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Amazon Music HD Available on Sonos

  • 17 September 2019
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Amazon Music HD, Amazon’s new high-quality music tier for streaming in CD-quality is available today on Sonos in Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. You can now stream over 50 million tracks in CD-quality (16-bit HD) audio through the Sonos app.

 

Amazon Music HD is available as an add-on to Amazon Music Unlimited subscriptions for an additional $4.99 per month (on top of the noraml Amazon Music Unlimited subscription) or $50 per year. Check out the Amazon Music HD page here on Amazon for more details.

 

After subscribing, to use Amazon Music HD on Sonos, just update your Sonos app then add Amazon Music as a music service. That’s all it takes to be streaming Amazon Music’s catalog of CD-quality audio on Sonos.


Find out more about Amazon Music HD on Sonos here.


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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.
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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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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




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.


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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A copy/paste from the Amazon Music HD FAQ in fact.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/b?node=3022219031
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.
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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.
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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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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?
Sonos isn't supporting the UltraHD, so there's no change.
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.
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
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....?
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.
Rather technical, and mainly aimed at professionals.

https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques/what-data-compression-does-your-music
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?
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 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 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.