back to article Apple announces lossless HD audio at no extra cost, then Amazon Music does too. The ball is now in Spotify's court

Shots have been fired in the audiophile world as Apple announced today that lossless audio was on its way to the fruity firm's entire catalogue of 75 million songs. In a surprising move for customers accustomed to the company's usual methods of extracting cash from pockets, the upgraded sounds (due from next month) will not …

  1. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Yay!

    This is good news for music livers. Amazon's MP3s are prone to chirping and Apple's AACs have noticable low pass filtering. I can do without the studio 24 bits @ 192 kHz, though. My hearing isn't that good.

    1. Shardik

      Re: Yay!

      Mind you, actual Music Lovers would like to see the Artist getting a decent share of the streaming revenue.

      What this has really done is removed another selling point of the CD - better than streaming quality for those artists you Really Love. And that means lower income for artists.

      So yes, on one hand it’s good for the consumer and hard to compete with, but on the other hand it’s a cynical move to drive down the value in the music industry as a whole by a company that can afford to. They make better returns in ancillary hardware sales rather than paying the content creators.

      1. AW-S

        Re: Yay!

        The selling point of the CD is not only the quality but the fact you have a perpetual licence to play the music where and when you like.

        Charity shops are full of 1980-2000's CDs at around 20p per album. For something that doesn't degrade, that's where to spend.

        I picked up another 30 albums last Saturday..

        1. PeeKay

          Re: Yay!

          "Something that doesn't degrade"

          That's what the marketing people wanted us to believe. Real life sadly bites back though:

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disc_rot

          https://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2014/08/18/340716269/how-long-do-cds-last-it-depends-but-definitely-not-forever

          1. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

            Re: Yay!

            This is true. I started re-ripping my old CDs to replace MP3 with FLAC. Several CDs had delaminated. One CD exploded and turned the reader into a box of confetti.

          2. Annihilator Silver badge

            Re: Yay!

            Those of us of a certain age remember the Tomorrow's World special that showed us how indestructible and jam-proof CDs were going to be.

            https://www.orchardoo.com/TWCompactDisc.htm

            1. DuncanLarge

              Re: Yay!

              Well, they are.

              They really are.

              Its just most players/devices a lazy with the error correction. My blu-ray writer I recently discovered works miracles on heavily scratched CD's, even on a 1984 disc that HAS A HOLE IN IT!!

              Sure, CD error correction is nothing when compared to the error correction used in DVD, that thing is complex! But they really can take a beating.

              Its just the players that are supposed ti fix the issues are not doing a good job.

          3. DuncanLarge

            Re: Yay!

            That only happens in the edge cases.

            Unless it was a UK made disc in the 80's, which all came from a factory that was found to have a severe defect in he line. Those will rot.

            I have only had/seen 1 disc that has rotted, a cheap unknown brand CD-R, just one.

            Environmental factors play a big part. A hotter humid environment will attack the disc faster.

            I'm in the UK so don't have that issue. Well, not most of the year anyway.

            My oldest disc has damage from an impact. I scanned it recently, the C1 and C2 errors were well within the Red Book spec, till the damaged area obviously. I scanned a brand new disc and it was generally lower than the 1984 disc but not by much. Also the damaged area in the 1984 disc (its a hole in the reflective material) was fully repaired during playback by my bly-ray writer during ripping. I could only just tell that the repair had happened (you can slightly hear it). Normal CD players apply much less error correction and skip at that point.

            CD's when paired with decent full error correction are pretty resilient. even my Pink Floyd The Wall disc, that I found on the pavement in the 90's, used as a hokey puck by some kids, scratches all over the place, ripped flawlessly in that writer. I hadn't even tried resurfacing the disc!

            You just need the right device.

        2. Stanislav Bonita

          Re: Yay!

          - perpetual licence

          You mean, you own it.

          Stop with the marketing/lawyer speak.

          1. fung0

            Re: Yay!

            > You mean, you own it.

            > Stop with the marketing/lawyer speak.

            Actually, no, you don't really "own it." For instance, in many countries you have no right to back up a disc as a separate copy. Or to copy the contents to a central server in your home. (There was a huge fight over this with DVDs in the US. The company selling expensive home servers lost.) You also have no right to use the music commercially. We've even seen challenges to your right to resell the CDs that you 'own.'

            The way the rights work, you mostly own the perishable plastic part, but not the ineffably eternal content part. IP law is written by companies that make billions out of hoarding IP.

            1. jdiebdhidbsusbvwbsidnsoskebid Bronze badge

              Re: Yay!

              You still own it, in the sense that no one can take it away from you - unlike any streaming service that goes under, decides not to operate or otherwise remove your ability to contribute listening to the music that you only rent from them anyway.

              Owning the CD still doesn't give you the ability to do anything you want with it as other laws of your land may kick in. For instance, owning CD doesn't let you play the music publicly, or copy it and pass it off as your own work, or snap it into sharp pieces and stab someone in the neck with it. The last example is because that what I feel like doing to Google play music since I uploaded all my CDs and then it became the unusable piece of advertising-serving junk that is YouTube music.

            2. DuncanLarge

              Re: Yay!

              Fortunately, smart decent people who use common sense ignore it ;)

        3. Lazlo Woodbine

          Re: Yay!

          1) CDs do degrade, even when stored well they succumb to disc rot

          2) Buying from charity shops may be cheap, and helps the charity, but it does precisely bugger all to help the musicians, even the tiny fee they get from Spotify et al is better than the zero royalties from a second hand CD.

          1. Calum Morrison

            Re: Yay!

            On the other hand, the artist has been paid once for the original purchase - there's no real reason to pay them again. And that's coming from someone who still happily buys CDs direct from the artist and digital content from BandCamp.

          2. DuncanLarge

            Re: Yay!

            > precisely bugger all to help the musicians

            A lot of those CD's are out of print, the musiscians may not get anything anyway.

            The same argument can be said for second hand books, which obviously fails as second hand books have been a thing for a long long time.

            Instead of riding on the royalties of a couple of works, artists are supposed to be encouraged to create new works, constantly.

    2. JDPower666

      Re: Yay!

      It's irrelevant news for music lovers. If you love music and want anything other than major label factory produced pop to exist, you don't use streaming services regardless of how attractive they try to make it look.

    3. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Re: Yay!

      I can do without the studio 24 bits @ 192 kHz, though. My hearing isn't that good.

      Nobody has hearing that good. Or to quote the immortal Flanders and Swann: But I ought to please any passing bat...

      There *may* be an argument for 24-bit ADC but it rather suggests that the audio engineers didn't know their job (24 bits is fine inside the studio to permit better a better noise floor) but you are invited to calculate the voltage step change of a single bit and then consider the thermal noise in the resistors at the input of a practical domestic amplifier.

      192kHz though is pure and unadulterated marketing bullshit.

      1. ChipsforBreakfast

        Re: Yay!

        Converting an analog medium into a digital representation and then back to analog again is, to put it mildly, less than ideal.

        If you really want to hear it as it was live you need a good quality analog recording & quality playback equipment.

        Digital is convenient but it's always going to be a compromise.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Yay!

          Capturing it in analogue is a compromise too, unless you believe that all analogue media has infinite fidelity. The digital compromises are understood and demonstrably irrelevant to anyone but a passing bat.

        2. 142

          Re: Yay!

          Going from analogue source medium to analogue storage medium is way worse, to an absolutely comical degree.

          I guarantee any half-trained ear will hear the degradation between the analogue master tape source and any analogue storage medium it's put on.

          I wouldn't bet on any mastering engineer I've ever worked with reliably telling the difference between an analogue tape source and a playback of a 96kHz/24bit digital recording of that tape, in an A:B.

          Yes. Records often sound better than their digital counterparts. But that's down to idiocy by record labels. It's got nothing to do with digital conversion.

          1. Woodnag Silver badge

            Re: Yay!

            I am curious how material that was re-mastered for CD at 16 bit a good while ago is going to be 'converted to 24 bit' without remastering from the original. Stuff that has already been re-mastered for SACD is available, but the rest?

            1. 142

              Re: Yay!

              Depending on when the original digital remaster was, there's a decent chance the masters are actually stored at 24bit in a record company vault somewhere. For quite some time now, they tend to be printed at both resolutions during mastering, even if the record company doesn't release the 24bit or SACD versions.

              But in the Apple Music context, they won't be converting anything. On the highest tier, you'll get the highest res available for a given album, if that happens to just be CD quality, that, sadly is all you'll be provided. This is how the other providers handle this.

            2. DuncanLarge

              Re: Yay!

              > I am curious how material that was re-mastered for CD at 16 bit a good while ago is going to be 'converted to 24 bit' without remastering from the original. Stuff that has already been re-mastered for SACD is available, but the rest?

              It will sound exactly the same. The bits only affect where the noise floor is.

              However if they have methods to process the noise down to 24 bit level then yes, that would be an improvement. You wont hear it however, the CD @ 16 bits has the noise already way below where anyone will hear it. If you add dither to it, then it goes even lower!

              If you hear noise on a CD, then the original had that noise. Or something added it at AD conversion time. A 24 bit remaster wont sound better because its 24 bit, it may sound better because they were able to move or eliminate the noise. But if you take that 24 bit sample and convert it to 16, you wont hear the difference, unless the CD is a recording of pins dropping and you have to turn up the volume loads.

          2. Dom 3

            Re: Yay!

            30 years ago as part of a Mus. Tech course I had to produce a 1/4 inch 15 ips stereo master using Dolby A. As the content of the tape was irrelevant, we were told it was okay to record on to DAT and then transfer it. Quite a few of us did. And we all found that the analogue copy *sounded* nicer than the digital original, despite by definition being "degraded".

        3. nijam Silver badge

          Re: Yay!

          > Digital is convenient but it's always going to be a compromise.

          Sadly, the analogue processing used in studios is a noticeably worse compromise.

        4. rcxb Silver badge

          Re: Yay!

          Converting an analog medium into a digital representation and then back to analog again is, to put it mildly, less than ideal

          On the contrary, converting to digital is the only way to ensure you can perfectly reproduce the analogue signal.

          If you are doing digital sampling above the Nyquist rate (right about double the sound's highest frequency), the digitizing process is provably perfect. What the ADC input picks up will be the exact same waveform the CD spits back out. It's math.

          Digital media formats have error checking and correcting codes, which are not possible in the analogue realm. Analogue media just wears out imperceptible until it progressively becomes impossible to ignore.

        5. DuncanLarge

          Re: Yay!

          > Converting an analog medium into a digital representation and then back to analog again is, to put it mildly, less than ideal.

          > If you really want to hear it as it was live you need a good quality analog recording & quality playback equipment.

          > Digital is convenient but it's always going to be a compromise.

          No, this is plain wrong. CD quality audio or higher will record and reproduce the original waveform perfectly.

          I said PERFECTLY.

          The nyquist shannon theorem perfectly captures and reproduces a band limited signal (thats very important).

          All the signals we use are band limited, to human hearing, thus 44.1kHz @ 16 bit will reproduce the original waveform perfectly.

          Analogue recording methods cant do that. They simply cant, adding noise to the recording itself. The dynamic range of a cassette is only 6 bits deep, if you have a very good cassette. 6 bits is a lot lower than 16. Reel to reel can go deeper, but nowhere as deep as CD. Luckily for reel to reel, you dont need to go much deeper, CD really has a lot of unused dynamic range but more is better as it lowers the noise floor to below normal listening levels.

          All of the superiority of CD audio is entirely dependent on the analogue to digital conversion itself and the amplifiers etc. Again, all analogue stuff. The analogue stages, on the input or output can distort the source or add noise to the output. The CD will PERFECTLY reproduce the crap that is put into it via a crappy input and of course there is plenty of crappiness on the output, from cheap amplifiers to cheap transducers not to mention unsheilded cables that may pick up any of the EMI shit we all live in these days.

          Digital audio reproduces the original waveform, band limited to the human hearing range, an a minimum of 44,100kHz and with a bit depth of 16 bits has a noise floor lower than anything ever made in the analogue domain. We could even reduce the number of bits, it just raises the noise floor, thats all it does. We could use 6 or 8 bits and we will sound just as good as any nicely recorded tape.

          The character, warmth etc that everyone goes on about is nothing more than we noticing the imperfections added to the audio, during recording and playback. That why people like analogue, because it adds that imperfection. The great thing is, we can add that imperfection with the CD just by choosing devices that are not perfect, but we have a perfect original, every time.

          Of course, I am talking about lossless audio here. I have not even considered any lossy coded, no matter what the bitrate or where it becomes "transparent". There are plenty of codecs that will, while being lossy, produce a waveform that is perfect "to the ear".

          1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

            Re: Yay!

            In broadcasting, we used a back of the envelope calculation that said:

            - 16 bits = 96dB dynamic range

            - 12dB headroom

            - 11dB quantisation noise

            giving 96-23 = 73dB s/n ratio. Recent CDs tend to do without the headroom (or are processed to normalise the signal levels) which increases the s/n ratio accordingly.

            For comparison, the Studer A807 1/4" tape machine had a signal to noise ratio of between 50dB and 70dB, depending on tape speed (3.75ips to 15ips) and the number of tracks. Broadcasters tended to use 7.5ips for ephemeral recordings, and only the faster speed for things they expected to want to keep.

    4. DuncanLarge

      Re: Yay!

      > My hearing isn't that good

      Nobodies is.

      Only a bat would be able to hear anything that required that sample rate.

  2. NoneSuch Silver badge
    Devil

    The Only Loss...

    ...is felt in the pocketbook.

    My 320 Kbps MP3's have never sounded so good. :P

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Will they store the high end stuff on helium filled hard drives? I'm sure that will give a higher quality sonic experience, just like oxygen-free cables.

    (No, the data for the songs, not the signers themselves, so no danger of the music shifting up a few octaves).

    1. katrinab Silver badge
      Windows

      No, the helium would give you a weak tinny sound. You want cold air with a high moisture content for the richest sound transmission qualities. And obviously low oxygen copper with 24ct gold plating for the connectors.

      1. JDPower666

        Gold plated? That's so 1990s. Real audiophiles use rhodium plated.

      2. werdsmith Silver badge

        Using a non oxidising metal to coat contact conduction connector surfaces has always been a good idea and that’s why it’s used on edge connectors in many electronic applications. Could always use plain old copper just to please the sarcastic twats, and watch it go green and crackly in a few weeks.

    2. Martin Silver badge
      Happy

      Or even the singers...

  4. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Martin Silver badge
      Happy

      Really?

      If someone gets into my bank account or my Paypal account, they can nick my money.

      If someone gets into my Wordpress account, they could damage or destroy my website.

      If someone gets into my Spotify account, they can play my music...

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. idiot taxpayer here again

        @Martin

        And change your password

        And log you out

        And steal your payment method details

        And get your email address

        And get you telephone number and home address

        Need I go on?

        1. Martin Silver badge

          Fair enough. Though they can't get the payment method as it's blocked even from me.

    2. sabroni Silver badge

      re: An article on Spotify

      No, an article on high definition audio streaming.

      I notice you're not complaining about Amazon's mistreatment of their warehouse staff despite Amazon also being mentioned in the article. Are you sure you've got your priorities right?

  5. Charlie van Becelaere

    Yes, this -

    "Or maybe support your favourite artists by buying their stuff direct if possible?"

    As above: Yes, this.

  6. TheProf Silver badge
    Angel

    IT'S A TRAP!

    Actually it does sound like better quality streaming for no extra cost.

    I believe Apple also upgrade their video to 4K from 1080 too.

    Hold on.....It's Apple....IT'S A TRAP!

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. Natalie Gritpants Jr Silver badge

    Since it is lossless

    Can I record the stream to get a personal CD quality copy I can keep forever? How many can I stream in the free 3 months? Obviously I won't as that would breach copyright, I'm asking for a friend.

    1. Amentheist
      Thumb Up

      Re: Since it is lossless

      Yes it's called bandcamp and it's been around before this arms race started.

    2. Stanislav Bonita

      Re: Since it is lossless

      Well, you could, you know, like, buy the CD.

      Or if that's just too weird, some comment involving bittorrent and flac.

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: Since it is lossless

        I sometimes feel I'm the last person in the world who buys music only on CD...

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: Since it is lossless

          No you are not. I have CDs. 99% of the music I’ll ever want to listen to is on CD in my collection.

          I would have to be really stupid to pay some streaming service so that I can listen to it.

        2. MiguelC Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: Since it is lossless

          You're not.

        3. Natalie Gritpants Jr Silver badge

          Re: Since it is lossless

          If all you do with it is to play it in a CD player, yes you are the last person on earth to do that. When I buy a CD I rip it to FLAC so that I can enjoy it easily wherever I am. I'll buy lossless digital preferably as it's less damaging to the environment and this system from Apple and Amazon may provide a way to get it. I hate the idea of subscribing to music and the Apple/Amazon way may be subscription, so I'll be stuck buying plastic CDs.

          1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

            Re: Since it is lossless

            No, I buy 'em on CD and then I cheerfully rip... for use on any of my devices. Though the spinny plastic discs do get played through the decent speakers, from time to time.

          2. nick47

            Re: Since it is lossless

            Please explain how buying lossless digital is less damaging to the environment.

            1. Graham 32

              Re: Since it is lossless

              No plastic to be manufactured or delivered.

          3. DuncanLarge

            Re: Since it is lossless

            All I tend to use are CD players.

            Even the car has one.

        4. Steve Graham

          Re: Since it is lossless

          I was buying CDs up until last year. Now I've converted to downloads from Bandcamp or the artists' own website or label website. And, although FLAC is usually offered, I get the songs as high-bitrate MP3 because I know I can't tell the difference. But I've been in the studio with producers and engineers who can definitely hear stuff that I can't, so I wouldn't pooh-pooh lossless.

    3. 142

      Re: Since it is lossless

      It won't be convenient, but yes.

      This doesn't seem to be MQA-based, so there's no bullshit going on. It's just straight up lossless. So if you're on a Mac, just ensure Apple Music's output is at -0dBFS, and use loopback software like audiohijack or soundflower to route the audio into audacity or something, being sure to match the sample rates.

    4. idiot taxpayer here again

      Re: Since it is lossless

      @Natalie Gritpants Jr

      Yes you can. But to do so properly, I repeat, properly, it would cost you money so I won't waste my time telling you how

  8. HildyJ Silver badge
    Boffin

    The fruit giveth, the fruit taketh away

    Sites are reporting that Apple's lossless format is incompatible with their Bluetooth Airpods and the like.

    I don't know if Amazon will also be affected.

    1. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: The fruit giveth, the fruit taketh away

      Yes, because it is a limitation of bluetooth.

      1. Wade Burchette Silver badge

        Re: The fruit giveth, the fruit taketh away

        Yet another reason why wired headphones are always superior to the wireless ones with non-replaceable batteries. Every device that can play music should be required to have a headphone jack.

        1. Phil Kingston

          Re: The fruit giveth, the fruit taketh away

          The 2000's called and want their earbuds back

          1. Roland6 Silver badge

            Re: The fruit giveth, the fruit taketh away

            1984 called and demo'd a Sony Walkman CD player complete with wire connected headphones.

            Once again it seems we are back to comparing the audio quality of D-A convertors. The question is whether the D-A in your phone really is any better than the one in the Sony Walkman...

        2. Calum Morrison

          Re: The fruit giveth, the fruit taketh away

          Always superior? Not when I'm out running they're not.

      2. fung0

        Re: The fruit giveth, the fruit taketh away

        Currently, AFAIK, all BT wireless headphones require lossy (re)compression of your music, on the fly. Some of the codecs are better than others, but you can imagine that compressing music in realtime - especially on a feeble smartphone CPU - is going to involve some compromise.

        Starting with FLAC would be bad enough, since what you hear will no longer in any sense be "lossless." But starting with something like MP3 has to be worse, since lossy re-compression of a lossy recording escalates the loss.

        1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

          Re: The fruit giveth, the fruit taketh away

          Ah, but surely that's infinitely preferable to those nasty old-fashioned wired headphones, right? I mean, I don't think I've *ever* seen headphones with unidirectional oxygen free copper leads (and to be honest, I haven't looked; I'd like to maintain some sort of nice idea about humanity).

          (I recall discussions with other BBC engineers forty years ago, lamenting that after all we did to get a nice bandwidth minimum noise signal leaving the studio, people were on the whole listening to it after a 300-3k4Hz bandwidth limitation (AM) on tinny transistor radios (seven transistors, look, count 'em, even if one or two are rejects and just don't do anything...))

        2. katrinab Silver badge

          Re: The fruit giveth, the fruit taketh away

          It is possible, at least with some setups, to stream the mp3 or aac file directly over bluetooth.

          The recording studio might have done a better job of mastering the compressed file, so it is possible, in some circumstances, that a compressed file might sound better over bluetooth than an uncompressed file.

  9. Red Ted Silver badge
    FAIL

    Just because you have the bandwidth…

    …it doesn’t mean you need to fill it.

    While you can over compress, there are settings that still give really good quality at a significant compression.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Just because you have the bandwidth…

      Indeed. I’ve ruined my ears from years of weekend nights standing with 4x12 cabs behind me. I wear monitor earpiece and ear protection now. But it’s too late for me to enjoy audiophiles sound. However, I still really enjoy my music, I don’t think I’ve lost anything in that respect. It’s really weird how people obsess of it, like people who ejaculate over “true black” on a TV. Sad sacks.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Just because you have the bandwidth…

        Different people have different tolerances for, eg, smudgy windscreens or spectacles, just as they do for music that sounds slightly fuzzy, or TVs that glow grey when the scene should look like a Joseph Wright of Derby oil painting.

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: Just because you have the bandwidth…

          he don't glow grey. In a darkened room with the brightness turned up they look a bit charcoal when compared to a matt black pantone swatch. For watching TV people don't scrutinise detail, or they are missing the content.

  10. techulture

    Misguided effort, compared to Bluetooth connection strength and codecs

    They should settle for 48 kHz and 24 bits in consumer formats, which is more than enough even for wired listening, and instead direct the attention of consumers and device makers to the Bluetooth limitations.

    (Even before the loudness race, 16 bits were just fine, but sure let's splurge. 44,1 kHz used to impact low-pass filtering, so 48 kHz is a reasonable upgrade.)

    1. DuncanLarge

      Re: Misguided effort, compared to Bluetooth connection strength and codecs

      > 44,1 kHz used to impact low-pass filtering

      Many if not most players use oversampling to go way beyond 48kHz to solve that very issue.

      My 90's CD player is a 6x oversampling one for example, upsampling the 44.1kHz to 264.6 kHz, which is then used with shaped dither to push the quantisation noise above human hearing, dropping he noise floor thus increasing the dynamic range from 96dB to around 116 dB.

      You can get away with a very gentle filter with that. You just need to have removed most frequency content that the speakers will have trouble with.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can you tell the difference?

    Just try this test: https://www.npr.org/sections/therecord/2015/06/02/411473508/how-well-can-you-hear-audio-quality

    1. Korev Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: Can you tell the difference?

      NPR block access unless you accept their trackers...

    2. Stuart Halliday
      WTF?

      Re: Can you tell the difference?

      Damn it. I keep picking the mp3 version!

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Can you tell the difference?

        >Damn it. I keep picking the mp3 version!

        That's probably because that is the sound your ears have become used to.

    3. Tim99 Silver badge
      Megaphone

      Re: Can you tell the difference?

      I'm surprised, I am elderly and have mild brain damage that affects my hearing, I could tell.

      It is not as though I played it through Hi-Fi either (Apple 21.5 iMac, internal speakers!). Admittedly I used to go to live concerts, and have a "golden eared" wife (Linn LP12/Naim, until we had to sell it after the brain damage) - Are people just used to crap and that is what they are comfortable with?

      This might explain why I'm struggling to get a retailer to take back an upmarket TV with a "Hi-Fi Quality sound bar" which sounds awful - Most of our elderly friends agree, one said it sounds like you are in a cinema or a "home theatre" (and not in a good way), but younger people seem to think it is OK. A quick test with white noise shows a lumpy response in the human vocal range with a fast high frequency drop off, interestingly, connecting decent quality speakers to the analogue output shows a similar effect, so it seems it is the audio amp.

      >>=========> Because that is what the TV sounds like...

      1. 142

        Re: Can you tell the difference?

        If you get no joy from the infernal retailer, try and see if you can boost 6kHz on the TV's eq. It might help even if the rest of the freq response is awful.

        A quite severe and narrow notch that develops at that frequency in people's hearing responses as they get older tends to be the one most related to speech intelligibility differences vs younger people. (Without enough 6kHz, things like 's' and 'f' sound the same, etc).

  12. Phil Kingston

    Wonder if Google will follow suit. Or just shut down YouTube Music early

  13. Stuart Halliday
    Alert

    Anyone care to speculate late why they're doing this?

  14. Annihilator Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Buy the music/film

    There are two reasons to buy music/films rather than rely on streaming services:

    1) The KLF factor - they decided to delete their catalogue, so no longer exist unless you own the CD. There will be bands in the future that choose to do this, including your favourite band today.

    2) The Lucas/Spielberg factor - constant "re-imaginings" of the catalogue, to the point that Greedo shoots first, ET halloween costumes are of "hippies", and federal agents are now armed with walkie-talkies.

    1. Someone Else Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Buy the music/film

      3) Infinite "remastering", where some microdosing Phil Specter-wanabee is convinced that s/he can better understand and produce the "vision" of <insert name of favorite artist> better than <insert name of favorite artist> ever could.

    2. DuncanLarge

      Re: Buy the music/film

      > Spielberg factor

      Does he avoid putting out the older versions like Lucas then?

      I have no issue with edits and recuts etc until you get Lucas saying that the latest version is the ONLY version and anything you have thats older should be trashed and he would live to come and trash it for you.

      1. Annihilator Silver badge

        Re: Buy the music/film

        On the streaming platforms it would be inevitable, and that's my point - there's likely going to be one version available to stream, and it'll be the latest version. So unless you've bought it, you're watching the version Netflix etc deem correct. It's unlikely they'll be offering you 5 different versions to choose from.

  15. Colin Wilson 2

    Snake Oil?

    Almost no one can tell the difference between well encoded music at the 256kbps AAC format that Apple currently use, and 'lossless'.

    So this could all be snake-oil

    But it's the 'well encoded' bit that's the important thing. At the moment a lot of Apple Music is poorly ripped. If I compare the same album streamed from Apple Music to one I've ripped myself from a CD to the same AAC 256k, the difference is often night and day - especially with classical.

    So hopefully in re-encoding Apple Music to a higher bitrate format, they will also take the opportunity to sort out their sometimes dreadful encoding quality.

    It'll also be interesting to see what they do with their headphones. None of their existing wireless ones will play anything apart from AAC 256k. I can't see them adopting aptx. No one would be able to hear the difference, but I can't believe that Marketing would let them get away with not having a Hi-Res wireless solution...

  16. sean.fr

    Limited online outlets to buy.

    If you want to buy music - hit singles - track by track - in an open format - so you can freely copy and move between devices, other than Amazon there are few options.

    7digital is one. They do offer loses.

    But as no-one has hear of 7digital, I guess it is not a big selling point.

  17. knandras

    Tidal?

    If you want Spotify, but in lossless, then listen to Tidal. Same UI, ~same collection of songs, same price, (subjective) better sound quality. At least on my modest USB DAC + Headphones combo, the Tidal stream has a bit wider soundstage, and doesn't sound as flat as Spotify's output.

    1. PEBCAK

      Re: Tidal?

      I agree re: Tidal. They do something called "master" quality (same quality as the master tapes, or close to) and I think the catalogue is actually larger than Spotify's. Also, they claim to pay the highest ratio of royalties vs revenues to music creators of any streaming service. They also do videos with Atmos encoding. Though only having two ears, I personally prefer to listen to music in boring old stereo.

  18. DuncanLarge

    Lol, round the bend

    Funny.

    We got CD, ignoring issues with the actual recording, issues with lazy mastering and issues with the listeners equipment, CD give us perfect audio, lossless (albeit only stereo). Some improvements made here and there, oversampling being the main one and boom, perfect high res audio. barring the issues stated, which are beyond the scope of any playback medium to control.

    Then we got MP3, which threw away loads of audio to compress the audio from something like a CD to something that the fledgling home internet could stand to distribute. Also there was the move to solid sate devices but I'm not considering that considering my first MP3 player held only 32MB which a CD simply laughed at.

    We got other codecs etc, then we got faster internet and capacious solid state devices that could happily hold an uncompressed CD track, if not a flac track.

    We have gone from lossless perfect audio (no, there are NO stair-steps, NO phase issues, there is only aliasing which was resolved by the 90's with oversampling), prefect because it perfectly reproduces any human hear able frequency (yes, you in the back, that DOES include multiple frequencies mixed together and the harmonics, if a HUMAN can hear it then its perfectly reproducible by CD technology) with a dynamic range that if used fully would make the listener deaf! We even extend that dynamic range further, just because we can, for just a little better noise management.

    We then went to lossy audio.

    Now we are back with lossless audio. Funny that, we were already there. Ok, people wanted it in their pocket and the tech we had took a while to outperform a CD, but now instead of just sitting back and enjoying a ripped CD or non-ripped one, we have those who think the CD is lossy, that it is not perfect. So off they go wasting bandwidth and storage space buying 192kHz sample rate files with no understanding that EVERY player will oversample to something as high if not higher than that, on the fly, at playback. My 90's CD player has 6x oversampling, that means it will up-sample the 44.1kHz audio to 264.6kHz.

    Why? Well what they dont know is that there is NO audio supplied in the 192kHz file above 22kHz or so, which is stored exactly the same as on a CD, just with more samples, which are surplus. The reason why we oversample, on the fly at playback is because we can then move the quantisation noise above the 22kHz limit. We need the higher sampling rate to hold that JUNK audio above 22kHz, otherwise it will appear under 22kHz as aliasing/distortion. EVERYTHIG above 22kHz CAN NOT be heard and CANT be reproduced by speakers/hadphones etc. To prevent that JUNK noise from being a problem and distorting the audio because the dumb speaker will TRY to reproduce the waveform, we filter it out!

    Oversampling is thus the method used since 90's CD players to push artificial quantisation noise above the human hearing range, we do this by ADDING in shaped noise (dither) that the player generates. The higher sampling rate thus allows for a filter design which is very simple and effective. The older CD players tried to filter HARD at 44.1kHz but they are never perfect and making them so was expensive. By oversampling, or even just jumping to 48kHz like with DVD audio, we can have a much better and cheaper filter. Its all filtered out above 22kHz or so and what was there was SHIT that you dont need.

    All of this is done during playback, on the fly. Its merely maths and you only need a 44.1kHz sample rate to do it. Selling people "hi-res" audio is nothing more than selling people an ALREADY OVERSAMPLED file. The player does not need assistance, it can do it on the fly. There is no effing reason why the hell anyone would want to store such a file (for playback, recording and editing have other benefits here). For playback the final sellable file need never, ever to be at a sample rate greater than 44.1kHz or 48kHz. The player will create the 192kHz version on the fly during playback, no storage or bandwidth needed.

    Hi-res is snake oil. A reason to have fast broadband, a reason to pay again, a reason to get a player with the same kind of "wank features" that used to be put all over CD players.

    It a wank feature.

    Unfortunately, to help force you to purchase the wank feature the mastering of the CD version is left to the idiots whilst the "hi-res" version is given the care that should have been there in the first place! The CD version thus sounds shit because they made it sound like shit so you get the hi-res version and bingo, the sucker now thinks he/she is hearing "hi-res" and that CD's sounded like shit all this time.

    So, everyone. Lets be clear. Anyone thinking the hi-res version sounds better is only correct because:

    1. They THINK they hear the difference.

    2. The recording is a newer better one

    3. The CD was mastered shitty

    There are no other reasons. Its all down to the quality of the source material and mastering.

    So buy the hi-res ones if you know thats the better recording/mastering etc. Then do the smart thing and downconvert it all back to 44.1kHz and save the space. It wont sound any different, in any way.

    1. Weeble

      Re: Lol, round the bend

      Is this oversampling, of which you speak, limited only to dedicated hardware CD Players, or does it also happen inside one's phone when listening to a streaming service? Or, for that matter, when playing ripped files on a PC using a software media player?

      I am reminded of an Amstrad joke from back in the day:

      The techs are demonstrating the new all-in-one to Alan Sugar...

      AMS: Frankly lads, I can't tell the difference between the CD and the LP.

      Techs: Easily fixed sir, we'll degrade the LP sound a bit more.

    2. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

      Re: Lol, round the bend

      CD oversampling is a method of anti-aliasing, nothing more. A sharp-edged digital anti-aliasing filter is trivial and requires only a faster D-A converter, a few bytes of memory, and simple math. A comparable quality filter in analog is nearly impossible due to the precision of components that would be needed.

      A CD would make screechy hissing noises with no anti-aliasing. It's the nature of running the sample rate so close to the Nyquist rate

      192 kHz 24 bit recordings are used during editing to increase the dynamic range and robustness while applying heavy processing.

      1. DuncanLarge

        Re: Lol, round the bend

        >CD oversampling is a method of anti-aliasing, nothing more. A sharp-edged digital anti-aliasing

        Yes, thats EXACTLY what I said!

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021