Amazon Music HD - major external DAC frustrations and limitations

Jules Tohpipi

Active Member
The Quest
Listen to Amazon Music HD and Ultra HD via a digital input (e.g. a DAC or digital input on an amplifier) ... whilst... wait for it... preserving the original Amazon streamed bit depth and sampling rate.

My quest has been mostly fruitless so far, even though my DAC accepts digital signals up to 24 bit and 96kHz (and will report the incoming sampling rate)

The Issues
These are in no particular order. All in the context of transferring a digital signal to a DAC.

1. Amazon Music HD app on iPhone
- Chromecast Audio: The CCA refuses to appear in the devices list hence casting from the Amazon app is not an option. Spotify casts fine to my CCA at 44.1kHz

- AirPlay on Apple TV: Amazon states AirPlay is constrained to a 16-bit signal max, so you can forget about Ultra HD. You can also forget about 44.1kHz because all Apple TVs (for example) output everything at 48kHz

2. Amazon Music HD desktop player (for Windows computers)
- Zero AirPlay or Casting options as far as I can see
- Suppose I could use a digital cable to my DAC but my laptop doesn't have a digital output - nor do I want to use a cable

3. Amazon Music Web Player
- When using the Amazon web player all mention of HD or Ultra HD disappears from the interface. So what you are hearing is your guess!

- Used in Chrome browser, this allows me to cast to the Chromecast Audio. But there's glitching every few seconds and the DAC reports all tracks at 48kHz (not 44.1kHz)

SUCCESS! (sort of, maybe not)

4. Amazon Music HD app on Android

My work gives me some Android phone thing, so in complete desperation I installed the Amazon Music app on it.
- Yes, I can cast to the CCA at 44.1kHz (as reported by the DAC). Hurrah!

- But it won't cast at Ultra HD quality. Try that and the yellow Ultra HD symbol in Amazon's own app gives you a little wink and drops down to 'HD' instead. But HD might actually mean SD if you read here.

Conclusion
Well, I'm a bit lost really. Had been hoping it was going to just work. Was looking forward to listening to Ultra HD. The above has somewhat taken the sheen off the otherwise good news from Amazon.
 
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NYCFCFan

Active Member
I just got the Amazon New Music HD and wondering if I am using the BT on LG SL10YG soundbar via iPhone 11 Pro Max am I getting the 24 bit 96 or just the 16 bit ?..
 

Fergal82

Well-known Member
I think the bluesound nodes are supporting this? I read that Bluesound have just released an update to allow streaming of Amazon hd.
 

NYCFCFan

Active Member
Found this on Mac forum:

Most iPhones and iPads released since 2014 (devices running on iOS 11, or later) can support HD/Ultra HD (up to 24-bit, 48kHz) without any additional equipment.
Noticed it doesn't mention 24-bit, 96 khz.
 

Fergal82

Well-known Member
I’m guessing whatever you’re streaming to has to support amazon hd as well although I’m not entirely sure
 

Jules Tohpipi

Active Member
Found this on Mac forum:

Most iPhones and iPads released since 2014 (devices running on iOS 11, or later) can support HD/Ultra HD (up to 24-bit, 48kHz) without any additional equipment.
Noticed it doesn't mention 24-bit, 96 khz.
That's true for listening using the iPhone's internal speaker - but it's a much more complicated matter if trying to listen via another device like a DAC or wireless headphones.
 

Dune

Active Member
I have an audioquest dragonfly USB Dac. Plug it into the iPad and amazon music reports the device capability as 24 bit 48khz which it (the Dac) isn’t, it will do 24 bit 96khz.

So Amazon is reporting the capability of the iPad, not the Dac.

If I use the Onkyo music player app with the audioquest and play some high res tracks downloaded onto the iPad I get the full 96khz.

So for example I have a copy of David Bowie’s Hunky Dory album which is 192khz 24 bit. I have the Onkyo app configured to downsample anything greater than 96khz to that and that is what the Dac reports as what it is receiving.

Play the same album on Amazon music and the best it will do is 24/48 despite the album being “ultra hd”. 192/24.

I have a quobuz subscription and their iPad app will also send 96khz music files to the Dac @ 96kz (and also downsamples 192khz to 96khz automatically).

So it seems when using an iPad, the Amazon music app is pretty dumb compared to other apps that can send what Amazon terms ultra HD out full fat when the Amazon app can’t. It is seemingly unaware a Dac is connected to the iPad whereas the other apps are not.

Note I am using an iPad Pro with USB C socket and connect the Dac via a suitable short USB A to USB C cable (ironically an Amazon Basics one which which works fine with the Dac and the non-Amazon apps).
 

martin 39

Active Member
Arcam SonLink DAC for Sonos Zone Players I'm using this to my arcam avr 400 no idea how I find out what sound quality I am getting
 

larkone

Well-known Member
Arcam SonLink DAC for Sonos Zone Players I'm using this to my arcam avr 400 no idea how I find out what sound quality I am getting
By listening to it - trust in your ears.
 

Jules Tohpipi

Active Member
Sorry it’s an echo link @ £190

Thank you very much for the suggestion. I looked into it. But thwarted again because the Echo Link support page says the following:

Amazon.com Help: About Playing Music with Echo Link or Echo Link Amp

Supported Digital Connection Formats
  • Digital Audio Inputs (optical TOSLINK and coaxial RCA) - Uncompressed PCM audio (16bit/44.1, 48, 88.2 or 96kHz)
  • Digital Audio Output (optical TOSLINK and coaxial RCA) - 16bit/48kHz Uncompressed PCM stereo
From the above it would seem:

- The Echo Link is restricted to 16-bit only and cannot support any Ultra HD music i.e. no 24-bit via its digital inputs or output

- The Echo Link cannot output a proper HD signal either i.e. 44.1kHz. Instead the sampling frequency gets shifted to 48kHz
 

Fergal82

Well-known Member
Thank you very much for the suggestion. I looked into it. But thwarted again because the Echo Link support page says the following:

Amazon.com Help: About Playing Music with Echo Link or Echo Link Amp

Supported Digital Connection Formats
  • Digital Audio Inputs (optical TOSLINK and coaxial RCA) - Uncompressed PCM audio (16bit/44.1, 48, 88.2 or 96kHz)
  • Digital Audio Output (optical TOSLINK and coaxial RCA) - 16bit/48kHz Uncompressed PCM stereo
From the above it would seem:

- The Echo Link is restricted to 16-bit only and cannot support any Ultra HD music i.e. no 24-bit via its digital inputs or output

- The Echo Link cannot output a proper HD signal either i.e. 44.1kHz. Instead the sampling frequency gets shifted to 48kHz
Yeah it seems a bit of a non starter. I wonder if it will be updated in the future to support uhd?

seems crazy that amazon don’t have a device to support streaming of their uhd music. Although I understand they have a new speaker coming out soon which will
 

hyde1969

Standard Member
Yes it is very strange indeed. I also am very frustrated trying to get the most out of this service. I have a denon dnp-800ne streamer which supports upto 24bit/192khz. Now I can use the HEOS app on my phone which plays everything fine, but the heos app is very clunky and frustrating to use. I decided to enable the HEOS 'skill' on my echo device and linked it to my denon as the main speaker so by asking alexa to play something it uses my denon feeding into my pioneer VSX-LX70. But it seems going this route is just the same as casting and limits the output to standard quality. Seriously what are Amazon thinking of,,they release a premium music service with very limited use...I am hoping that they get chromecasting sorted very soon so I can just use amazons own app to select and send 'Ultra HD' music to my denon ….fingers crossed
 

ReekyDrop

Novice Member
I'm hoping they iron out these issues by time the 90 day trial ends then I know if I want to stick or go back to Tidal and spend 8 quid extra 😊
 

Jokerr

Well-known Member
I received the Audioquest Cobalt yesterday which includes a 2 month TIDAL HIFI subscription.
Plugged into my iPadPro and using Focal Clear headphones - I did the following A/B tests, again and again:

1. Diana Krall - Album = "The Look of Love".
- Amazon Music HD = 24bit/96KHz.
- Tidal HIFI = Master.
I verify these are output by the colour led on the Cobalt = light blue and purple.


2. Album = "Ready Player One = movie soundtrack".
- Amazon Music HD = 24bit/96KHz.
- Tidal HIFI = Master.
I verify these are output by the colour led on the Cobalt = light blue and purple.


Based on my A/B testing to me TIDAL HIFI for the above tracks and format sounds:
- just that little bit sweeter.
- less harsh.
- just a little more depth.

if i did a blind test I probably could not be able to tell the difference, but because i was deliberating doing A/B in 10 second clips I could hear the above 3 areas of advantage to TIDAL.


In addition to the above test I also tried a 24bit/44.1KHz Album which Amazon is going to upsample to 96KHz.

For this format vs TIDAL MASTER there is a big difference. The TIDAL MASTER sounds much better, so the upsampling by Amazon is rubbish.

Basically for my experience Amazon Tracks in actual 24bit/96KHz are quite good, but every thing else is upsampled and I will not listen to it.

Like others noted on this thread, maybe Amazon will fix it.
If reminds me of when AppleTV4k was first released and everything was forced into HDR, people complained and within 8 weeks Apple fixed it with firmware and feature update.
 

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