Apple Music Lossless Hi-Res Audio Coming Soon

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Hi all,

a few days ago Apple announced that it will make the entire catalogue available to stream with a new lossless codec, apparently up to 24bit/192kHz.

Apple Music announces Spatial Audio and Lossless Audio

If this is coming to Apple TV and its able to feed that through the HDMI cable, it would seem that it will be the streamer to have.

What do you think?

Cheers,
Jochen
 

ttocs

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Here's what I don't get about Apple's explanation, they claim all we need is any of their products, but then state extra equipment is needed. Huh?

On one page of info there's this:
"How can I listen to lossless audio?
You can listen to lossless audio using the latest Apple Music app on an iPhone, iPad, Mac, or Apple TV.7 Turn on lossless audio in Settings > Music > Audio Quality. You can choose between Lossless and Hi-Res Lossless for cellular or Wi-Fi connections. Note that Hi-Res Lossless requires external equipment such as a USB digital to analog converter.
"

And elsewhere there is this on Apple's site:
"1. Due to the large file sizes and bandwidth needed for Lossless and Hi-Res Lossless Audio, subscribers will need to opt in to the experience. Hi-Res Lossless also requires external equipment, such as a USB digital-to-analog converter (DAC)."

They aren't very clear about exactly how the top service level is extracted. The ATV4K has only an HDMI output. So will this mean that the DACs in my preamp will suffice?
 

amey01

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They aren't very clear about exactly how the top service level is extracted. The ATV4K has only an HDMI output. So will this mean that the DACs in my preamp will suffice?
I dunno - I would want to make sure their data centres are using those LUSH USB cables before I sign up. Oh, and a guarantee they don't use any of those awful switching power supplies anywhere either. And Nordost ethernet cables and whatever those $10,000 "audiophile" routers are......

Seriously though.....I agree with you - it seems very vague. Oh, and the first thing I noticed - "UP TO" 24/192.......that leaves an awful lot of scope for less than that. Do they guarantee than anything released in high-res will be available in that? And do they preserve base fs?
 
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Here's what I don't get about Apple's explanation, they claim all we need is any of their products, but then state extra equipment is needed. Huh?

On one page of info there's this:
"How can I listen to lossless audio?
You can listen to lossless audio using the latest Apple Music app on an iPhone, iPad, Mac, or Apple TV.7 Turn on lossless audio in Settings > Music > Audio Quality. You can choose between Lossless and Hi-Res Lossless for cellular or Wi-Fi connections. Note that Hi-Res Lossless requires external equipment such as a USB digital to analog converter.
"

And elsewhere there is this on Apple's site:
"1. Due to the large file sizes and bandwidth needed for Lossless and Hi-Res Lossless Audio, subscribers will need to opt in to the experience. Hi-Res Lossless also requires external equipment, such as a USB digital-to-analog converter (DAC)."

They aren't very clear about exactly how the top service level is extracted. The ATV4K has only an HDMI output. So will this mean that the DACs in my preamp will suffice?
I think what they are saying is that while their products can stream the high res audio, none of the Apple products has a DAC that can actually digest high res audio, so you'll need a stand-alone DAC or use the one in your preamp or wherever you have a DAC. I feed my ATV4K HDMI into a Classe SSP 800 which could handle this if it actually comes down the HDMI. The SSP will display what comes in, so should be able to tell what the ATV is feeding it.

Should be interesting.
 
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I dunno - I would want to make sure their data centres are using those LUSH USB cables before I sign up. Oh, and a guarantee they don't use any of those awful switching power supplies anywhere either. And Nordost ethernet cables and whatever those $10,000 "audiophile" routers are......

Seriously though.....I agree with you - it seems very vague. Oh, and the first thing I noticed - "UP TO" 24/192.......that leaves an awful lot of scope for less than that. Do they guarantee than anything released in high-res will be available in that? And do they preserve base fs?
Yeah, it will always be "up to", realistically not all music has been digitised in high res, especially older recordings. You'd hope all the more recent recordings are high res. I would actually prefer it if they would stream only the best resolution they actually have on file rather than upsample lower res tracks. At least you then know what you actually get.
 

amey01

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I would actually prefer it if they would stream only the best resolution they actually have on file rather than upsample lower res tracks. At least you then know what you actually get.
Yes, 100% absolutely. But they also need to preserve base fs - I don't want a 24/192 of something that was originally recorded in DSDx64 or 32/352 for example.
 

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It will be whatever the record labels provide which is usually 44/16, 48/24, 96/24 and sometimes 192/24. Nothing new here folks, just Apple catching up with other streaming services but with less hardware options.

Yes you want to use your DAC not an Apple DAC which are limited to 24/48. The catch is Apple TV devices dropped the optical audio output years ago:

“Furthermore, unlike Spotify and Tidal, Apple Music has no ‘Connect‘ service with which streams can be handed off to compatible hardware devices.”


So you will need to use a PC/Mac wired to your stereo to get anything higher than 24/48.
 
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I don't think any of the streaming services make it very clear how to get hi-res signals through their stereo setup. Not for non-technical music appreciators like me, anyway. I'm currently subscribing to Qobuz, which to me is way preferable to the likes of Tidal, but it took a while for me to get the fact that I needed a USB from my Macbook Pro to my Cambridge Audio CXN streamer to facilitate hi-res. If the Qobuz app worked on my Apple TV4K I could stream it that way but it only streams at a maximum of CD quality. From what I've read, like the other music streaming services that are offering hi-res selections in addition to CD-quality, Apple will be slowly adding more and more hi-res stuff but it won't magically be hi-res from the get-go. What I'm excited about is the prospect of a hi-res (or at least CD-quality) service that is less than half the price of the others. That seems to be the game-changer, and it makes me wonder why the likes of Qobuz and Tidal charge a premium for CD-quality and hi-res when it costs no more to access, say, Netflix in HD than it does a less hi-res picture format.
 
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It will be whatever the record labels provide which is usually 44/16, 48/24, 96/24 and sometimes 192/24. Nothing new here folks, just Apple catching up with other streaming services but with less hardware options.

Yes you want to use your DAC not an Apple DAC which are limited to 24/48. The catch is Apple TV devices dropped the optical audio output years ago:

“Furthermore, unlike Spotify and Tidal, Apple Music has no ‘Connect‘ service with which streams can be handed off to compatible hardware devices.”


So you will need to use a PC/Mac wired to your stereo to get anything higher than 24/48.
Well, that would be a bummer if the Apple TV won’t stream the high res audio through the HDMI cable ... I was never keen on using a computer to listen to music. On the other hand, if it does stream high res through HDMI, then I really don’t mind about no hand-off, I‘d be happy to stream through the ATV.
 

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I'm pretty sure that the ATV4K, even the prior gen one, can output LPCM at any rate supported by HDMI 2.x+

I think Amazon Prime HD App running on the ATV4K already does that, but it's been months since I poked at that.

I just got a new ATV4K for the media room, and will transfer my old ATV4K to the Home Theater to output Atmos there. Had to get a smart splitter that fools the ATV into thinking it's connected to a 4K display so the streams will contain the Atmos soundtrack.

I really want to hear more Atmos music, so really happy they are going all-in with Apple Music.
 

mkg3

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Now that the lossless and Atmos are enabled in Apple Music, what's your thoughts?

I haven't found any songs that really made/take advantage of using Atmos speaker positions intentionally (not like movies that uses rear and overhead sound transitions, or weather to support the images on the screen).

I have noticed the sound quality difference for lossless but Atmos, not so much. Since the sound stage in real life is in the front of you (and in stereo), perhaps that's the intent even in Atmos. It would be interesting to find a track where it puts you in the middle of the sound stage and be surrounded by instruments in 360 and overhead as appropriate.

Hope the artists will start creating more music with Atmos in mind....
 

amey01

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It would be interesting to find a track where it puts you in the middle of the sound stage and be surrounded by instruments in 360 and overhead as appropriate.

Hope the artists will start creating more music with Atmos in mind....
Why would you want that? They tried that when ProLogic first came out, 30 years ago. Other than the novelty value, it was just weird.
 

JonFo

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I haven't found any songs that really made/take advantage of using Atmos speaker positions intentionally
Try listening to Steve Wilson "The Future Bites" in Atmos, as it's a very active mix. He's a great musician and the most sought-after multichannel master mixer (he's remastered most of the classic progressive rock era greats).
The mix is not super-discreet as he paints on a big aural canvas, but it is all around. Some tracks have accent sounds that move above and around. He makes good use of the ability to move sounds inside and outside the speaker's boundaries.

Not yet available in Atmos on Apple music, the album "Dear Future Self" by Booka Shade is hyper-active, with a clear discreet sound all over the place. I have the BluRay, and it's the first demo I play for people curious about immersive audio.
 

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May I suggest you look into the surround sound recordings by Dr. Mark Waldrep @ AIX Records. They are really quite terrific...even without surround.
 

JonFo

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May I suggest you look into the surround sound recordings by Dr. Mark Waldrep @ AIX Records
Oh yes, that is indeed good stuff. I have quite a few of his multichannel recordings. Some of those tracks are in my demo playlist on the server.
 

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Hi guys.

If you want some truth about this, please read here.


I must say that my Odyssey’s, with all I’ve done in my digital chain and Theta class D monoblocks upfront already has a 3D image 😀

Since a also have the Theta Casablanc, with HMDI, I could add the AppleTV, but generally speaking HMDI is bad for audio.
 

JonFo

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Since a also have the Theta Casablanc, with HMDI, I could add the AppleTV, but generally speaking HMDI is bad for audio.
Uhm, not much wrong with HDMI if the processor is doing appropriate clocking. And encoded streams, such as TrueHD or Dolby MAT, are re-clocked during decode to LPCM by the processor and therefore not subject to HDMI jitter.

The ATV is an amazing piece of kit, I have both the older and the 2021 variants of it. 80% of my media consumption is done using it either in the media room or the HT (HT is more weighted towards BluRay these days).

As a massive multichannel and immersive audio fan (4 Atmos-cable reproduction chains here), I'm super excited about Apple Music supporting Atmos now.

As part of explorations about details of how all this functions, I wrote up the following to explain to others how Atmos streams are propagated from an ATV4K to one's processor.

First, the current status for the source sent from Apple Music is that the incoming stream is a DD+ at the max rate of 768Kbps.

My understanding of what the ATV4K does is the following:
  • De-muxes the audio and video streams
  • Routes the video stream to the HDMI, with any necessary conversions, or none, based on settings and EDID info from the target device
  • Decodes the audio stream elemental parts, in the case of DD+ into the (up-to) 7.1 LPCM bed channels and the encoded Atmos objects data stream.
  • It then encodes (see below) all that into a Dolby MAT 2.0 stream and transfer that over HDMI to the processor
Thus, in the case of Atmos, HDMI jitter is not an issue, as it is an encoded, containerized datastream that the processor will decode and re-clock the LPCM internally.

Note: MAT 2.0 is a codec where the source (ATV) encodes a mix of signals, in this case the (up-to) 7.1 LPCM bed and the Atmos objects streams into an 8 channel 16/192 'carrier' LPCM stream whose headers tell the receiver that this is a MAT 2.0 encoded stream.
So with 3MBs per 'channel' * 8 = 24MBs (and that's bytes, not bits) we have very high-capacity data transport over the HDMI link.
MAT can be used to send lossless content if the source has it, it can even propagate TrueHD compressed lossless IIRC.
So at some future date, Apple Music *could* stream TrueHD Atmos, and the ATV4 will re-package it into MAT 2.0 (or 2.1), as there is plenty of bandwidth over HDMI.

So technically, the ATV is not always sending the same LPCM stream, it transitions between 'basic' LPCM where the data is truly the audio at x bit-depth, and MAT LPCM. But since the ATV is encoding the MAT stream, it can overlay UI feedback into the audio stream before encoding.

I have yet to validate that 'lossless' 2-ch music is sent over MAT or plain LPCM. Either will handle the required bit-depth and sample rates, but they might downsample plain LPCM to 24/48 for purposes of adding UI feedback. But hopefully not if one picks the 'no audio feedback' option in the settings. Off to play with all this.
 

Robert D

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The new apple tv is great imo. It's my first. I'm really happy with streaming movies on it. The atmos on movies is great.

I haven't streamed any music yet. I will need to look into apple music and songs encoded in atmos. I didnt know the recorded in that.

I usually stream my music through Sonos.
 

barjohn

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Everyone thinks they want greater than 24/48 but that is what the studio uses to encode Dolby and you can't get better than the original source. It is sort of like getting an 8K TV when the source is 4K. Nothing you can do will add content that wasn't there. You can add fake content but then it isn't true fidelity is it?
 
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