Bluesound Node 2i: Apple Lossless Airplay Vs Spotify Connect?

ahaydock

Active Member
As the title says really curious to know technically which would sound better when using my Node 2i: Apple lossless via airplay using my iPhone or Spotify Connect?
 

ItsNotAllSnakeOil

Active Member
I would say Apple Lossless via Airplay as it is going to be 16/44 or 24/48 vs 320Kbps on Spotify. I use airplay to my Node 2i and it sounds good.
 

Cebolla

Member
Unfortunately, Apple Music lossless via AirPlay is a mess, especially via AirPlay 2 (as supported by the Node 2i):
  • Both the original AirPlay and AirPlay 2 are limited to streaming lossless audio, using the ALAC audio encoding, fixed at CD-res, ie, 16bit/44.1kHz. So the audio from Apple Music's lossless hi-res 24bit/48kHz tracks won't get transmitted bit perfectly via AirPlay as they will be downsampled to match the fixed 16bit/44.1kHz resolution;
  • Unlike original AirPlay, AirPlay 2 also has the option to stream using bandwidth saving but lossy AAC audio encoding at 256kbps. Whether lossless ALAC at 16bit/44.1kHz or lossy 256kbps AAC is chosen for the AirPlay 2 audio stream is down to the sending app. Unfortunately, for some reason Apple have got the Apple Music app to only use lossy AAC, not lossless ALAC, for AirPlay 2 devices (so that includes the Node 2i) :eek:.

For further info, see:

So, until Apple sort out AirPlay 2 being forced to use lossy 256kbps AAC by the Apple Music app, with the Node 2i you're probably better off using Spotify via Spotify Connect's lossy 320kbps Ogg Vorbis rather than Apple Music lossless via AirPlay 2's lossy 256kbps AAC.

Plus, even if they sound more or less the same to you, with Spotify Connect you can switch the iPhone off and the music will carry on playing to the end of the playlist as it streams directly from Spotify's online server. That's not possible with AirPlay, since the iPhone acts as the go between.
 
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ItsNotAllSnakeOil

Active Member
Unfortunately, Apple Music lossless via AirPlay is a mess, especially via AirPlay 2 (as supported by the Node 2i):
  • Both the original AirPlay and AirPlay 2 are limited to streaming lossless audio, using the ALAC audio encoding, fixed at CD-res, ie, 16bit/44.1kHz. So the audio from Apple Music's lossless hi-res 24bit/48kHz tracks won't get transmitted bit perfectly via AirPlay as they will be downsampled to match the fixed 16bit/44.1kHz resolution;
  • Unlike original AirPlay, AirPlay 2 also has the option to stream using bandwidth saving but lossy AAC audio encoding at 256kbps. Whether lossless ALAC at 16bit/44.1kHz or lossy 256kbps AAC is chosen for the AirPlay 2 audio stream is down to the sending app. Unfortunately, for some reason Apple have got the Apple Music app to only use lossy AAC, not lossless ALAC, for AirPlay 2 devices (so that includes the Node 2i) :eek:.

For further info, see:

So, until Apple sort out AirPlay 2 being forced to use lossy 256kbps AAC by the Apple Music app, with the Node 2i you're probably better off using Spotify via Spotify Connect's lossy 320kbps Ogg Vorbis rather than Apple Music lossless via AirPlay 2's lossy 256kbps AAC.

Plus, even if they sound more or less the same to you, with Spotify Connect you can switch the iPhone off and the music will carry on playing to the end of the playlist as it streams directly from Spotify's online server. That's not possible with AirPlay, since the iPhone acts as the go between.
My ears must be deceiving me then as I swear Apple Music via Airplay still sounds better than Spotify. You’re right about using the phone as the go between, it’s the same reason I bought a Node in the first place I.e Play-Fi is shocking.
 

indus

Distinguished Member
Unfortunately, Apple Music lossless via AirPlay is a mess, especially via AirPlay 2 (as supported by the Node 2i):
  • Both the original AirPlay and AirPlay 2 are limited to streaming lossless audio, using the ALAC audio encoding, fixed at CD-res, ie, 16bit/44.1kHz. So the audio from Apple Music's lossless hi-res 24bit/48kHz tracks won't get transmitted bit perfectly via AirPlay as they will be downsampled to match the fixed 16bit/44.1kHz resolution;
  • Unlike original AirPlay, AirPlay 2 also has the option to stream using bandwidth saving but lossy AAC audio encoding at 256kbps. Whether lossless ALAC at 16bit/44.1kHz or lossy 256kbps AAC is chosen for the AirPlay 2 audio stream is down to the sending app. Unfortunately, for some reason Apple have got the Apple Music app to only use lossy AAC, not lossless ALAC, for AirPlay 2 devices (so that includes the Node 2i) :eek:.

For further info, see:

So, until Apple sort out AirPlay 2 being forced to use lossy 256kbps AAC by the Apple Music app, with the Node 2i you're probably better off using Spotify via Spotify Connect's lossy 320kbps Ogg Vorbis rather than Apple Music lossless via AirPlay 2's lossy 256kbps AAC.

Plus, even if they sound more or less the same to you, with Spotify Connect you can switch the iPhone off and the music will carry on playing to the end of the playlist as it streams directly from Spotify's online server. That's not possible with AirPlay, since the iPhone acts as the go between.

Thanks.
There is some very confusing info out there regarding AP1/AP2 and lossless.
According to this article you can get lossless via AP1 and AP2.


I'd be interested in your thoughts on this article.

Thanks
 

ItsNotAllSnakeOil

Active Member
Unfortunately, Apple Music lossless via AirPlay is a mess, especially via AirPlay 2 (as supported by the Node 2i):
  • Both the original AirPlay and AirPlay 2 are limited to streaming lossless audio, using the ALAC audio encoding, fixed at CD-res, ie, 16bit/44.1kHz. So the audio from Apple Music's lossless hi-res 24bit/48kHz tracks won't get transmitted bit perfectly via AirPlay as they will be downsampled to match the fixed 16bit/44.1kHz resolution;
  • Unlike original AirPlay, AirPlay 2 also has the option to stream using bandwidth saving but lossy AAC audio encoding at 256kbps. Whether lossless ALAC at 16bit/44.1kHz or lossy 256kbps AAC is chosen for the AirPlay 2 audio stream is down to the sending app. Unfortunately, for some reason Apple have got the Apple Music app to only use lossy AAC, not lossless ALAC, for AirPlay 2 devices (so that includes the Node 2i) :eek:.

For further info, see:

So, until Apple sort out AirPlay 2 being forced to use lossy 256kbps AAC by the Apple Music app, with the Node 2i you're probably better off using Spotify via Spotify Connect's lossy 320kbps Ogg Vorbis rather than Apple Music lossless via AirPlay 2's lossy 256kbps AAC.

Plus, even if they sound more or less the same to you, with Spotify Connect you can switch the iPhone off and the music will carry on playing to the end of the playlist as it streams directly from Spotify's online server. That's not possible with AirPlay, since the iPhone acts as the go between.
So even though the Apple Music app is stating 16/44.1, via Airplay it is still downsampling it to 256k?
 

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Cebolla

Member
Thanks.
There is some very confusing info out there regarding AP1/AP2 and lossless.
According to this article you can get lossless via AP1 and AP2.


I'd be interested in your thoughts on this article.

Thanks
That's one of the article's I referenced for further info in my last post, so not sure what thoughts you require, other than the 2 points I made in that post. Bear in mind, I was replying specifically to the OP's case regarding AirPlay and the iPhone (iOS) version of the Apple Music app providing its lossless tracks.

For more general information regarding the handling of lossless audio via AirPlay 1 or AirPlay 2 from any audio producing application running from either a Mac or an iOS device, then the following results from various tests mentioned in that article shows the situation quite clearly, I believe:
1631018586609.png


1631018703188.png


1631019588733.png
 

Cebolla

Member
So even though the Apple Music app is stating 16/44.1, via Airplay it is still downsampling it to 256k?

Yes - if by 'AirPlay' you mean specifically AirPlay 2, not original AirPlay (1). Plus, strictly speaking, preparation for streaming via AirPlay 2 involves encoding the LPCM audio output resulting from the Apple Music app decoding & playing the 16bit/44.1kHz resolution ALAC encoded (lossless) file track, using lossy AAC at a bitrate of 256kbps, rather than 'downsampling it to 256k' (the sample rate of the lossy compressed 256kbps AAC encoded audio streamed by AirPlay 2 remains at 44.1kHz).

Please carefully read those two articles I linked to for info regarding the Apple Music iOS app currently only using 256kbps AAC for AirPlay 2.
 
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