Here's what you need to know about lossless Amazon Music Unlimited HD

Posted:
in General Discussion
Amazon has introduced a new lossless audio streaming service titled "Amazon Music Unlimited HD" for those who want to experience their music at a higher quality.

Amazon Music Unlimited HD


Amazon's Music Unlimited HD gives Amazon customers the chance to stream their favorite songs in higher definition than they would be able to on other services. Currently, Amazon Music HD offers lossless audio on two quality ranges, HD and Ultra HD.

HD tracks are 16-bit audio with a sample rate of 44.1kHz, or CD-quality, and an average bit rate of 850 kilobits per second. Ultra HD tracks 24-bit audio with a sample rate of up to 192kHz, and an average bit rate of 3730 kilobits per second. As Amazon points out, most streaming services only offer standard definition quality music, which reduces some of the detail in order to save on file size.

Because the files are lossless, it should be noted that they are significantly larger. A standard song comes in at just around 9 megabytes, where as an HD song comes in at 50 megabytes. An Ultra HD song comes in at 153 megabytes, meaning that devices will be able to hold less music at higher qualities.

This also means that streaming HD and Ultra HD songs will use up more of your data plan, so it's advised that people with lower data caps listen to music via Wi-Fi or download the music for offline listening later.

Additionally, the quality of the music is going to be heavily dependent on how you're listening to it as well. Playing the music through low-quality speakers is going to render a low-quality result.

Alexa-enabled Echo devices from the second generation and onward, Fire TVs, and Fire Tablets support HD quality audio.

Most iPhones and iPads released since 2014 support HD/Ultra HD playback. Apple AirPlay also supports HD quality playback. Any Mac from 2013 or later can support HD and Ultra HD, as well.

The service $5-$7 more expensive than the standard Amazon Music Unlimited, which costs $7.99, depending whether or not a customer also has Amazon Prime.

You can get a three month free trial when you sign up, and costs $12.99 a month for Amazon Prime members, and $14.99 for everyone else. Amazon Music Unlimited family plan subscribers can upgrade to Amazon Music HD for an additional $5/month.
Niallivmphilboogie
«134

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 77
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,981member
    I subscribe to a service called Qobuz. I have to say that the prices from Amazon are really cheap compared to this, about half the price. This is what we keep hoping Apple will be doing.

    the biggest question is how good the software is when searching. Never used Amazon’s service.
    mobirdanantksundaramxyzzy01
  • Reply 2 of 77
    150+ MBs per song. Man, you really gotta love music to make this worth it. I am clearly not in this demographic. 
    randominternetpersonspace2001
  • Reply 3 of 77

    Alexa-enabled Echo devices from the second generation and onward, Fire TVs, and Fire Tablets support HD quality audio. 
    I have a feeling “support” and “sounds good” are not the same thing. My friend has some weird Echo dot in her kitchen, plugged into a socket like the old style Airport Express. That thing sounds terrible when she plays music through it. I find it hard to believe it would sound much better playing HD quality audio. 
    edited September 17 StrangeDaysmobirdbadmonkviclauyycPickUrPoison
  • Reply 4 of 77
    I have commented here and elsewhere that Apple should offer iTunes tracks in ALAC, which is a lossless format, and an upgrade path for previous purchases like they did with iTunes + years ago. Add in iTunes Match. 
     I would gladly pay for it. Not interested in a streaming service.
    raybospheric
  • Reply 5 of 77
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 21,283member
    That's stupid cheap pricing for hi-def music. Adding more nails to Tidal's service which I found noticeably fuller/cleaner than the standard streaming fare. With Amazon at half the price I don't think there's much opportunity for other streamers to tack on premium lossless services and still find it profitable. IMO Tidal's days just got shorter. Qobuz too and others like them.

    I get why there's an increasing attention being paid to bit tech. They can do things for little to no profit, already wealthy beyond all need and cash to burn in the short term in order to corner all the profit in a market and reap benefits later. As a consumer I love it, who wouldn't get great stuff cheap. 

    ..but competition by new entrants is going to be increasingly difficult and "breakthroughs" tougher to bring to market IMO. Almost feels like a cartel developing. Hate to believe that regulators would have to step in but they may. 
    edited September 17 badmonkviclauyycphilboogiespheric
  • Reply 6 of 77
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,743member
    I already have prime, so I might as well get 3 months for free.

    I have good headphones and monitors and a good audio interface, and unlimited internet, so no issues here.
  • Reply 7 of 77
    SoliSoli Posts: 9,364member

    Alexa-enabled Echo devices from the second generation and onward, Fire TVs, and Fire Tablets support HD quality audio. 
    I have a feeling “support” and “sounds good” are not the same thing. My friend has some weird Echo dot in her kitchen, plugged into a socket like the old style Airport Express. That thing sounds terrible when she plays music through it. I find it hard to believe it would sound much better playing HD quality audio. 
    It's an Echo Dot. The speaker isn't large because the device is tiny. You can connect any number of wired and wireless speaker systems to it that will be able to playback quality audio. What I wonder are the source of the audio that they've converted into lossless files.
    SoundJudgment
  • Reply 8 of 77
    You aren’t going to be listening to Ultra HD on your iPhone away from home (WiFi), It’s going to use to much bandwidth.

    It makes sense Amazon got here first (vs Apple/Google).  Amazon’s strength is in the home.

    Apple should bundle an Ultra HD service with the HomePod.  That would have incredible sound...
    mobirdSoundJudgment
  • Reply 9 of 77
    davgreg said:
    I have commented here and elsewhere that Apple should offer iTunes tracks in ALAC, which is a lossless format, and an upgrade path for previous purchases like they did with iTunes + years ago. Add in iTunes Match. 
     I would gladly pay for it. Not interested in a streaming service.
    Good Luck...everything is going streaming and I don't see it going backwards either. 
  • Reply 10 of 77
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,750member
    Is there really such a market for such a thing?  It's sounds more like marketing than anything.
    paxmantechaccidentspeedgarage
  • Reply 11 of 77
    I’ve been loyal to Apple Music since launch but the pricing on Amazon Music Unlimited HD will probably make it irresistible. I’ve had both Tidal and Deezer on trial this year and have been impressed by the audio quality compared to Apple Music but the price in the UK for those services is an extortionate $25/month. If Amazon performs as advertised I’m in. 
    xyzzy01PickUrPoison
  • Reply 12 of 77
    Here's what you need to know about article headlines that start with "Here's what you need to know". You very rarely "need to know" any of it.
    randominternetpersonlkruppphilboogiespheric
  • Reply 13 of 77
    Presumably Apple will offer something like this soon. If you have the hardware and bandwidth to stream UHD movies with 5.1, 7.1 or Dolby Atmos sound, you have the bandwidth for lossless audio.

    Aside from lossless audio, there's also currently the niche market for music mixed in 5.1, 7.1 or Dolby Atmos. Right now, you have to buy those on physical media and play them on a Blu-Ray player. When they're done well, these multi-channel formats can be revelatory. There's a small but decent catalog of recordings already available in lossless 5.1 mixes. The recent Beatles reissues of Sgt. Pepper's and the White Album are available that way, and they're outstanding. Abbey Road comes out this month in Dolby Atmos, which is an object-oriented audio format that can use from seven to a bazillion speakers to place sounds in three-dimensional space, not only horizontally around you, but also vertically above you. These formats have been a really small niche market in the past, but were they available through things like Apple TV, which many people already have hooked up to surround sound setups, the market could expand.

    Also, for things mixed in an object-oriented format like Dolby Atmos, I think it's possible to decode those into a binaural output, which creates the three dimensional field using earbuds or headphones. If I were to hazard a guess, that might be the thing that has others (like Amazon in this case) coming out with their "HD audio" offering first, before Apple comes out with something significantly better that you didn't know that you needed. Perhaps Apple may come out with lossless and surround formats available not just on the Apple TV, but also a binaural decoder built into your iPhone, making for something pretty remarkable. Add to that, if AirPods can be made to detect motion, you could have not just a binaural surround experience that places instruments in three-dimensional space around you using your earbuds, but it would be possible to actually move your head around within that environment, so that you could actually turn to face the guitar over on the right, or the piano at stage left, etc. 
    edited September 17 Niallivmwonkothesanephilboogiespeedgarage
  • Reply 14 of 77
    Niallivm said:
    I’ve been loyal to Apple Music since launch but the pricing on Amazon Music Unlimited HD will probably make it irresistible. I’ve had both Tidal and Deezer on trial this year and have been impressed by the audio quality compared to Apple Music but the price in the UK for those services is an extortionate $25/month. If Amazon performs as advertised I’m in. 
    I get Apple Music for free through Verizon. I pay for Amazon Music and do so gladly. It is a far superior service to Apple Music in every way. 
    Niallivmmobird
  • Reply 15 of 77
    Will most people notice a difference in sound or does it depend on the hardware used to listen?
  • Reply 16 of 77
    Curious about the scale of users who would actually use this service. I'm guessing to really enjoy it you would also need to pair it with a sound system that can process and manage the files. Also, for on the go, you would need a pair of fairly high end head phones to take advantage of this as well.
  • Reply 17 of 77
    mpantonempantone Posts: 1,432member
    Will most people notice a difference in sound or does it depend on the hardware used to listen?
    No. There have been many discussions over the years about lossless and/or high-definition music and the overall consensus is Joe Consumer listening to whatever contemporary music (rock, pop, hip-hop, rap, country, whatever) on his/her smartphone's earbuds or in their car can't tell the difference. 256kbps 16-bit AAC is perfectly adequate. Hell, contemporary music for the past 20-30 years has mostly been authored and mastered to play back adequately in a compressed range.

    Lossless and/or high-def audio makes more sense when certain conditions come together. First of all are the listening conditions/hardware: you need very good speakers in a room with decent acoustics. Then you need the appropriate music that would benefit from an expanded dynamic range: classical, baroque, opera, some jazz. Then you need someone with a good set of ears who is really paying attention. 

    I've acquired high-def audio tracks which I've ripped to 256kbps AAC and yes, I can hear the difference if I am concentrating and listening to it on my big speakers, particularly in the pianissimo sections or in pieces with an extremely wide dynamic range (some symphonies, some operas). If I have the stereo blasting while I am in the kitchen, again it doesn't matter; I can't tell the difference.

    Streaming lossless/high-def audio to a portable device is basically a big waste of bandwidth unless it's plugged into a $500 headphone amp and $1000 headphones.


    edited September 17 wonkothesaneraoulduke42
  • Reply 18 of 77
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,028member
    You aren’t going to be listening to Ultra HD on your iPhone away from home (WiFi), It’s going to use to much bandwidth.

    Apple should bundle an Ultra HD service with the HomePod.  That would have incredible sound...

    If Amazon is offering it, it's probably an industry-wide move (to squeeze higher fees out of the same content), so I'm guessing we'll see something similar from Apple this Fall. Personally, I think Apple Music subscribers should get lossless music from their HomePods without an extra charge. (And should've been something they offered when they originally released it.)

    And yeah, that's a lot of bandwidth for a mobile device.
    edited September 17 mobird
  • Reply 19 of 77
    BxBorn said: Curious about the scale of users who would actually use this service. 
    IMO, it's mainly a sly way of getting a % of their customers to pay more for the same thing. Most people can't consistently tell the difference between 256 kbps and 16-bit/44.1 kHz in the first place. Then when you start adding in the various sound quality factors from pre-digital recordings vs digital recordings etc + the types of hardware people are using, it's largely a wash for most of the people who sign up for it.
  • Reply 20 of 77
    Speed1050Speed1050 Posts: 17unconfirmed, member
    That’s really cheap. :)

    Pretty pointless subscribing to it to listen through a portable speaker, Sonos, HomePod or whatever where frankly a fairly crappy stream is good enough, but awesome if you’re sticking it through a decent hifi. 

    The amount of worldwide hifi enthusiasts would say it’s not that limited a market... 

Sign In or Register to comment.