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 year 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:

 

 

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 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!

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

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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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I can completely agree and accept that most people will not be able to hear the difference on most mass market equipment and that you personally can not hear the difference. I certainly can’t hear the difference using Sonos. But then Sonos isn’t hifi. For me personally on my hifi system going back to original CD quality designed for human hearing range. has made a dramatic difference to my personal listening pleasure. The bigger difference is taking Sonos out of my hifi system which sounds like a distorted unnatural mush in comparison so there is no way personally that I am able to appreciate lossless on Sonos in my experience. But Sonos is an excellent background music product not hifi  

 

I fully understand and accept that lots of people can’t appreciate or don’t care about hifi sound quality. It seems some people are unable to grasp that other people though may get a lot of joy from better sound quality just because. It doesn’t do anything for them. I think a lot of people listening to lossless on a good quality hifi would be wowed. There would also be lots that would be so what. The point is it is a personal experience. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being satisfied with listening to lossy sound quality on Sonos but there is also nothing wrong if some  people get a buzz from listening to lossless on hifi and enjoying a sound which they find clearer, more natural, and detailed,. Fundamentally. it is about accepting that listening to music is a personal experience and other people’s experiences maybe different. Listen for yourself. I was also skeptical but for me changing from lossy on Sonos to lossless on a cheaper cable option has dramatically increased my listening pleasure and the amount of time I want to listen on my hifi from occasionally to everyday. 

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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:

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

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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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 Access to better quality recordings designed to be heard on more transparent systems is the real benefit. 

But there are no blind tests establishing that sound heard on such systems is inferior when delivered by them via the same recordings, downsampled to such formats that Sonos can play...

But this isn’t a discussion about whether you can hear the difference or not, it’s a discussion about if it’s available via Sonos. Start another thread if you want to debate if you can tell the difference between compressed and uncompressed digital music.

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Any news?

Nope. Think I’ll switch over to a Node on my main system and go Amazon HD or Qobuz instead. Probably better than waiting for Sonos and Apple to get their act together. 

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Still no mention of AirPlay though. I’ve read various snippets, including something from Cambridge Audio, that AirPlay streams at a lossless bit rate but it still seems to be a secret as far as Apple are concerned. Would like to see something official that AirPlay doesn’t compress audio before transmission.

AirPlay is lossless and I believe utilizes ALAC for transmitting audio. One of the audio mags tested AirPlay a few years back and showed that 16/44 PCM had bit-perfect transmission via AirPlay to an AirPort Express.

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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. 

 

Airplay is 16/44 ALAC.  The problem is, when it hands the URL off, it may just had off the AAC version of the track, and not the ALAC version, unless it is streaming through the iphone (like it would be screen mirroring).  Which is why the 9to5mac article above has you starting Airplay in a specific way.

 

Either way Airplay in a multi-user household is a poor way to control and queue music.  Let’s hope Sonos adds ALAC support to the SMAPI API so Apple can add it to their SMAPI layer for Sonos Apple Music.

 

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Sigh. I refuse to waste more words.

Look nothing wrong with an opinion, but don’t just quote Eddy Cue and say told you so. While hi res is a waste of time for the vast majority of people (like Eddy says) and will never ever become anything like mainstream, In my opinion I find a difference in listening between lossy and regular lossless ie CD quality and think that folks may appreciate that Level more.

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Because it doesn’t sound better for most people on most mass market products that people listen to. I can’t hear the difference on Sonos equipment but it’s a subtle difference that makes a fantastic difference to listening pleasure on good quality hifi.   Some people appreciate that. Some people aren’t that much into music or don’t care that much about sound quality or have never heard a really good quality hifi system. or don’t have sufficiently good hearing. But for those that enjoy good sound quality  then you will not want to listen to lossy on good hifi once you have heard lossless. 
 

 

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

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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?

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

Lossless recordings definitely play louder & clearer vs music streamed from Apple Music, don’t be deceived.
 The difference is much more noticeable in my car when comparing a CD track vs apple, Spotify & Deezer. Apple Music is objectively the worse. 

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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.

But I rarely use Apple Music because the native app still does not work with Sonos even after all these years.

 

It absolutely does and has for a long time.

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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.

 

 

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.

 

@James L. I read through this thread and understand your answer. Perhaps there is power in the community of Apple Music / Sonos users collectively requesting that Apple support lossless on Sonos. However, it would be much better for Sonos to be proactively working with Apple as much as possible to make this happen and to communicate to the Sonos community exactly what Sonos is doing in this regard - v.s. simply saying it is up to Apple. As a Sonos user, I expect that Sonos is working with all important music services to get the best experience for Sonos users. So be vocal about that!  thx.

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Hoping now lossless on Apple Music has launched we will soon see this arriving on Sonos… happy to participate in any beta testing for this service. 

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Also, Amazon and Tidal are both available in lossless form on Sonos so it would be pretty silly for Apple not to offer this via Sonos too.