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Amazon Music HD Available on Sonos

  • 17 September 2019
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111 replies

A copy/paste from the Amazon Music HD FAQ in fact.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/b?node=3022219031
The below is an 'extract' from an email sent to me by Amazon Customer Care after I contacted them about the new service. It helps to explain their new HD/Ultra HD services and answers quite a few frequently asked questions. I thought it might be useful to post the content here:

What is Amazon Music HD?
Amazon Music HD is a new tier of premium quality music with more than 50 million songs in High Definition (HD) and millions of songs in Ultra High Definition (Ultra HD). At just £12.99/month for Prime members or £14.99/month for Amazon customers, Amazon Music HD makes high quality, lossless audio accessible to all music fans. Existing Amazon Music Unlimited subscribers (Individual or Family Plan) can upgrade to Amazon Music HD for an additional £5/month.

What audio quality does Amazon Music HD support?
Amazon Music HD offers lossless audio in two quality ranges: HD and Ultra HD.
HD tracks have a bit depth of 16-bits, a minimum sample rate of 44.1 kHz (also referred to as CD-quality), and an average bitrate of 850 kbps. Ultra HD tracks have a bit depth of 24 bits, sample rates ranging from 44.1 kHz up to 192 kHz, and an average bitrate of 3730 kbps.

In comparison, most standard streaming services currently offer Standard Definition (SD) with a bitrate up to 320 kbps. These audio files use lossy compression, where details of the original audio are removed in order to reduce the file size. By contrast, Amazon Music HD preserves the original recording information to deliver the highest quality sound available, more than 2x the bitrate in HD and more than 10x the bitrate at the highest Ultra HD bitrate. Amazon Music HD will always play the highest quality content available, based on network, device capability and your selected settings.

Which Amazon devices support Amazon Music HD?
Alexa-enabled Echo devices (2nd generation and later), Fire TVs and Fire Tablets all support HD quality audio.
Which iOS devices support Amazon Music HD?
Most iPhones and iPads released since 2014 (devices running on iOS 11, or later) can support HD/Ultra HD (up to 24-bit, 48kHz) without any additional equipment. In order to play songs at higher sample rates (96 or 192 kHz), iPhone customers can connect an external DAC capable of supporting those higher sample rates.
Apple AirPlay supports HD quality playback.

Which Android devices support Amazon Music HD?
Most Android devices running Android Lollipop, released in 2014, or later support HD/Ultra HD playback. However, Android devices vary widely in quality and purpose, so we advise checking manufacturer specifications for HD/Ultra HD support.
At this time Amazon Music HD is not supported on Google Cast.

Which Mac devices support Amazon Music HD?
Any Mac from 2013 or later supports HD/Ultra HD. However, adjusting the default Mac audio settings is required to listen in the highest quality:

Go to Applications/Utilities folder
Open “Audio MIDI Setup.app”
Update speaker or headphone “Format” setting to the highest sample rate for 24-bit (96 kHz or 192 kHz)

Which Windows devices support Amazon Music HD?
PC support for HD/Ultra HD playback depends on the built-in audio player and DAC, which varies by device. Please check your manufacturer specifications.

Which home audio devices support Amazon Music HD?
Amazon Music is integrated in to many home audio devices, including receivers, amplifiers, speakers, and sound bars. Often, you can control playback directly by signing in to Amazon Music within the manufacturer application.

We are constantly working to bring Amazon Music to more devices by partnering with leading audio manufacturers. If your device is not listed in our preferred brands, you may still be able to play Amazon Music HD through a wired or wireless connection on your device.

How do I know if I need an external DAC?
If your device has a built-in DAC that does not support HD/Ultra HD audio, then you need an external DAC when connecting your player to your headphones or speakers to listen in HD/Ultra HD.

In order to play Ultra HD, the external DAC at a minimum must be capable of processing files with a bit depth of 24-bit and sample rates of at least 44.1 kHz. Check the DAC specifications to ensure it can play higher sample rates available with Ultra HD (48 kHz, 96 kHz, 192 kHz).

On iOS, disable the Alexa Wake Word feature in Settings to ensure playback through your DAC at the highest resolution.
At this time, external DACs are not supported on Android.

Which headphones/speakers support Amazon Music HD?
Headphones and speakers with a frequency response of 20 Hz to 20 kHz are recommended to best appreciate HD playback. Headphones certified with a Hi-Res Audio logo have an even higher frequency response (greater than 40 kHz), and are best for Ultra HD playback.

Most wireless headphones compress audio during transmission and are unable to support HD and higher quality playback. Some wireless headphones and Android devices that use advanced Bluetooth with either the Qualcomm aptX/aptX HD or Sony LDAC wireless standards, can support HD/Ultra HD playback (up to 24-bit, 48kHz).

How much space will Amazon Music HD files take up when downloaded to my device?
The size of a music download depends on how the song was converted to a digital file, with higher-quality lossless files typically demanding larger file sizes. For a song 3 1/2 minutes long, here are file size examples at maximum resolution:

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

By comparison, a 30-minute HD video (1080p) has an average file size of 1.8 GB. That means in the same space as a single episode of HD television, you can store more than 2 hours of HD music on your device.

What data speed does my internet connection need to be to listen to Amazon Music HD?
A consistent internet connection of least 1.5 Mbps—typically available in LTE signals—is needed for HD streaming. A connection of at least 5 Mbps is needed for Ultra HD streaming.

HD audio may use up to 5.5 MB of data per minute.
Ultra HD audio, at the highest available audio quality (192 kHz sample rate), uses up to 12 MB of data per minute.
Actual experience depends on device capability.

How do I know the audio quality of content I am listening to?
When listening to music on Amazon Music HD, you can tap/click on the SD/HD/Ultra HD badge on the Now Playing screen and view the following streaming details -

Track quality - The highest-quality file available for that track in the Amazon Music HD catalog.
Device capability - The highest-quality audio that your device operating system reports that it is capable of.
Currently playing at - The quality of the source file of the currently playing track. For streaming, the current source file quality may change due to varying network conditions.

Your choice of speakers, headphones, and listening conditions also impacts overall sound quality.
like others, I just can't tell whether Sonos is playing on HD or not...

Because, as virtually all ABX testing has shown, it's nigh on impossible to hear a difference, even on the highest quality reproduction system, once you get to 256K AAC or 320K MP3, with modern Codecs.
I just need someone from Sonos to confirm if this is currently streaming in the highest definition the speakers can produce
It is, in FLAC 16/44. At least for the bulk of the content which is available in lossless. (Some content is only in SD.) Bandwidth usage confirms this.

But it sounds like you need someone from Sonos to reassure you.
The Amazon Music app casts to Sonos using Alexa, and Alexa can only stream to Sonos speakers in SD. Only the Sonos app will allow streaming from Amazon Music in a higher definition.

It was announced at launch that Sonos was a supporting partner of Amazon Music HD - but, like others, I just can't tell whether Sonos is playing on HD or not... If it is, then the lossless codec is largely nullifying the point of my HD subscription.

I just need someone from Sonos to confirm if this is currently streaming in the highest definition the speakers can produce, or if there is an update coming to the app that will make an audible difference.
Simply press the cast icon and you can choose whuch speaker to play from it also shows the quality of the track. Just listening to Liam Gallaghers new album which apparently is in ultra HD
Perhaps I should wait for the glowing references to 'night and day' differences to be reported before I rain on the parade, but I just clocked the stream cast from the Amazon Music app to a Sonos speaker at around 315kbps. This is from both 16-bit (HD) and 24-bit (UHD) content. On that basis it would appear to be casting in SD.

Hi all,
Reading through the thread here I see the most annoying thing is you are unable to see if songs are playing in HD or Ultra HD on the sonos app.
Did you know you can use the Amazon Music app to play through your sonos speakers?
Simply press the cast icon and you can choose whuch speaker to play from it also shows the quality of the track. Just listening to Liam Gallaghers new album which apparently is in ultra HD
Hmmm, only my Chromecast Audio devices show up as casting options in the Amazon Music app.

Your Sonos devices show up?

My Sonos Connect and Gen 1 Play 5 do not.



I believe Sonos will show up if you've setup Alexa, as the Alexa cast feature to Sonos will use the same authentication. If all you've done is setup an Amazon music account on Sonos, you won't see Sonos speakers as targets.
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Hi all,
Reading through the thread here I see the most annoying thing is you are unable to see if songs are playing in HD or Ultra HD on the sonos app.
Did you know you can use the Amazon Music app to play through your sonos speakers?
Simply press the cast icon and you can choose whuch speaker to play from it also shows the quality of the track. Just listening to Liam Gallaghers new album which apparently is in ultra HD


Hmmm, only my Chromecast Audio devices show up as casting options in the Amazon Music app.

Your Sonos devices show up?

My Sonos Connect and Gen 1 Play 5 do not.
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While I do think you should be able to 'see' such info and know what's playing, for your extra money it's quite funny you can't just tell by listening instead.... 🙂
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Hi all,
Reading through the thread here I see the most annoying thing is you are unable to see if songs are playing in HD or Ultra HD on the sonos app.
Did you know you can use the Amazon Music app to play through your sonos speakers?
Simply press the cast icon and you can choose whuch speaker to play from it also shows the quality of the track. Just listening to Liam Gallaghers new album which apparently is in ultra HD
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But if you have to see the format in order to know, and cannot tell just by listening, surely it just isn't worth the extra money? Who needs the proof?


So, if Amazon Music plays Ultra HD at 256 kbps AAC on Sonos and I compare the same track on Spotify at 320 kbps OV, and I can't hear a difference, what have I proved? That 2 lossy codecs sound the same? I never had the 16/44.1 FLAC stream, so I never had a lossless version for comparison.

And, if I pay for something (the Amazon Music HD tier), I want to know that I am getting it (at least 16/44.1 FLAC) on my playback devices.

A lot of streaming playback devices will show you the file type and bitrate. Sonos should too, IMO.
This is exactly what I’m trying to figure out. If you search HD under playlists in the Sonos app, you will find a handful of playlists. I’m not able to tell if you search an artist what is HD, Ultra HD etc.
I'd also like to know how we can confirm if HD tracks are playing through Sonos Connect when using the latest iOS controller app. I had to re-install both the Amazon music iOS app & Windows desktop app to see HD tracks (as advised by Amazon support) so I'm skeptical it will just start working through Sonos. Should there be a HD or UltraHD badge in the Sonos app when playing Amazon HD tracks?
Can’t really tell the difference between this and my Spotify tbh, but i’m going to wait until Spotify releases a high-quality version anyway the integration between Spotify and Sonos and Alexa is far better
Another thing - I talked to Amazon Customer Service today. They told me that tracks the are natively Ultra HD 24/96 FLAC are played in SD AAC in Sonos, not HD 16/44.1 FLAC.

So, we need some clarity and verification on this.

If one could see the streaming format in Sonos, this could be verified immediately.

For example, in Denon/Marantz Heos, I can find all of the format info and have already verified that I'm getting 24/96 and 16/44.1 FLAC (depending on the source track) from Amazon Music HD.

The problem with Heos is that Amazon Music's "My Music" is absent, so you have to manually search for each track/album, and you don't have access to personal playlists (a big miss for Heos in terms of Amazon Music implementation).

But if you have to see the format in order to know, and cannot tell just by listening, surely it just isn't worth the extra money? Who needs the proof?


Unrelated and not relevant to Sonos, but I wonder where Amazon is getting the Ultra HD (24 bit) tracks.There's lots about. You only have to look on, for example, 7digital or Qobuz.
I really meant, in general, where do these hi-res files come from?

I assume the record labels have them as master transfers from the original recordings, and provide them to the streaming services and download sites like HDtracks.


Great article about the motivations of "hi rez" from the Financial Times:

https://ftalphaville.ft.com/2019/05/13/1557720021000/High-resolution-music-is-a-solution-looking-for-a-problem/
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Unrelated and not relevant to Sonos, but I wonder where Amazon is getting the Ultra HD (24 bit) tracks.There's lots about. You only have to look on, for example, 7digital or Qobuz.


I really meant, in general, where do these hi-res files come from?

I assume the record labels have them as master transfers from the original recordings, and provide them to the streaming services and download sites like HDtracks.
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The ability to tell what file format and bitrate is currently playing from a music service would be a very welcome addition to the sonos controller app in my view. Please could this be added to an update. The same applies to radio streams.
Unrelated and not relevant to Sonos, but I wonder where Amazon is getting the Ultra HD (24 bit) tracks.
There's lots about. You only have to look on, for example, 7digital or Qobuz.
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Unrelated and not relevant to Sonos, but I wonder where Amazon is getting the Ultra HD (24 bit) tracks.

Digital masters from the studio? New 24 bit digital masters from analog tape?

Just curious...
Ratty, 1 to 1.1 Mbps is a good sign, as 16/44.1 FLAC is usually around 850-1000 Kbps for stereo tracks, IME.
It all depends how complex the music is. Anywhere from 500 to 1200 kbps is quite feasible.
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Ryan S, thanks for looking into this.

Ratty, 1 to 1.1 Mbps is a good sign, as 16/44.1 FLAC is usually around 850-1000 Kbps for stereo tracks, IME.
Another thing - I talked to Amazon Customer Service today. They told me that tracks the are natively Ultra HD 24/96 FLAC are played in SD AAC in Sonos, not HD 16/44.1 FLAC.
I can see some 'Ultra HD' content in the Amazon Music app on my phone which is in 24/44.1. The same content streams on Sonos at 16/44.1. (It's clocking around 1 to 1.1 Mbps.)

I can't speak for 96kHz though as my phone is not capable of handling it, and in any case I wouldn't know where to look for 24/96 music.

Basically Amazon has to be able to stream at whatever rates are mandated by the native client app's platform.
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I'll check in on that for you adam2434 to make sure I have the right answer. From what I've heard, it should be largely the same library, but I don't think there's a conversion to the HD that takes place if the track is only in 24/96.

The team is still working on some things as well, so you'll see the service on Sonos change a bit over time. Though I don't have specifics to share right now on those changes.
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Another thing - I talked to Amazon Customer Service today. They told me that tracks the are natively Ultra HD 24/96 FLAC are played in SD AAC in Sonos, not HD 16/44.1 FLAC.

So, we need some clarity and verification on this.

If one could see the streaming format in Sonos, this could be verified immediately.

For example, in Denon/Marantz Heos, I can find all of the format info and have already verified that I'm getting 24/96 and 16/44.1 FLAC (depending on the source track) from Amazon Music HD.

The problem with Heos is that Amazon Music's "My Music" is absent, so you have to manually search for each track/album, and you don't have access to personal playlists (a big miss for Heos in terms of Amazon Music implementation).