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What do you feel would have been a better option?


  • Total voters
    31

spac3duck

macrumors regular
Original poster
Mar 31, 2017
181
103
Curious to see if people feel that Apple should have focused on some low hanging fruit that benefits many with an upgrade (Higher Quality audio streaming) to the ongoing service (Apple Music) which could have member retention for years versus releasing a pro/upgraded/updated version of their AirPods?
 

BODYBUILDERPAUL

macrumors 68000
Feb 9, 2009
1,773
1,436
Barcelona
Very interesting question and it seems like Apple hit the sweet spot with 256kbps in 2008. The fact that they did not go with the maximum 320kbps kind of shows that they are happy with it at current.

Sadly, with the lack of interest in the HomePod and the price drop a while ago, it seems that Apple have found that audio quality is not a top priority to many. Sadly, you only have to read this website to see the remarks from many - 'I'm not paying 300dollars for a HomePod when I can get an Amazon Echo (piece of crap) for 30dollars' and 'way too expensive' 'XXX for earphones' etc etc etc. It seems that many want everything for free these days.

I agree that it is sad. I'd love an iTunes download to sound even better than a CD of 35 years ago OR I'd love the amazing 4K Dolby Vision iTunes film to send better than an old fashioned disc (which I got rid of 10 years ago) but sadly many people don't care.

Even the YouTubers that Apple picked to review the AirPods Pro - i'm looking at Markus and iJustine here DIDN'T EVEN MENTION what the AirPods Pro sound like - clear? Bassy? Nice????????

Sound is so important - in fact great sound and I don't know where it's going in this decade. Luckily, the AirPods Pro are pretty fantastic.
Personally, I'd like to see Apple improve the volume output & audio quality of iTunes film as the sound levels are so low that you have to have many films on max volume to enjoy.
 

BODYBUILDERPAUL

macrumors 68000
Feb 9, 2009
1,773
1,436
Barcelona
It's clear that the lack of response from everyone kind of answers your question buddy!
It seems that the majority are happy with 256kbps AAC.

If it was lossless, would you actually hear the difference using bluetooth earphones??? I'm not so sure for that use.

It makes me cringe though when I see kids at the gym wearing hoodies with the headphones on the outside. They'll hear absolutely no treble or clarity whatsoever!
 

turbineseaplane

macrumors G3
Mar 19, 2008
8,846
15,014
Even the YouTubers that Apple picked to review the AirPods Pro - i'm looking at Markus and iJustine here DIDN'T EVEN MENTION what the AirPods Pro sound like - clear? Bassy? Nice????????

You were expecting a review of the audio quality from iJustine?
 

zhenya

macrumors 604
Jan 6, 2005
6,825
3,509
Current streaming quality on Apple Music is effectively transparent for the vast majority of use cases. Maybe, maybe a trained evaluator using quality equipment under ideal conditions could tell the difference reliably. In the real world people listen to music in the background, in their cars, on trains and in airplanes, on mediocre equipment at best. Apple Music, AirPods, and now the AirPods Pro are actually doing far more to bring decent sounding music to the masses than anything else Apple could do - and it's profitable as well.
 

swandy

macrumors 6502a
Oct 27, 2012
758
192
When I decided to digitize my CD library years back, a close friend (who is an audiophile) thought I was nuts. My answer to him was my majority of music listening was (1) car, (2) headphones/earbuds, (3) computer (granted with a decent setup). And that the "difference" between MP3 files and a CD would not be that different under those conditions. And that is where most people listen, so most people will not see the "improvement" in the higher bit rate - though they might see the increased amount of data used.
 

BODYBUILDERPAUL

macrumors 68000
Feb 9, 2009
1,773
1,436
Barcelona
You were expecting a review of the audio quality from iJustine?

She's an excitable girl, I thought that she would have said "Oh wow, these sound dope, incredible, A M A Z I N G" but er, not much. Same with Markus, he said something in the lines of "They sound OK".
What the heck?
[automerge]1572903975[/automerge]
Current streaming quality on Apple Music is effectively transparent for the vast majority of use cases. Maybe, maybe a trained evaluator using quality equipment under ideal conditions could tell the difference reliably. In the real world people listen to music in the background, in their cars, on trains and in airplanes, on mediocre equipment at best. Apple Music, AirPods, and now the AirPods Pro are actually doing far more to bring decent sounding music to the masses than anything else Apple could do - and it's profitable as well.

ABSOLUTELY!
 
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spac3duck

macrumors regular
Original poster
Mar 31, 2017
181
103
Sound is so important

Totally agree with you Paul.

It's clear that the lack of response from everyone kind of answers your question buddy!
It seems that the majority are happy with 256kbps AAC.

Hmm, I did ponder as to the best sub-forum to post this question (AirPods, Apple Music, Generic, etc) in order to elicit responses that were unbiased however I'm unconvinced that a lack of response i.e. 'Argument from Silence' necessarily implies an answer?

...most people will not see the "improvement" in the higher bit rate - though they might see the increased amount of data used.

And this is partly why I feel that a focus on adding another tier to Apple Music would benefit the many. For example, the benefits to others include:
- Increased data usage = Telecommunications provider
- Increased data storage = Apple/Shareholders
- Increased revenue = Apple/Shareholders, Apple Music artists
- Improved audio quality = Apple Music Subscribers
(Whilst the list above indicates benefits from a service, I do understand that creating a product i.e. AirPods would provide benefits to manufacturing too. However the direct benefit of manufacturing might only be realised in the country of manufacturing)

Apple Music, AirPods, and now the AirPods Pro are actually doing far more to bring decent sounding music to the masses than anything else Apple could do - and it's profitable as well.

Apple already own a headphone company with an extensive range of headphones in a very mature and saturated headphone/audio marketplace. The difference being that the AirPods/AirPods Pro have a different shape and are marketed under the Apple moniker rather than being called Beats.

In the real world people listen to music in the background, in their cars, on trains and in airplanes, on mediocre equipment at best.

Absolutely and the external noise from transportation is a good reason for Apple to pursue Noise Cancelling. Further along this line of thinking is that in the real world, there are currently millions, and every increasing numbers, of people working in offices. While they could spend up to 2 hours a day travelling to their place of work, there's also the 8 hours per day of work where they could listen to music, albeit in the background :)

----

Maybe as a compromise to the suggestion in the poll;, Apple could have launched both a new product and a new service.

AirPods Pro that take advantage of a new service, Apple Music Pro.
 

sargein

macrumors member
Oct 6, 2012
68
16
It's funny I yesterday happened to select my car audio to the iPod Classic I have had for a while, and was reminded/surprised by how much better it sounded than playing my XS over Bluetooth. Of course both Bluetooth and Apple Music audio quality are equally to blame, but having subscribed to Apple Music, I just can't use the iPod Classic any more for new music. So I certainly hope that Apple does more to offer better music quality for those who care. Having been in the Apple ecosystem for a while and having tonnes of smart playlists mean that Tidal etc are just not good options for folks like me.
 

zhenya

macrumors 604
Jan 6, 2005
6,825
3,509
It's funny I yesterday happened to select my car audio to the iPod Classic I have had for a while, and was reminded/surprised by how much better it sounded than playing my XS over Bluetooth. Of course both Bluetooth and Apple Music audio quality are equally to blame, but having subscribed to Apple Music, I just can't use the iPod Classic any more for new music. So I certainly hope that Apple does more to offer better music quality for those who care. Having been in the Apple ecosystem for a while and having tonnes of smart playlists mean that Tidal etc are just not good options for folks like me.

As both the compression scheme used by Apple Music and Bluetooth on your XS are effectively transparent, what you were hearing was the result of some other difference in the chain. Possibly a volume difference, or even a different mastering if you were comparing the same recording. Or your vehicle’s bluetooth is outdated and converting the stream to SBC.

Seriously, I have 5 figures in audio gear, have been listening critically for over 20 years, have gone down the rabbit hole of comparing codecs, etc. many times. At one point the differences were audible - 128k mp3 was easily audible. Early bluetooth compression was easily audible. SBC bluetooth is still audible today. But with changes over the past few years that’s nearly entirely gone away. I now struggle to tell the difference between Apple Music’s AAC and 24/96k or even higher resolution files on my most revealing headphones - and most of the time when I think I can, it turns out the mastering is different.

Yes, I still want Apple Music to eventually offer lossless streaming, just because they should - but it’s no longer worth worrying about for day to day casual listening.
 

sargein

macrumors member
Oct 6, 2012
68
16
A couple things - my iPod Classic has ALAC recordings, that I just can't get with Apple Music streaming. And, even my XS sounds better when on rare chance I connect the lightning cable to same system (which I don't do often due to convenience of Bluetooth), though still not as good as the ALAC versions. It's possible my car Bluetooth is getting long in the tooth (its a 2012 Acura TL), but then I can tell the difference similarly on my home speakers (the setup of which is also well into 5 figures) when streaming from AM on Apple TV vs playing local NAS files. The difference and its magnitude is, of course, very subjective, and I have come to terms with streaming for convenience and access to huge library.

So, I wouldn't call compression by AM and Bluetooth (at least the version I have) as effectively transparent...just that quality loss is outweighed by other benefits (for me).
 

Taco1933

macrumors 6502a
Aug 14, 2014
608
299
Curious to see if people feel that Apple should have focused on some low hanging fruit that benefits many with an upgrade (Higher Quality audio streaming) to the ongoing service (Apple Music) which could have member retention for years versus releasing a pro/upgraded/updated version of their AirPods?

It isn’t like they actually had to choose one or the other. Apple has the resources to do both. If they did have to choose, the revenue numbers from the AirPod pros would dwarf new AM +/pro/whatever revenue. A lot of people will use headphones on their commute, in the office, at the gym, etc., but most dont need to hear Justin Bieber or Pitbull with any additional clarity.

I certainly wouldn’t be opposed to an additional, higher quality, option, but I have to think Apple has looked into it and found it wasn’t worth their time.
 

BODYBUILDERPAUL

macrumors 68000
Feb 9, 2009
1,773
1,436
Barcelona
Apple Music Pro? anyone...

I agree with Taco that it's clear that Apple will have tested all of the options over the years and come to the conclusion of 256kbps AAC being an OK rate plus as compression gets better and better which is does, that figure will hold. Although, it would be nice in this century to have something that does sound better than 1980s CD format!

320mbps AAC would have been welcome but again, there must have been a reason why Apple haven't pushed this far. When I rip a CD, that is my chosen setting along with ALAC for irreplaceable discs or European imports etc.
 
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