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  • Spotify HiFi one-ups Apple Music with lossless audio streams

    I think about this for a living (audio engineer). 

    Music that is properly Mastered for iTunes (which means encoded in 256kbps HE-AAC format from at least a 48 kHz/24-bit master), is, for 99.99% of listeners listening to 99.9% of recorded music - indistinguishable from lossless-compressed audio. 

    There is a lot of music on all streaming services that is encoded from a 16/44.1 uncompressed source (i.e. CD), or in some cases, from a lossy-compressed original. It results in audible artifacts that most people can readily identify, once they know what to listen for, especially in the latter-case. This is why people say that streamed music sounds terrible. Because a lot of it really does sound bad. 

    It's only the most dynamic and delicate acoustic music that benefits in a meaningful way from lossless compression. And even then, only at 24-bit word depth. 16-bit lossless recordings will sound virtually identical to properly encoded compressed recordings except on the most high-end reproduction systems. There's a reason Apple has not gone down that road. If implemented widely, it would add significant overhead to their services infrastructure with next-to-no tangible benefit, at least outside of marketing. Only a small percentage of listeners even care. 

    If a listener wants better sound quality, they should invest in better headphones or speakers. That makes a much more significant difference in the listening experience when compared to splitting hairs over encoding.

    What I would like to see Apple do, if we're going to cater to a minority of listeners, is support multi-channel audio (at least 5.1 surround) for music. There is no good delivery system, at least for the masses, in place right now. 
  • Classical musicians review AirPods Max

    charlesn said:

    I have APM and like them a lot. But to claim that APM--or any bluetooth 'phones--sound better or even comparable to megabuck wired headphones playing back full resolution, uncompressed music through a high-quality audio system is... well, that claim is incredulous enough to leave it where it is. Compressed bluetooth audio is fine for what it is... and is actually the best I've heard it through APM... until you listen to it through the kind of headphones you describe, or speakers of similar quality, which will instantly reveal the inferiority of bluetooth audio vs full resolution playback. 
    Recent Apple devices send an unmodified AAC stream from Apple Music to the AirPods Max. And properly encoded AAC (i.e. follows Apple’s Mastered for iTunes guidelines) is - perceptually, to nearly every living person - indistinguishable from a CD. (And the jury is pretty much out on 96/24 uncompressed encoding. Only the most highly trained listeners can consistently pass a double blind test between the two.) 

    The point is, encoding is not really contributing in a meaningful way to whatever minor weaknesses the AirPods Max has. I own a pair, and my only gripe with them is the slightly overdone high frequency lift they have above 8kHz. (Which isn’t an issue for most acoustic music, but it is for most pop music.) Other than that, they are without a doubt the best wireless headphones I’ve ever used. Having tried many. They hold their own with any closed back headphones out there, wired or not. (I personally prefer open-back headphones for critical listening.)

    Anybody who can’t enjoy music on the AirPods Max doesn’t really like music, at least as much as they love gear (i.e. Audiophiles, the sorriest bunch of malcontents on the planet.) 

    (For what it’s worth, I work in pro audio as a recording and mix engineer. Audio fidelity is my bread and butter.)
  • Final Cut Pro trademark hints at possible subscription offering

    entropys said:
    Subscriptions transfer power from the user to the corporation. The Corporation can end your subscription. The end point of all this is you can become an unperson on the whim of the Corporation.
    Because corporations exist to play capricious games of whim the with people who pay them money? Did I miss something here?
  • The new Mac Pro might get Intel's new 28-core 5 GHz Xeon processor

    All this performance also means it generates a lot of heat, with Intel stating it has a Thermal Design Point (TDP)[...]

    Intel also introduced three processors under the 9th-generation masthead[...] It is unlikely that Apple will be interested in these three processors, due to the trio all having a TDP of 95W, making it too hot for the iMac range[...]

    Per Intel ARK, the i7-7700K in the current iMac has a Thermal Design Power (arguably the more common usage of TDP) of 91W. This is not that far off from the 95W chips. On that basis, I think they actually may be prime candidates for the next generation of iMac. They could easily make up those 4 extra watts with a more thermally efficient GPU. 
  • Logic Pro X 10.4 update brings over 2000 new features and bug fixes to Apple's audio compo...

    Point of clarity - Space Designer is not a new plug-in, it instead received a new interface. From what I have seen, it hasn’t gained any new capabilities, nor are there any new impulse responses. 
  • Apple Car arriving in 2025 at the earliest, says Ming-Chi Kuo

    Apple had their shot to buy Tesla back in 2016, according to Elon Musk. He was offering the company for pennies on the dollar compared to Tesla's current valuation. Apple chose not to, yet have been poaching Tesla people ever since. Apple must have been holding quite a hand for Tim Cook to refuse to even meet with Musk. It seems unlikely to me that Apple would be that far out from introducing SOMETHING that came from Project Titan.
  • Apple's next NeXT: how buying Beats launched a sneak attack on the future of sound

    There are far more challenging research areas in electrical engineering than audio.
    Boy is that a slippery assumption... working in the pro audio industry, I could point you to over a dozen experts who would take deep exception to this generalization. Differences in engineering problems are much more of type than degree. It's like saying rugby is a far easier sport to play than American football.
  • A new Mac Pro is coming, confirms Apple exec

    I think there are a number of factors here that explain the lack of action on the Mac Pro:

    1. It's perhaps Apple's smallest slice of the pie... it's almost a rounding error in their financials. So it's not a high fiscal priority.

    2. Continuing supply chain issues, and perhaps trouble finding a fab partner who could put together a difficult, very large chip package in limited volume.

    3. Indecision about keeping or abandoning the tower PC form factor, especially whether or not to allow third-party GPUs to play nice with Apple Silicon. Apple is heading in a more vertically integrated direction, and the current Mac Pro form factor muddies the waters of that ambition.

    4. Indecision about whether or not there is a need for a Mac Pro at all... especially with the Mac Studio outperforming any current Mac Pro configuration in every regard except for expanded GPU compute performance. It's a very niche market that needs the highest local compute performance possible, and Apple may be judging that they don't need a "halo" product at the top of their product line to keep the staple products moving. 

    With all of that, I believe that Apple is going to kill the Mac Pro. It may replace it in a 2-3 years with something else, maybe a totally modular system for those who have massively parallel applications. 

    But honestly... I have no real idea. And since this is a product with a small footprint in the supply chain, there's less opportunity to for leaks. Apple could surprise us.
  • 'iPhone 13' adding ProRes video recording, doubling down on pro camera features

    charlesn said:
    You may want to mention that to Steven Soderbergh. Name ring a bell? Lemme help... Oscar-winning, Emmy-winning and Palme D'Or-winning director who also serves as the award-winning cinematographer on all his films under the pseudonym Peter Andrews. He has shot a few feature films entirely on iPhone because... "Soderbergh felt the advantages of the iPhone outweighed the image fidelity of an ARRI or RED cameras that cost a hundred times more." So yeah, definitely not for "pros" like you... only the tyro filmmakers like Soderbergh. 
    To each their own. Christopher Nolan still shoots on IMAX film cameras. Others prefer micro four-thirds prosumer cameras. The iPhone works for a certain kind of "cinéma-vérité" style that Soderbergh likes, but no I know of no DP who would ever say that any current iPhone can fully substitute for a large sensor interchangeable-lens cinema camera. 

    All the professional iPhone footage that I've seen is remarkable... given what it was produced on. It's another tool in the belt for a cinematographer. And a great option for productions that have severe budget constraints.