As said, I think if Amazon is successful with it, then might see Apple roll it out next year. They can tie it in with new hires Beats headphones and HomePod.
I was shocked that Trent Reznor was ok with Apple Music just putting out AAC files when he’s put out hires files of his own music. I guess he didn’t have much influence and hasn’t been with Apple now for a year or two.
Apple is never the first to do anything but tries to market it like they’re the best when they final do it.
For some reason I can see Amazon agreeing to allow roon integration but not Apple Music. Think Amazon would be fine with just more subscribers but Apple wants to control the whole experience.
I’m actually a big fan of Apple. Started with the Apple IIC as a kid and continued to have all Apple products in the house. It wasn’t until roon and Lightroom that started to move away from only using their software at home.
I never tried Apple Music because was already part of roon and Tidal and only listening to lossless music. Even before I had whole library in ALAC and got into roon so I could use HQPlayer with my ALAC files.
Still believe that Apple is not first with most of their products but usually better. But to read that they claim AAC is better than CDs and to still not have a lossless option shows only still interested in mass market. Same when they pulled Aperture and only offered photos software. So still a fan but willing to look elsewhere for the best when needed.
Great products all, but none invented by Apple. A Macintosh is just a computer, an iPod a portable music player, an iPhone a mobile phone etc. Branding something doesn’t make it yours, it just makes people associate them with you.
We’re all missing the point here. Innovation does not always mean first. Henry Ford was not the first, second or third person to come out with a motorcar, but the innovation was simplicity in design, product reliability and manufacturing advances that brought the car’s price down to something more than just a plaything for the rich. There were other PCs before the Apple ][, but none had assembled a practical and attractive package with software that was usable to a much wider range of people (rather than the hobbyist who dabbled in assembler code). Smartphones existed before the iPhone, but yuck, who thought any of them were actually useful?
I don’t think Apple is saying that AAC is better than Lossless, but I think they are trying to get the best out of AAC as they can. Apple has provided Lossless to our community for well over a decade, free to use by anyone without royalty so that must count for something. Even the “A” in AIFF which is a format preferred by some audiophiles is “Apple” since they invented the format in the late 80s.
I think there are many reasons why we haven’t seen a lossless streaming, one of which is that most of Apple Music users are using iPhones and therefore (largely) cellular service which is bandwidth restricted. 5G might change that but hopefully we won’t have to wait forever (although it certainly seems like it!).
One interesting tidbit…the last two versions of MacOS actually know what a FLAC file is. Mojave can even play them through the Finder Quickview function (even though iTunes cannot). Why go through the trouble of doing it if you didn’t have something bigger planned for it?
Following the guidelines and protocols outlined in this document to create and audition AAC encodes, you can achieve simply amazing results: dynamic range that’s superior to red book CD audio, and a final product that’s virtually indistinguishable from the original studio recording.
I have no shame in admitting I’ve failed some informal (not scientific) blind tests between Apple Music and Tidal. This was with very recent new music, so higher likelihood they come from the same master, compared with 30+ year old recordings that have been re-mastered numerous times.
There are some tracks I nailed with 100% accuracy every time but some where I was so all over the place that I proved to myself they sound the same (to me)
There was a site where you could ABX FLAC vs mp3 and same again. I think there were 5 tracks and there were 3 tracks I would nail every single time but 2 where I was all over the place.
The pattern I noticed (informal, not scientific) is the more ‘stuff’ happening in the track (especially high frequency action) the easier it was for me to pick accurately. The less ‘stuff’ happening (some simple acoustic for example) it was impossible for me to distinguish.
Of course I always try and listen to the highest quality versions of albums I can find but I wonder if Apple Music doubled the bitrate to 512kbps AAC if that would completely defeat me. Looking at the rate at which their subscriber numbers continue to climb, I can’t imagine that would be a high priority for Apple right now.
If one of the others with deep pockets (Amazon rumours?) made the first move to higher sound quality though, that might get Apple and Spotify’s attention… Maybe, maybe not.
Doesn’t that “A” stand for “Audio” (Audio Interchange File Format)?
ALAC, the Apple Lossless Audio Codec, a.k.a. Apple Lossless Encoder, is the format I use to import files into iTunes (files that my system makes available to Roon, and which co-exist happily with Tidal on my system.) I don’t subscribe to Apple Music, and when away from the house generally don’t use any streaming service other than Pandora (in my car). I really don’t expect car audio (or walking around with an iPhone and headphones) to be a super high resolution listening experience. And really, I don’t feel a crying need for better lossless music file handling on any of my Apple gear … except maybe on the AppleTV (just because, that shortcoming aside, it’s such a simple, easily integrated, easy to use, low clutter, and relatively inexpensive streaming device for video AND music).
That makes a lot of sense. The more ‘stuff’ going on, the harder it is for the compression algorithm to fit everything into the available bit rate. That’s why acoustic and small-scale classical (e.g. string quartets) compress extremely well and are audibly transparent with high bitrate AAC. Music like metal and large scale classical (e.g. Mahler) do not and are more likely to produce audible artifacts that a discerning listener can observe.
Apple has been requesting Labels and artists to send their HD mastered files, yes likely 2011 maybe even before. I’m sure they understand as the internet speeds grow the inevitability of HD streaming and downloading is coming.
I can’t speculate their motives but they are way behind this eventual and inevitable future. Just from the likeliness that any artist with some savvy would never release their HD masters to Apple. Ever since Steve Jobs passed, Apple Corp has paved themselves down a dark path. Beginning with their ridiculous Lightning cable. If the connector doesn’t snap off within a day the contact fall off. This is clearly driven by greed.
Look at all of the manufacturers racing to release higher quality output devices for streaming and HD transcoding. And getting cheaper.
I believe there is a golden age of music on the way. I hope I just get to experience in my life.
Mastered for iTunes is simply an Apple applet. Avery simple app that will analyze an mastered recordings overall loudness and calculate if the mastered level will create overload characteristics resulting in negligible to noticeable distortion heard when played from iTunes. The MFI analyzes the program and calculates the amount of volume the mastered program needs to be lowered to prevent distorted artifacts from iTunes. That is all it is.
This was damage control from Apple due to their below average iTunes program. Incidentally CD’s manufactured of said music are not MFIT. They are as the mastering engineer intended. These cds May have had issues with very old CD players. But otherwise playback fine. As well if you insert that cd into iTunes and imported it as lossless (WAV or AIFF) it will not have the same issue of distorted artifacts as their “lossless format”.