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Lead image

What gear do you need to play Amazon Music HD?

Exploring a great new way to stream high-res and CD-quality music

In this article: I introduce Amazon Music HD and give my hands-on review of this new high-resolution music streaming service. I also break down which gear works best with Amazon Music HD, including:

Two years ago, Amazon debuted a high-resolution streaming tier of their music service called “Amazon Music HD.” It offers upgraded sound over conventional streaming music services. Now in 2021, they've made Amazon Music HD available at no additional cost for all of their Amazon Music Unlimited subscribers.  

Dragonfly demo at crutchfield

Crutchfield Advisors Luna and Bear test out the sonic advantages of high-res audio through the AudioQuest DragonFly Cobalt DAC/headphone amp and Focal Stellia headphones.

That's big news here at Crutchfield, where we take sound quality seriously. But to take advantage of this higher-quality audio, you need the right gear. This article will show you which products work best with Amazon Music HD, and how to use them. I’ll also give you my early impressions of the service — and its sound.

What is Amazon Music HD?

Amazon Music HD offers lossless streaming of CD-quality and high-resolution music, and is part of the Amazon Music Unlimited service. (Not to be confused with “Prime Music,” Amazon’s limited-catalog music service that’s included with an Amazon Prime membership.) 

Amazon claims they have over 70 million tracks in CD quality — what they call “High Definition” or “HD.” There are millions more that Amazon calls “Ultra High Definition” or “UHD”— more traditionally known as "high-res." They also offer tracks in immersive, three-dimensional formats like Sony 360 Reality Audio and Dolby Atmos Music

Originally, this was an upgraded "tier" of Amazon Music Unlimited, that would cost $5 more per month. But after the announcement that Apple Music will offer lossless streaming in June 2021, Amazon dropped their extra fee for Amazon Music HD. 

So now it is $7.99 a month for Prime members and $9.99 a month for non-prime members. That's on par with Spotify and Apple Music, and there is also a family plan and yearly plan discounts. They are currently offering a 30-day free trial.  

What is lossless streaming?

Streaming services typically compress music files for fast, efficient delivery to your smartphone or tablet. That essentially “chops off” part of the music. While that may sound OK when listening to your phone or laptop's built-in speakers, you lose key details and dynamics.  All those special little subtleties can really stand out through a nice pair of headphones and other hi-fi gear.  

Amazon HD screenshot regarding quality comparison

This illustration from Amazon compares their HD and Ultra HD digital audio signals to a standard-definition (SD) signal. All digital audio streams lose some of the original analog waveform, but HD streams lose a lot less.

Amazon is the first of the “big three” streaming services to offer lossless streaming. Spotify and Apple Music only stream lossy files at 320 Kilobytes per second (the same as Amazon’s SD service).  Amazon Music HD streams FLAC files at up to 3,730 Kbps. That delivers far more data, meaning you can hear more of those important musical nuances.

Amazon’s price is lower than comparable lossless streaming tiers from niche music services Qobuz and Tidal. It will be interesting to see how those companies react. 

What is the audio quality of HD and Ultra HD?

Here is a breakdown of the bitrates and sample rates for the three tiers of Amazon Music HD:

SD — Bitrate:  320 Kbps

HD — Bitrate: average of 850 Kbps; Sample rate: 16-bit/44kHz

Ultra HD — Bitrate: average of 3,730 kbps; Sample rate: up to 24-bit/192kHz

Charles Anderson (head of our personal audio group) breaks it down like this: “With quality gear, stepping up in audio resolution can give you that extra 5 percent that really makes your music sound more lifelike.”

You’ll need a fast and strong internet connection

I would only recommend streaming in HD or Ultra HD when you’re connected by Wi-Fi or Ethernet. That’s because lossless streaming can take up a lot of cell-phone data, pretty fast. So if you're out and about and listening on your phone’s 3G, 4G, or LTE service, you'll probably want to stream in SD. You can make adjustments within the settings menu of the Amazon Music app.

Amazon Music HD also lets you download songs to your phone to play when you're away from an internet connection. That’s handy when you're on a road or plane trip, or when you don't want to use your data plan.

But even when you’re at home, lossless streaming can tax your wireless network — especially if your family is simultaneously using your internet connection for other purposes, such as watching TV, checking email, etc.

Amazon recommends an internet connection of 1.5 to 2 Mbps for HD streaming and 5 to 10 Mbps for Ultra HD streaming. Check out our wireless router buying guide for tips on beefing up your home network.

How to get the most out of Amazon Music HD with headphones

I’m the headphone writer here at Crutchfield, so I naturally wore them to test this new music service. And while I’m biased, I think listening to Amazon Music HD through a good set of headphones gives you tremendous bang for the buck.

But you won’t realize the full sonic benefit by connecting headphones directly to your phone or laptop. Most phones won’t be able to decode Ultra HD or even HD tracks on their own. The audio circuitry inside phones and laptops can often be ho-hum. 

Jeff with headphones

I found that the sound quality of Amazon Music HD suited the stellar Denon AH-D9200 closed-back bamboo headphones.

An outboard DAC (digital-to-analog converter) will bypass that circuitry and help squeeze out more musical detail. I listened from my work laptop using the AudioQuest DragonFly Cobalt to drive the audiophile Denon AH-9200 headphones.

I’ll give some specifics later, but overall I thought most tracks sounded excellent. A song can only be as good as it was recorded and mixed, of course. But compared to Spotify, I heard tighter bass, more high-end detail, and better vocal clarity.

With the right set of wireless headphones, you might also hear a difference. Bluetooth has gotten much better in just the last few years. Devices and Bluetooth headphones with either aptX HD or Sony’s LDAC wireless codecs can stream up to CD quality (Amazon's HD mode).

Better sound from your Sonos speakers

Sonos is the most popular multi-room music system. They make speakers, sound bars, and amps/streamers that you can put in different rooms of the house. But most don’t listen to music at Sonos’ full CD-quality potential.

Sonos amp with speakers

Connect a nice pair of speakers to your Sonos Amp, and stream in CD quality with Amazon Music HD.

The majority of people stream compressed music on Sonos — or "SD" format, to borrow Amazon’s lingo. This would be the video equivalent of owning a nice HDTV, but only watching the fuzzy standard-def channels. 

Sonos Five Wireless powered speaker with Wi-Fi® and Apple AirPlay® 2

Amazon Music HD's CD-quality streaming means even better sound from Sonos' best standalone speaker, the Sonos Five.

If you have Sonos components, or plan on getting some soon, Amazon’s HD tracks will let you hear them at their best. Simply update your Sonos app and firmware to the latest version, and you'll be ready to play Amazon Music HD.

Go full high-res with HEOS, Bluesound, and DTS Play-Fi

There are other multi-room audio systems that have the capability of playing full high-resolution music. In other words, you can listen to Amazon’s Ultra HD tracks throughout your whole home.

Here are the multi-room audio systems that can either play Ultra HD tracks, or will have the capability soon. 

Denon HEOS – supports both HD and Ultra HD tiers.

Denon receiver

The Denon AVR-X3500H 7.2 home theater receiver has HEOS built-in.

I think this is especially cool because HEOS is baked into certain Denon home theater receivers and amplifiers. These are some of the best and most popular receivers we offer. So this is an easy, convenient way to get top-notch performance from bookshelf and tower speakers.

There are also standalone HEOS wireless speakers, amps, and sound bars available.

Bluesound – supports both HD and Ultra HD.

If ever there was a system that could take advantage of higher-quality music streaming, it would be Bluesound. Their collection of premium speakers and audio components were all informed or inspired by legendary speaker designer Paul Barton. The speakers come in all shapes and sizes, so they fit in every room.  

Bluesound's Pulse 2i

The premium Bluesound Pulse 2i wireless speaker offers powerful sound and can play Amazon's Utlra HD tracks.

DTS Play-Fi 

Amazon’s HD and UHD tracks are available through the Play-Fi app.

This opens up a lot of products from many different companies. Klipsch, Onkyo, McIntosh, Anthem, and SVS all have products that you can control via Play-Fi. And you can mix and match different brands.

Some of these systems only allow a single high-res (or Ultra HD) stream at a time. If you try to send an Ultra HD track to more than one room, it may down-sample to HD (CD quality).

I mentioned earlier that streaming in higher quality requires a robust home network. But multi-room systems can be even more taxing. So it’s even more important to ensure your home network and router are up to the task.

Our article "5 tips to solve Netflix streaming problems" includes some advice that can help here, too.  

My impressions of Amazon Music HD

Spotify vs. Amazon Music HD: the app and interface

I’m a long-time Spotify user, and have tested Qobuz, Tidal, and Apple Music in the past. But I always seem to come back to Spotify. Some of that has to do with the price, but it’s mostly because the phone and desktop app are both just so easy to navigate.

Amazon HD newly released albums

Amazon has a clean, easy-to-use layout and most new releases are available in either HD or Ultra HD.

Amazon’s layout is very straightforward, and they largely stay out of the way for you to search around. Since I was listening with the Cobalt DAC and Denon headphones at my desk, I mainly used the desktop app. Pretty much anything I wanted to listen to was available in HD, and a lot of albums and songs were in Ultra HD. All were easy to identify at a glance. A big “HD” or “Ultra HD” badge is prominently displayed. 

Music Discovery

It’s not surprising to me that Amazon has chosen “clean and functional” over everything else. That’s not a bad thing if I know exactly what I want to listen to, but sometimes I find myself paralyzed by so much choice.

Funny enough, years ago when I first tried Spotify, I laughed at the idea that some algorithm could know my music tastes better than I did myself. But these days, I rely heavily on Spotify’s music discovery prowess. They often tip me off to new acts or unearth older gems that I never knew about.

Amazon HD recommended section

My "Recommended" section in Amazon Music HD felt a little too obvious compared to the deeper cuts I get from my Spotify Discovery.

Amazon has a “Recommended” section, but it feels pretty “by-the-numbers.” In other words, if I listen to a Nas album, I’ll enjoy a Biggie playlist. But the choices rarely take me out of my comfort zone.

Sure, Spotify will serve up a similar Biggie playlist if they know I listened to Illmatic.  But on my weekly personalized “Spotify Discovery” playlist, they will also slyly slip in the original jazz number that Nas sampled on track 3 of the album.

Playing HD and Ultra HD tracks

Of course, "music discovery" is admittedly a very specific use case. And it might not matter as much to everyone. Overall, everything was where I expected it to be, and neatly organized. I really liked how easy it was to find specific information about Ultra HD tracks.

When I played a song, I could click on the Ultra HD badge for more info:

Amazon Ultra HD badge

When you click the "Ultra HD" badge next to "Lyrics," it will show you detailed information on the sample rate and resolution.

Then a box would come up that not only showed me the audio quality of the track, but also the quality at that very moment (based on what my DAC, device, or network could handle):

ultra hd audio example

How does Amazon Music HD sound?

Just as I was assigned to audition Amazon Music HD, the Beatles released the 50th anniversary remix to Abbey Road. Talk about timing!

I had already listened on Spotify through the same headphone setup, and enjoyed Giles Martin’s subtle tweaks to the original masterpiece. I noticed better stereo separation and a slight bass emphasis.

But Amazon’s Ultra HD version of the album really opened things up. It wasn’t necessarily that it sounded more spacious — the Denon AH-9200 headphones are pretty spacious on their own — but it made better use of the available space. Everything sounded clearly defined, particularly Paul’s vocals. They had more bite and sense of place.

The percussion, the string instruments, and the guitars also occupied their own space in the large soundstage. I even heard some ad-libs and sound effects above my ear or off to the corner. Overall it just felt like a richer experience — more of an event.

My conclusion

I’ll have to admit, it’s pretty thrilling to see one of the largest companies in the world focus on sound quality. For years, I felt like it was an afterthought to convenience. Now we don’t really have to compromise on either.

And we offer plenty of gear that can play Amazon Music HD so that it sounds its best. Contact one of our Advisors if you have any questions on how to get started.

Last updated 5/18/2021
  • Brad from Kingwood (Tx)

    Posted on 7/29/2021

    Jeff, Are there any AV receivers in the $600 to $1000 range that have streaming support for Amazon Ultra HD? I was looking at the Onkyo TX-RN line of AVRs, but any lines with your recommendation would be appreciated.

  • Sean from Missouri City

    Posted on 7/29/2021

    If I have an existing powered speaker and want to stream Amazon HD, preferably using voice control, what is the easiest way to do that? Will am Echo Dot connected via aux cord, convey hi res audio? I have multi room echo speakers so I would prefer to stay within that eco-system.

  • Mike D from Portland

    Posted on 7/2/2021

    I use an older Apple TV (one with optical out) to stream Amazon Music HD from my iPhone via Airplay. I have the Apple TV connected to my receiver via an optical connection. I think it sounds good, but is there a way to determine whether the music is streaming at UHD quality?

    Commenter image

    Jeff Miller from Crutchfield

    on 7/8/2021

    Hi Mike,

    Amazon says that "Apple AirPlay supports HD quality playback." That's CD quality which, as noted, can sound excellent with the right song and setup.
  • Steve

    Posted on 6/28/2021

    HEOS does not really work properly with Amazon music. Unless I am missing something you can't connect your Amazon account to the app so the functionality is basically unusable. Tidal does work properly with HEOS (but not if you use an apple account), but it doesn't work with Alexa in the uk. Guess I will have to find something to stream into the denon amp, but which ones have full support for Amazon music hd?

    Commenter image

    Jeff Miller from Crutchfield

    on 7/1/2021

    Hi Steve, I ran your comment by Denon. They confirmed that Amazon Music HD is available through HEOS in the UK (along with the U.S., Germany, and Japan). You should be able to link your Amazon account within the HEOS app -- which will authenticate you as an Amazon Music HD subscriber.

    To be clear, you'll control Amazon Music HD within the HEOS app. You don't get every function of the Amazon Music app, but you'll be able to search for artists, albums, stations, and playlists created by Amazon. And the HEOS app will indicate when you're playing UHD or HD tracks.
  • Jim Holley from Waco

    Posted on 6/25/2021

    I'm using my NAIM Uniti Atom along with my KEF LS50 Meta speakers. It sounds really good. What do you think?

    Commenter image

    Jeff Miller from Crutchfield

    on 6/28/2021

    That sounds like a really nice setup, Jim!
  • aloysius from London

    Posted on 5/22/2021

    Hi Can I stream Amazon HD Prime from my pc windows 10 to a dcs bartok dac

  • Maren from Bismarck, ND

    Posted on 5/17/2021

    I use an older ipad pro (second gen). It has a regular headphone jack. What connector/adapter would you recommend to connect a Dragonfly Cobalt to my headphones and the ipad? The connector that came with the Dragonfly is suitable for my iphone with a USBC, but not the regular headphone jack on my ipad. Thanks.

    Commenter image

    Jeff Miller from Crutchfield

    on 5/18/2021

    Hi Maren,

    I'm assuming that your iPad has an Apple Lightning Port if it still has the headphone jack and no USB-C port. We recommend Apple's Lightning-to-USB Camera Adapter to connect the AudioQuest DragonFly DAC to your iPad.
  • Merritt Tilley from Wilmington, DE

    Posted on 1/16/2021

    Great article! I subscribe to Amazon's HD Music service. Would like to know if Crutchfield sells another headphone that supports HD Ultra like the Denon AH-9200 at a more reasonable price?

    Commenter image

    Jeff Miller from Crutchfield

    on 1/19/2021

    Definitely Merritt! In that setup, the DAC/headphone amp is most important for enjoying Amazon Music HD. But you will need a solid set of wired headphones to reap the benefits. One more affordable pairing I really enjoy is the iFi Audio hip-dac portable USB DAC/amp driving the Sennheiser HD 560S headphones. Sound is very well balanced with spot-on imaging - and just super-fun to listen to.
  • Chris from Medford

    Posted on 1/2/2021

    I just did some investigating and the amazon fire cube lists it device capability at 16 bit 48 khz..... Wtf!!!!!??

  • John Denton from Paducah

    Posted on 12/28/2020

    Thanks for the article on HD, it was very interesting and makes me think about giving it a try. I'm a Amazon Prime Music user now. Since I listen to mostly country and classic rock ( I know what a conflict of interest right?) along with some other music types I rarely have the need for the larger quantity of music. I recently got a new to me vehicle, Chevrolet Traverse with the Bose speaker system. I really enjoy the sound and currently have a try out subscription to Sirius. So my question is if I stream using my car, either by loading the app on the car or from my phone via wire or bluetooth would I get an ample amount of data to get the full HD sound quality or not? John from Kentucky

    Commenter image

    Jeff Miller from Crutchfield

    on 1/4/2021

    Hi John, we haven't tested Amazon Music HD through that specific Bose system. But our car writer "Demo" Dave D tried it out with a few different stereos. With a USB connection, he was able to play music from Amazon Music HD, but could not determine with resolution it was feeding his car receiver.

  • Brian from Satellite Beach

    Posted on 12/28/2020

    Quick question for anyone here... Maybe I missed it somewhere but if you're streaming Amazon HD via a very nice Sony TV hooked up (erc) via nice HDMI cables to a Denon x4500, will that sound better vs the HEOS app streaming from your phone? (Samsung s20 if that matters).

  • Ed Mestre from San Leandro, ca

    Posted on 12/11/2020

    Just ordered an iFi Zen Bluetooth receiver/DAC to improve streaming to my stereo. Will it handle Amazon's FLAC mode?

    Commenter image

    Jeff Miller from Crutchfield

    on 12/18/2020

    Hi Ed -- The ZEN Blue has both aptX HD and Sony's LDAC wireless codecs built-in. With a compatible device, you can stream up to CD quality (Amazon's HD mode).
  • Randy from BYRON CENTER

    Posted on 12/4/2020

    I thought there was a noticeable difference when I heard the Nora Jones song, come away with me, on Amazon HD after first hearing the song on Tidal HD. Phil GO from Farmington's comments made me think of my experience. On Tidal it seemed much more detailed and alive. I have been trying to figure out if bluetooth streaming Amazon music HD from my iPhone 6 to Marantz SR7011 is giving me the fullest Hi Res output?? Do you know?

    Commenter image

    Jeff Miller from Crutchfield

    on 12/4/2020

    Randy -- That Marantz receiver has HEOS built-in, have you tried using that? It supports the Ultra HD tier.

    Your iPhone should support HD and Ultra HD tracks up to 24-bit/48kHz. But when you send it to the Marantz via Bluetooth, it is likely at a lower bit-depth and bit-rate. Apple uses the AAC codec.

    Here's more details from Amazon on the Apple products: "Most iPhones and iPads released since 2014 (devices running on iOS 11, or later) can support HD/Ultra HD (up to 24-bit, 48kHz) without any additional equipment. In order to play songs at higher sample rates (96 or 192 kHz), iPhone customers can connect an external DAC capable of supporting those higher sample rates."
  • Tom from Eugene

    Posted on 12/3/2020

    Thanks for the review! But how do I download music onto my phone or computer? I can't find anything on the Amazon Music HD site that explains that. I tried downloading a few things on my Macbook Pro, but I could never find where they are stored. In fact, they don't seem to have downloaded at all. Thanks

    Commenter image

    Jeff Miller from Crutchfield

    on 12/4/2020

    Tom --

    Let me see if I can get some information from Amazon, or due some internal research. Stay tuned -- it takes us a little longer these days since many of us are working from home. (And I don't have a Mac.)
  • Paul from Columbia, S.C.

    Posted on 12/3/2020

    I couldn't be happier with the Node 2i I purchased from Crutchfield and appreciate the great customer service. So impressed with how it streams Amazon Music HD in my two channel system. I have an Amazon Fire Stick in my home theater and love the Amazon Music HD lyrics and album graphics displayed on the big screen. Unfortunately none of the Amazon products support their highest resolution content except for their Studio speaker. My question is would the Denon receivers with built in HEOS display the album art and lyrics?

    Commenter image

    Jeff Miller from Crutchfield

    on 12/4/2020

    Paul --

    I'll check with Denon on this and follow up with you.
  • delbert from Denver NC

    Posted on 11/5/2020

    Thank you for an excellent article. Clear and concise information on current music streaming technology. Both the music stream supplier and the devices are due much consideration. Looking forward to more articles.---a very satisfied customer

    Commenter image

    Jeff Miller from Crutchfield

    on 11/6/2020

    Thanks, Delbert!
  • Phil Go from Farmington Hills

    Posted on 11/3/2020

    I was testing Amazon Music HD tier but found out, per Amazon Executive Tech Support, that they have albums that are labelled as UltraHD but are NOT ! Example: Nora Jones' "Come Away with Me" album is labelled as UltraHD but was told it was mislabeled as for some reason, my playback was usually CD quality. Hence, I did not subscribe to their HD tier as I can not be guaranteed of the resolution level. Seems strange to me.

    Commenter image

    Jeff Miller from Crutchfield

    on 11/6/2020

    Thanks for sharing your firsthand experience, Phil. This is interesting. I will see what I can find out here.
  • Dan from Upper Marlboro

    Posted on 10/22/2020

    Streaming music is not all that it's cracked up to be. Don't get me wrong it has dramatically improved over the last year or so, but there are still limitations. I have gigabyte service through Fios and a state of the art router, so throughput is not a problem. I have a nice Onkyo TX-NR585, new Samsung S20, awesome Sony wireless headphones as well as awesome wired headphones and I still don't see the great bitrates. I have a few options streaming to the Onkyo - Play-fi, Amazon Music and Chromcast. But there's a catch I have to use my phone which has the Onkyo Controller app which must be used. I get good sound from Play-Fi and Amazon, not so good from Chromecast. With Play-fi I'm streaming HD at 16bit, 48kHz nothing better than that. If I do Amazon Music through the Onkyo Controller it reverts back to standard audio which averages 260 Kbps. I can't figure out why because I have an Amazon HD account. I think the problem is the phone, even though Samsung says it will handle Hi Res audio. If I stream with the phone to the Sony headphones or my wired cans I'm limited to 16 bit, 48kHz. I can understand that with wireless headphones but not the wired wired headphones with an external DAC. Don't get me wrong I love the sound quality at 16/48 but it's not what's being advertised. Listening to music that's been well engineer at 24/96 or higher is really incredible. Hopefully streaming will get to where it's being advertised.

  • Octavio from Madrid, Spain

    Posted on 10/9/2020

    Is Amazon's standard music service really 320 kbps? I'm on my trial of Amazon Music Unlimited, and I have to say that the quality sucks compared with Spotify (even the Free variety). I can't believe it's really 320 kbps. It sounds more like badly encoded 128 kbps or even worse, and the "High" quality setting is already selected on Amazon Music's settings. The difference with Spotify is quite noticeable in favour or Spotify, and, as I said, I don't even select the "very high quality" setting on Spotify because I'm currently on Free and the "very high" quality setting is not available to free users. Why is Amazon's quality so bad? I have a high speed fiber connection so I don't understand what's the problem. My only guess is Amazon is purposefully make its standard service sound mediocre to make their "Amazon Music HD" service sound a lot better by comparison? (after all, most people can't tell the difference between a proper 320 kbps file and a WAV file).

  • Giovanni

    Posted on 9/14/2020

    What about Chromecast 2nd/3rd gen (not the Audio version). Amazon says that Amazon Music HD is not compatible with Chromecast: what does this mean since I can play track from Amazon app to my Marantz using a Chromecast?

    Commenter image

    Jeff Miller from Crutchfield

    on 9/16/2020

    A reader tried it with the Chromecast Audio device, and said it worked, but he noticed a lot of buffering. Unfortunately, it is not easy for me to get into the office right now to test it out. But I'll see what I can dig up for you.
  • D. from Aptos

    Posted on 8/30/2020

    I am an Amazon Prime member who has been putting off the upgrade for quite some time (quality of sound issues/?'s). After reading your review, I immediately reviewed their library £ will most assuredly be comparing it to Audirvana with an 'electron microscope' in over the next 30 days. I will be using the 64Audio U12t's with £/or without a DragonFly Cobalt. I have a collection of downloads, the size of which friends say spans from the sublime to the ridiculus! I believe one can never have toooooooo much music. After all, music, like water, is life.

    Commenter image

    Jeff Miller from Crutchfield

    on 8/31/2020

    Thanks, D

    Please give us an update after you've given it a shot. Would love to hear what you think.
  • Scott from Pine

    Posted on 8/27/2020

    HEOS is baked into Marantz AVRs as well as Denon, otherwise a very good overview...

    Commenter image

    Jeff Miller from Crutchfield

    on 8/31/2020

    Good call, Scott. I'll add that.
  • Jeffrey S Steffel from Clearwater

    Posted on 8/24/2020

    HI Jeff, Love the article. I am a road warrior, travelling on business about 75% of the time. I am trying to find a good DAP that can both stream and download songs in HD and Ultra HD from Amazon Music. Any suggestions? I did try the M11 from Fiio, however, had no success.

    Commenter image

    Jeff Miller from Crutchfield

    on 8/27/2020

    Hi Jeffrey

    According to Sony, both their NW-A105 Walkman and NW-Z507 Walkman high-res players support Amazon Music HD (including Ultra HD) when streaming over Wi-Fi. I'll find out about downloading songs for playback later.
  • Tk

    Posted on 7/28/2020

    How do I get Amazon Music HD in my car? Or is SD the best I can hope for?

    Commenter image

    Jeff Miller from Crutchfield

    on 7/31/2020

    TK, I'll touch base with some car writers to see what options we have.
  • Jim from Monterey

    Posted on 7/23/2020

    I bought a Bluesound Node 2i from Crutchfield in Nov 2019. The internet speed at my home is around 6 Mbps on average. Then I signed up for Amazon Prime HD music service ( I was already a Prime member). After experimenting: (1) I decided to run a Cat 5 wire from my router to the Node 2i because of dropouts with wireless - seldom a dropout with wired, (2) I now use a coaxial digital cable to connect the Node 2i to my Anthem 720 receiver (instead of RCA cables) because I like the Anthem DAC better than the Node 2i DAC. My playlists are now loaded with Ultra HD tunes, with some HD tunes for songs not available on UHD. Some songs are recorded much better than others, but overall UHD songs sound great on my system. I feel the cost of the Node 2i and the $12.99 per month to Amazon were worth it. I listen a lot.

  • C Durant from Westerville

    Posted on 7/20/2020

    Very nice review of Amazon streaming capability. But putting it I to perspective of the technical aspects that make the difference in sound quality was also very helpful. Your review helped clarify some things.

    Commenter image

    Jeff Miller from Crutchfield

    on 7/21/2020

  • William Hamrick from LOUDON

    Posted on 7/8/2020

    Jeff, On 5/24 you said you were going to check with Bose regarding my question "am I getting HD quality Amazon music when I listen on my Soundtouch 30iii". Did Bose respond to your question? If I can't get HD quality music from Bose, what equipment should I consider as a replacement? Thank you. Ken

    Commenter image

    Jeff Miller from Crutchfield

    on 7/14/2020

    So sorry for the delay William,

    Bose told me that SoundTouch supports lossless audio, including Amazon Music HD's "HD" and even "Ultra HD" tier.
  • Paul Adamy from Nyack

    Posted on 6/5/2020

    Hi Jeff. Nice, informative article. I've tried all the streaming services too and Amazon HD is impressive. I recently purchased from Crutchfield a Yamaha RX-A3080. But even with the firmware update, the MusicCast app is not as good as Yamaha's baked in Spotify Connect. Qobuz works better than Amazon, and maybe even sounds slightly better, but my question is: does Yamaha have plans to offer a similar baked app like Spotify on the next firmware upgrade? Also, if I add a MusicCast speaker to a 2nd zone, will it downgrade my audio quality? I have a super fast Verizon Gigabit WiFi connection. Keep up the great work and I highly recommend Crutchfield to everyone.

    Commenter image

    Jeff Miller from Crutchfield

    on 6/10/2020

    Hi Paul, sorry I missed your comment Friday. I'm going to ask our Yamaha rep this question and will be back in touch with you. Thanks!
  • Ken

    Posted on 5/24/2020

    I'm streaming Amazon HD music thru a Bose Soundtouch 30 iii. Am I getting CD quality with my Soundtouch? The Bose Soundtouch app doesn't indicate the music quality. Thanks.

    Commenter image

    Jeff Miller from Crutchfield

    on 5/26/2020

    Hi Ken, I'll check with Bose for you.
  • ankur bhandari from Austin

    Posted on 5/19/2020

    Trying to stream Amazon hd music on my Anthem Mx 310 receiver and I have a Oppo BDP103 cd/DVD / streaming player. I dont know how to stream music on these from amazon HD service. I dont want to use a computer or other small jenky instruments since they will not have the drivers to do it justice.

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    Jeff Miller from Crutchfield

    on 5/21/2020


    Your best bet is probably a network streamer like the Bluesound Node 2i or Denon HEOS Link. The HEOS Link might do the trick if you're making a digital connection to the Anthem or Oppo (and using the DAC inside either of those).
  • Dana Gibson from San Diego

    Posted on 5/17/2020

    The things that puzzle me about Amazon Music HD are: How do I filter or search for UHD music? Once I find it you're right I can see that it's UHD and details about res.... but the only things that I can search for are the playlists that Amazon has put together. How do I tell what resolution my Echo Studio is playing? There is no display on it and the "Now Playing" doesn't tell me. Why is Fire TV 4k only capable of 16/48? I use a thumb drive in the USB port on the same receiver with the Fire TV and play 24/192 tracks all the time. I've raised these issues with Amazon(including someone who works in the music area) and they seem indifferent. Another question: Why do I have to put together twelve components to play UHD on Amazon Music HD? Why doen't the receiver just have the app and play the hi-res versions directly. I have looked at the quad dac LG phones...I might get one when it's a 5g model with the quad dacs. Dana

  • Chris B from Lomita

    Posted on 5/10/2020

    How can I stream ultra HD to my Denon AVR-x400 receiver?

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    Jeff Miller from Crutchfield

    on 5/11/2020

    Hi Chris -- Your receiver doesn't include Denon HEOS, but a separate network streamer that connects to your receiver might work for you. TheHEOS Link is Denon's version. That is admittedly not as convenient as having the capability "baked in," but I'll forward your comment to a Product Advisor to follow up with you directly.
  • Jerry Sisk from Ashtabula

    Posted on 4/30/2020

    This was a great review! I am using the Amazon app on my laptop and streaming bluetooth to a Sony STR-DH190. It does stream in HD and UltraHD. Can I benefit from a DAC, or will it not make a difference since it's streaming at the highest quality already? Thanks for any suggestions!

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    Jeff Miller from Crutchfield

    on 5/11/2020

    Hi Jerry

    I'm sorry I missed your original question. If you're still going to be streaming Bluetooth, I think directly streaming directly to the receiver would be best.
  • William from Hartford

    Posted on 4/30/2020

    Great article! Question... I have a subscription to Amazon Music HD. When I launch the app directly on my iPad, the splash screen says "Amazon Music HD". Within the app, I can see badges that tell me if a track is HD or UHD. I just tried using the DTS Play-fi app to stream to a Klipsch gate. When I launch Amazon Music under "music services"from the Play-Fi app, it launches Amazon Music right inside the play-fi app. However, there is no mention of HD at all. I can see my playlists, recently played songs, etc. but there are no HD or UHD badges anywhere. Is this just the way it is within play-fi or am I doing something incorrectly? Thanks

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    Jeff Miller from Crutchfield

    on 4/30/2020

    Hi William -- I'm not sure, but I will run this by our contact at DTS. Stay tuned.
  • Frank Rivers from stoneham

    Posted on 4/24/2020

    Giles Martin?

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    Jeff Miller from Crutchfield

    on 4/27/2020

    Yep. George's son. Cool interview with NPR here on the process of remixing Abbey Road:
  • Music from Washington

    Posted on 4/6/2020

    Hi, I just added Amazon HD. I already had regular Amazon music prime. I play through a Sonos Connect into a Mytech Brooklyn DAC and then into my integrated amp and regular speakers. My question is: Will this system automatically pick up music in HD or do I have to do something special?

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    Jeff Miller from Crutchfield

    on 4/7/2020

    Hello, On the Sonos side, if you're using Amazon Music HD through the Sonos app, you should get Amazon's HD quality sound (CD quality up to 16-bit/44kHz). Just make sure you've updated to the latest version of the Sonos app.

    For the DAC side of things, I'm going to check with Sonos, but I think the Sonos Connect should automatically send the highest resolution possible. I'll contact the company and find out for sure.

    (Then I'll update this comment and email you directly.)
  • Jonathon Thompson from Dearborn

    Posted on 3/30/2020

    What is the connective tissue for those of us that own a pair of R-51PM's? Do I need anything special for my windows 10 PC? Like an oboard soundcard or software? Which cable connection do I run from the soundcard to the speakers? Is there anything I need in between the speakers and the computer to take advantage of Amazons HD audio?

  • MATTHEW from Midland

    Posted on 3/8/2020

    Am I able to stream Amazon HD music through my Android phone hooked up to the USB port of an aftermarket car stereo to get the best sound I can with it? I am shopping for a new head unit and this is how I am hoping to listen to my Amazon HD music and I'm afraid bluetooth will downgrade the quality vs direct connection with the usb port.

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    Jeff Miller from Crutchfield

    on 3/9/2020

    Hi Matthew,

    We should have some car stereo receivers and solutions for you. This is actually a good topic for me to cover in this article, and I will update it soon. (So thanks for bringing it up!) In the meantime, one of our product Advisors will contact you directly to discuss your options.
  • Jac from Coventry

    Posted on 3/5/2020

    Hi Jeff, Thanks for writing this article, it's the most informative one I've found. I'm trying to find out if I'm getting the best quality I can from UHD music. My Macbook pro says it's capable of 24bit 96khz on its own, so hopefully that is giving me the right output. I'm using Beyerdynamics 770pro 80ohm, I still don't know if they're good enough to fully utilise UHD audio.

    You mention 'CD quality' as being high quality, but if that's the case am I not just better off buying a Walkman from the 90's? What am I missing?

    Do you think my set up is good enough to get the most out of Amazons UHD tracks?

    Thanks, Jac

    Commenter image

    Jeff Miller from Crutchfield

    on 3/6/2020

    Hi Jac,

    Your Mac (and any Mac from 2013 or later) should indeed support high-res/Ultra HD up to 24-bit/96kHz. If you go to your sound settings, select the highest sample rate available. And those Beyerdynamics are definitely an excellent pair of headphones.

    That said, you would get a real performance boost from an external DAC/headphone amp. The DAC should definitely give you better results than Macbook's internal sound card. And since your headphones are 80 ohms, they would greatly benefit from a headphone amp.

    I've forwarded your comment over to one of our Advisors. They'll follow up with you directly to talk connections and give you some DAC/amp recommendations.
  • Wayne from Atlanta

    Posted on 2/14/2020


    Update regarding my recent post. Wikipedia's Chromecast article states that Chromecast Audio (CCA) was updated in 2015 and now provides 24/96 streaming. I checked around on various support sites (including Roon) and that seems to be the case. Sound quality is remarkable over my inexpensive setup (CCA plugged into the AUX input on an old Sony STR-DH130 stereo receiver and connected to ELAC Uni-Fi UB5 speakers). I have experienced a LOT of buffering on the Amazon App, however, and it appears, based on the various sites, that the CCA is the problem. I still upgrade to an AVR but I thought your readers might be interested.

    Commenter image

    Jeff Miller from Crutchfield

    on 2/15/2020

    Thanks so much for the update, Wayne! This is helpful, because I haven't had a chance to try it out myself. If you need help choosing an AVR, or with anything else in your setup, please reach out to us!
  • Wayne from Atlanta

    Posted on 2/13/2020


    Thanks so much for the article! This is by far the best explanation for what is a totally confusing topic, no thanks to Amazon. Based on your comments, I'm looking into AVRs on Crutchfield, probably Denon/HEOS, although your comments on PlayFi have me thinking about some other options, including Onkyo. It seems to me that going with PlayFi is a more flexible option than HEOS, but I'm just beginning so what do I know.

    While I'm looking into it I like to get some clarification relating to your question from Steve. I also use a Chromecast Audio (CCA) with an old stereo receiver and I can confirm that the Amazon Music HD APP works fine. I stream music to the CCA with absolutely no problems, though as you noted, the CCA is limited. It might support HD, but certainly not UHD. It occurs to me that the Chromecast (the HDMI streamer, not the CCA) might be an option while I'm researching AVRs. I have an old AVR lying around unused that has HDMI input. I'm going to try plugging the CC (not CCA) into that AVR. I should be able to stream to it and my guess is that the CC supports higher resolutions than the CCA. I haven't been able to find anything on it since most information regarding the CC is related to video but I do recall seeing something about the Chromecast Ultra (4K) which did provide some audio resolutions. Based on my limited understanding it would support UHD. If so, my guess is that the CC will, as well. Does that seem reasonable t

  • Bruce Franson from Juno Beach

    Posted on 2/3/2020

    Great article Jeff... thank you! I am streaming Amazon Prime Music through an Echo Show 5, which is connected to my Yamaha A-S801 via an RCA connector. The Yamaha integrated Amp is driving KEF LS 50 speakers with a REL subwoofer. If I upgrade my subscription to the Amazon HD/Ultra HD offerin, will this setup support full HD/UltraHD and deliver a significant better listening experience. I listen mostly to Jazz, Classical, and some Pop music. Thank you for you comment and advice

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    Jeff Miller from Crutchfield

    on 2/4/2020

    Hi Bruce, according to Amazon, the Echo Show 5 will support the HD quality audio (CD quality), but not the Ultra HD quality audio.
  • Steve

    Posted on 1/28/2020

    Thank you for this great review. I've been happy enough casting Spotify via Google Chromecast Audio to my old Onkyo TX-NR801 which nicely drives my B&W 601s ( yes, I'm old school), do you know if Amazon Music HD casts to Chromecast Audio? If not, what might you recommend at or around the same price point? Thanks again!

    Commenter image

    Jeff Miller from Crutchfield

    on 1/29/2020

    Hi Steve, you can indeed cast Amazon Music HD using Chromecast Audio, BUT from what I can tell, it will only play at SD quality. So you're not really getting a sonic advantage over your current Spotify setup.

    One of the network streamers from Sonos, HEOS, or Bluesound would be your best bet...I'll forward your comment to one of our Product Advisors so they can follow up with you directly and give you some options.
  • Edwin Leonin from Japan

    Posted on 1/23/2020

    I stream Amazon HD music from my iPhoneX to B&W PX7 via bluetooth. When I click the Ultra HD badge it says that my device is capable and playing at 24-bit. Am I getting the best sound quality into my headphone or do I need external DAC?

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    Jeff Miller from Crutchfield

    on 1/29/2020

    Hello Edwin, your iPhone can support HD and Ultra HD tracks up to 24-bit/48kHz. But when you send it to the PX7 headphones via Bluetooth, it is likely at a lower bit-depth and bit-rate. Apple uses the AAC codec.
  • Mike from Dallas

    Posted on 1/7/2020

    When connecting via bluetooth to my pioneer vsx lx303 receiver and the Amazon music android app, clicking the yellow Ultra HD label claims that my device is capable of 24 bit 96kbps, as well as the track playing, and that that is how it is being broadcast. However it is my understanding that streaming over bluetooth causes lossy compression. Do you think the app is correct when it says its playing 24 bit 96 kbps even though it's being transmitted over bluetooth?

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    Jeff Miller from Crutchfield

    on 1/8/2020

    Hi Mike,

    Bluetooth devices with either aptX HD or Sony's LDAC wireless codecs can stream up to CD quality (Amazon's HD mode), but nothing higher than that. It looks like that receiver has DTS Play-Fi built-in, so you should be able to connect to your home network and stream high-res over your home network with that.
  • Jaime from Los Angeles

    Posted on 1/4/2020

    Ease of App use: yes Amazon app is easy to use but Amazon inside of HEOS is not the best. It's not as pretty, I don't think it has all the features as the standalone amazon app. All that being said, I usually use the amazon HD app to figure what I want to listen to then search for it using the HEOS app. I could use Apple play but it doesn't provide the Highest bit rate and adjusting the volume is a pain because it jumps in increments of 5. So in conclusion I really enjoy listening to music on Amazon HD using HEOS.

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    Jeff Miller from Crutchfield

    on 1/6/2020

    Thanks for the hands-on impressions, Jaime!
  • Joel Stai from Maplewood

    Posted on 1/2/2020

    I have a 3-yr old Denon AVR-X-2300W receiver with HEOS which should support high resolution playback but I haven't achieved it. Am streaming Amazon Music HD through my Firestick 4K connected directly to the receiver with a fast ethernet connection, yet the device capability does not budge above the 16bit/48 kHz no matter what the track quality is. If Deon HEOS supports high resolution playback, how do you get the high-res file to the receiver?

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    Jeff Miller from Crutchfield

    on 1/6/2020

    Hi Joel,

    I think you're best bet will be connecting your receiver to your home network and using HEOS. The Firestick is limited to HD Quality (16-bit/48kHz), and does not support Ultra-HD (24-bit/192kHz).
  • RC Arsenault from Newcastle, ME

    Posted on 12/24/2019

    I have an Onkyo TX-RZ810. Where am i at for the UHD tier with that? I signed up when it came out but have only recently started playing around and am heavily invested in the whole alexa stuff as well as IOS (i know, what the?...)I have the whole "family" thing going on! I'm a vinyl junkie but am looking for a happy medium between analog & digital(my other system is a B&O) that is competing for space now in my house...only I understand! I wish the Onkyo had an Amazon music selection but I guess only later models get that firmware update?. I am beyond annoyed at Amazons lack of UHD support for its own devices...that just seems like a no brainer! I think quite a few people that bought in just made that assumption from my google searches!

    Commenter image

    Jeff Miller from Crutchfield

    on 12/26/2019

    RC --

    Yes, I'm sorry. The Onkyo RX RZ810 doesn't have DTS Play-Fi built in like some of the other Onkyo receivers. A separate network streamer that connects to your receiver might work for you. That is admittedly not as convenient as having the capability "baked in," but I'll forward your comment to a Product Advisor to follow up with you directly.
  • Eduardo from Palmetto Bay

    Posted on 12/23/2019

    Newbie audiophile here but do I need a DAC for my iPhone X? Thanks for the article!!!

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    Jeff Miller from Crutchfield

    on 12/26/2019

    Eduardo --

    Here's some information from Amazon: "Most iPhones and iPads released since 2014 (devices running on iOS 11, or later) can support HD/Ultra HD (up to 24-bit, 48kHz) without any additional equipment. In order to play songs at higher sample rates (96 or 192 kHz), iPhone customers can connect an external DAC capable of supporting those higher sample rates."

    I'll forward your comment to one of our product Advisors who can follow up with you directly. They can make a recommendation based on what you'd like to do.
  • Martin G Bradshaw from Boston

    Posted on 12/15/2019

    All true ... but would be greatly appreciated if an equalizer was available from Amazon or third party. Audiophiles have a need to tweak toward - or away - from perceptions of "flat."

  • Jamez from Peachtree City

    Posted on 11/23/2019

    This is big news and is good info for people that have only grown up on compressed MP3 / Streaming music. It is huge difference in sound quality that is very noticeable. It was especially a shame for people that buy high end audiophile gear only to have the bottleneck be the poor quality compressed music source. Not any more. Thanks for writing this article Crutchfield! Here is a suggestion for all readers... try amazon music HD free for 30 days, and go into settings in the music app (three dots/Settings/Streaming Audio Quality). You can switch between Standard and HD/Ultra HD. Listen to the same track in each setting to really hear the difference. I was amazed and love that Amazon has done this so we can enjoy streaming music as it was meant to be heard.

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    Jeff Miller from Crutchfield

    on 11/24/2019

    Thanks, Jamez. Agreed!