Sonos support for Apple Music's Lossless Audio



Show first post
This topic has been closed for further comments. You can use the search bar to find a similar topic, or create a new one by clicking Create Topic at the top of the page.

153 replies

 Access to better quality recordings designed to be heard on more transparent systems is the real benefit. 

But there are no blind tests establishing that sound heard on such systems is inferior when delivered by them via the same recordings, downsampled to such formats that Sonos can play...

Userlevel 3
Badge +3

I think the line in wil go through the DAC as it is an analogue line in and the only way to avoid the Sonos processing the sound is to have a digital souce in and use the digital out with fixed volume. As the Port doesn’t have a digital USB input then hi res from Apple to Sonos isn’t possible at moment. Potentially you could use a lighting/USB  to RCA adapter to play Apple lossless to the Port. If it is just delaying/buffering sound then it is not processing the sound as I understand it.

At the moment playing direct from iphone via CCK adapter and USB cable to my DAC is sounding way better than lossless CD rip files via Sonos so if you can connect direct to a DAC and avoid going via Sonos that is what i recommend. 

My feeling is will not take long for Apple to anable 24/48 on Airplay but no intergated solution anytime soon and if you want Apple Music hi res then best look elsewhere than Sonos as that is not its market.   

Userlevel 3
Badge +3

Didn’t say there was. I now have hi res content at no extra price and a hi res dac   Hi res content is now mainstream. HiFi streamers apart from Sonos offer hi res. That is the new technology and market reality which cannot be denied. I very much doubt that I can hear difference between bit depth and sample rates but I can hear massive differences between recordings DACS/Amps and headphone which massively increase my listening  pleasure. I appreciate not important to other people and not saying it should be. I would like to use a Sonos streamer to play my hi res content on my hi res dac but accept I can’t so I shall go elsewhere driven by the deniers of changes in technology and the market. 

It would be more likely, yes, since the connection between the Sonos and your system is already either Dolby Digital (Beam) or up to Dolby Atmos on the Arc. But it then depends on the output of the AppleTV, and of course how your TV passes the sound. And you’ll need to have your TV on, too. 

Lossless recordings definitely play louder & clearer vs music streamed from Apple Music, don’t be deceived.

Quite possible; but don’t confuse clearer as distinct from louder. Louder always sounds clearer, plus it has all the sound quality traits so beloved of audiophiles. And louder was therefore a trick taught to stereo salesmen in the days of brick and mortar stores.

The same effect can be had by bumping the volume control a tad to the right.

Nothing is ever Sonos’s responsibility. Not SMB 1, not the bugs in Alexa control, not the Roam battery life debacle. 
 

So of course we need to “ask Apple.”

Many recording studios no longer work at 192/24 because this is not their idea of “Hi-res”. The files used by consumers are down sampled from higher resolution masters.

You can fuss with higher resolution at ProMates.

Even this is a little lame because some studios operate at higher rates.

Userlevel 3
Badge +3

Agree with that based on new released music since Apple went  lossless. Pretty much everything is lossless. There is still some 16 but a lot of 24 Bit. I would say 44 still seems most popular rate with some higher sample rates but v little at 192. 24/44 seems most popular from what I’ve seen but a range of 16/24 and 44/48/88/96/192 lossless   So the recoding industry does seem to see some merit in higher bit rates but is more ambivalent about samole rates. I’d  say when I like the sound of a recording it is usually 24 bits but can’t distinguish higher sample rates personally. Certainly a noticeable difference when switching Apple from lossy to 14/24 -44 lossless bot not when moving from 16/24 - 44 to hires 24 -/48/88/96/192 for me personally on my hifi system. 

Userlevel 1
Badge +1

I’m not sure what all the fuss is here.  Unless you’re an audiophile that spends $1000s on high end headphones and equipment your ears will never hear the difference.   I plugged my $350 Bose headphones directly into my iPhone 12 Pro Max and turned the HD on in Apple Music and compared all my favorite songs to the same on Spotify and could not notice a difference.    The other thing at play here is that unless the streaming service gets the studio master direct from the recording company this is all a moot point here.  
 

Also, let’s not forget that the bandwidth HD audio takes up.  Most cable and cell providers don’t give you truly unlimited data except on their highest end plans and playing audio in HD in addition to the 4K streaming you already do will eat it up so much faster.   

I’m not sure what you are referring to. I do this (or something similar) all the time - I use Airplay to cast music from the AM iOS  app to Sonos. Sometimes I listen to Apple Music this way, sometimes I use the iOS Sono app instead.

Can you elaborate?

 

I do not have the latest Sonos kit that can do Airplay...in your case, this is therefore not an issue. With Airplay compatible Sonos kit, yes the native Apple Music app can be used.

But, a question: when using Airplay, is the phone still in the loop? If so, the disadvantage is that battery charge consumption on the phone will continue for music streaming, unlike in the case of true casting where the stream switches from the phone to the cloud when casting starts and the phone is out of the loop.

Userlevel 3
Badge +2

 

But, a question: when using Airplay, is the phone still in the loop? If so, the disadvantage is that battery charge consumption on the phone will continue for music streaming

I don’t know - it’s an implementation detail I’m not conversant with.

I believe (but I’m not 100% sure) that if you Airplay video from an iOS device to an Apple TV, then it behaves as you suggest - the Apple TV takes over the stream - but that may or may not imply how Airplay audio streaming works.

I think it would be probably like TIDAL’s Dolby Atmos music? We can enjoy the Dolby Atmos music on TIDAL via the native TV app or the APPLE TV 4K, so maybe we can also enjoy the same from Apple Music via APPLE TV 4K.

But that is the point - you need to buy more Apple hardware to do this, in this instance, Apple TV.  Spotify, not being the business of selling hardware, makes no such imposition.

And if one is talking of using Airplay, why isn't the thread question moot anyway? If a airplay capable phone is playing Apple HD why can it not Airplay that music to Sonos even today, as long as Sonos in question is Airplay capable?

Userlevel 3
Badge +3

Not the greatest or clearest statement from Sonos. Apple Music lossless and hi-res has been out a few days so strange they can not say what the position is. 
 

I understand that can? Play lossless on airplay enabled Sonos devices but not on S2. I think  that is a similar situation for any hardware supplier. The apple app is far better than the Sonos app but I do believe that apple won’t grant Sonos access unlike Spotify and tidal.because the more powerful apple likes to maintain complete control. Currently there is no way to play hi res on anything other than USB connection.  At the moment Apple has upped the software but currently there Apple doesn’t appear to have any ideal hardware options or partners to take full advantage so it isn’t just Sonos. A camera adapter and usb cable is less than ideal so Apple also need to get their act together on hardware partnerships. 

What’s the current quality of Apple music on Sonos?  Based on the information from the article, sounds as if Apple is only offering above CD quality on Apple devices...which is pretty typical of Apple.  

Both of those statements are incorrect.

Still no mention of AirPlay though. I’ve read various snippets, including something from Cambridge Audio, that AirPlay streams at a lossless bit rate but it still seems to be a secret as far as Apple are concerned. Would like to see something official that AirPlay doesn’t compress audio before transmission.

AirPlay is lossless and I believe utilizes ALAC for transmitting audio. One of the audio mags tested AirPlay a few years back and showed that 16/44 PCM had bit-perfect transmission via AirPlay to an AirPort Express.

16/44 is not lossless.  That would be 192.  Airplay does use ALAC which is often called ALAC Lossless but 16/44 is not lossless.  I can’t see why Sonos wouldn’t do 16/44 or even better 24/48 with Apple Music since they claim they can use both formats. https://support.sonos.com/s/article/79?language=en_US

Apple shouldn’t have to do anything to work with Sonos so I don’t know why Sonos is saying contact Apple.

https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2021/05/apple-music-announces-spatial-audio-and-lossless-audio/

“Apple Music’s Lossless tier starts at CD quality, which is 16 bit at 44.1 kHz (kilohertz), and goes up to 24 bit at 48 kHz and is playable natively on Apple devices. For the true audiophile, Apple Music also offers Hi-Resolution Lossless all the way up to 24 bit at 192 kHz.1”

Of course Apple is also calling 16/44 lossless.  It clearly isn’t.  Nothing is recorded or mastered at that level.

 

also being used in a handoff mode (data flows direct from 3rd party “internet” source to audio/video output target, source device app retains control for pause/play and progress feedback)

 

From what I have read here, this is possible only via Apple hardware like Apple TV. 

When using voice with HomePods music is also streamed from the internet not your device.

Userlevel 3
Badge +3

Looking at the equivalent forum for another hardware streamer manufacturers there are literally hundreds of posts on this specific topic including numerous honest posts from the manufacturers technical department. I guess being niche they are more comfortable commenting than a large organisation like Sonos which I understand. 
 

The impression is that while AirPlay is capable of 24 bit 48khz currently only playing Lossy AAC even to its own HomePod devices on Airplay. Apple are planning to change Airplay software so it can at least play 16 bit 44 kHz which is relatively easy.  So this is down to Apple not Sonos. Sonos is only one that seems to have Apple Music via own app. Rest of manufacturers only on Airplay so Sonos is ahead   
 

 

Looks like apple are opening up Airplay 2 to be able to stream up to 24/192 as long as your end point has a DAC that can recieve that. 

They are not doing that.  That is such significant change there would need to be an Airplay 3.  Apple actually documents Airplay 2 extremely well.

https://developer.apple.com/airplay/

Userlevel 3
Badge +3

The manufacturer is actively talking to Apple so surprised if Sonos isn’t. The impression is that Apple rushed this out because of Amazon and Spotify so content ahead of hardware.  It is only Tidal and Qubuz which is really open to integrating their software into manufacturers hardware. So the only way to play Apple lossless and hi res on other streamers is very USB. Apparently not m perfect set up but sound quality is very good. 

Userlevel 3
Badge +3

What is clear is that at least publicly Sonos is not interested in this topic as other manufacturers. And why should they be as their target audience isn’t. If sound quality is your priority then look to other manufacturers with tidal and qubuz. If like  me you want the best sound quality but the convenience options and UI of Sonos and Apple Music then will need patience for hardware to catch up with content. With lossless and hi res emblazoned on Apple Music content and due to become fully available by end of year surely only matter of time before hardware comes to market. Up to Sonos if they participate. Content market has changed. Will Sonos?  Meanwhile USB cable is way to go. 

I only have Airplay 2 Sonos devices and it is not optimal but Airplay supports 16/44.1 ALAC via airplay so CD quality should be doable via Airplay

 Everyone else relies on airplay to support Apple Music.

 

 

I am not familiar with airplay or airplay 2 hence this question:

If the phone is playing Apple Music HD - beyond even CD density - and the music is being streamed from the phone to any Airplay 2 capable Sonos speaker, will Sonos be able to play it? 

Userlevel 3
Badge +3

Yes, but it will be resampled to 16/44.1 for airplay by iOS at a system level.  At least thats how it currently works.  

 

Apple could instead just pass the 16/44.1 version of the track instead with some trickery… depends if they keep different versions of a track in the cloud or only have a single hires version and rely on the phone to downsample it to 16/44.1 if thats all thats selected...

Userlevel 1
Badge

I think that I have finally come up with a solution for streaming Apple Music to Sonos that is a fully lossless playback chain.

When I stream Apple Lossless from my iPhone to an Apple TV 4K, the Apple TV consistently shows that it is playing either lossless or hi-res audio. I attached the Apple TV to an HDMI splitter with a digital display that gives you information on the audio and video streams, and the Apple TV puts out a fixed 24/48 over HDMI.

Using an AmazonBasics HDMI Audio Extractor, I can output the audio over SPDIF. I haven't been able to find tech specs on the audio extractor, but if it can handle 4K video, I assume it can handle 2-channel 24/48 audio.

Right now I am running SPDIF into a Sonos Amp via the Sonos optical to HDMI Arc adapter. For as kludgy a solution as this is, it sounds pretty good, and I am able to stream from Apple Music to the Apple TV 4K without routing the signal through a TV.

I assume that everything is getting resampled to 24/48 and I am routing HDMI to optical SPDIF to HDMI Arc, but I think I finally confidently have a lossless playback chain from Apple Music to Sonos.

 

Userlevel 1
Badge +1

I’m not sure what all the fuss is here.  Unless you’re an audiophile that spends $1000s on high end headphones and equipment your ears will never hear the difference.   I plugged my $350 Bose headphones directly into my iPhone 12 Pro Max and turned the HD on in Apple Music and compared all my favorite songs to the same on Spotify and could not notice a difference.    The other thing at play here is that unless the streaming service gets the studio master direct from the recording company this is all a moot point here.  
 

Also, let’s not forget that the bandwidth HD audio takes up.  Most cable and cell providers don’t give you truly unlimited data except on their highest end plans and playing audio in HD in addition to the 4K streaming you already do will eat it up so much faster.   

You don’t need to spend thousands to enjoy the sound difference, but to your point you do need to make some investment to appreciate the details. Case in point the DAC in most smart phones is tbh crap as it’s not a priority for manufacturers, so not surprised you may not hear a difference. You are bang on with the actual master of the file though, some hi-res is poorly mastered by technicians and therefore sound bad.

also totally right with bandwidth, lossless is a luxury for this with unlimited plans and home WiFi to use it. If you want lossless then best to download if you can.

Yes, but it will be resampled to 16/44.1 for airplay by iOS at a system level.  At least thats how it currently works.  

 

So then if the phone is playing Apple HD, the same file will get downsampled and the benefit, if any, of any remastering will be available via Sonos as well I suppose, because by all accounts it  is this remastering that lies behind the perceived better sound quality. But all this, for people that are able to and happy to use Airplay.

The reason I invested in Sonos back in 2011, is because Airplay via AEX units was not as stable as I need music play to be, and I therefore did not even bother to check out Airplay 2 when that arrived. And my preference for native app use is met by Spotify, so there is nothing that makes Apple Music a must have for me.