Apple Music streaming quality?

  • 29 April 2023
  • 7 replies
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I subscribe to both Amazon Unlimited and Apple Music.  I play these through the Sonos S2 App.  With Amazon the track I select always indicates whether the stream is HD or Ultra HD.  Apple does not give the same information so I do not know if the quality is at least 16/44.1? I avoid AirPlay as I know Apple quality then is less than CD quality.  Similarly when I play Amazon directly from that App via AirPlay the information merely shows AirPlay so presumably less than 16/44.1? Could Sonos provide this information in their App or is it down to Apple?  I just want to know the stream quality from whatever source ideally.  Be great to know this for my Bandcamp music too?  Any thoughts?


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@Jamie A presumably Apple Music streams in AAC at 256 kbps for stereo tracks but streams in the Dolby Digital Plus codec for Spatial Audio (Dolby Atmos) tracks? Dolby says it is typically encoded at bitrates between 384 and 768 kbps, is this what Sonos is outputting? 

Yes it is, it has to because that's how Atmos is encoded. When you play Atmos tracks via Apple Music, there's a label that says "Dolby Atmos" to indicate it's not a 256AAC stream. Everything else is 256AAC though. 

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...Be great to know this for my Bandcamp music too?  Any thoughts?

Bandcamp streams at MP3-V0 quality, about 250 kbps variable bitrates.

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Hi @Joffy,

Apple Music has three bitrates they stream music in, which are: CD quality (16-bit/44.1kHz), Apple Music Lossless (up to 24-bit/48kHz), and Hi-Res Lossless (up to 24-bit/192kHz). Sonos will play what is provided to it by the music service, so you’d have to check the songs quality in the Apple Music app to see what it streams in, the same would apply to Bandcamp.

If the music service provides us with this information, we could show it in the app, but most music services don’t provide us with that meta-data.

I hope this helps!

Userlevel 7

Hi @Joffy,

Apple Music has three bitrates they stream music in, which are: CD quality (16-bit/44.1kHz), Apple Music Lossless (up to 24-bit/48kHz), and Hi-Res Lossless (up to 24-bit/192kHz). Sonos will play what is provided to it by the music service, so you’d have to check the songs quality in the Apple Music app to see what it streams in, the same would apply to Bandcamp.

If the music service provides us with this information, we could show it in the app, but most music services don’t provide us with that meta-data.

I hope this helps!

Last I checked, if you play Apple Music from the Sonos app, it plays as 256 kbps AAC. Has this changed? Are you saying that the Sonos app now supports lossless music from Apple Music?

Userlevel 7
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Hi @Joffy,

Apple Music has three bitrates they stream music in, which are: CD quality (16-bit/44.1kHz), Apple Music Lossless (up to 24-bit/48kHz), and Hi-Res Lossless (up to 24-bit/192kHz). Sonos will play what is provided to it by the music service, so you’d have to check the songs quality in the Apple Music app to see what it streams in, the same would apply to Bandcamp.

If the music service provides us with this information, we could show it in the app, but most music services don’t provide us with that meta-data.

I hope this helps!

Last I checked, if you play Apple Music from the Sonos app, it plays as 256 kbps AAC. Has this changed? Are you saying that the Sonos app now supports lossless music from Apple Music?

After checking, it looks like you’re right that it streams in 256 kbps AAC with Sonos and not lossless or Hi-Res lossless.

My post, if misworded, was to suggest it would be better to check with the music service on what quality they provide the us with to play within the Sonos app.

I’m not sure if this was listed on a support article on our end previously, but it doesn’t seem to be anymore. I’ll bring this up to our team for their consideration.

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Hi @Joffy,

Apple Music has three bitrates they stream music in, which are: CD quality (16-bit/44.1kHz), Apple Music Lossless (up to 24-bit/48kHz), and Hi-Res Lossless (up to 24-bit/192kHz). Sonos will play what is provided to it by the music service, so you’d have to check the songs quality in the Apple Music app to see what it streams in, the same would apply to Bandcamp.

If the music service provides us with this information, we could show it in the app, but most music services don’t provide us with that meta-data.

I hope this helps!

Last I checked, if you play Apple Music from the Sonos app, it plays as 256 kbps AAC. Has this changed? Are you saying that the Sonos app now supports lossless music from Apple Music?

After checking, it looks like you’re right that it streams in 256 kbps AAC with Sonos and not lossless or Hi-Res lossless.

My post, if misworded, was to suggest it would be better to check with the music service on what quality they provide the us with to play within the Sonos app.

I’m not sure if this was listed on a support article on our end previously, but it doesn’t seem to be anymore. I’ll bring this up to our team for their consideration.

Thanks for these responses.  So the only source for 16/44.1 and higher (HD & UHD) is Amazon Unlimited Music.  When I play this through Sonos App it is clearly indicated.  It is also similarly indicated in the Amazon Music App when playing via AirPlay, which I made a mistake about in my original post, although AirPlay is unreliable and drops out. Therefore Apple Music can only boast Atmos?  Whereas Amazon have CD quality, High Res, Atmos & 360.  Interesting!

@Jamie A presumably Apple Music streams in AAC at 256 kbps for stereo tracks but streams in the Dolby Digital Plus codec for Spatial Audio (Dolby Atmos) tracks? Dolby says it is typically encoded at bitrates between 384 and 768 kbps, is this what Sonos is outputting?