Question What is my best equipment option to stream Amazon music HD and 'Ultra HD'?

Zaphod79

Novice Member
Hi, I need a bit of help deciding the optimal way for me to do this. I have been doing some research but don't have a satisfactory conclusion yet.

For my main stereo I have a Yamaha musiccast WXC-50 with a Roksan kandy ka1 L3 powering Kef LS50s. I also use a rega planet CD and have an arcam rdac, although not currently using it due to an intermittent issue which I think is probably the power supply. I also often group the yamaha with 1 or 2 other musiccast devices.

I want the convenience of a streaming service and I like a lot about Spotify and use it on my phone, in the car and at work. I also use it a lot through the main system at home, except when I spoil myself by putting on a CD. The trouble, of course, is the bitrate from Spotify and I want more for my main system. Unfortunately the yamaha doesn't support Amazon music. I've tried Tidal a couple of times but the integration on the yamaha is terrible and I don't want to have to use my laptop (although the rdac does have asynchronous USB).

So the yamaha has 24/192 support but no amazon integration and I was looking at maybe getting the echo link. This has coax and optical digital in and outs so I could run it through the arcam, which should be better than the dac in the echo, but I think the digital output from the link is throttled to 16/44 despite it's own dac managing 24/96 (I think). I imagine analogue output of a 190 quid amazon own brand streamer would be pretty rotten so I don't really want to just plug it in to the amp. I also don't want to spend another £500 on a bluesound node 2i or similar so my question is: what are my options for streaming at least 24/96 (preferably 24/192) to my amp without spending several hundred pounds? How are other people streaming Amazon HD/'ULTRA HD'? Thanks.
 

muljao

Well-known Member
 

muljao

Well-known Member
Are you on most up to date firmware
 

muljao

Well-known Member
That's a shame. Is it on the wxad10? They are less than 150 quid
 

Zaphod79

Novice Member
That's a shame. Is it on the wxad10? They are less than 150 quid
Nope. Not on that either. The echo link would work but throttled to cd quality, which is still better than Spotify but would be a shame. I'm sire the optimal thing to do is try and sell the wxc50 and my rdac and get something new. I love buying new boxes but christmas/new boiler/gf suggest I can't really afford to. Lol. I was just wondering if anyone had a bright idea I hadn't thought of.
 

muljao

Well-known Member
If you use apple I think airplay does cd quality to yamaha also
 

Jules Tohpipi

Well-known Member
Nope. Not on that either. The echo link would work but throttled to cd quality, which is still better than Spotify but would be a shame. I'm sire the optimal thing to do is try and sell the wxc50 and my rdac and get something new. I love buying new boxes but christmas/new boiler/gf suggest I can't really afford to. Lol. I was just wondering if anyone had a bright idea I hadn't thought of.

There are no bright ideas that you haven't yet thought of. Amazon has made a service that you can't access its full potential properly unless you pay a fortune for a Bluesound box or the like. Just check out Amazon's own Music HD forum to see the time people have wasted trying to find hardware it will work on. Amazon has done next to nothing to address any of the complaints.

My suggestion - spare your sanity and go with Tidal or Qobuz instead. They work properly within seconds of registering. If you prefer using their own native apps and want some change left in your pocket then buy a used Chromecast Audio off eBay. It has an optical output and allows you to cast from the Tidal and Qobuz apps.

Honestly, go have a look on the Amazon Music HD forum if you don't believe me. So speaks an otherwise devout Amazon fan.
 
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Zaphod79

Novice Member
There are no bright ideas that haven't thought of. Amazon has made a service that you can't access its full potential properly unless you pay a fortune for a Bluesound box or the like. Just check out Amazon's own Music HD forum to see the time people have wasted trying to find hardware it will work on. Amazon has done next to nothing to address any of the complaints.

My suggestion - spare your sanity and go with Tidal or Qobuz instead. They work properly within seconds of registering. If you prefer using their own native apps and want some change left in your pocket then buy a used Chromecast Audio off eBay. It has an optical output and allows you to cast from the Tidal and Qobuz apps.

Honestly, go have a look on the Amazon Music HD forum if you don't believe me. So speaks an otherwise devout Amazon fan.
Thanks. I believe you. Hadn't thought about chromecast audio. Looks like that can output 24/96 through optical and would support tidal connect so I could control from tidal app, so that's interesting...if I can get one. Even better would be if tidal connect worked with the wxc50, of course.
 

Jules Tohpipi

Well-known Member
Thanks. I believe you. Hadn't thought about chromecast audio. Looks like that can output 24/96 through optical and would support tidal connect so I could control from tidal app, so that's interesting...if I can get one. Even better would be if tidal connect worked with the wxc50, of course.

Yep, I've had 24/96 working no problem with the Chromecast Audio (CCA) optical into my DAC with Qobuz and it sounded absolutely great. However, for minor reasons, I settled on Tidal and it works perfectly at CD quality (I don't have an MQA DAC) when streaming from the Tidal app on my iPhone, PC and MBP. You can also cast from BBC Sounds and other services too.
 

Zaphod79

Novice Member
Yep, I've had 24/96 working no problem with the Chromecast Audio (CCA) optical into my DAC with Qobuz and it sounded absolutely great. However, for minor reasons, I settled on Tidal and it works perfectly at CD quality (I don't have an MQA DAC) when streaming from the Tidal app on my iPhone, PC and MBP. You can also cast from BBC Sounds and other services too.
Hmm. Plenty of 2nd gen chromecast audios on ebay for 15 quid or so. I'd probably plug it into the optical in on the yamaha and then coukd probably then play on the other musiccast speaker in the kitchen as well. I'd basically be adding tidal connect for 15 quid. Throttled to 24/96 but wxc50 can't ungokd mqa anyway, lart if the reason I was looking at amazon High res. Thanks for the advice.
 

Cebolla

Well-known Member
Thanks. I believe you. Hadn't thought about chromecast audio. Looks like that can output 24/96 through optical and would support tidal connect so I could control from tidal app,
Be careful - it's the other way around, ie, the TIDAL app supports Google Cast streaming so can access the Chromecast Audio (and not that the Chromecast Audio supports TIDAL Connect).

Also, Chromecast devices don't support MQA and TIDAL limits them to:
  • either, its original lossless CD sourced standard CD-res (16bit/44.1kHz) streams (which are unfortunately becoming rarer, as TIDAL seem to be intent on replacing those with the lossy MQA-CD versions);
  • or, its lossy CD-res MQA (aka MQA-CD) streams;
  • or its lossy hi-res MQA streams that have been downsampled to CD-res.
So no chance of them getting hi-res from TIDAL on the CCA via the TIDAL app, never mind the CCA's max 24bit/96kHz hi-res.
 
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Zaphod79

Novice Member
I gave up on Amazon hd. Couldn't find a way of getting the hd quality to my stereo so was pointless having it.
That's what I'm finding. I've started a quobuz free trial and will get a chromecast audio off ebay. Very impressed with quobuz so far through just phone and headphones.
 

videotape

Novice Member
I have had luck with the following options with amazon HD, although they are not directly applicable to the OPs system.

Amazon music app on firestick 4K supports 24/192 after update to latest version of firmware and app. I have the stick plugged into my denon receiver. This setup is working very well and tracks play at their supported bitrate including upto 24/192.

Amazon music app on the new chromecast with Google TV supports up to 16/48. This also works well although I prefer the firestick route due to higher bitrate support.
 
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mickbirch2000

Well-known Member
Amazon music app on firestick 4K supports 24/192 after update to latest version of firmware and app. I have the stick plugged into my denon receiver. This setup is working very well and tracks play at their supported bitrate including upto 24/192.
This sounds a good & affordable way to access Amazon music HD in Hi-res & use the proper Amazon music app on your smartphone or tablet which is much better than the app thro Heos or Bluos.
 

videotape

Novice Member
This sounds a good & affordable way to access Amazon music HD in Hi-res & use the proper Amazon music app on your smartphone or tablet which is much better than the app thro Heos or Bluos.

Exactly! The HEOS app has usability issues. I can’t get it to sync with Amazon Music HD playlists.

My current workflow is to create my playlists on the AMHD app on iOS. Then open up AMHD app on the firestick and stream at recorded bitrates.

Casting from the AMHD app on iOS has not worked well for me. It basically casts at lower bitrates depending on the casting target device. It would be nice if a future update can cast at native bitrates when casting to Firestick, Denon via airplay or the chromecast.
 

Cebolla

Well-known Member
I have had luck with the following options with amazon HD, although they are not directly applicable to the OPs system.

Amazon music app on firestick 4K supports 24/192 after update to latest version of firmware and app. I have the stick plugged into my denon receiver. This setup is working very well and tracks play at their supported bitrate including upto 24/192.

Amazon music app on the new chromecast with Google TV supports up to 24/48. This also works well although I prefer the firestick route due to higher bitrate support.
No idea what you are using to verify that you are actually getting up to 24bit/48kHz hi-res with the new Chromecast via the Amazon Music app, but according to the Amazon Music FAQs webpage, Amazon Music HD isn't currently supported on Chromecast & therefore only supports its lossy 'SD' streams. So currently you shouldn't even get lossless standard CD-res 16bit/44.1kHz 'HD' Amazon Music streams on Chromecast, never mind any hi-res 'UHD' ones:

Amazon.co.uk: Amazon Music HD FAQs: Digital Music

Which Android devices support Amazon Music HD?
Most Android devices running Android Lollipop, released in 2014, or later support HD/Ultra HD playback. However, Android devices vary widely in quality and purpose, so we advise checking manufacturer specifications for HD/Ultra HD support.

At this time Amazon Music HD is not supported on Chromecast.
 
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videotape

Novice Member
No idea what you are using to verify that you are actually getting up to 24bit/48kHz hi-res with the new Chromecast via the Amazon Music app, but according to the Amazon Music FAQs webpage, Amazon Music HD isn't currently supported on Chromecast & therefore only supports its lossy 'SD' streams. So currently you can't even get lossless standard CD-res 16bit/44.1kHz 'HD' Amazon Music streams on Chromecast, never mind any hi-res 'UHD' ones:

Amazon.co.uk: Amazon Music HD FAQs: Digital Music

Which Android devices support Amazon Music HD?
Most Android devices running Android Lollipop, released in 2014, or later support HD/Ultra HD playback. However, Android devices vary widely in quality and purpose, so we advise checking manufacturer specifications for HD/Ultra HD support.

At this time Amazon Music HD is not supported on Chromecast.

Sorry, correction: Chromecast with Google TV supports up to 16/48 when using AMHD.

Here is an example:

69E4BA71-80E6-421A-A3B6-F5D4DCC8FEAB.jpeg
 

Cebolla

Well-known Member
Ah, apologies - looks like I misunderstood you anyway! So you used the TIDAL app on the new Chromecast's built-in Google TV (requiring the TV to be used as the display when controlling) and therefore nothing to do with Google Cast (aka Chromecast) streaming. Clearly the Google TV on the new Chromecast supports Amazon Music HD, though as you've corrected it's audio resolution is restricted to standard TV broadcast 16bit/48 kHz audio, so no 'UHD' hi-res.

I thought you were using the TIDAL app on a mobile device casting to the new Chromecast (not using its Google TV so no TV required for display when controlling), which as for all the other Chromecast devices, doesn't currently support Amazon Music HD so can only provide Amazon Music's lossy 'SD' audio streams.
 
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RodneyL

Novice Member
Hello everyone. Newbie here. I linked to this forum when researching the outbound Bluetooth capabilities of the Amazon Fire TV Cube. I've read mostly bad things (older posts) and thought I could contribute a few things. I've built a fairly extensive home theater on budget terms. It's a mix of vintage and contemporary equipment. The older stuff that is still in operation are JBL L-166 Horizon and Polk Audio SDA 1a. There is a 5 disk Yamaha CD player that is rarely used. The Contemporary equipment consists of primarily Klipsch and Emotiva. I don't really want to bore everyone with the details of all of these devices. I primarily wanted to share my good fortune with streaming Hi Res Audio from Amazon Music HD. I was first successful with my Marantz SR7011 using the HEOS app. the sound was very good. Amazing in fact. I had to go through many hours of poking around to figure things out but was eventually able to stream up to 24bit/192khz with the HEOS app built into the Marantz and then out to the speakers. I was never that successful with my 1st Gen Fire TV Cube. More on that thing later. Amazon engineers placed some tidbits in the settings that must be set in order to actually stream the Ultra HD Hi Res stuff out of the cube. Other things were placed in the Alexa app also in the device settings.

Now, the good and cheap stuff. It is possible to get fantastic results streaming with a much lower cost. I started to make some upgrades to the living room A/V stuff to keep me occupied. Primarily there was a Samsung 6 year old 4k set with a Samsung soundbar and wireless sub. Connected a 2nd Gen Fire Tv Cube via HDMI to my old set which had only one HDCP 2.2 capable inbound HDMI port. I needed that to view the full 4k movies. That happened to be the MHL port. Then, I used Optical cable to the Klipsch Sixes. Sound was pretty good but it lacked a bit of punch. I wasn't sure what the resolution was at the speakers although the Cube said the source, device capability, and destination were all at 24bit/192khz. Note: not for all songs but some that had that capability. Anyway, I decided it was time to invest in a DAC that would show what might be reaching the speaker. I purchased the Topping E30 and have had it about a week now. I moved the Optical cable from the speaker to the DAC and then RCA out of the DAC over to the RCA input of the Sixes. Turned everything on and noticed the DAC would only show 48khz getting to it even though the Cube and Amazon Music HD was telling me it was sending the TV 24/192. After a few minutes of research I learned that Optical has a limit of 24bit/48khz. That isn't bad at all but a little disappointing.

I did some more testing this afternoon after discovering that my iPhone has a limit on sending Hi Res audio via Bluetooth or Airplay. So, I got to thinking I could make a Bluetooth connection to the Sixes from the Cube and be able to stream Hi Res to the speakers. I could probably bypass the TV altogether but the TV is a nice GUI interface while playing music through the Amazon Music HD app. The Cube also has a few other music apps that are more familiar to many.

I've concluded that one could stream Hi Res audio straight from a Fire TV Cube device directly to a pair of Bluetooth capable speakers. I know the Klipsch The Sixes have a DAC built into them and their own 100 watt per channel amp. My next step is to purchase a Hi Res capable Bluetooth LDAC/APTX/APTX HD AAC etc... and connect it to the Topping E30 DAC. That will let me know what might be reaching the Sixes via wireless from the Cube. I was looking at the Topping BC3 LDAC unit but they are sold out right now. I will wait a few days for them to come in. Earlier in the week I ordered one of the Topping D50s DAC units that already has Bluetooth and all of the other codecs built into it. Supposedly it sounds better than the E30. The D50s is for the Theater downstairs. The Marantz sounds good with it's own internal DAC but it was designed in 2016 I think the newer DACs (even the budget ones) may have a better sound. More toys to test and play with. I'm hoping the D50s will arrive soon.

Sorry for being so wordy on my very first post. I believe the Fire TV Cube is a good Hi Res streamer with the proper setup and info. Problem being getting the information.
 

RodneyL

Novice Member
Hi, I need a bit of help deciding the optimal way for me to do this. I have been doing some research but don't have a satisfactory conclusion yet.

For my main stereo I have a Yamaha musiccast WXC-50 with a Roksan kandy ka1 L3 powering Kef LS50s. I also use a rega planet CD and have an arcam rdac, although not currently using it due to an intermittent issue which I think is probably the power supply. I also often group the yamaha with 1 or 2 other musiccast devices.

I want the convenience of a streaming service and I like a lot about Spotify and use it on my phone, in the car and at work. I also use it a lot through the main system at home, except when I spoil myself by putting on a CD. The trouble, of course, is the bitrate from Spotify and I want more for my main system. Unfortunately the yamaha doesn't support Amazon music. I've tried Tidal a couple of times but the integration on the yamaha is terrible and I don't want to have to use my laptop (although the rdac does have asynchronous USB).

So the yamaha has 24/192 support but no amazon integration and I was looking at maybe getting the echo link. This has coax and optical digital in and outs so I could run it through the arcam, which should be better than the dac in the echo, but I think the digital output from the link is throttled to 16/44 despite it's own dac managing 24/96 (I think). I imagine analogue output of a 190 quid amazon own brand streamer would be pretty rotten so I don't really want to just plug it in to the amp. I also don't want to spend another £500 on a bluesound node 2i or similar so my question is: what are my options for streaming at least 24/96 (preferably 24/192) to my amp without spending several hundred pounds? How are other people streaming Amazon HD/'ULTRA HD'? Thanks.
Please see my lengthy response from a few minutes ago just above. :) I'm new here and just learning this forum stuff.
 
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larkone

Distinguished Member
@RodneyL Bluetooth codecs need both the sending and receive device to support a codec for them to work i.e. AptX needs to be supported at each end of the chain for it to give AptX quality. Your Fire TV Cube only has a basic Bluetooth codec so regardless of the capability of the device you have at the other end it will default to the basic A2DP codec - lossy and compressed.

Apologies if my understanding of your setup is wrong.

Fire TV Cube Bluetooth Specs
 

RodneyL

Novice Member
@RodneyL Bluetooth codecs need both the sending and receive device to support a codec for them to work i.e. AptX needs to be supported at each end of the chain for it to give AptX quality. Your Fire TV Cube only has a basic Bluetooth codec so regardless of the capability of the device you have at the other end it will default to the basic A2DP codec - lossy and compressed.

Apologies if my understanding of your setup is wrong.

Fire TV Cube Bluetooth Specs
Thank you for your response, the link and your explanation. It's looking like the best method to get Hi Res audio to the DAC is cable. Primarily, my research is for my daughter (and her family) to be able to enjoy/experience Hi Res audio without spending thousands of dollars.

I've noticed Klipsch has made a significant improvement with their new "The Fives" speakers by including an HDMI input port on that model. I believe they instruct owners to connect that port to the HDMI ARC port on the TV. The powered speaker pair is then functioning as the "receiver" in that AV system.
 

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