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Amazon Music HD user review

  • TIDAL HIFI vs AMAZON MUSIC HD - audio quality comparison

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    Source Hardware Device:
    iPadPro 12.9inch 2019.
    Supports 24bit/192Khz via USB-C output.
    Latest iOS version as of 28 Nov, 2019.

    Audio Music - Apps/Software:
    Amazon Music HD [iOS APP - version 9.3.2]
    TIDAL HIFI [iOS APP - version 2.8.4].
    Both Apps are the Latest iOS version as of 28 Nov, 2019.

    External DAC: Audioquest Cobalt [24bit/96Khz, MQA renders].

    Headphones: Focal Clear

    +ALL ALBUMS WERE DOWNLOADED TO IPAD PRO IN ULTRA HD.
    +LOUDNESS NORMALISATION, GAPLESS PLAYBACK AND OPTIMISED PLAYBACK ALL WERE SWITCHED OFF.
    +IPAD PRO SWITCHED TO AIRP PLANE MODE WITH WIFI/BLUETOOTH OFF - TO MINIMISE ANY INTERFERENCE.
    +BOTH AMAZON MUSIC HD AND TIDAL HIFI APPS WERE SET IN OFFLINE MODE WHEN PLAYING BACK.
    +Fortunately I could listen in a very quiet room without any audible background sounds.

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    Notes: The comparison Albums included are all 24bit.
    On Amazon Music HD iOS APP there is upsampling happening. So for anything less then 96Khz it upsamples to 96Khz. If however Album is 96Khz it will play correctly as DAC is 96Khz - so in this case no upsampling happens. See below for Album details and I state if it is being upsampled.
    Tidal plays at correct bit rate upto 96Khz in this set up - using Cobalt DAC.
    For TIDAL HIFI - I have selected Master version of the Albums, because this according to TIDAL is the best quality available [according to TIDAL]. Tidal iOS APP decodes Master MQA on iPadPro and Cobalt will render it upto 96Khz. Some Albums might be 44.1, 48, 88 Khz - unable to see what Khz they are via iPadPro App/Cobalt.


    ALBUM 1: “Paul Weller - True Meanings”
    Amazon Music HD - iOS APP [Album format = 24bit/44.1Khz]. UPSAMPLED TO 96Khz.
    TIDAL - iOS APP [Album format = 24bit/Master].
    Audio Comparison:
    + TIDAL ADVANTAGE. Tidal wins for me as it is less brittle.
    + TIDAL ADVANTAGE. Tidal is slightly smoother, but without losing any resolution.
    + TIDAL ADVANTAGE. Amazon is bit more mid forward, which seems to be a flatter sound and less depth compared to Tidal.



    ALBUM 2: “Spectre - James Bond Movie Soundtrack”
    Amazon Music HD - iOS APP [Album format = 24bit/44.1Khz]. UPSAMPLED TO 96Khz.
    TIDAL - iOS APP [Album format = 24bit/Master].
    Audio Comparison:
    + TIDAL ADVANTAGE. Tidal is slightly smoother, but without losing any resolution.



    ALBUM 3: “TALKING HEADS: 77”
    Amazon Music HD - iOS APP [Album format = 24bit/96Khz]. CORRECT BIT RATE PLAYED
    TIDAL - iOS APP [Album format = 24bit/Master].
    Audio Comparison:
    They sound slightly different, with Amazon a bit more forward in mids yet not in a negative way. No advantage in my opinion and both are equal.




    ALBUM 4: “PETER GABRIEL - SO (SPECIAL EDITION)”
    Amazon Music HD - iOS APP [Album format = 24bit/96Khz]. CORRECT BIT RATE PLAYED
    TIDAL - iOS APP [Album format = 24bit/Master].
    Audio Comparison:
    Sound similar. No one has an advantage.



    ALBUM 5: “ICONOLOGY - MISSY ELLIOT”
    Amazon Music HD - iOS APP [Album format = 24bit/96Khz]. CORRECT BIT RATE PLAYED
    TIDAL - iOS APP [Album format = 24bit/Master].
    Audio Comparison:
    +TIDAL ADVANTAGE. Slightly more low end sub base picked up on Focal Clear.



    CONCLUSION
    There seems to be a more distinctive advantage to Tidal on the Albums where Amazon is applying upsampling - based on the above 5 Albums tested. For other Albums there is very little difference.

    I hope Amazon decides to play bit perfect and I don’t see why it can’t, since it is able to show us correct information on both track resolution aswell as connected DAC capability.
    Yet the actual playing resolution it shows is incorrect when using an external DAC. I got same results with my Chord Mojo where everything was upsampled to 192Khz, yet the yellow label incorrectly stated a lower track playing resolution.

    For Amazon Music, If using External DAC I would not risk using anything higher than 96Khz, such as a 192khz DAC as the upsampling would be too much - taking 44.1 tracks all the way to 192khz. And there are plenty of 44.1 tracks on Amazon.
    A horribly inconvenient solution which is a massive compromise is to only listen to 24bit/96khz tracks when using a 24bit/96khz DAC - such as Audioquest Cobalt would then all be played correctly.
    This item was purchased for Current trial from Amazon in 2019 . The reviewer still owns this product.

    Pros

    • Ability to play Albums at upto 192 Khz

    Cons

    • Not bit perfect. Up sampling

    Scores

    6
    7
    7
    7
    8

    Comments

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Amazon Music HD

Comments
0
Author
Jokerr
Review score
6 / 10
Average score
6.0 / 10
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