazon HD Music Android app, unlike Amazon Music Windows app, does not support Exclusive USB mode. :(
Few Android apps do - UAPP, Hiby Music, Onkyo, Neutron, Fiio.
 
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JanesJr1

JanesJr1

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The example is to show the Windows setting is ignored and irrelevant when using an exclusive mode. The whole mixer is bypassed.
It's not Amazon offering an API here, it's using one. One offered by Windows.
The Asio switching rates means this is a shared mode. In shared mode multiple sources can play sound simultaneously, but all sources not matching the chosen rate are resampled.

That is not the behavior with the ASIO firmware I use; and BTW I am using Amazon's exclusive mode. With XMOS and Tempotec, the reported rate on the hardware is always sync'd as shown either in Windows or in the firmware to the chosen rate and the source music resolution is not shown, if different. Does that mean the resampling is done by Amazon, not by the DAC, to match the ASIO-selected rate? In other words, the ASIO interface is working and successfully instructing Amazon to stream at the selected rate? I am naive about how any required resampling is done, by the source music service or by the local DAC ...I wish I could measure the actual resolution as transmitted to see that it matches the ASIO-selected rate... I also wish I could see the best available rate at Amazon for each piece, not just HD or Ultra HD.

I'm aftraid the shared mode part goes over my head, but I won't belabor things... do you know if is there a good source for me to better understand how DAC's work (particularly in working with streamed music, if possible). I have been looking but perhaps in the wrong places. Thank you for thoughtful replies.
 

Bullwinkle J Moose

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There are so many problems with modern operating systems and DAC's that it is a wonder why anyone bothers

The driver for your DAC determines whether the DAC switches sampling rates automagically to match the audio files being played
Out of the many DAC's I own, I have only one DAC that switches sampling rates automagically

A Micca Origen G2 connected to the USB unput will switch sampling rates based on the file being played
This can be verified by connecting the optical output of the G2 to another DAC with a digital display
(or reading the LED indicators on the G2)

Other problems include driverless DAC's that are not truly driverless, and do not output anything with certain Operating Systems
Only my Fiio BTR-3K is truly driverless and even works on Windows XP without any drivers

Another one is different versions of Windows each have a different set of output options
Windows 8.1 will not output 88.2Khz / 176Khz or 352Khz but Windows 10 will

This is a small sample of the problems

There are more!
 
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JanesJr1

JanesJr1

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AHA!

I think I have figured out how to enable the wasapi exclusive/bypass feature of Amazon music HD. It's not obvious! This feature enables you to play Amazon Music HD selections at "HD" or "Ultra HD" resolution (for tracks so-labelled) and auto-switches the Amazon playback bit depth/sampling rate to the native resolution of the source recording, without upsampling or downsampling. "Exclusive Mode" does this by bypassing the regular Windows 10 audio mixer which otherwise will constrain playback to lower resolutions, or in some cases, force upsampling to higher resolutions, depending on Windows settings.

1. First, in Windows 10 you have to go to Settings/Sound and select your DAC or other output device. Then for that device, choose Device Properties/Additional Device Properties and select the Advanced tab at the top. In the Advanced tab, check the two boxes enabling exclusive mode. ALSO: on the top of the same tab menu, choose your device's maximum bit depth/sampling rate (e.g. 24/192) for the "shared-mode" Windows default sampling rate. Even though you will be in exclusive mode, not shared mode, Amazon interprets that value as the maximum for the device in Amazon's auto-switching of the sampling rate in exclusive mode. (Perhaps not its intended use! But perhaps a practical ceiling rate for Amazon's auto-switching if it is not set too low.) So set it to 24/192 or to something that is your device's true maximum. Amazon will not oversample a lower-resolution recording up to that ceiling; it will just auto-switch to the correct rate. But if you set the default/shared-mode rate too low (e.g. 16/44.1), Amazon will downsample a higher-resolution recording to that rate in playback.

2. In Amazon Music HD, open the settings menu (little head in a circle in upper right corner), Under the "Playback" heading, toggle exclusive mode to On to allow exclusive playback.

3. Then when actually playing your first music selection of a listening session in Amazon Music HD (and apparently ONLY in that screen), click the little speaker image/icon at the lower right corner to display the "Available Devices" list. As a result of the prior step, there should be not only a list of available devices, but also an "Exclusive Mode" toggle below it. Make sure the correct device is checked and toggle the Exclusive Mode on. I believe you have to do that last step EACH time you open Amazon Music HD or change playback devices ... the setting is not "set and forget", and I imagine this is so that when you leave your listening session, Windows audio will work normally for other Windows apps, instead of being bypassed.

If you do all of the above, the "volume" slider at the bottom of the Available Devices menu grays out and is disabled, seemingly validating the wasapi exclusive-mode bypass of the Windows mixer. Or you can click the little "HD" or "Ultra-HD" indicator on the bottom left of the Amazon playback menu for that selection to see the playback rate as well as the recording's native sampling rate and the "device limit" set in step 1 above. (Thanks DIYAUDIONUT for that tip!)

The above set of steps is not explained clearly anywhere that I have seen ...
 
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JanesJr1

JanesJr1

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There are so many problems with modern operating systems and DAC's that it is a wonder why anyone bothers

The driver for your DAC determines whether the DAC switches sampling rates automagically to match the audio files being played
Out of the many DAC's I own, I have only one DAC that switches sampling rates automagically

A Micca Origen G2 connected to the USB unput will switch sampling rates based on the file being played
This can be verified by connecting the optical output of the G2 to another DAC with a digital display
(or reading the LED indicators on the G2)

Other problems include driverless DAC's that are not truly driverless, and do not output anything with certain Operating Systems
Only my Fiio BTR-3K is truly driverless and even works on Windows XP without any drivers

Another one is different versions of Windows each have a different set of output options
Windows 8.1 will not output 88.2Khz / 176Khz or 352Khz but Windows 10 will

This is a small sample of the problems

There are more!

I love "automagically", Bull! (May I call you Bull for short?)

Anyway, I am suitably intimidated, but will plod on and learn things bit by bit (byte by byte). I spent two decades away from audio tech since the simple days of turntables and plain vanilla amps. Catching up now is a little fun, and a little not. But read my posting on how to make amazon hd work!
 

Berwhale

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I love "automagically", Bull! (May I call you Bull for short?)

Anyway, I am suitably intimidated, but will plod on and learn things bit by bit (byte by byte). I spent two decades away from audio tech since the simple days of turntables and plain vanilla amps. Catching up now is a little fun, and a little not. But read my posting on how to make amazon hd work!

You might want to have a play with Voicemeeter Banana at some point... VB-Audio VoiceMeeter Banana
 
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JanesJr1

JanesJr1

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You might want to have a play with Voicemeeter Banana at some point... VB-Audio VoiceMeeter Banana
Thanks for the banana tip. I looked at it quickly but do not understand what it is, yet. But definitely something I will explore. Thanks again for the advice!
 

diyaudnut

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I have tried everything and simply cannot get the native resolution and sample rate of the track from Amazon HD to play directly on my Topping D90.

The DAC seems to be tied to the widows audio setting and the music stream seems to always get resampled by windows to that setting. Exclusive mode seems to do nothing other than preventing other sound sources access to the DAC while Amazon app is running. This is not good enough.

What I want is the native track resolution and sample rate automatically setting the DAC directly and exclusively so the windows sound system doesn't get in the path at all.

But Amazon couldn't be bothered to fix this.
 
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JanesJr1

JanesJr1

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DiYaudNut, if you haven't seen it, check out my first June 12 posting in this thread. I had what sounds like the same problem and was finally able to resolve it. But I had to do all three items listed in the post. Also (and this is a non-expert guess on my part) your DAC may run without a driver, but if Topping provides an optional driver, perhaps it needs to be installed in order for Step #1 in my list to work. (Anyway, I already had the driver installed when I got it to work. Actually, one driver for my IEM mobile DAC, and one driver for my desktop DAC for my headphones.) Once these three steps are complete, wasapi exclusive mode seems to work fine in Amazon. They explain all this nowhere that I've seen, and I mentioned it when they sent a request for user feedback.
 
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JanesJr1

JanesJr1

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Also, if you've already done the 3 steps and I'm simply bypassing your point about Amazon "exclusive mode" not actually auto-switching the sample rate, consider the alternative way of looking at this suggested in this ASR posting https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...nding-the-windows-audio-quality-debate.19438/

Anyway, if you have shown that Amazon's exclusive mode doesn't autoswitch, please mention how you know. I don't have a way to verify it myself.
 

MakeMineVinyl

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... I also wish I could see the best available rate at Amazon for each piece, not just HD or Ultra HD.

Click on the "HD" or "UltraHD" logo and a window will pop up telling you what the bit depth/sampling rate is.
 
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JanesJr1

JanesJr1

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Then Amazon does autoswitch, but only if the default Windows rate is set at least at that resolution. Amazon takes that rate as the device's maximum capability. So if you set it to 24/192 for the Windows default rate and play back a 24/96 ultra-hd recording, Amazon does auto-switch up to 24/96 and does NOT oversample. However, if you play a 24/96 recording while Windows default is set at 16/44.1, then Windows does seem to downsample down to the 16/44.1 device limit.

This means I should change the advice on my 3 steps to set up wasapi exclusive on Amazon HD Music to provide for a max sampling rate of something like 24/192, and then autoswitch will work correctly, So I will edit my earlier posting.

(Lest it go unsaid, I'm not entirely sure that going above 24/44.1 is all that audible without focusing attention on equipment rather than the music and doing A/B testing and so forth. If it is just-barely-audible, is it really both audible and an improvement in normal use?)
 
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