Apple Music High Res

Is that testing and the results public? I’d love to read it. My wife and I have done many blind tests with various components and music resolutions. We both have been able to consistently hear the difference between 16/44 and higher res. We both have been able to consistently hear the difference between 24/96 and 24/192. Perhaps we are unicorns, but in my opinion it’s going depend on your gear.

Broad sweeping statements by vendors isn’t going to land well with me unless they are willing to publish the tests behind their words.


So based on this
16/44 Sounds meh
24/96 Sounds OK
24/192 Sounds fantastic

Is your enjoyment of the music dependent on its resolution?
If not the the resolution does not matter, your simply playing a numbers game to identify the bigger the number the better.

I would only base quality on my enjoyment of the music listened to, not the resolution, bit perfect etc etc.

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For us it’s just an experiment as well as a determination on how to spend our money. We were curious to know if it matters to purchase 16/44 vs 24/192, or if it matters to upgrade a piece of gear.

I appreciate your comments, but as a reminder, this is my hobby and my money. If I choose to enjoy the music, the resolution of a file, or the gauge of a cable, that’s up to me and my wife.


Is this consistent across all music? I’m only asking as some on here swear by different recordings being better in lower res than the same track in another master in higher res?
I’m just interested in the thoughts from all sides.

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I think its subjective and individual, also as mentioned above can come down to system design, the equipment , the cables , speakers and placement, room design.

Good quality reproduction is dependent on system design would be my view.

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I think there’s some truth to this. I’ve heard some remastered recordings that seemed to me were more de-mastered vs re-mastered.


That’s quite interesting.

I didn’t know that Dolby Atmos tracks in Apple Music were lossy 256 kpbs AAC.

Certainly explains why I preferred the sound of Hi-Res Lossless tracks instead.

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AirPlay from the iPhone or iPad is only 256k aac when streaming Apple Music no matter what the end device is. But playing direct on Apple TV will be lossless. The bug is with the app and not AirPlay since you can lossless stream other apps over AirPlay. Let’s hope this is fixed by the time iOS 15 comes out.

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It’s been designed with Airpods in mind which only support aac over Bluetooth.

Not sure this is 100% correct, see the posts by @wklie on another forum relating to LUMIN.

Current firmware for all models of Lumin network streamers only supports ALAC and does not accept AAC in the current implementation of AirPlay 1.

My speculation is that in this scenario you’re getting an AAC stream from the service, then it gets converted to ALAC and is sent to Lumin. Perhaps watching a network traffic monitor may prove or disprove this speculation.

So it’s best to choose the system wide AirPlay instead, such that the app shows it’s lossless. In this usage, please set the Mac to 44.1kHz since Lumin AirPlay is currently fixed at 44.1kHz.

I got the Lossless icon during playback, so I’d assume I’m getting the ALAC version from the service, hopefully.

My AirPlay testing results from iPadOS 14.6 playing Taylor Swift folklore Lossless:

  • AirPlay2 to a competitor streamer: shows AAC on the front panel
  • AirPlay2 to reference AirPlay2 code: shows AAC in log messages
  • AirPlay1 to Lumin AirPlay1 implementation: goes through the lossless ALAC decoder in log messages (Lumin AirPlay1 implementation does not accept AAC)

I think the open source shairport-sync AirPlay1 implementation only supports ALAC and PCM only, not AAC.

But that’s like saying when you used an old Airport Express, it only had AirPlay 1 and upsampled even your lossy aac iTunes files to ALAC. It didn’t have trouble playing them. Pretty sure that’s all that’s happening here.

But the bad part of all this is it looks like the current version of AirPlay 2 is capped at 256k. On Naim forum, the tech saying when playing lossless from Qobuz over AirPlay it shows the stream as legacy ALAC which sounds like AirPlay 1 stream. Nothing wrong with that stream but it’s not buffered and can’t do multi-room.

There are two steps involved:

Apple Music Server -(1)-> iOS Apple Music app as AirPlay Sender -(2)-> AirPlay Receiver

Why do everybody assume that if (2) is AAC, (1) must be AAC, even when there is an icon that supposedly shows the format of (1)?

Well not scientific, but couldn’t you test playing Apple Music with high quality and lossless settings against Qobuz or Amazon lossless and see if you can tell the difference. On my setup, Apple Music sounded the same regardless of the setting but Amazon clearly sounded better. Sounded the same as roon/Qobuz.

I mean it’s possible Apple Music sees you have an AirPlay 2 stream available and sends 256k aac but if it only sees AirPlay 1, sends ALAC. Not sure why the other players send lossless over legacy connection instead of AirPlay 2.

I was under the impression that the issue was a bug with the Apple Music app which was causing it to AirPlay in AAC.

Also, isn’t the technical limitation of AirPlay 2 supposed to be 24bit/48kHz LPCM?

Airplay via system sound from macOS Apple Music to my Airport Express (supports Airplay 2) is bit perfect.

Using RME ADI-2 bit perfect 16/44.1 wav test files… it passes this test.

It fails the test from the Apple Music app direct to Airport Express.

Using macOS system sound (as previously recommended in this thread) is bit perfect for 16/44.1


Ok so it’s really just the iOS Apple Music app that’s the issue. Once they fix, should play lossless over AirPlay 2.

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No as above, it fails even macOS Apple Music app direct to Airport Express - ie when you hit the Airplay button inside Apple Music app.

It will all get sorted.

In case anybody is wondering, I also tested iPad AirPlay by swiping down the system panel from the corner and invoking AirPlay there instead of within the Apple Music app. But iPad AirPlay2 still sends AAC, i.e. same as invocation within the app.

Although some people think it’s a bug of the app, I think there’s a possibility it’s designed this way to enable multi-room.


Just for completeness while I’m in testing mode I also tested macOS Apple Music app directly connected to USB DAC at my M1 Mac Mini.

The 24bit wav files play bit perfectly to RME ADI-2 using RME’s bit perfect test files.

So for desktop use, very nice.

No surprise, I remember testing this a few years ago when it was still called iTunes but I thought I’d run the test again.

Enough testing for me for today - back to enjoying the music :grinning: