Amazon Music HD/UHD Confusion


I have Amazon Music Unlimited and a Sonos Connect Gen 2. I want to listen to the best quality stream (over my hifi), which is Ultra HD on many songs in Amazon. However, I can’t get a clear answer from Amazon or Sonos on how to do this, AND verify it’s actually happening. Going round in circles as they blame each other on support calls.

The situation is if I start a UHD song from the Amazon app on my phone and play it on the phone speaker it reports as UHD all the way through (when you click on the UHD badge and look at the stream>output page). So, ok...I am getting UHD and my network is up to the job. However, if I stream the song to the Connect then the same screen reports Audio Quality: Unavailable and also says “streaming quality is not available while casting”.

If I then look at the Sonos app now playing screen there is just the Amazon Music logo, no HD or UHD logo at all.

If I go the other way, and start a known UHD song on Amazon from the Sonos app then I do get a HD icon on the Sonos now playing screen, but no UHD icon. Sadly the interface is rubbish so it’s far from ideal. Plus, I want it to play UHD quality.

Naturally all my settings are set for best quality. Can anyone please advise on how to actually tell what quality the Connect is receiving (and playing out) on my hifi? It seems such a trivial request to know I’m actually getting what they both promise but for some reason neither can help.


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54 replies

Userlevel 3
Badge +2

UHD will only work if started from the Sonos app, but unfortunately I can’t tell you whether the Connect Gen. 2 does actually support UHD. If you only see an HD badge it seems it doesn’t. 

Thanks, Sonos say it does support. I also have Sonos Ones as a stereo pair. The same happens with them. And they definitely support UHD.

Userlevel 7

Thanks, Sonos say it does support. I also have Sonos Ones as a stereo pair. The same happens with them. And they definitely support UHD.

Do you have a Gen1/Gen2 sub bonded with the Ones?

If no sub bonded, the Ones should show Ultra HD badge when playing. If you let the track play for a couple of minutes, does the Sonos app then show UHD for the Ones? Don’t group the Ones with the Connect as likely the Connect is restricting the stream to HD.

As already noted, the Sonos controller can sometimes take a minute or so to show HD or UHD. This is while the player is discovering the reliability of the stream, before it can switch to a higher gear.

FWIW casting a UHD track from the Amazon native app to a Sonos player is always in HD (CD quality), whatever the app says and whatever the capabilities of the target player. (The same goes for Airplay from the native app on iDevices.) So basically if you must have UHD you need to start the stream directly from the Sonos controller.

Sonos support said yesterday that the Connect Gen 2 will support UHD. Their own page also confirms:

https://support.sonos.com/s/article/3248?language=en_US

I am guessing from the above by ratty that the stream is never designated good enough by the Sonos kit to play UHD. I do not have a sub and I am not grouping the Ones with the Connect.

Noting that if I must have UHD I have to start the stream from the Sonos app, it would be helpful if Sonos fixed the interface to say the track quality somewhere. It’s guesswork currently. It all feels like a WIP with Amazon so maybe I’ll look elsewhere for UHD as free trials are available on the other services.

It’s your choice of course, but personally I’d never let the HD/UHD issue stop me from listening to the tracks I want. It’ll be the same mastering come what may, and 16-bit depth is quite sufficient for final delivery in a domestic listening environment.

Yeah, I fully agree. CD quality is fine. But I pedantically wanted to know what I’m getting and why I can’t confirm I have what they both promise in their marketing? Hopefully someone somewhere in Sonos and/or Amazon will understand how helpful to end users it’d be to be a little bit more slick and transparent in this area. I appreciate your help.

It’s your choice of course, but personally I’d never let the HD/UHD issue stop me from listening to the tracks I want. It’ll be the same mastering come what may, and 16-bit depth is quite sufficient for final delivery in a domestic listening environment.

Me neither. There is no way you would be able to tell the two apart in a blind test.  Your dog may be able to, but he’s not telling.

Yeah, I fully agree. CD quality is fine. But I pedantically wanted to know what I’m getting and why I can’t confirm I have what they both promise in their marketing? Hopefully someone somewhere in Sonos and/or Amazon will understand how helpful to end users it’d be to be a little bit more slick and transparent in this area. I appreciate your help.

Well, you do know what you’re getting, from Amazon Music in the Sonos controller app. As we know, the current playing track is badged HD/UHD/Atmos. 

I do agree, however, that it might be helpful if the Sonos controller could display the format beforehand, at least in the case of spatially mixed content like Atmos.

As already noted, selecting music solely on the basis of whether it’s UHD vs HD makes no sense.

It’s your choice of course, but personally I’d never let the HD/UHD issue stop me from listening to the tracks I want. It’ll be the same mastering come what may, and 16-bit depth is quite sufficient for final delivery in a domestic listening environment.

Me neither. There is no way you would be able to tell the two apart in a blind test.  Your dog may be able to, but he’s not telling.

For ultrasonics, yes. Do dogs also have a superhuman dynamic range?

For ultrasonics, yes. Do dogs also have a superhuman dynamic range?

No.  Not range, just mange.

Userlevel 7
Badge +21

Just to add that if you have a Gen 1 or 2 Sub attached to the speakers you will only ever get HD, despite what the compatibility page says.  This is an open bug.

 

As already noted, selecting music solely on the basis of whether it’s UHD vs HD makes no sense.

Not just that, there is also the uncalled for angst created by missing labels that comes in the way of enjoying the music.

I suspect that people carry over their experience of HD over DVD on the TV, where anyone can see and therefore desire the difference in quality to an extent that the labelling isn't even needed. But for audio, there is no audible difference brought in by the HD format over what has been delivered for decades now via CD quality. Or, in most cases, even by CD compressed down via codecs like Apple Lossy to 256 Kbps.

Userlevel 4
Badge +4

Just to add that if you have a Gen 1 or 2 Sub attached to the speakers you will only ever get HD, despite what the compatibility page says.  This is an open bug.

Well, after several months Sonos got around to mentioning that the Gen 1 and Gen 2 subs are not compatible with UHD.  Makes me wonder if they just gave up with trying to resolve it.

“Sonos products must be running S2 software in order to play Ultra HD audio and Dolby Atmos. Ultra HD audio playback is not supported on Connect:Amp, Play:1, Play:3, Playbase, Playbar, Sub (Gen 1), and Sub (Gen 2). Dolby Atmos playback is supported on Arc and Beam.”


https://support.sonos.com/s/article/3248?language=en_US

Userlevel 7

Just to add that if you have a Gen 1 or 2 Sub attached to the speakers you will only ever get HD, despite what the compatibility page says.  This is an open bug.

The compatibility page has been updated:

Ultra HD audio playback is not supported on Connect:Amp, Play:1, Play:3, Playbase, Playbar, Sub (Gen 1), and Sub (Gen 2).

Which is still technically incorrect as the older Subs will play Ultra HD when bonded with an Arc and possibly Beam, just not individual speakers or stereo pairs.

Support still said a fix was coming but on another thread here, it was stated it would never work.

But for audio, there is no audible difference brought in by the HD format over what has been delivered for decades now via CD quality. 

In Amazon parlance ‘HD’ is CD quality.

(The same goes for Sonos Radio ‘HD’.)

Not just that, there is also the uncalled for angst created by missing labels that comes in the way of enjoying the music.

I suspect that people carry over their experience of HD over DVD on the TV, where anyone can see and therefore desire the difference in quality to an extent that the labelling isn't even needed. But for audio, there is no audible difference brought in by the HD format over what has been delivered for decades now via CD quality. Or, in most cases, even by CD compressed down via codecs like Apple Lossy to 256 Kbps.

I’m on that spectrum for sure. I ditched Play 3’s for a separates system and Connect just to get UHD. I was well sold to by Amazon, did the check with Sonos etc. Anyway, I accept I can’t hear the difference, probably. I just wanted to know if I’m getting what was promised on the shiny websites, and I’m not. Despite meeting all the criteria. 

 I ditched Play 3’s for a separates system and Connect just to get UHD.

I just wanted to know if I’m getting what was promised on the shiny websites, and I’m not. 

If it is any consolation, your new separates speakers may be giving you better sound quality if they are acoustically superior to the 3 units - as they are likely to be. And if you don’t think you are getting what these shysters promised there is the chance to revert to a “ordinary” streaming service if the monthly fee is lower. To be fair to some, there may not even be a higher price charged, to whom the shyster term may not apply.

In Amazon parlance ‘HD’ is CD quality.

(The same goes for Sonos Radio ‘HD’.)

Oh yes, the lack of perceived difference allows these characters to now play fast and loose with even the definition of what is HD - Amazon pioneered that stunt, and Sonos copied them.

Can you imagine the uproar if DVD quality video was labelled as HD and sold for a higher price? 

there are 2 version of the  Gen 2 Connect. Both are S2 compatible but only the newer version is compatible with Amazon Music Ultra HD . The Latest version of the Gen 2 Connect is the S15 version. B

 

Userlevel 4
Badge +4

 I ditched Play 3’s for a separates system and Connect just to get UHD.

I just wanted to know if I’m getting what was promised on the shiny websites, and I’m not. 

If it is any consolation, your new separates speakers may be giving you better sound quality if they are acoustically superior to the 3 units - as they are likely to be. And if you don’t think you are getting what these shysters promised there is the chance to revert to a “ordinary” streaming service if the monthly fee is lower. To be fair to some, there may not even be a higher price charged, to whom the shyster term may not apply.

But let’s go ahead and grant temporary shyster status for those who represented for months certain components of their equipment were capable of UHD when they never were, and couldn’t have been properly tested to make such a representation in the first place, only to later quietly change their website to reflect that incompatibility with no further explanation. 😂

Userlevel 4
Badge +4

Yeah, I fully agree. CD quality is fine. But I pedantically wanted to know what I’m getting and why I can’t confirm I have what they both promise in their marketing?…

That has been my issue all along.  Being told certain equipment was compatible when it was not.  So now I know.  And I won’t let it take away from what I actually hear through my Sonos speakers, which sounds great to my ears.

Yeah, I fully agree. CD quality is fine. But I pedantically wanted to know what I’m getting and why I can’t confirm I have what they both promise in their marketing?…

That has been my issue all along.  Being told certain equipment was compatible when it was not.  So now I know.  And I won’t let it take away from what I actually hear through my Sonos speakers, which sounds great to my ears.

The last part quoted is the right way to look at things. I have not used the 3 units, but going by how my play 1 units still perform, I am sure that the 3 units are still very decent speakers capable of giving a high quality sound when stereo paired and well placed. So, hopefully in the case of the OP, “ditched” does not rule out redeployed to another space/room to expand music delivery to more parts of the home.

I don’t know the facts about the compatibility you refer to, but if it is to Sonos marketing claims, they don’t set any standards higher than what the rest of the industry does, so they may have been just as culpable there as they continue to be in calling their radio service HD.

Userlevel 4
Badge +4

@Kumar: Just to clarify, the compatibility issue I raised is that Sonos for months represented that the Gen 1 sub and Gen 2 sub were compatible with UHD when they were not. When I initially called Sonos support months ago because my Gen 2 sub that was bonded with my Gen 2 Play:5s were not getting UHD (even they were identified as compatible), I was told it was simply a badge display issue and they were working on a fix.

Others on this forum were told it was more than a dsiplay issue, and that it was a compatibility issue related to differing DRM capabilities across different components, but they were also told a fix was in the works: 

https://en.community.sonos.com/music-services-and-sources-228994/amazon-ultra-hd-not-showing-badge-on-play-5-gen-2-6863358

Much later, @Corry P confirmed the Gen 1 and Gen 2 subs are not compatible with UHD and there is no fix expected:

https://en.community.sonos.com/troubleshooting-228999/amazon-ultra-hd-playback-display-issues-6868114

Only recently did Sonos update their website to reflect the UHD incompatibility of the Gen 1 and Gen 2 subs, noted here:

https://support.sonos.com/s/article/3248?language=en_US

(Note: If a Gen 1 or Gen 2 sub is bonded with an Arc/Beam, the Arc/Beam will handle the DRM and UHD will be possible, but that will not be the case if a Gen 1 or Gen 2 sub is bonded with a single speaker or a pair in a non-HT set up.)

@Kumar: Just to clarify, the comparability issue I raised is that Sonos for months represented that the Gen 1 sub and Gen 2 sub were compatible with UHD when they were not. When I initially called Sonos support months ago because my Gen 2 sub that was bonded with my Gen 2 Play:5s were not getting UHD (even they were identified as compatible), I was told it was simply a badge display issue and they were working on a fix.

 

This does sound like misrepresentation by Sonos and should entitle you to a return/refund beyond the normal 100 days period for this.

But here is the thing - of all the good things that the Sub does, being able to play silly numbers that make up Hi Res Audio would still be a useless feature even if it could. So why return it and cut your nose to spite your face would be the thing to think about.

Note that all I write refers to just music - TV audio with Atmos etc are a different beast that is of no interest to me and I see no need of Sonos products in my home for that use case. So I can’t comment on that side of things.