Apple Lossless? Do I need Tidal now. Is it better with my Node 2i?

I thought i knew...turns out I dont.

Have been using Apple Music (legacy) and Tidal for the last 2 years.

- Apple Music (for legacy iTunes) via AirPlay to my Node 2i.
- Tidal for HiRes via Tidal app to my Node 2i.

Now that Apple has Lossless and Hi-Res, and most music I listen to, I have questions and seek your help:

1. Do I still need Tidal?
2. Is "Tidal Connect" to my Node 2i better than AirPlay?

I have a Chord Qutest DAC with external LPS, Belles Aria Sig amp and Dynaudio S-40s with Audience AU24 cables.
I've come fall away from most of my Apple love of the past three decades.

That said, the interface is amazingly intuitive to use and very clever. (E.g. one can easily drill back to the whole album while listening to a cut, the lyrics are great to see in real time, etc.)
Great. But I guess I really seek subjective views of the sound quality between the two.
No one can tell you what you should subjectively prefer, but the facts are these:

1) AirPlay and Apple TV OS are limited to 24bit/48kHz. There is one way to tap Apple Music’s ‘hi-res lossless’ content: an iPad or iPhone, connected to a USB DAC with Apple’s Lightning-to-USB adapter.

The details are in this article. (click the link)

2) If you subscribe to Tidal Master Quality, then Master Quality can stream up to 24Bit/192kHz (typically 24Bit/96kHz).

So, Tidal offers higher resolution than Apple AirPlay in most set-ups, which may or may not sound better.

Some of the world’s best sounding DACs play only 16Bit/44Khz content.

It’s up to you to decide which music service sounds better in your system with your equipment, and which service offers features you prefer.

@tvad Ok, you’ve sent me off on a search. Can you tell me if I understand this?

Some facts: I use an iPhone or iPad to use the Apple Music App to control my Bluesound Node streamer, outputting to an MHDT DAC.

So...have I been listening to 256 AAC resolution the whole time?

If I wanted to get higher resolution, would I need to tether my device to the BlueSound node with the lightening to usb cord?

I’m not a nut for 24 bit but I’d like at least the CD quality lossless.

Any clues appreciated. I can re-read the Darko, but I’m just checking that it’s pertinent.

There's also this article, which seems to show that a cord is *not* necessary, but a laptop is...

Any clues appreciated. I can re-read the Darko, but I'm just checking that it's pertinent.

My advice is to read the Darko article. He does a great job of explaining what I might unintentionally botch. Bottom line, unless you're connecting an iPhone or iPad to a USB DAC using a Lightning-to-USB connector or CCK (camera connection kit), then you're not getting 24bit/96kHz or 24bit/192kHz from Apple High Resolution.
I think tvad is correct in his last post. Listening quality is completely subjective. Recently, some people have been saying that they believe Spotify is more musical than Tidal even though the resolution is lower in Spotify. Other people have said that Tidal adds a bit of sparkle on the top end and increases the bottom end, which I agree with.

One of the big reasons why I’ve stayed with Spotify and Tidal vs Apple Music, Deezer, and Quboz is because of Spotify Connect and Tidal Connect. There’s lower battery drainage from my device (typically an iPhone) due to bypassing Bluetooth. With Connect, the iPhone is simply the remote while my NAD and your Node are streaming directly from the unit and not from your iPhone, computer, or tablet via Bluetooth.
Ok, well, I’m really not getting this.

I want to merely use my iPad or iPhone as remote controls.

If Darko is correct, then it seems that I am now *bypassing* the Node entirely. I physically connect my ipad to the DAC via a connector (which I don’t appear to have, because my Orchid has one of those weird shape USB connectors, like one sees on printers).

In other words, to listen to Apple Music Lossless, I now have to bypass my streamer? Otherwise, I listen with lossy quality via Airplay 2: iPad --> Node --> DAC?

Unless, apparently, I do this:

"You can stream Apple Lossless content directly from the Apple Music app from a Mac.

Currently, when a BluOS Player is selected directly from the list of Airplay compatible devices in the Apple Music app, lossless audio is converted to AAC at 256 kbps. As a workaround, when the system-wide audio output on a Mac is set to a BluOS Player, the AirPlay Content is sent as 16 bit 44.KHz using ALAC or Apple Lossless.

"To change the system-wide audio output in Mac, perform the following steps on your Mac:
Select Control Center in the menu bar.
Select the Airplay icon under Sound.
Select the required BluOS speaker.
Open the Apple Music app, select the Airplay icon in the upper-right corner.
Select Computer ––> (BluOS Speaker).
Alternatively, to change the audio output on the Mac – click here.
The Apple Music app will now stream bit-perfect lossless audio to the BluOS Player.

Notes: This option is not available on an iPad or iPhone.

Audio quality is 16-bit/44.1 kHz (CD Quality) Lossless via ALAC."

I’m not sure I’m sizing this up correctly but if I am, well, what a clusterf*ck.

In other words, to listen to Apple Music Lossless, I now have to bypass my streamer?

No. You’re conflating Lossless with High Resolution. You are listening to Lossless using the method you employ. You aren’t listening to Apple High Resolution.

The article you linked explains that BlueOS plays AAC 256, which is lossless, but is limited to 44.1kHz (CD quality). Lossless (AAC) does not equate to high resolution (24bit/96kHz or 24bit/192kHz), which is possible using Darko’s technique.

However, as I mentioned previously, high resolution (24bit/96kHz or 24bit/192kHz) doesn’t necessarily translate to preferable sound. The DAC (and streamer) matters.

Many folks prefer 18bit/44kHz content via a well designed DAC.

@tvad Ok, well I think your last comment saved me hours, seriously. Thank you. I really don’t care about 24 bit -- what I was worried about was whether I was presently settling for 256k lossy. 44.1kHz (CD quality) is just fine for my middle-aged ears.

@hilde45, Apple’s AirPlay 2 protocol downsamples audio files to 24-bit/44.1 kHz (Lossless).
@tvad Ok, got it (for now). I really don't need to obsess about file formats or high or super high resolutions at this point in my audio journey. I want to ensure "non-lossy" as my standard and then focus on other things (I'm setting up a new listening room, so as you can appreciate, I have a bunch of 800 lb elephants in the room to deal with.) Thank you for your expertise and for your willingness to converse with me about my questions.
Tvad is Right on the money. I am a Qobuz subscriber and got a free trial with Apple lossless and I could clearly hear the difference between between 24/96 and 24/48 bit rates so I canceled the Apple subscription. Regarding Tidal,  my ears told me the MQA presentation was somewhat sonically degraded and I didn’t like that at all nor the relentless pushing of a certain genre content.
Hi, guys…I’m the OP and I really appreciate the info.

So, if I get this right, I can use Apple Music and stream cd quality Lossless now via airplay to my node 2i then onto my chord Qutest?

if I am getting cd quality from Apple Music and airplay, then I am all set as, since SACD hype, have never experienced an appreciable sonic difference even with $10k+ audio system.
So, if I get this right, I can use Apple Music and stream cd quality Lossless now via airplay to my node 2i then onto my chord Qutest?

Correct on CD quality Lossless from Apple Music via Airplay.

I don’t have an answer about Node 2i then onto the Chord Qutest.

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