Amazon Music HD issue with 24/44.1 tracks

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  • Official comment
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    Tony W. - Product Support Manager

    Hi Azkino

    We report 16 bit as CD quality and 24 bit as HR regardless of bit-rate.

    We play whatever the service gives us. I hope that clarifies it for you

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    Ciaran Henry

    Did you apply the latest player update and reboot? What does the Node2i log file say as the resolution? I had a problem with 24/192 tracks that went away with a reboot and upgrade. Also what forum for Amazon Music do you use?

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    Ciaran Henry

    I should have said - upgrade then reboot

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    Andrzej

    I have the latest update on the Node 2i. Here’s what I’m seeing in the logs for the first track on La La Land album.

    Amazon

    flc: bitrate=993621: 44100/24/2

    Qobuz

    flc: bitrate=1693860: 44100/24/2

    The DAC is showing 16 bit for Amazon and 24 bit for Qobuz.

    Here’s the link to the Amazon forum if it’s ok to post here: https://www.amazonforum.com/forums/digital-content/amazon-music/523313-amazon-music-hd-now-streaming-in-high-definition

     

     

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    Andrzej

    Thanks for the reply Tony, where’s the 24 bit information coming from, some kind of metadata from the service or the file itself? I’m just curious why the DAC was reporting it as 16 bit, maybe it’s using the bitrate or something. Anyway, based on the bitrate comparison, it looks like it’s an issue with Amazon Music.

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  • Hi Azkino

    It is what is detected when the file is decoded

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    Paul Butler

    Is there an answer to this? I’m having the same issue.  Accessing the Bluesound node 2i web interface I’m seeing amazon ultra had tracks showing as FLAC 44100/24/2 , but it’s coming through to my DAC as 16 bit. Thanks 

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  • We have found that some of the tracks you are listening to on Amazon are 16/44100/2 meaning CD Quality. We have seen this in Amazon have learned it may be a limitation of Amazon Music as they are in the process of updating their content library - much of it is in 24/192 but not all of it just yet. You are getting the highest resolution "up to" 24/192 they have available. It is coming soon.

    Please try these same tests using the UltraHD Classical Playlist and listen to Unaccompanied Cello Suite by YoYo Ma - this is a 24/96 song. Then try the test again playing The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars (2012 Remaster). This track is 24/192 so may only play as 24/96 on some DACs.

    If you are still having issues, then the problem is in your external DAC.

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    Paul Butler

    Hi Tony,

    thanks for the very fast reply! Have tried both of these tracks and both come through in the Bluesound web interface and the DAC as 24bit/92kHz. So it seems that what you’re saying is that the Amazon tracks that are claiming to be 24 bit and 44kHz are (at this time) actually 16 bit? But that might change as Amazon upgrade their library. 

    Thanks again, Paul

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    Joerg Sauer

    Hi,

    Just wanted to report that I am experiencing the same issue.

    Amazon Music HD has a lot of material in 24 bit / 44.1 KHz. In my opinion there is no reason to believe that Amazon just "claims" that these tracks have a bit depth of 24 when in fact they are only CD quality.

    My Node 2i is connected to an RME ADI-2 DAC FS, and when playing 24 bit / 44.1 material from Amazon Music HD, only a 16 bit / 44.1 KHz bitstream arrives at the external DAC.

    Bluesound, did you ever properly investigate this issue? I.e. hook up a Node 2i to a DAC and play one of the many 24/44.1 albums via Amazon?

    Three examples:

    Simon Posford - Flux & Contemplation - Portrait Of An Artist In Isolation
    Dreamstate Logic ‎– Era5
    Depeche Mode - Spirit (Deluxe)

    Just three albums, but Amazon's catalog is FULL of 24/44.1 material, and ALL of it plays only at 16 bits via the Node 2i!

    Please note that the "HR" icon is always displayed in the controller app while playing these and other 24/44.1 albums.

    This is quite obviously a bug, and one that is at odds with one of Bluesound's main product promises: Hi-res music! So, please take seriously what several customers are reporting here. We're not "doing it wrong" by accidentally selecting CD quality tracks or something.

    The Node 2i is claiming hi-res playback (by displaying "HR") while only delivering CD quality to the DAC. Please fix that!

    Thanks and best regards,

    Joerg

    Edit: And before you ask, all OTHER hi-res material on Amazon plays just fine. 24/48, 24/96, 24/192... all good, all playing at correct bit depth and sampling frequency. It's ONLY the 24/44.1 tracks not playing correctly.

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  • Hi Joerg

    The HR icon indicates the bit depth is 24. If it is CD, you will see CD indicating it is 16 bit. Please note we cannot control what Amazon puts on their server but also note the industry definition of Hi-Res is a 24-bit file regardless of wave frequency. 

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  • Avatar
    Joerg Sauer

    Hi Tony,

    I understand that! To reiterate: When the BluOS app is displaying "HR" during playback, the bit depth should be at least 24. Correct?

    So, what do you think could be the reason why during such playback ("HR" being displayed) the Node 2i is only providing a signal 16 bits deep in the special case of 24/44.1 material from Amazon?

    Technically, there could be at least four different reasons:

    1. Amazon Music has tagged thousands of albums as being 24/44.1 but in fact is storing all of these files only in 16-bit format. Therefore, all we will ever get from Amazon when playing these albums is 16 bits.

    2. There is a bug in Amazon Music that causes a 16-bit stream to be provided when a hi-res stream is requested for 24/44.1 material. So, Amazon has the material but for some reason satisfies a request for it only with a 16-bit stream.

    3. BluOS is using the Amazon Music API incorrectly when requesting streams for 24/44.1 material from Amazon. BluOS "thinks" it is playing HR but is in fact only processing a CD quality stream. To Amazon everything looks fine as all they see is a request for the 16-bit version.

    4. BluOS is doing something weird with 24 bit/44.1 KHz material from Amazon, somehow downsampling it to 16 bits.

    I don't know what's going on there, and I cannot investigate it because I am not a BluOS developer. All I know is that when using my Bluesound device, I am not always getting the full quality I am subscribed to with Amazon. I DO know that I am getting the full 24 bits when playing the same material natively via the Amazon Music app!

    So yeah, I would kind of expect Bluesound to investigate this issue. Regardless of what's actually happening, something weird is going on, and it's having a bad effect on my user experience with your product!

    Again, ALL other cases of hi-res playback work fine:

    - Hi-res material from Amazon above 24/44.1 (24/48, 24/96, 24/192) - plays fine.
    - Hi-res material, including 24/44.1, from Qobuz (I'm currently on a trial subscription) - plays fine.
    - Hi-res material, including 24/44.1 from my local library (I have FLACs at all kinds of resolutions) - plays fine.

    It's just the 24/44.1 from Amazon that is delivered at 16 bits by the Node 2i, and it's really frustrating!

    Best regards,

    Joerg

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    Joerg Sauer

    A quick follow-up... I found the same issue being reported on this forum here: https://audiophilestyle.com/forums/topic/57226-article-amazon-music-hd-launches/page/10/?tab=comments#comment-991026

    This user has the same DAC, and quotes from the manual (which I also have here on my desk): "The Bit column shows the number of bits found in the SPDIF audio signal. Note that a 24 bit signal that is shown as 16 bit is indeed 16 bit, but a signal shown as 24 bit might contain only 16 bit real audio plus 8 bits of noise..."

    Maybe this person is on to something there? It could mean, in fact, that Amazon is serving up "fake" 24 bit files with only 16 bits of actual audio content. That would be bad...

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    Joerg Sauer

    Update: I did some blind critical listening specifically with 24/44.1 material on Amazon Music HD vs. Qobuz. Well, what can I say... Qobuz sounds noticeably better. The difference isn't even subtle. I don't know what Amazon is doing there on their end, but sound quality beats everything for me, so I guess I will have to live with being subscribed to two premium streaming services. (I still need Amazon because Qobuz doesn't really support live streaming in their CarPlay app, and their catalog also has quite a few gaps unfortunately.)

    In other words, at least for the time being, this is "case closed" for me.

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    Andrzej

    Joerg Sauer

    My guess would be that the issue is somewhere on Amazon side, either 1 or 2 in your list. I think BluOS is just playing whatever is returned by the Amazon API.

    You mentioned that that "you're getting the full 24 bits when playing the same material natively via the Amazon Music app" but how can you be sure of that? As far as I'm aware, Amazon Music app still does not do bit perfect so if your DAC is reporting 24 bits, it's probably upsampled somewhere.

    I'm also keeping both subscriptions for now, Qobuz and Amazon HD, and I'm primarily using Qobuz and only using Amazon if something is not available on Qobuz.

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    Joerg Sauer

    Andrzej

    You're right, I cannot be sure that what I am playing in Amazon's app is actually 24 bits. I'm going by what the app tells me during playback, but obviously if Amazon is messing up storage and/or streaming of some of their hires material what we see in the app isn't really trustworthy at all.

    I'm quite happy at the moment with my combination of local library (a lot of stuff simply isn't available from ANY streaming provider), Qobuz and Amazon Music HD. Now, if BluOS had more features to consolidate material from multiple sources, that would make my music world perfect. (Playlists and meta-data organization across sources would be a start, Last.FM scrobbling also is missing inexplicably.) I guess this is where Roon could enter the scene, but since the Node 2i performs its core function (streaming!) so well, I'm not comfortable with introducing additional complexity to my setup at the moment.

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