Amazon Music HD

  • 17 September 2019
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Well after a quite lengthy phone call, it still appears to be the case (currently) that here in the U.K. 'Annual' Amazon Music Unlimited subscribers are not eligible to upgrade to their HD service. It is open though to existing Prime subscribers and those who pay their Unlimited Music Individual/Family plan on a 'Monthly' subscription basis.

Staff at Amazon were extremely helpful by the way, if not a little perplexed themselves at the policy, though at one point they said they thought that the HD service was not yet available through Sonos devices and the matter was in the hands of some technical department, but I think that was perhaps said to maybe placate me a little.

So the HD Music Service is apparently not yet available to Annual MU subscribers here, but hopefully Amazon will resolve that in the not too distant future.

Makes me wish I had paid them monthly instead.
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You beat me to it, but the announcement post for this is live now. You can find it here. Looks like you've already gotten the details though.
Ken,

I suspect that you're a "corner case" that wasn't really given much attention in the anticipation of all of the "new" people subscribing. It's bad project management, and probably means that the whole thing was planned by someone who doesn't work in the trenches, and is completely familiar with all of the possibilities.
Oh.... and the reason (perhaps?) that I put "corner case" in quotes was that you may want to wait a month or six weeks, and try calling them again, to see if that policy has been changed. I imagine that your position is shared by a large number of people. It may be that once the volume of calls goes down, and they have time to rethink the policy, they may be able to change it. Might require some coding and testing, though, in order to get whatever system they're working on to accept the change.
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Music started via Alexa is still 256k, and limited to one room at a time.

Music started via controller is FLAC, multiple simultaneous rooms.


Hmm according to the service announcement HD playback via Alexa should be possible. Would be good to get clarity on this. I asked the question in the post:
https://en.community.sonos.com/announcements-228985/amazon-music-hd-available-on-sonos-6830070

And, can't you send Alexa-initiated music to multiple rooms as long as you have Rooms set up in the Alexa app with the Sonos devices grouped?

Music started via Alexa is still 256k, and limited to one room at a time.

Music started via controller is FLAC, multiple simultaneous rooms.
Hmm according to the service announcement HD playback via Alexa should be possible. Would be good to get clarity on this. I asked the question in the post:https://en.community.sonos.com/announcements-228985/amazon-music-hd-available-on-sonos-6830070

When I tested it, the Alexa-initiated stream was only 256k.

And, can't you send Alexa-initiated music to multiple rooms as long as you have Rooms set up in the Alexa app with the Sonos devices grouped?

Grouped, yes. My point wasn't crisp enough. I meant multiple different streams. When I asked Alexa to start a stream and one was already playing she asked me to confirm that I wanted that one stopped first.
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Well after a quite lengthy phone call, it still appears to be the case (currently) that here in the U.K. 'Annual' Amazon Music Unlimited subscribers are not eligible to upgrade to their HD service. It is open though to existing Prime subscribers and those who pay their Unlimited Music Individual/Family plan on a 'Monthly' subscription basis.

Staff at Amazon were extremely helpful by the way, if not a little perplexed themselves at the policy, though at one point they said they thought that the HD service was not yet available through Sonos devices and the matter was in the hands of some technical department, but I think that was perhaps said to maybe placate me a little.

So the HD Music Service is apparently not yet available to Annual MU subscribers here, but hopefully Amazon will resolve that in the not too distant future.

Makes me wish I had paid them monthly instead.

Hi Ken, I'm on the annual plan in the UK and I get this option when I go into my account settings.

Seems odd they won't offer it to you unless I'm misunderstanding!

Cheers



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When I tested it, the Alexa-initiated stream was only 256k.



And, can't you send Alexa-initiated music to multiple rooms as long as you have Rooms set up in the Alexa app with the Sonos devices grouped?
Grouped, yes. My point wasn't crisp enough. I meant multiple different streams. When I asked Alexa to start a stream and one was already playing she asked me to confirm that I wanted that one stopped first.



Ah yes, ok. I asked them in the announcement about Sonos speakers with Alexa built in, because the FAQ states:

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.


Sonos is listed as one of the preferred partners for Music HD, with the caveat that it all will be limited to 16/44.1 of course.
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Im only an Amazon Prime Member (use Tidal).
If I'm understanding correctly, I can try free for 90 days, then it's only $13/mo vs Tidal at $23/mo.

If it sounds as good or better than Tidal, might be a no-brainer
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Im only an Amazon Prime Member (use Tidal).
If I'm understanding correctly, I can try free for 90 days, then it's only $13/mo vs Tidal at $23/mo.

If it sounds as good or better than Tidal, might be a no-brainer


And if you buy the annual plan as a Prime Member, it's $129 which equates to just over $10/month. Amazon is definitely throwing down the gauntlet here, not only to the likes of Tidal but to all the streaming services.
the FAQ states:

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.

Alexa-initiated music is for some reason different. For example even when the user has a Deezer HiFi (FLAC) account, Alexa will only play Deezer in MP3.
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Im on Amazon Music, but I don't see where to get the 90 trial if HD
Upgraded, playing this “Ultra HD” playlist on Sonos. Sounds fine, but no way to tell the bitrate. Assuming it plays at standard CD rate on Sonos...

Yes I was trying to figure out bitrate. I found it interesting if I airplayed an Ultra HD track to my sonos, the Amazon Music app was telling me it was 24 and not 16. I don't know it this holding true when sent to the speaker. Anyone know this?
Yes I was trying to figure out bitrate. I found it interesting if I airplayed an Ultra HD track to my sonos, the Amazon Music app was telling me it was 24 and not 16. I don't know it this holding true when sent to the speaker. Anyone know this?

Since casting is using Alexa Cast, I'm guessing it's the same as voice control at this point, compressed "normal" bitrate. Sonos has stated they're working on getting Alexa to play FLAC streams, so perhaps when that's done, casting will also be capable of FLAC.

Honestly I can't hear a difference with the HD stream in the Sonos app, even on very high quality electrostatic speakers, which is more or less as expected, especially with 65 year old ears. 20-somethings might hear a difference.
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Honestly I can't hear a difference with the HD stream in the Sonos app, even on very high quality electrostatic speakers, which is more or less as expected, especially with 65 year old ears. 20-somethings might hear a difference.

Interesting to see Amazon ( https://www.amazon.com/b?node=14063680011 ) 'explaining' HD using the 'step' thing.
BBC ( https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-49726068 ) reporting on it - also including a link to npr ( https://www.npr.org/sections/therecord/2015/06/02/411473508/how-well-can-you-hear-audio-quality?t=1568786352938 ) test. Try to pick out the 128, 320 or HD version of the 3 clips.
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It would be so much easier if the Sonos controller just displayed what file and bitrate it was playing. I think this is a basic requirement for a streaming device particullarly as there are now so many different services and subscription types available.The controller must know what it is playing so surely it can't be difficult to display it or tuck it in a menu somewhere for those who are interested.
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The controller must know what it is playing so surely it can't be difficult to display it or tuck it in a menu somewhere for those who are interested.

The controller has no idea about the bitrate, but the speakers themselves do. The speakers could tell the controller (via an API change) then the controller could display it.

The controller must know what it is playing so surely it can't be difficult to display it or tuck it in a menu somewhere for those who are interested.The controller has no idea about the bitrate, but the speakers themselves do. The speakers could tell the controller (via an API change) then the controller could display it.

The controller could obtain the format from the metadata it gets from the service directly, as it does with Deezer.
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The controller could obtain the format from the metadata it gets from the service directly, as it does with Deezer.


Oooh I see the bitrate in the spec now, not sure when that was added. Time to see which music services deliver that for addition to my app.
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So that could probably be pretty easily added to a system update then.
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I have spotted one track -- on a station and sufficiently unmemorable that I've forgotten what it was -- which was arriving in 256k (AAC or MP3). Perhaps Amazon simply didn't have the original lossless.

Unfortunately the format is not accessible via the Sonos controller as it is with Deezer.


I’ve noticed that not all tracks are in lossless “HD” format. I tried playing some stuff that was in my Tidal library on Amazon music using the iOS app (where you can check the bitrate) and some tracks were playing at what Amazon calls “standard” rate.

I assume this is also the case when playing through the Sonos app.

Incidentally I also have Bluesound Node which allows you to check the bitrate via the log and if I play the same track on that it says it’s being played in AAC format at a lower bitrate.

Most tracks, however, do seem to be in HD format - perhaps it will take them some time to work through their catalogue.

So I won't see any difference on Sonos?Well... it should stream at FLAC. My system is.


How can you tell if Sonos is playing a stream with lossless compression (vs. the default 256 kbps lossy)? I can't find anywhere in the mobile or desktop apps to display the bit rate associated with the current stream. I reauthorized my Amazon Music account in the Sonos controller after signing up for HD. No change.

I can use Amazon's desktop app to play "HD" tracks. However, it's really difficult to even find "HD" tracks on Amazon Music using the Sonos app since there's no "HD" indicator.


I was able to find an UltraHD album that was added to my play history by Amazon's desktop app. Sonos lets me play it in spite of the fact that it's 24-bit, 96 kHz but with no information about how the music is being resampled (I assume to 16-bits, 48 kHz).

Actually hearing a difference is a lot harder than many folks are willing to admit, but if I'm going to be paying for the "HD" upgrade after 90 days, I'd at least like to see what I'm getting for the extra money.



So I won't see any difference on Sonos?Well... it should stream at FLAC. My system is.
How can you tell if Sonos is playing a stream with lossless compression (vs. the default 256 kbps lossy)?

By using a traffic monitor on the piece of network equipment the player's wired to.
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Is that a piece of hardware or software?