Apple Music lossless via S2?

  • 8 November 2021
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66 replies

Actually: that’s precisely my question. Is S2 actually playing the raw (lossless) files? Or is Apple only reserving access to those lossless files for those who are listening via the Apple Music app. (To clarify: the music, to my ears, sounds “better” through Apple Music, not through S2—so this has nothing to do with settings on my Apple Music app. It has to do with S2’s access to source files).

 

Why would you think any DSP being applied by the Apple Music app couldn’t make the Airplay sound better?  They don’t put DSP processing in to make it sound worse (even though to some ears it may).  They put those DSP’s in because some people like them, and without knowing what DSP is turned on, you can’t know if you like them or not, hence why I asked. 

Though if you doubt Sonos is actually getting the same quality files, you can use a bandwidth monitor to see the size of each file as it is being streamed. 

As far as I’m aware Sonos doesn’t yet support Apple Music lossless for direct play. 

Using the Apple Music app on an iDevice along with Airplay would in theory permit a lossless path. 

As far as I’m aware Sonos doesn’t yet support Apple Music lossless for direct play. 

Using the Apple Music app on an iDevice along with Airplay would in theory permit a lossless path. 

 

Really?  I learn something new every day.  Glad to be corrected.   

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I also have a Yamaha WXA50 here to test and its MusicCast app shows the bit / sampling rate on any incoming audio from a NAS / Radio EXCEPT when you use Airplay, where it just goes blank. 

… which is not relevant to Sonos. Airplay encoding will depend on the characteristics of the target. Unless one can peek inside the system via the diagnostics (off limits to users) the stream bandwidth is the best, probably only, guide.

This is fascinating. Can you confirm that AirPlay alters it’s bitrate depending on the target then? What if I access Apple Music from within the Sonos app - wouldn’t that cut iOS out of handling the stream?

 

Of course there’s still the possibility for EQ to introduce variations, so I’ll concede that ‘lossless’ could be a debatable point there. I meant that there shouldn’t need to be lossy compression in the chain.

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When Apple Music Lossless first rolled out, there was a lot of evidence that what was being streamed over AirPlay 2 was in fact lossy AAC and not ALAC.

 

I’m not sure if they have remedied this situation, but as of a few months ago, you could not be guaranteed that streaming from Apple Music to Sonos was lossless through either the native app or the Sonos app.

I also have a Yamaha WXA50 here to test and its MusicCast app shows the bit / sampling rate on any incoming audio from a NAS / Radio EXCEPT when you use Airplay, where it just goes blank. 

… which is not relevant to Sonos. Airplay encoding will depend on the characteristics of the target. Unless one can peek inside the system via the diagnostics (off limits to users) the stream bandwidth is the best, probably only, guide.

This is fascinating. Can you confirm that AirPlay alters it’s bitrate depending on the target then?

So I’m led to believe, but I'm not really a dedicated iPerson.

 

What if I access Apple Music from within the Sonos app - wouldn’t that cut iOS out of handling the stream?

Certainly. But at present Sonos doesn’t support Apple Music Lossless … hence this thread.

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I also have a Yamaha WXA50 here to test and its MusicCast app shows the bit / sampling rate on any incoming audio from a NAS / Radio EXCEPT when you use Airplay, where it just goes blank. 

… which is not relevant to Sonos. Airplay encoding will depend on the characteristics of the target. Unless one can peek inside the system via the diagnostics (off limits to users) the stream bandwidth is the best, probably only, guide.

This is fascinating. Can you confirm that AirPlay alters it’s bitrate depending on the target then?

So I’m led to believe, but I'm not really a dedicated iPerson.

 

What if I access Apple Music from within the Sonos app - wouldn’t that cut iOS out of handling the stream?

Certainly. But at present Sonos doesn’t support Apple Music Lossless … hence this thread.

Why is Sonos fully ‘in with Apple’ by offering AP2 and now supports ‘hi res’ audio but then wouldn’t support Apple Lossless?

Anybody from Sonos on this forum that can clarify?

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I don’t understand it either, but there was a big discussion of it on Audiophile Style.

https://audiophilestyle.com/ca/bits-and-bytes/apple-music-lossless-mess-part-2-airplay-r1026/page/5/?tab=comments#comment-1158694

And definitely people using other AirPlay endpoints showing bandwidth measurements too low to be lossless.

I just rechecked.

iPad playing Deezer FLAC, Airplay to a wireless Port via a wired Boost (i.e. SonosNet). Average bandwidth around 1Mbps.

It can’t be AAC. It has to be ALAC. 

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How can I check bandwidth? What people were claiming was that the Apple Music App was converting lossless to AAC before streaming via Airplay. Wouldn’t necessarily apply to Deezer.

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Why is Sonos fully ‘in with Apple’ by offering AP2 and now supports ‘hi res’ audio but then wouldn’t support Apple Lossless?

Anybody from Sonos on this forum that can clarify?

We don’t need further clarification. See https://support.sonos.com/s/article/3282

What is the streaming rate and streaming format for Apple Music on Sonos?
64kbps HE-AAC, 128kbps AAC, 256kbps AAC

 

As for when or if Apple Music Lossless will be supported that would be dependent on Apple. It’s the service which works to Sonos’ API.

If the parties are working on it you certainly wouldn’t have that confirmed here by Sonos staff. They don’t pre-announce. Rather like Apple in fact.

‘Hi res’ (so-called, in this case 24-bit) audio is available from Amazon and Qobuz because they made it so.

Appreciate your responses.

 

Bizarre that Apple wouldn’t make lossless available on such a popular and premium brand like Sonos. Crazy in fact.

Bizarre that Apple wouldn’t make lossless available on such a popular and premium brand like Sonos. Crazy in fact.

I have a different issue with Apple Music, it won’t let me use the native app - which I prefer to the one in the Sonos app - with either Sonos or Echo in such a way that the music stream switches to those devices once selected on the native app, bypassing the phone once that is done, for music play. Both Amazon Music and Spotify allow this, so I just moved over to Spotify and in few days, I got used to that native app and now prefer it. As far as music libraries are concerned, I suspect all three would be pretty much the same.

I can’t hear any difference between Spotify or Apple lossy streams, or, for that matter, when I play the same albums ripped in Apple lossless format from my CD collection, so sound quality isn't a concern.

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Yes Appel Music sounds much better on Sonos when using the Appel Music App and using Airplay2.

I am listening via a Port and yes I have disconnected the EQ setting in the Appel Music App and set the App to Lossless.

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Bizarre that Apple wouldn’t make lossless available on such a popular and premium brand like Sonos. Crazy in fact.

I have a different issue with Apple Music, it won’t let me use the native app - which I prefer to the one in the Sonos app - with either Sonos or Echo in such a way that the music stream switches to those devices once selected on the native app, bypassing the phone once that is done, for music play. Both Amazon Music and Spotify allow this, so I just moved over to Spotify and in few days, I got used to that native app and now prefer it. As far as music libraries are concerned, I suspect all three would be pretty much the same.

I can’t hear any difference between Spotify or Apple lossy streams, or, for that matter, when I play the same albums ripped in Apple lossless format from my CD collection, so sound quality isn't a concern.

What’s your audio setup?

The head of Apple Music is on record as saying that he/his team cannot pick out AAC v ALAC served via Apple Music in a blind listening test, except perhaps via high quality headphones.

It is of course possible that some people can hear what Apple folks themselves cannot but this may be something to keep in mind while pursuing Apple lossless.

However, I’m willing to admit that this perceived difference in quality may be psycho-somatic (since I’m still confused as to whether the S2 app is capable of accessing lossless files when it queries the Apple Music database).

 

 

Another equally valid reason you are hearing a difference could be if the sound levels for the compared alternatives are not identical down to 0.1dB. The louder will sound better, even if the louder is by just 0.1dB.

The solution to this issue suggests itself - just bump up the volume controls a notch on the less loud alternative.

Bizarre that Apple wouldn’t make lossless available on such a popular and premium brand like Sonos. Crazy in fact.

I have a different issue with Apple Music, it won’t let me use the native app - which I prefer to the one in the Sonos app - with either Sonos or Echo in such a way that the music stream switches to those devices once selected on the native app, bypassing the phone once that is done, for music play.

Apple Music doesn’t enable ‘casting off’ for direct play on Sonos in the way it evidently does with Apple’s own speakers. It’s left to the reader to surmise their motives. 

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I was trying to easily airplay lossless tracks from apple music on my iPhone to my sonos but apparently that’s no possible. here is the test:

 

I’m wondering what’s the roadblock.

Airplay protocol restriction?

Wifi transfer speed limitation?

Lazy Apple Engineers?

Lazy Sonos Engineers?

 

 

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Yes Appel Music sounds much better on Sonos when using the Appel Music App and using Airplay2.

I am listening via a Port and yes I have disconnected the EQ setting in the Appel Music App and set the App to Lossless.

Both S2 → Airplay or Apple Music (set Lossless) → Airplay will result in non-lossless playback on Sonos devices. How come you could perceive the difference?

Apple Music doesn’t enable ‘casting off’ for direct play on Sonos in the way it evidently does with Apple’s own speakers. It’s left to the reader to surmise their motives. 

But on the other hand, most recent Sonos products do Airplay, so some mixed signals there about working with Sonos. I don’t myself like Airplay from my experience with it before I installed Sonos, and while stability may have improved, I don't want my phone to needed for allowing its use all the time that music is playing - but that is a different matter.

So: I use a Mac bought in 2014 for the still slick UI, Android phones because iPhone pricing is ridiculous, and Spotify for music service. Horses for courses.

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I experience a more airy, open and distinct dynamic sound.

And of course I know everything about "Kumar’s" countless and many times written standard, - but correct, “sound leveling” answer.

But in this case you perhaps can get around this sound level problem

And perhaps it may not have anything to do with the Sonos App, but it may still be connected.

 

If you go to the iPad's Settings under Music and then to sound quality you could, when playing, switch between the Lossless sound and the Standard sound.

And yes, there is a short interruption when you the change the sound quality setting, but I sense an improvement of the sound when I "switch" to the Lossless Sound.

And I do not think, that this possible sound change, could be noticed on any Sonos speakers, but playing  via a Port and a good sound system, I do sense a sound change for the better.

Just another thing, when I play a “normal” sound source via Airplay2, my Ipad does not get very hot, but when I play Lossless from the Apple Music App, the back of my Ipad gets hot, this may indicate that the iPad works extra hard when it plays Lossless. 

But whether the Appel Music App also sends Lossless to my Port I do not know, but I as “tonsure”, who started this tread, I am also experiencing a sound improvement, - but I could be wrong.

I wish someone would simply measure the bandwidth of the Airplay stream sent by Apple Music when playing lossless (as I did with Deezer). That would confirm it one way or the other.

As I have a trial subscription to Apple Music I got around to measuring it.

When ostensibly playing ‘Lossless’ on the iPad Apple Music app the AirPlay stream to a Sonos player averaged only ~300kbps over 10 minutes. It was also pretty steady, not rising and falling with the music complexity. It looks like AAC256. 

By contrast the AirPlay stream from the Deezer app when playing lossless is around 1Mbps, i.e. ALAC.

Apple Music doesn’t enable ‘casting off’ for direct play on Sonos in the way it evidently does with Apple’s own speakers. It’s left to the reader to surmise their motives. 

But on the other hand, most recent Sonos products do Airplay, so some mixed signals there about working with Sonos.

Not really. Whilst the original incarnations of AirPlay were Apple-only (though some reverse-engineered the protocol) Apple has since licensed the AirPlay protocol stack to those wanting to build compatible products. The implementation is therefore in Sonos’ court.

On the other hand integration of a service, especially casting direct to Sonos players, would require work on the service’s side.

I experience a more airy, open and distinct dynamic sound.

And of course I know everything about "Kumar’s" countless and many times written standard, - but correct, “sound leveling” answer.

But in this case you perhaps can get around this sound level problem

 

Perhaps I have not understood the reply posted, but in response to the last sentence quoted would it not be simpler to just use the volume control?