News Why are some audiophiles so critical of Apple Music?

Niallivm

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I can't understand the angry criticism some audio enthusiasts are aiming at Apple Music, which let's not forget is intended for music fans rather than high-end hi-Fi enthusiasts. It's not as if Apple are charging extra for it, and it does actually work well, albeit with some bugs and flaws. If people are happy to pay the premiums for Qobuz, Roon et al for their listening, that's their prerogative, but Apple are delivering Lossless and Hi Res to the masses, not the enthusiasts. (And don't expect Spotify Hi-Fi to be any different in its focus when/if it finally arrives.)
I've got a MacBook Air M1, Cyrus Soundkey DAC and wired B&W P7 headphones but my ears can't distinguish between Qobuz Hi-Res and Apple Music's. Okay, so I've not got high end audiophile equipment but I'm just not hearing anything superior from Qobuz no matter what the science says. (And don't get me started on twice-the-price Tidal.)
Personally, I would have been happy if Apple had limited AM to Lossless at 16/44 at launch then introduced the higher res service later, but they went for it, and all credit to them for lifting the bar and starting to retire Mpeg/AAC streaming. It's new and imperfect (ha ha) but Apple has elevated the standards for consumer streaming services even if there's plenty of room for improvement and enhancements to the product's first release. It will get better.
 
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I can't understand the angry criticism some audio enthusiasts are aiming at Apple Music, which let's not forget is actually a general market consumer product rather than an expensive high-end product. It's not as if Apple are charging extra for it, and it does actually work well, albeit with some bugs and flaws. If people are happy to pay the premiums for Qobuz, Roon et al for their listening, that's their prerogative, but Apple are delivering Lossless and Hi Res to the masses, not the enthusiasts. (And don't expect Spotify Hi-Fi to be any different in its focus when/if it finally arrives.)
I've got a MacBook Air M1, Cyrus Soundkey DAC and wired B&W P7 headphones but my ears can't distinguish between Qobuz Hi-Res and Apple Music's. Okay, so I've not got high end audiophile equipment but I'm just not hearing anything superior from Qobuz no matter what the science says. And don't get me started on twice-the-price Tidal.
Personally, I would have been happy if Apple had limited AM to Lossless at 16/44 at launch then introduced the higher res service later, but they went for it, and all credit to them for lifting the bar and starting to retire Mpeg/AAC streaming. It's new and imperfect (ha ha) but Apple has elevated the standards for consumer streaming services even if there's plenty of room for improvement and enhancements to the product's first release. It will get better.
I guess if you are paying for and listening to high quality HiFi products you can hear the difference. I often read people on here say Qobuz is the best. Either that or they just don’t like 🍏
 
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nopiano

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Perhaps because it doesn’t seem to work ‘natively’ on the majority of Hifi streamers - in fact, maybe none? And because Apple may have no compunction to price it fairly and may aim to crush the more enterprising existing rivals, only to whack up prices once they dominate.
As for spatial audio, well that’s something we need as much as we needed MQA, not at all.

I like Apple hardware, which is excellent if pricy. But leave the music to others, please.
 

Niallivm

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Oct 28, 2019
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Perhaps because it doesn’t seem to work ‘natively’ on the majority of Hifi streamers - in fact, maybe none? And because Apple may have no compunction to price it fairly and may aim to crush the more enterprising existing rivals, only to whack up prices once they dominate.
As for spatial audio, well that’s something we need as much as we needed MQA, not at all.

I like Apple hardware, which is excellent if pricy. But leave the music to others, please.
Interesting comments, but don’t you think though that Apple's music is service is primarily aimed at iPhone users rather than meeting the needs of audiophiles with expensive high end streamers? Qobuz is the company I feel sorry for as this market hots up. A good specialist service fairly priced, well integrated with Roon et al but undermined by weak apps and poorly structured data.
Apple are damned when they charge excessively and damned if they undercut the market? I think they are pricing it surprisingly fairly and I doubt they’ll increase prices any time soon. Even cheaper of course is Amazon Music HD (for Prime customer at least) but no one seems to take that seriously even though it‘s the fastest growing streaming service and has the deep pockets of the world’s biggest retailer.
I share your cynicism regarding Spatial Audio but don’t see why a company that revolutionised (and saved) the digital music industry with iTunes should “leave the music to others”, especially if the “others“ include YouTube and Tidal
 
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Tinman1952

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Interesting comments, but don’t you think though that Apple's music is service is primarily aimed at iPhone users rather than meeting the needs of audiophiles with expensive high end streamers? Qobuz is the company I feel sorry for as this market hots up. A good specialist service fairly priced, well integrated with Roon et al but undermined by weak apps and poorly structured data.
Apple are damned when they charge excessively and damned if they undercut the market? I think they are pricing it surprisingly fairly and I doubt they’ll increase prices any time soon. Even cheaper of course is Amazon Music HD (for Prime customer at least) but no one seems to take that seriously even though it‘s the fastest growing streaming service and has the deep pockets of the world’s biggest retailer.
I share your cynicism regarding Spatial Audio but don’t see why a company that revolutionised (and saved) the digital music industry with iTunes should “leave the music to others”, especially if the “others“ include YouTube and Tidal
I agree with you about Apple’s target market. Hopefully hardware will arrive soon which can take full advantage of their service…… The big benefit for me is that it brought about a big reduction in the price of Amazon Music HD! Still the best choice for me…..👍
 

nopiano

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Feb 15, 2009
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Interesting comments, but don’t you think though that Apple's music is service is primarily aimed at iPhone users rather than meeting the needs of audiophiles with expensive high end streamers? Qobuz is the company I feel sorry for as this market hots up. A good specialist service fairly priced, well integrated with Roon et al but undermined by weak apps and poorly structured data.
Apple are damned when they charge excessively and damned if they undercut the market? I think they are pricing it surprisingly fairly and I doubt they’ll increase prices any time soon. Even cheaper of course is Amazon Music HD (for Prime customer at least) but no one seems to take that seriously even though it‘s the fastest growing streaming service and has the deep pockets of the world’s biggest retailer.
I share your cynicism regarding Spatial Audio but don’t see why a company that revolutionised (and saved) the digital music industry with iTunes should “leave the music to others”, especially if the “others“ include YouTube and Tidal
I forget the vast consumption of music on the move, I guess because I no longer commute I don’t witness it much. I’m more of a ‘turn the wireless on’ generation, I suppose! So, I realise that integration with iPhone is critical. Though you were asking what audiophiles think.

I had also never thought of iTunes as saving anything, but I guess you mean from piracy, in which case I guess that may be true too. How short our memories can be.
 
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With apple music is all over the place, they care and they don't. I guess audiophiles don't seem to like it because its half baked lacklustre support. One example is that the Mac app cant stream bit perfectly and require the end-user to adjust the rather buried midi control to allow proper throughput.

And the other end of the market just really don't care as you say listen through their phones with apple air pods that do the job for 99%.

Apple to be honest have missed a trick they were perfectly poised to really upset the status quo but as it stands is more of a shot across the bow. Albeit a very big shot

It's just the little details that have let them down, Products that can't playback high res above 24/48 if that matters to you. And in all honesty its still a mystery to what has changed to the vast majority and some just don't understand (so that means not advertised well). the VP has openly stated that most people won't be able to hear the difference is he wrong heck most here bicker about it all the time. Basically in apple eyes, the world infrastructure is ready to deliver the full-fat quality that sits on there servers.

The big for audiophiles is the lack of support which I'm sure will change.

BUT given half a chance apple music is actually very good, I've been giving it a full 3 months trail and its now starting to learn my listen habbts. It sounds just as good tidal if not better in some cases (why wouldn't it) and doesn't require special DAC's or software to decode audio, making it easy to accommodate and has a full library, unlike qobuz. And actually offers incredible value beyond just music, for the same price as Spotify family subscription you can bundle apple music and a number of their other services including apple tv and bundle that into a family paln as well for 15 quid. no other service can offer that outside of prime.

For now, ill stick to using my phone and iPad which to be honest has its benifits (though i hope bluesound will support it). Ill watch the landscape unfold but i certainly won't be going back to tidal or qobuz.
 

manicm

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Apple Music is heavily targeted toward Apple devices, and I don’t see them developing a ‘connect’ streaming app for Hifis like Spotify or Tidal. Just like it hasn’t happened that Nintendo will produce games for 3rd party platforms yet, as was expected when they were in the red not that long ago.

So even though Apple Music is offering hires for no extra cost, I’m still sticking with Spotify.
 

Edbostan

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Aug 5, 2021
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Apple Music is heavily targeted toward Apple devices, and I don’t see them developing a ‘connect’ streaming app for Hifis like Spotify or Tidal. Just like it hasn’t happened that Nintendo will produce games for 3rd party platforms yet, as was expected when they were in the red not that long ago.

So even though Apple Music is offering hires for no extra cost, I’m still sticking with Spotify.
Don't know why we are getting hang up about HD music, Hi Res music and bit rates. Just enjoy the music. With the resurgence of vinyl some of us are revelling in hearing music reproduced from digital masters made into analogue discs with a stylus cutting its way through a plastic groove
 

Sliced Bread

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Apple Music does at least integrate with my Sonos connect, however the connect itself is limited to cd quality playback.
Hopefuly more will follow. I hope.

In terms of people hating Apple Music, I think some of it comes down to hardware restrictions and some of it comes down to brand snobbery in some cases. I mean , we all know “that guy” who says apple is better than Samsung or Samsung is better than apple etc etc.

In terms of. Sound quality I can now hear very very subtle differences between Tidal and Apple Music. Apple often comes across as a shade punchier and more exciting, butTidal seems to sound a shade more organic and a tiny bet less forced.

I pay for Tidal and I have Apple Music free with my EE contract for 2 years so I have no axe to grind.
 

Edbostan

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Aug 5, 2021
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Apple Music does at least integrate with my Sonos connect, however the connect itself is limited to cd quality playback.
Hopefuly more will follow. I hope.

In terms of people hating Apple Music, I think some of it comes down to hardware restrictions and some of it comes down to brand snobbery in some cases. I mean , we all know “that guy” who says apple is better than Samsung or Samsung is better than apple etc etc.

In terms of. Sound quality I can now hear very very subtle differences between Tidal and Apple Music. Apple often comes across as a shade punchier and more exciting, butTidal seems to sound a shade more organic and a tiny bet less forced.

I pay for Tidal and I have Apple Music free with my EE contract for 2 years so I have no axe to grind.
I stream Amazon Music through my Sonos Connect and from my NAS. Quality is indiscernible from my dedicated CD player. I find CD Quality adequate for my needs. I have lived through wind up gramophone playing shellac 78rpm records, stereo LPs, reel-to-reel tape machines, cassette tapes, minidisc, r-dat, quadraphonic LPs and eventually CD. I am grateful of the technological advances we enjoy today
 

AJM1981

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Don't know why we are getting hang up about HD music, Hi Res music and bit rates. Just enjoy the music. With the resurgence of vinyl some of us are revelling in hearing music reproduced from digital masters made into analogue discs with a stylus cutting its way through a plastic groove
The best experience is to be at a live concert and there are two things to a live concert. Either the amplification completely overshadows the artists and then the experience of being there standing in a crowd, seeing the artists in person and having the music at concert levels makes up for that, and makes one enjoy.

Playing a recorded version of that is like listening to a ghostly version of that same experience. The only way to get a little in to it is playing it at the same experiencable volume levels but if it is from the good ol' days, prepare to get deaf by the age. I never listen to anything louder than reasonable at home.

Then there are some concerts which are barely amplified and then there is the problem that if you would like to emulate that experience almost as it is, every single instrument should get its own speaker on a stage as even hi res equipment developers are indicating.

Nevertheless, you are right that music should come first. I agree with audiophiles that quality of the source is important but only up till some degree where research turns out we can't hear the difference anymore, even on hi res speakers.

Basically everything that would fail by test in a double blind experience would be something to put in the category of obsession rather than enjoying.
 

Edbostan

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Aug 5, 2021
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The best experience is to be at a live concert and there are two things to a live concert. Either the amplification completely overshadows the artists and then the experience of being there standing in a crowd, seeing the artists in person and having the music at concert levels makes up for that, and makes one enjoy.

Playing a recorded version of that is like listening to a ghostly version of that same experience. The only way to get a little in to it is playing it at the same experiencable volume levels but if it is from the good ol' days, prepare to get deaf by the age. I never listen to anything louder than reasonable at home.

Then there are some concerts which are barely amplified and then there is the problem that if you would like to emulate that experience almost as it is, every single instrument should get its own speaker on a stage as even hi res equipment developers are indicating.

Nevertheless, you are right that music should come first. I agree with audiophiles that quality of the source is important but only up till some degree where research turns out we can't hear the difference anymore, even on hi res speakers.

Basically everything that would fail by test in a double blind experience would be something to put in the category of obsession rather than enjoying.
I often go to stage musicals in London's West End where if my hi-fi sounded like the amplification of the theatres speakers I would be looking at an upgrade. I saw Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when I only understood the dialogue after playing the soundtrack in the comfort of my home
 

AJM1981

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I often go to stage musicals in London's West End where if my hi-fi sounded like the amplification of the theatres speakers I would be looking at an upgrade. I saw Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when I only understood the dialogue after playing the soundtrack in the comfort of my home
Last one is about cinema.

Dialogue also is about +- 95% of every movie with some action movies only utilizing a high density of explosions to which a lot of home cinema systems are tailored. I also prefer speakers that get voice and dialog right among with the regular sfx, rather than putting extra weight in the explosions.
 

Sliced Bread

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Interesting development here. Since the high res and Dolby Atmos upgrade the Apple 4K TV is now actually a pretty decent and cost effective streamer if you are feeding it into a receiver with HDMI. They can be picked up for £159 and it sounds clearer and more vibrant than my Sonos connect. Add that it now supports up to 24bit 48kz (if that’s your thing) and also Dolby Atmos music and you have a decent little music streamer with a clear interface.

The limitation of course is that you need a HDMI input on your amp with pass through, so not ideal for stereo amplifiers.
 
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Tinman1952

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Interesting development here. Since the high res and Dolby Atmos upgrade the Apple 4K TV is now actually a pretty decent and cost effective streamer if you are feeding it into a receiver with HDMI. They can be picked up for £159 and it sounds clearer and more vibrant than my Sonos connect. Add that it now supports up to 24bit 48kz (if that’s your thing) and also Dolby Atmos music and you have a decent little music streamer with a clear interface.

The limitation of course is that you need a HDMI input on your amp with pass through, so not ideal for stereo amplifiers.
Agreed. I tried some of the Atmos tracks on a free trial and it sounded pretty good! If only they had kept the optical output……
 
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daveh75

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Interesting development here. Since the high res and Dolby Atmos upgrade the Apple 4K TV is now actually a pretty decent and cost effective streamer if you are feeding it into a receiver with HDMI. They can be picked up for £159 and it sounds clearer and more vibrant than my Sonos connect. Add that it now supports up to 24bit 48kz (if that’s your thing) and also Dolby Atmos music and you have a decent little music streamer with a clear interface.

The limitation of course is that you need a HDMI input on your amp with pass through, so not ideal for stereo amplifiers.
The Xiaomi Mi Box S is about a third of the price and has USB and optical outs, so far more flexible. I know John Darko has reviewed it, and written about it extensively and is a fan.

Nvidia Shield TV Pro is £179 but often reduced, has USB that supports audio upto 24bit/192 kHz.

Both support Chromecast built-in...
 
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ThisIsJimmy

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Apple Music is heavily targeted toward Apple devices, and I don’t see them developing a ‘connect’ streaming app for Hifis like Spotify or Tidal. Just like it hasn’t happened that Nintendo will produce games for 3rd party platforms yet, as was expected when they were in the red not that long ago.

So even though Apple Music is offering hires for no extra cost, I’m still sticking with Spotify.
And herein is the problem i have with Apple. Most consumers these days want to be vendor agnostic with technology and products built around common standards. Proprietary is a problem ingrained into the Apple eco-system and all of their products. It's an issue Sony and LG also have with some of their software and hardware. I thoroughly detest products that force a manufacturer eco system on you.

In this case, why do i hate apple music/itunes?

Because it means having an ALAC file. And I can't play alac files on all my devices. But i can an M4A, FLAC or WAVE on everything else. Which am i going to use based on that?

Why would i buy an Apple TV If i can get other HD streaming services on many other better TVs or HiFi devices?

When Steve Jobs was around, he actually encouraged innovation, and to an extent that kept people buying their products which allowed Apple to get away with their proprietary tech. Since his passing, the innovating is coming from all of their competitors, many of whom have been building around common standards. Apple now seem more focused on marketing and "glam" or "trendy" product ranges.
 

Sliced Bread

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The Xiaomi Mi Box S is about a third of the price and has USB and optical outs, so far more flexible. I know John Darko has reviewed it, and written about it extensively and is a fan.

Nvidia Shield TV Pro is £179 but often reduced, has USB that supports audio upto 24bit/192 kHz.

Both support Chromecast built-in...
Interesting. At that price it might be worth a look some time. I guess the Apple TV can stream Dolby Atmos music so it has its advantages too but that looks like an interesting little box.
 

Sliced Bread

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Jul 28, 2010
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And herein is the problem i have with Apple. Most consumers these days want to be vendor agnostic with technology and products built around common standards. Proprietary is a problem ingrained into the Apple eco-system and all of their products. It's an issue Sony and LG also have with some of their software and hardware. I thoroughly detest products that force a manufacturer eco system on you.

In this case, why do i hate apple music/itunes?

Because it means having an ALAC file. And I can't play alac files on all my devices. But i can an M4A, FLAC or WAVE on everything else. Which am i going to use based on that?

Why would i buy an Apple TV If i can get other HD streaming services on many other better TVs or HiFi devices?

When Steve Jobs was around, he actually encouraged innovation, and to an extent that kept people buying their products which allowed Apple to get away with their proprietary tech. Since his passing, the innovating is coming from all of their competitors, many of whom have been building around common standards. Apple now seem more focused on marketing and "glam" or "trendy" product ranges.
I can see where you’re coming from. I’m currently an Apple user but I am largely brand agnostic and have moved several times. I also wouldn’t stream from an eco system I didn’t already belong to, but for Apple users it’s a great service at a low price. High resolution and Dolby Atmos music, which really does make a difference. For me the price was an Apple TV, which I already had and Apple Music was free for two years with my phone. When played next to Tidal the quality is comparable for stereo and a different experience on the Atmos streams.

I appreciate though that if you are outside the eco system that the proprietary nature may put you off. These days though, it is so easy to switch providers that I don’t worry about it. If it works with my current tech then great. If I want to change route then I’ll change service and copy my playlists over via soundiiz. Takes less than an hour 👍
 
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ThisIsJimmy

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I appreciate though that if you are outside the eco system that the proprietary nature may put you off. These days though, it is so easy to switch providers that I don’t worry about it. If it works with my current tech then great. If I want to change route then I’ll change service and copy my playlists over via soundiiz. Takes less than an hour 👍
Yeah. It sounds like a good offer if you are all about the Apple eco system, but no-one outside it can benefit. But those outside it potentially have more choice. It's swings and roundabouts i guess.
 
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