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Amazon Music HD Available on Sonos

  • 17 September 2019
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111 replies

It is interesting to see how many here want to know the bitstream rate to decide how good the sound is. Classic examples of psychoacoustics, and also a part of today's world/marketing that thrives on keeping people dissatisfied to drive GDP growth.

There was a time when I refused to think of listening to lossless CD rips on a local NAS over WiFi as opposed to through my exotic brand name interconnects for the sound degradation that would bring, even when that mode would have been a lot more convenient as well as less messy. Fortunately, I escaped from that well and never looked back.

Having recently brought in music videos via a TV into my Sonos environment, it is striking how poor is the video quality of timeless performances, from even just a couple of decades back, of jazz/blues/rock to the extent that a less able performer of today, recorded and seen in HD mode, seems a better watch. Thankfully, there was not much wrong with the sound quality of well recorded music of even five or more decades ago, so all one has to do there is turn the TV off, and enjoy what is the better music.


How to check on my sonos connect the quality of stream.
is there any info on my ipad app?
Not for Amazon, no.
And how can i see it with a different service like spotify, tidal,... ?

I don't believe you can with those either. (This thread is about Amazon.) Deezer does however display the format.
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How to check on my sonos connect the quality of stream.
is there any info on my ipad app?
Not for Amazon, no.

And how can i see it with a different service like spotify, tidal,... ?
How to check on my sonos connect the quality of stream.
is there any info on my ipad app?

Not for Amazon, no.
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How to check on my sonos connect the quality of stream.
is there any info on my ipad app?
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The Amazon Music app casts to Sonos using Alexa, and Alexa can only stream to Sonos speakers in SD.
Do you know if this limitation is specific to Sonos or inherent to Alexa Cast?
See https://en.community.sonos.com/announcements-228985/amazon-music-hd-available-on-sonos-6830070?postid=16361736


Ahh, I see, HD casting will be available in the future.

Just FYI...I have been playing with casting to my Marantz processor using Heos. According to quality indicator in the Amazon Music app, casting to the Marantz drops the quality level - HD becomes SD and UHD becomes HD. Not sure why this happens. However, there is no way to tell the actual file type, bitrate and sampling frequency with this casting.
I might be misunderstanding the point here but I can stream to my sonos beam via airplay from the Amazon app on my iPhone and that's definitely not SD quality.. It sounds the same as when I use the sonos app, which also streams in a higher bitrate than SD.
Airplay is Apple only, and requires the phone to be in the loop. It's to be expected that the local Amazon app would send whatever it receives to Sonos, including in HD.

The discussion here has been about Alexa-initiated streams and by casting from the Amazon app. These go direct to the player, and are currently in SD.
Far more valuable, in my book, would be a music service that guarantees that all its streams will play at the same sound levels for a given level of volume control setting on my kit.

For that offering, I would definitely pay a premium over the usual bag of streaming services suspects that are merely cosmetic variations of essentially the same theme.

It is so irritating to have to reach for the volume control so often in a playlist. Even playlists from my NAS.
I might be misunderstanding the point here but I can stream to my sonos beam via airplay from the Amazon app on my iPhone and that's definitely not SD quality.. It sounds the same as when I use the sonos app, which also streams in a higher bitrate than SD.

The Amazon Music app casts to Sonos using Alexa, and Alexa can only stream to Sonos speakers in SD.
Do you know if this limitation is specific to Sonos or inherent to Alexa Cast?

See https://en.community.sonos.com/announcements-228985/amazon-music-hd-available-on-sonos-6830070?postid=16361736
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The Amazon Music app casts to Sonos using Alexa, and Alexa can only stream to Sonos speakers in SD.

Do you know if this limitation is specific to Sonos or inherent to Alexa Cast?

I can hear a difference between Spotify Premium and Amazon's HD and UHD.The differences could be down to sound level differences between the streams, as little as 1dB. Or the streams could be from different masters. Or it may be a combination of both.
These are the variables I was referring to, that muddy the waters.


I get that but based on my own experience and comparing the many different versions of the same songs from all of the different providers, I prefer Amazon Music HD's versions, then those of Qobuz. Tidal is too 'loud' and Spotify doesn't have the clarity that I enjoy. YMMV.
I can hear a difference between Spotify Premium and Amazon's HD and UHD.
The differences could be down to sound level differences between the streams, as little as 1dB. Or the streams could be from different masters. Or it may be a combination of both.
These are the variables I was referring to, that muddy the waters.
I am on the side of the "can't hear anything better beyond 320 kbps" but the important thing is that all other variables have to be eliminated. If that isn't being done, all bets are off; for instance if the HD stream is from a different master.

Are those that are hearing differences addressing this issue?


Using an iPhone XS Max, the Amazon Music App, an Oppo HA2-SE and Sennheiser HD600's, I can hear a difference between Spotify Premium and Amazon's HD and UHD. I can also hear the difference without the DAC just using my iPhone and RHA T20i IEM's.

I can't hear any noticeable difference between CD quality and 24 bit Hi-Res audio tracks and I've tried Qobuz, Tidal, HD Audio purchases and, now, Amazon Music HD.
I am on the side of the "can't hear anything better beyond 320 kbps" but the important thing is that all other variables have to be eliminated. If that isn't being done, all bets are off; for instance if the HD stream is from a different master.

Are those that are hearing differences addressing this issue?
Rather technical, and mainly aimed at professionals.
https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques/what-data-compression-does-your-music
ABX or not, I am finding that for music that I have previously only heard on Spotify Premium at 320 kbps, I am enjoying this same music more on Amazon Music HD, whether in HD or UHD.

My perception is that the Amazon HD and UHD versions are more detailed and natural sounding. I feel I am more “at ease” listening to these versions. I am simply enjoying these versions more.


Amazon Music HD sounds 'cleaner' and has better separation of the instruments and vocals. It is subtle but you do get a better sound with HD. Personally, I think it's much better than Spotify when used with a DAC and good headphones but you do need some decent headphones. Streamed to my Beam from the Sonos iPhone app or desktop app, the sound is noticeably 'cleaner' than the Spotify Premium version but it is not night and day and the SONOS app is not the best UI experience for managing your music collections... I hope that ROON integrate Amazon Music HD.
People are saying 'You CAN hear the difference on my xxxxx equipment' and I'm not doubting it. I can hear the difference that Amazon Music HD brings on my headphones. There's no argument that it makes a difference, I don't think anyone's trying to deny it.

Where it's not making a difference, disappointingly, is on Sonos hence why I came to the Sonos forum to hear other views and facts as to whether I'm doing something wrong. From what I've been told here, it doesn't look like it, and the format/codec Sonos uses does not create a perceptible difference between, say, regular Spotify and Amazon Music HD.

People keep repeating it doesn't sound any different when casting from Amazon's app to Sonos, but that's because Alexa casting prevents anything but SD.

It's interesting that Tidal is claimed to be perceptibly different to, say, Spotify. Is there hope for Sonos and Amazon Music HD, or is this it....?
Hi
Interesting to read this thread so far, but I don't think clarity has been shed on my issue.

My Sonos Play 5 is definitely not playing Amazon HD (forget about UHD, I get that's not supported).

For those that say you may not be able to hear the difference vs Spotify on a Sonos system, there is very clear difference when playing Tidal vs Spotify. Very clear!

I would expect Amazon HD to match Tidal Hifi - but it is clearly not.

Am I doing something wrong?

My Amazon app clearly indicates which tracks are HD and UHD and casting to Sonos doesn't seem to result in the good performance I was expecting.

Likewise using the Sonos app achieves the sames results.

Is there a way to cast from the Amazon Music Windows app?

Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks
I’m more than happy with 320kb/s SD lossy, or the 850kb/s (Average) HD bitrates described... and judging from this link, I definitely cannot hear a tone at either 20 Hz, or 20,000 Hz. I am quite confident Ultra HD will be rather lost on my 'oldish' ears.

https://youtu.be/qNf9nzvnd1k

It’s nice to see however that Amazon have grouped the HD/Ultra HD service into the one single price band and it is a competitive price, so I have signed up for their service, but am hoping to see the HD service available to Sonos via an Alex voice controlled session and not just via the Sonos App.
Sonos isn't supporting the UltraHD, so there's no change.
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Looking at the data that will need to be shipped around to play these formats I'm thinking we are going to see a lot more posts from folks with local network congestion issues.

SD (lossy): 9 MB
HD (lossless, 44.1 kHz sample rate): 51 MB
Ultra HD (lossless, max 192 kHz sample rate): 153 MB

I wonder if Sonos is going to look at the way the Sonos system works now and try to tweak things to minimize the amount of wireless traffic?
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I would be great if the Amazon Music app had a feature like Spotify's "Connect" feature, which works with Sonos products and many other brands. The app's "Cast" feature has limitations that Spotify's "Connect" does not have.
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ABX or not, I am finding that for music that I have previously only heard on Spotify Premium at 320 kbps, I am enjoying this same music more on Amazon Music HD, whether in HD or UHD. I’m using Heos on my Marantz AV7704 pre/pro.

My perception is that the Amazon HD and UHD versions are more detailed and natural sounding. I feel I am more “at ease” listening to these versions. I am simply enjoying these versions more.

I am open to the possibility that my perception is a psychological confirmation bias effect, but I really don’t care. If confirmation bias subconsciously causes me to enjoy the Amazon HD and UHD versions more, so be it…because it is still leading to more enjoyment.

Most of my listening is still with FLAC rips from my own CDs, but Spotify Premium was the only source for some albums that I don’t own on CD.

Personally, I don’t think I’m prone to confirmation bias with audio because of the results that I have had from extensive evaluation of audio equipment (especially DACs and speakers). For example, I’ve owned multiple DACs simultaneously ranging from $200 to $2,000, and I settled on a $500 DAC and sold the $2,000 DAC because the $500 DAC sounded better to me. Net, I’m not prone to thinking that an audio experience is better just because it costs more or has better specs on paper.
One simple way to see the file format being played is from the Amazon Music App 'Now Playing Screen' label “SD/HD/Ultra HD”, see screenshots taken from iPhone. A user can in some instances (sadly, not whilst 'casting' to Sonos) click the label itself for additional information too.