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.

James L. 1 month ago

Hi @rct_guy,

 

We’re unable to confirm when/if this feature is coming to Sonos. It’s up to the music service provider (Apple in this case) to work with us and decide which features are/are not available on Sonos products. We’ve written an article explaining a lot about Music Services on Sonos that I’ll link below that contains some more information on this. You should let Apple know that you’d like to see spatial/lossless audio on Apple Music on Sonos :slight_smile:

 

 

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Hi @rct_guy,

 

We’re unable to confirm when/if this feature is coming to Sonos. It’s up to the music service provider (Apple in this case) to work with us and decide which features are/are not available on Sonos products. We’ve written an article explaining a lot about Music Services on Sonos that I’ll link below that contains some more information on this. You should let Apple know that you’d like to see spatial/lossless audio on Apple Music on Sonos :slight_smile:

 

 

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Thank you for the rapid reply. I will provide this feedback to Apple.

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.  

 

To start listening to Lossless Audio, subscribers using the latest version of Apple Music can turn it on in Settings > Music > Audio Quality. Here, they can choose different resolutions for different connections such as cellular, Wi-Fi, or for download. 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

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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.  

Apple Music currently streams 256 kbps AAC as standard :slight_smile:

Somehow I just KNEW this question would be asked within minutes of Apple’s announcement, lol.  They never disappoint! :D

Playing the same recording via lossless CD rips, iTunes 256 AAC downloads and Apple Music at 256 AAC, I hear no differences. Just saying...

Also, this thread of someone having trouble with wireless streaming of HD music may be of interest.

https://en.community.sonos.com/troubleshooting-228999/sonos-speakers-cut-in-and-out-when-playing-hd-music-6858735?postid=16537710#post16537710

I expect to see a lot more such threads here as more people fall for the HD red herring, now that Sonos has opened that Pandoras box of trouble on its kit.

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You should let Apple know that you’d like to see spatial/lossless audio on Apple Music on Sonos 

 

 

While I would be very surprised if you weren’t already talking to Apple’s ISV Relations, OK, I’ll bite. How do you recommend we provide feedback to Apple? Phone call? Web link?

If you are serious about Sonos customers doing this it would be very helpful for you to be more specific!

https://www.apple.com/feedback/apple-music.html

Sometimes it a good idea to go talk directly to someone at the company, but I’m doubtful that comments to Apple store staffers are going to get comments about Sonos back to the powers that be.

 

There might be a Sonos policy for employees not to give out contact information for music services or other partners.  Probably not a big deal in this case, but could be construed as unprofessional if it looks like Sonos is trying to use it’s customers to lobby Apple into making changes to their products.

 

 

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You’ll have to excuse my ignorance here, but, the Apple TV was listed as a device that will be able to play Lossless so will the Beam (and Arc) play it through that?

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. 

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https://www.apple.com/feedback/apple-music.html

Sometimes it a good idea to go talk directly to someone at the company

 

 

Thanks for the link. I’ve submitted feedback to Apple. 

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https://www.apple.com/feedback/apple-music.html

Sometimes it a good idea to go talk directly to someone at the company

 

 

Thanks for the link. I’ve submitted feedback to Apple. 

Me as well. 

Somehow I doubt that this will come to Sonos in a hurry. I have Apple Music and Spotify, regular services, that serve me well enough with the HiFi listening experience at home through a combination of Sonos and third party kit. But I rarely use Apple Music because the native app still does not work with Sonos even after all these years. Spotify does; for that matter so does Amazon Music. I can use Apple Music via Amazon via voice control too, and thence to Sonos, but voice isn't always as convenient as using the native app on the phone.

I suspect that the reason for this lack is that Apple and Sonos don’t see eye to eye, which is ironic because both companies are much more like each other than different. The other ironic thing of course is that a lot of Sonos fans don’t like Apple because it is a closed universe...go figure :grin:

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But I rarely use Apple Music because the native app still does not work with Sonos even after all these years. Spotify does; for that matter so does Amazon Music.

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 Apple Music iOS  app to Sonos. Sometimes I listen to Apple Music this way, sometimes I use the iOS Sonos app instead.

Can you elaborate?

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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?

And Sonos can be disingenuous whenever it suits them; every time I have asked the question as to why Apple Music does not cast to Sonos as Spotify does, or Amazon Music does, the response has been that it is for Apple to get this done. In theory this may be correct, but if this feature was thought to be user priority for Sonos, I am sure they would not just sit back like this, but be more proactive. After all, they didn't just sit back waiting for Apple actions to bringing Airplay compatibility to the latest Sonos kit.

But I am pretty sure that the initial Sonos responses will be - this is an Apple issue.

Now I could be wrong where Apple Music HD is concerned, but history suggests that I am not. Those waiting may therefore have a long wait.

Or, they could trust their own ears to tell them that the regular Apple Music service is just as good. Or, they could switch for the price of the alternative monthly fee to another HD service.

This isn't therefore such a big deal. In my case, I get what I want - the native app based control - by using Spotify.

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I hope this comes to the native Sonos App as well.  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 (unless Sonos does something like upsample everything to 48Hz like ATVs do - in which case it would still work just be upsampled to from 16/44 to 16/48) .  Other than a buffer increase and output grouping for Synced audio (much like Sonos) airplay 2 didn’t add much.   Airplay already “handed off” the stream (unless you are screen mirroring and not an app that natively supports airplay so you phone had to remain on.

The big thing missing for me by using Apple Music and Airplay is shared Queue support.  I can add songs with my phone, my wife can add songs with hers.  If I airplay, her airplay would override mine, there is no concept of a queue.  The entire remote control is clunky.  Spotify Connect is miles better.

Airplay 2 was supposed to add a shared queue but it only works on “player” devices (which are currently only homepods or ATVs)…  Receiver devices which all 3rd party speakers and receivers/tv devices like Sonos are, just output a stream.  Even the apps themselves when acting as a player can’t be controlled with another ipad or phone…  so you couldn’t leave an ipad in a dock and control it.

Ironically you used to be able to when home streaming with the remote app… used the DACP protcol and you could use all sorts of features (itunes DJ, etc...) but it only worked with local music on your itunes server.  In some ways airplay is a step back…

So for the simplicity, its Sonos app here.  Lets hope the Sonos implementation supports it.  AFAIK Sonos was the only 3rd party that used an API to access Apple Music directly, and it hasn’t always kept feature parity with Apple Music (no access to the For You playlists for example).  Apple probably does the bare minimum to update it.  Everyone else relies on airplay to support Apple Music.

 

 

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? 

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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...

And Sonos can be disingenuous whenever it suits them; every time I have asked the question as to why Apple Music does not cast to Sonos as Spotify does, or Amazon Music does, the response has been that it is for Apple to get this done. In theory this may be correct, but if this feature was thought to be user priority for Sonos, I am sure they would not just sit back like this, but be more proactive. After all, they didn't just sit back waiting for Apple actions to bringing Airplay compatibility to the latest Sonos kit.

 

 

How in the world could Sonos possibly have control over functionality of the Apple music app?  Obviously, Apple has to be onboard with any casting feature.  And we know that Sonos has an open API which would allow for any 3rd party code to do casting. You could argue that Apple may want their API used instead of Sonos, but that seems unlikely since Apple doesn’t seem to have an API for casting, and it would make sense for the API used to be dictated by the device with less firmware resources.

So the question then is, does Apple just not want to cast to Sonos?  They would prefer you use airplay 2? They do prefer airplay 2 over casting, for multiple reasons.  For one, airplay 2 is licensed out to smart speaker makers. They make money off of it, where as they don’t with casting.  The other is that airplay 2 streams can only originate from Apple devices.  So you have to buy Apple to use it.  They don’t really want you casting Apple music to Sonos from an android device.  Heck I bet they would prefer you not play Apple music on Sonos at all, use their speakers instead.  Only reason they don’t do that is that they risk losing too many customers with that restriction.

It’s not like this is a new strategy for Apple.  They have always been more of a closed system, choices to restrict customer options and push you into the Apple ecosystem wherever they can.  They only time they don’t do that is where they don’t enough of the market to force you into that, or they don’t have much to gain by forcing you.  I have no doubt that if Apple had their own smart speakers when Sonos started getting popular, they wouldn’t let you stream Apple music on Sonos.  And they didn’t limit airplay 2 to Apple speakers for the same reason, it would have failed miserably without involving other smart speaker makers.

 

But I am pretty sure that the initial Sonos responses will be - this is an Apple issue.

Now I could be wrong where Apple Music HD is concerned, but history suggests that I am not. Those waiting may therefore have a long wait.

 

 

What history are you referring to?  The adoption of airplay 2?  Both Apple and Sonos stood to gain by that.  Sonos does stand to gain with moor HD/Hires streaming services, but it’s debatable if Apple stands to gain.  They could easily decide that limiting it to their speakers, appletv is better for them strategically.  Maybe, maybe not, but it’s up to Apple to decide.

 

Or, they could trust their own ears to tell them that the regular Apple Music service is just as good. Or, they could switch for the price of the alternative monthly fee to another HD service.

This isn't therefore such a big deal. In my case, I get what I want - the native app based control - by using Spotify.

 

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.

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