Apple Lossless on Apple Music

Discussion in 'Apple Music, Apple Pay, iCloud, Apple Services' started by SDAVE, Jul 27, 2015.

  1. SDAVE macrumors 68040

    SDAVE

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    #1
    Do you guys think Apple will ever dabble in Apple Lossless (CD Quality and higher like HD-Tracks) on Apple music?

    I have a really good headphone setup with tube amps and a few nice cans and I can totally tell the difference between Apple Music, Spotify and even tried Tidal (with their HiFi option). I liked Tidal, but their rips didn't sound great on some albums like Johnny Cash, Dave Brubeck, etc.

    I definitely have my Flac collection (which I rip myself from my CD and Vinyl collection) that I always listen to but it would be nice if Apple starts adding it as an optional service. I'd gladly pay $5/month extra for it.
     
  2. tomekosiowy macrumors regular

    tomekosiowy

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    #2
    ALAC is non-streamin in-mind format. It is format for pro and studio-like (local, not stream) solutions. They should go on Apple Music with High Efficiency Advanced Audio Coding (HE-AAC 64 kbps VBR) — very small file size and still very good sound quality (keeping in mind that Apple Music requires iOS 8.4, so it requires devices with full support for extra channels in HE-AAC).
     
  3. SDAVE, Jul 27, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2015

    SDAVE thread starter macrumors 68040

    SDAVE

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    #3
    Not true. Airport Express uses ALAC via WiFi. I never have buffer issues. I've also streamed ALAC from my iPhone to Airport Express. I've also streamed FLAC (through a FLAC PLAYER in iOS) to Airport Express. No problems.

    Tidal uses FLAC at around ~768kbps for their HiFi settings. FLAC and ALAC are similar.

    I have internet at 50mbps, I don't see why I can't stream 768kbps. Even on 5mbps you can stream Lossless.

    The whole point of this thread is to keep audio Lossless for audiophiles, a very small niche market, but a very important one imo. It will also get rid of Tidal as a competitor.
     
  4. Julien macrumors G3

    Julien

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    #4
    ALAC could easily be streamed and is a consumer format that is NOT used by studios or pros. Studios uses uncompressed LPCM (usually 96/24 format). Also Tidal has FLAC streaming and there are other streaming services that offer lossless music.
     
  5. tomekosiowy macrumors regular

    tomekosiowy

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    #5
    OK: At least option to download ALAC when you decide to get song for offline use (for streaming is not good option).
     
  6. SDAVE thread starter macrumors 68040

    SDAVE

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    #6
    That would be around 400MB per CD or 1GB if it is 24/96. Why isn't streaming a good option? Tidal does it. I used that service on their trial for a month straight and actually liked it. I could also stream from my iOS device in HiFi and go to my music player via Bluetooth 4.0 vehicle and I could totally tell the difference between 256kbps and Lossless.
     
  7. flur macrumors 68000

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    #7
    Who else is there? I only know of Tidal.
     
  8. SDAVE thread starter macrumors 68040

    SDAVE

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  9. flur macrumors 68000

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    #9
  10. SDAVE thread starter macrumors 68040

    SDAVE

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    #10
    Tidal is decent, but CD Quality, not 24/96. They have a big collection of music. Give their trial a try if you're interested. If you want hi-res lossless you have to go to HD Tracks.
     
  11. Uofmtiger macrumors 68000

    Uofmtiger

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    #11
    I would love to see it, but they haven't shown in any interest in it. Instead, they concentrated on the masters (MFiT) 256k versions that often sound better than the lossless versions that were mixed for CD with loudness as the priority. I am not sure how you pick those particular albums out on Apple Music, though?

    A combination of better mastering and ALAC (with the option to set the bit rate lower on demand for both wifi and cellular) would be ideal, but I am not holding my breath.
     
  12. SDAVE thread starter macrumors 68040

    SDAVE

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    #12
    Some albums on Apple Music sound better than Spotify to me, even if Spotify supports 320kbps OGG Vorbis (which is supposed to sound better at 320kbps than AAC 256kbps).
     
  13. HopefulHumanist macrumors 6502a

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    #13
    It's never gonna happen because 99.9% of consumers don't know or care for it and the infrastructure costs associated with it wouldn't be worth the payoff.

    Lossless formats are for archival purposes and aren't necessary at all for listening, let alone mobile listening. Your phone, iPad, car, etc all have subpar speakers for hearing any possible differences. There's just no point.
     
  14. tomekosiowy macrumors regular

    tomekosiowy

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    #14
    99% of people does not hear any difference of sound quality in files like mp3 with bitrates over 192 kbps. But also most people does not understand the difference between file formats like mp3 (MPEG-1 layer-3) and mp4-AAC (MPEG-4), and that the sound quality of mp3 192 kbps is reproduceable (and even better) in AAC with 128 kbps and in HE-AAC with 48÷56 kbps.

    AAC = Advanced Audio Coding, Dolby certified.
     
  15. Julien macrumors G3

    Julien

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    #15
    Source?

    Dolby has it's own proprietary codecs and doesn't use or certify any other codecs.
     
  16. SDAVE thread starter macrumors 68040

    SDAVE

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    #16
    Not true, audiophilia its a multi-million dollar industry, if not billion.

    I can hear a difference between lossless and 256kbps when I plug a Sennheiser HD700 into my iPhone 6, which doesn't need an amp to drive it. My car has Bluetooth 4.0 and I can also tell the difference in quality.

    The point is, Tidal does it, why can't Apple. They should and just steal all the clients.
     
  17. tomekosiowy macrumors regular

    tomekosiowy

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    #17
    1. Can't you use DuckDuckGo? (or a searcher of you choice).
    2. OK, I was not preciss: developed by Dolby Laboratories too (with fussions of HE-AAC).
     
  18. SDAVE thread starter macrumors 68040

    SDAVE

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    #18
    Who cares who developed it? It's a compression format.

    This thread's about Lossless for Audiophiles and not about if 99% of people can't hear the difference.
     
  19. HopefulHumanist macrumors 6502a

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    #19
    I'll be honest -- I don't believe you when you say you can tell the difference. Nothing personal but human ears are just usually not good enough to manage this.

    But even that aside, my point stands that most people don't care and Apple just doesn't care to poach however few people are on tidal lossless. Until lossless listeners became a sizable minority, they will continue to be ignored.

    I don't know where you're getting your numbers about audiophilia but most of that gear is crazy overpriced so it doesn't reflect as large an audience as you suggest. Again, most people listen to music on computer and phone speakers; not high end speakers.
     
  20. AleXXXa macrumors 6502

    AleXXXa

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    #20
    1. Agree, but ears can be trained. I have a friend who is a conductor and can easily tell if a guy is a semitone up or down out of a 100-member orchestra.
    2. On good equipment it's easier to hear the difference. Probably on an iphone with stock headphones i can't tell the difference between mp3 320kbps and FLAC.
    3. I've done numerous ABX blind tests* on my rig** between mp3-128, mp3-320, FLAC and 24/96 hi-res files and passed them all.

    * i've used foobar with ABX Comparator plugin. I've used a 24/96 file which i converted myself to lower bitrates to make sure i use the same mastering.
    **my rig: Benchmark DAC, WOO WA6SE amp and different headphones: Grado HF2, Senn HD800, Senn HD650, Sony CD3000.

    I can hear a difference between mp3 and FLAC on an iphone with decent earphones (i use IEMs from Shure and Sennheiser, nothing crazy expensive).
     
  21. Uofmtiger, Jul 31, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2015

    Uofmtiger macrumors 68000

    Uofmtiger

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    #21
    What are the infrastructure costs and how can Tidal afford it and Apple can't? That seems like a flimsy reason.

    To be honest, I don't understand how 256k fits in with the rest of the brand. Their brand is usually sold for its premium features/image, but in this area Jay Z has a more premium product. Deezer is also going to eventually be in the U.S. with lossless. I just don't understand why Apple wants a great service that isn't seen as premium in the market. In fact, I have already seen plenty of tech ( not just audiophile) articles complaining about them using 256 while nearly everyone else is using 320 or more.

    As you mentioned, the average consumer ( and tech blogger for that matter) doesn't know about Codecs or spend time perusing Hydrogen Audio forums, so they will see the lower number and believe it is subpar compared to Spotify, Rdio, Google Play, Rhapsody, Tidal, etc.. Most are not going to sit around and perform ABX testing, so it is a shortfall in the Apple brand.

    Note: just noticed the discussion about Tidal being the only service with lossless. Deezer has it available in the US for Sonos clients only. You can sign up for them to send you an email when it is available on other platforms: http://www.deezer.com/soon
     
  22. SDAVE, Jul 31, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2015

    SDAVE thread starter macrumors 68040

    SDAVE

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    #22
    You are wrong once again.

    I'm a musician and I have precise ears. I can hear every little detail from cymbal hits to low drum kicks, breaths in vocals, etc. I've trained my ears over the years. It's a natural talent.

    You're telling me cinematographers, filmmakers, sound designers, graphic designers, can't tell the difference between details? Sure I'm in the minority, but when you say I can't tell the difference that is an insane statement.

    I have pretty "decent" gear, tube amps and headphones that total to about $2000, which is by no means even the highest end of whats out there, but I can tell the difference between 320kbps MP3, 256kbps, FLAC (44/16) and 24/96. Easy. I can tell the difference between a badly mastered album and a good mastered album.

    These "super deluxe" versions of albums are pretty terrible. I have all the Beatles albums Flac in Mono and Stereo, I prefer Mono because that's the way they recorded a lot of it. I don't like the Apple remasters.

    Music for me is so personal as it is to a lot of people, more personal than movies and any other art form, that if I put on an album and listen on my gear, I want to be in a silent room and imagine I'm in the room that these musicians played in.

    If I'm mobile, I don't really mind lower quality audio. 256kbps is fine in my car or when I walk. I do have FLAC albums on my iPhone though, and I still can tell the difference in my car, but I'm not as picky when I'm mobile.

    I honestly liked Tidal's HiFi audio, but I just didn't want to pay money for it. $20/month for what? I can just rip my own albums or buy from HDTracks. Also Tidal's HiFi albums, some of them, didn't sound good at all. They sounded like bad rips.

    But like I said I'm in the minority, however there are millions of people like me out there.
     
  23. Rigby macrumors 601

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    #23
    Hearing a badly mastered album is easy. As to the rest, I have to agree with the previous poster. It is very unlikely that you can actually hear a difference at these coding rates. You may think you do, but unless you have run proper double-blind tests with precise level-matching, it's very likely a placebo effect. This has been scientifically studied (and the results of those studies went into the design of perceptual codecs). The exception are people with certain hearing defects, who may be able to detect lossy codecs where others can't because their hearing diverts from the perceptual models that are the basis for these codecs.
     
  24. Uofmtiger macrumors 68000

    Uofmtiger

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    #24
    I don't doubt you, but do you have a link comparing 256 to lossless?

    To me this isn't just a question of whether we can perform ABX tests and hear a difference. Only a very small niche inside the audiophile community would ever do an ABX and most have issues setting the test up properly. It is about perception, like using words like fluoroelastomer instead of rubber or waxing philosophically about aluminium.

    Anyone that can do simple math knows that 256 is less than 320 and 320 is much less than 1411. The perception, which is all that matters, has Apple coming up short in this area compared with every one of their competitors.
     
  25. HopefulHumanist, Jul 31, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2015

    HopefulHumanist macrumors 6502a

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    #25
    AAC is a more efficient codec than MP3 so you can get a lower bitrate file with similar or even better audio quality. Don't let the numbers thing fool you. Unless you can tell in a blind test, there's no benefit to higher bitrate. Many cellular plans are limited in data so it's not in the interest of consumers to stream higher bitrate files when nearly all of them won't be able to tell the difference.

    SDAVE, maybe you are one of the exceptions but do you really think it makes sense for Apple to build their model around you?

    You even said you weren't willing to pay $20 a month for it. So I don't even know what point you're trying to make. If you, a self-proclaimed audiophile, wouldn't pay for it, why would any regular consumers?

    You also perfectly illustrated my point about audiophile gear. $2000 is boatload of money on audio equipment for 99.99999% of people. People get heart attacks just paying for beats headphones. I know they're terrible for the price but my point is people are barely willing to pay $300 for headphones. This bolsters my point about the audience for lossless streaming being next to nonexistent.

    Uofmtiger, presumably streaming higher bitrate files will require more bandwidth. Hence, more infrastructure costs. Tidal can do it because they're charging $20 a month for it and have less customers. I would be willing to bet that by fall, Apple Music has more subscribers than tidal's total service, let alone its lossless service. That all adds up.

    The fact that the vast majority cannot tell the difference or even cares about the difference, combined with the extra costs of having to run such a service make it unlikely to ever occur. I'm not against it on principle or anything, I just don't see it happening. But I'm not the one you have to convince, Eddy Cue is ;)
     

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