Sonos support for Apple Music's Lossless Audio


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

 

Now that Apple Music has joined the “lossless club”, can we please hear from Sonos as to whether this will be supported, and, if it will be, approximately when that may occur?

 

Thanks.


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Thanks does sound like 24bit 48 kHz is doable on Sonos given will from Apple and Sonos and suspect will come at some point. Almost as if Sonos introduced S2 with this in mind. Sonos are certainly no fools and they must talk. 
 

Developing hi-res Apple compatible hardware is longer term but presumably where Apple is looking to make more money out of releasing lossless and hi res content which is increasing by the day.  Whether Sonos will jump on that opportunity with new products I guess depends  on backward compatibility issues but difficult to ignore with a mainstream player Apple offering hi res and even harder if Spotify match competition. With mainstream music services and hardware competitors offering hi res then Sonos presumably has to bite the bullet at some point what ever the technical arguments. 

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I don’t really buy all this “you should contact Apple and let them know bla bla bla…..”. 

Sonos - have YOUR team reach out and express some proactive will in having them flip whatever switch needs to be flipped to enable lossless streaming on Sonos. 

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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. 

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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   
 

 

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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. 

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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. 

Streaming Apple Music from MacBook Air (Big Sur 11.4) using AirPlay to a Sonos One Gen 1 appears to be streaming in lossless, at least from what the Music App reports, and there is a slight audible difference when changing between standard and lossless. 

 

 

Not sure if there’s any way to see from Sonos’ perspective the bitrate of the track that’s currently playing?

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Thanks but then isn’t that just the output from Apple Music and not necessarly the input into Sonos as I’m reading Airplay is only currently tramitting at AAC ? Don’t think Sonos shows what is playing Guess would need to play over Airplay to a device that show what is actually playing eg via Connect or Port to a Dac/ device which shows what rate is being played.    

Thanks but then isn’t that just the output from Apple Music and not necessarly the input into Sonos as I’m reading Airplay is only currently tramitting at AAC ? Don’t think Sonos shows what is playing Guess would need to play over Airplay to a device that show what is actually playing eg via Connect or Port to a Dac/ device which shows what rate is being played.    

A Connect or Port would output digitally at 24/44.1, whatever the source content.

Airplay uses ALAC according to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AirPlay#Protocols. Clocking the bitrate I measured around 500-550kbps which sounds about right for losslessly compressed 16/44.1 or 16/48. It’s a bit less than typical FLAC 16/44.1 stereo content, but that might be explained by a cleverer compression algorithm for ALAC, maybe using mid/side encoding.

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Thanks that would explain why my dac always shows 44lhz from Connect what ever I throw at it. Still don’t really understand what th current rate on Airplay is to be honest and what it will be and what currently Airplay does and will play on Sonos speakers. Apple only says that only playing AAC on Airplay to HomePod and that is what other manufacturers are saying but there will be upgrade to allow HomePod to play lossless so presume will come to Sonos at some point 
 

Curious what get via USB cable when arrives. HiFi dealer not convinced so recommended basic USB cable so not significant investment. 

I’ve found that (i) starting a stream on and iOS device or Mac via Apple Music and then (ii) sending that stream via Airplay to one Sonos device (in my case, the Beam in my living room), and then (iii) grouping the living room Beam with other Sonos devices in the house with the Sonos app works well.  (Once I’ve used it a bit more, I hope to be able to add “and reliably.”)

Songs that are lossless are indicated as lossless in Apple Music as they play, at 24bit/44.1Khz, and on the Sonos app the entire “group” states “Started from Airplay.”

I’m using both Airplay (for the first stream to my Beam) and Sonos (to group and play music on all other devices in the group) because when I used just Airplay to connect to all devices, the connection was unstable (and just stopped, randomly, as Airplay tends to do).  Grouping devices through Sonos seems much quicker and more stable than using Airplay to send to multiple devices.

As a further experiment, I have a Libratone Zipp (1st Gen), which was upgraded to Airplay 2.  So, for kicks, I added that device to the Airplay stream (so (i) Airplay is sending from my MacBook to the living room Beam and the Libratone Zipp, and (ii) Sonos is then grouping the Airplay stream from my Beam with Sonos speakers in a few other rooms).  Shockingly, it worked -- for a few minutes -- then the Libratone Airplay connection dropped.

Bottom line:  I think I have Apple Music lossless (24/44.1) working on Sonos devices all around the house. Apple Music is reporting that the stream is lossless, and it all sounds great.  But really, who knows? ;-). I’ll run this all day and report back if it stops working.

I’ve found that (i) starting a stream on and iOS device or Mac via Apple Music and then (ii) sending that stream via Airplay to one Sonos device (in my case, the Beam in my living room), and then (iii) grouping the living room Beam with other Sonos devices in the house with the Sonos app works well.  (Once I’ve used it a bit more, I hope to be able to add “and reliably.”)

Songs that are lossless are indicated as lossless in Apple Music as they play, at 24bit/44.1Khz, and on the Sonos app the entire “group” states “Started from Airplay.”

I’m using both Airplay (for the first stream to my Beam) and Sonos (to group and play music on all other devices in the group) because when I used just Airplay to connect to all devices, the connection was unstable (and just stopped, randomly, as Airplay tends to do).  Grouping devices through Sonos seems much quicker and more stable than using Airplay to send to multiple devices.

As a further experiment, I have a Libratone Zipp (1st Gen), which was upgraded to Airplay 2.  So, for kicks, I added that device to the Airplay stream (so (i) Airplay is sending from my MacBook to the living room Beam and the Libratone Zipp, and (ii) Sonos is then grouping the Airplay stream from my Beam with Sonos speakers in a few other rooms).  Shockingly, it worked -- for a few minutes -- then the Libratone Airplay connection dropped.

Bottom line:  I think I have Apple Music lossless (24/44.1) working on Sonos devices all around the house. Apple Music is reporting that the stream is lossless, and it all sounds great.  But really, who knows? ;-). I’ll run this all day and report back if it stops working.

I’ve also had success using this method over multiple days. However, when you tap the lossless badge on the Apple Music app on the track page it will display whatever the maximum bit depth and sampling rate is available for the particular track (if you have high res lossless enabled in Apple Music settings). This means that if a song is available on Apple Music in 24 bit, 192 kHz, for example, it will display that. Obviously that is not being transmitted to the Sonos speaker over Airplay 2 in that format so I still cannot tell what happens in that scenario — is it 16 bit, 24 bit, 44.1 kHz, 48 kHz, etc.? I agree it sounds phenomenal and I do believe I hear a big difference in fidelity than with the 256 AAC going with the native Sonos app for Apple Music, so I guess I should not care, but I am just really curious if I am getting CD quality or higher. Hoping for confirmation and/or official support for 24 bit, 48 kHz over Airplay 2 soon!

 

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Thanks as I’m curious. That is what I’m doing as well. But from what I’ve read Airplay only currently goes up to 16 bit 44KHZ in theory but is currently downsampling to AAC on its own Home pod according to Apple and is also currently only playing as AAC on Airplay according to another manufacturer whatever the Apple app says.

I understand Airplay will play at 16/44 when iOS 15 is released. I prefer the direct Apple app interface but using Sonos is more stable so would be good if Apple and Sonos eventually allow 24/48 on Sonos. So currently only way to get lossless on Apple is via wired lightning connection up to 24/48 or via the camera kit adapter and USB to a suitably equipped DAC beyond 24/48. Accordingly,  lossless is not currently available on Sonos until Airplay software updated to 16/44.  Apple and Sonos will need to work togther to go beyond 16/44. Presumably Apple will look to upgrage Airplay at some point and also partner with maunfacturers as would be strange to offer content without the hardware to easily play it. Hopefully Sonos will partners at least up to 24/48. Meanwhile I will just play more of my music direct from Apple Music to DACs via USB until Sonos hopefully get on board with the market transition by the music streaming service providers. Just as Sonos wsa born out of new technology developments it will Kodak if it doesn’t adapt. 

Interesting. Thanks. I was a true believer but maybe it is all in my head... Could have sworn playing lossless on Apple Music app and then switching to Airplay to Sonos produced a fuller soundstage than native Apple Music app. This now suggests that I’m listening to the same thing if Airplay is downsampling to lossy 256 AAC right? Bummer I’m not even getting CD quality. Maybe because the source file starts as high res before the Airplay downsample it still produces a better sound compared to a file that comes off Apple’s servers as lossy to begin with? I think someone else was (passionately) making that point too. 

Thanks as I’m curious. That is what I’m doing as well. But from what I’ve read Airplay only currently goes up to 16 bit 44KHZ in theory but is currently downsampling to AAC on its own Home pod according to Apple and is also currently only playing as AAC on Airplay according to another manufacturer whatever the Apple app says.

According to a number of articles published in the last few days Airplay to HomePod does work for lossless, if done in a certain way:

https://9to5mac.com/2021/06/09/ios-14-6-airplay-lossless-homepod/

I’m hoping that when I send via Airplay to my Beam, it’s working the same way and I’m actually getting lossless.

Me too! I know I should just be happy that it sounds amazing and no up charge from Apple for this but I just like the chase of getting the best stream possible through Sonos and convincing myself it sounds even better (as I’ve invested a ton inside and outside my home with landscape speakers to Amps and Ports and the like). So I’m fully committed to both Sonos and Apple at this point and love both companies. I just wish they’d merge already!!!

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AAC is a well regarded lossy format so differences will be subtle at best. Apple always insisted on higher quality original as it was clear that bandwidth and memery would improve over time. Benefit should be Apple digital masters as recorded to be played on better quality equipment. A lot of popular music sounds awful on revealing Hi-Fi as it was recorded to sound goid on low fidelity equipment. 
 

i understand allowing Airplay to play 16/44 is a simple software tweak. Getting Apple to upgrade Airplay further and Apple Bluetooth which for me is poor quality will take time to match competition. Likewise will take time sind willing for Apple and Sonos to collaborate. But just as it was inevitable that Apple needed to react to Amazon and Spotify I think it is inevitable that Sonos will have to react at some point. 

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Thanks.  Did see that but technical team at another manufacturer says Airplay only plsying AAC. Histotrically airplay only had AAC to play so was programmed to play AAC but Airplay is capable of playing 16/44 do hopefully shouldn’t take long to reprogramme the IOS software so that AirPlay plays 16/44. 

i understand allowing Airplay to play 16/44 is a simple software tweak.

If I have a song on my hard drive ripped in 16/44.1 ALAC, and I send that song via Airplay 2 to my Airplay-enabled Denon receiver (or, for that matter, my Airplay-enabled Sonos speaker), are you suggesting that Airplay downsamples that ALAC stream to AAC?  I’ve been under the impression (for years) that Airplay was a method to stream CD-quality music losslessly.  If Airplay downsamples CD-quality files to AAC, then it’s no better than Bluetooth.

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Im merely repeating another manufacturer technical team. So i ripped all my CDs onto iTunes a ALAC files and then Sonos cleverly automatically picks them up in my library and there should play at16/44 directly on Sonos. But they would only stream on Sonos via AirPlay from Apple Music on my Apple device as AAC.
 

Apple is silent about AirPlay on this Point but the software engineers at another manufacturer suggest it should be straightforward for Apple to Programme to play 16/44 on their Next  software release. They think the whole announcement was rushed for marketing event so the situation is very Dynamic so Situation changing very quickly. Apple Music only appeared for me at start of week and I see loads more content every day so whatever was doing or doing now don’t suspect will take Long either way. Sonos we know not so rapid. 

Im merely repeating another manufacturer technical team. So i ripped all my CDs onto iTunes a ALAC files and then Sonos cleverly automatically picks them up in my library and there should play at16/44 directly on Sonos. But they would only stream on Sonos via AirPlay from Apple Music on my Apple device as AAC.

I’ve been looking at the other manufacturer’s board, and I think you’re right -- it’s annoying and disappointing that Apple Music doesn’t even stream via Airplay in CD-quality.  (I’m still trying to reconcile the many posts over the last few days that suggest you can use Airplay to get lossless Apple Music on the HomePod.)

Here’s another question:  If I have an Apple TV hooked up to a television with an attached Sonos beam, I should be able to get some lossless format (at least 16/44.1) on the Beam, right?  And if I use Sonos (not Airplay, but Sonos) to create a group with other Sonos devices, does Sonos, at least, send the lossless format to the other Sonos devices?

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It is annoying but think 16/44 on AirPlay will not take long. Suspect 24/48 direct on Sonos as technology already there and a higher spec AirPlay 3 will come at some point  Apple and Sonos are about convenience not  spec  

I understand from Apple that Apple TV should play lossless at 16/48  Also understand if you have a 16/44 source direct on Sonos it will play 16/44 on other grouped devices so 16/44 soon, 24/48 at some point in future on Sonos and hi res not on Sonos anytime soon but USB to an external DAC  Not a bad result  As I now have hi res content and a hi res DAC a hi res bit perfect  Sonos port 2 with AirPlay 3 would be a theoretical nice to have that I would fall for  

I stuck with Apple Music because prefer UI over all the other streamers services and it was inevitable they would offer lossless after Amazon and Spotify  likewise I like the Sonos usesbility and it is now highly like that they will upgrade spec at some point  

 

I understand from Apple that Apple TV should play lossless at 16/48  Also understand if you have a 16/44 source direct on Sonos it will play 16/44 on other grouped devices so 16/44 soon ...  

So with my Apple TV connected via HDMI to a television with an attached Sonos beam, I should (assuming the track is lossless) be getting at least 16/44.1 on the Beam -- and if I use Sonos (not Airplay, but Sonos) to create a group with my other Sonos devices, shouldn't I have full house lossless audio today?

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I really am not sure as not familiar with Apple TV  and  beam but as I read it that shouldwork. Apple TV does play lossless according to Apple - just need to switch it on in the Apple App then if you have a direct connection to Sonos Beam it should automatically transmit the signal to the beam at 16/48 and then the beam should be able to group with out Sonos products at 16/48 

I don't get Atmos with the Beam (it's down converted to DD 5.1), but I do have a few rooms that have Beam-based Sonos systems and when I group them all Sonos indicates they are all streaming DD 5.1 - so I seen to be getting not only full house lossless (when the source is lossless) but full house DD 5.1 (when the source is Atmos). I realize that what I've done here is to bypass Airplay (and its limitations) entirely.