Audio and Video Talk > Digital

Apple Lossless. A journey to?

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Agaton Sax:
As Always: This is not a Tut, it's a story. So, you know what to do.

Computer People

It was Pretoria, it was the early 70s. It was Friday. I was in my Dad's office for the first and last time. It was on the 5th floor which means I've only been higher in oom Jan's Penthouse in Arcadia. There were windows going right to the floor and only a grey painted railing stopped me from falling right through the purple Jacaranda blooms onto the seemingly tiny SAA Mercedes bus trundling by far below. The office had a big desk and, despite the magnificent view of the city and the Union buildings, was dreary, smelling of smoke and that characteristic smell of old files that screamed Civil Service.

Suddenly my Dad looked at the clock on the wall and irritably got up. Was it something I did? It was 5 to 4, a full half-hour before Chaila. ' "Come", he growled and stormed down one flight of stairs. We came to a funny floor. The entire floor was open with seemingly hundreds of big, funny, filing cabinets, interspersed with equally funny typewriters. Along one wall was a row of weird people, girls with big thighs and thick glasses in the shortest mini skirts I have ever seen and youngish men, all with poorly knotted ties and the loudest jackets I have ever seen . All had their handbags and Tupperware "kosblikke" grasped firmly in the left hand  My Dad sighed "ok, go home". Without a word, like Oupa's wild Afrikanerbeest, they stormed past, flattening me to the wall. Dad sighed and said " Computer people!"

Since that day, I have been puzzled and alienated from that strange species and their even stranger machines.

Apple Cancer

I was sick, I was going to die. G*d help us with doctors who think they are sick. It's pathetic, never have you seen a more miserable person confronted with his own death. I had a cold but like really, really bad, you know? My nose was producing more snot than Network 24 and my head was the size of, of, well... big. I grew up in a civil service house but never have I seen more politics, paperwork and incomprehension than in 2 big private corporations supposedly working together for my benefit. So 10 years ago this fantastic machine was installed. We could have access from our offices to its information, provided we had Apple computers. So we bought...and it never worked, Now, they have installed a new machine, allowing remote access, so. there is a new Windows thing on the coffee table in the corner of my office. This thing displaced my three nice model cars and the nice lead glass lamp. I glowered at it and turned to my, now 8-year-old MacBook.

In the meantime, I got used to this Apple contraption. I started hating Windows, so I got an iMac at home, then my wife got an Apple Macbook, then the kids, then the gardener-True, he is a budding musician when he is not destroying my Camelias. That Boom-Boom in Taxis? Probably him. Anyway, we now have metastatic Apple cancer. It spreads fast, is incurable, costs a lot of money and always thinks up new ways to kill your sanity. So when streaming came, I got an old Mac Mini to do Roon/Tidal. Marvellous but a total pain. So the little dedicated Intel Nuc appeared and it is plain sailing. Apple Music was for the wife and kids. Then Apple Music became Lossless and I wondered? Well, forget it. My Phone can do it but I can't get a signal out of it. None of the computers can. Forget this whole f**kin thing, just forget it.

Admin, oh admin. I started. A little block appeared on the screen. "Upgrade?". Through my runny eyes, I hit a button. OMG, the thing switched off. I stormed home. It was 4 pm it was Friday. Suddenly I felt sympathy for those "Computer people" from long ago.

Saturday. Back at the office, the screen stares at me " Big Sur" downloaded. Could it be? I go to Apple Music. Yip the lossless logo is there, it wasn't before. I take the Macbook home and continue dying. My late Sat night I have stopped dying and plug the Macbook into Croak's Switch. Nada,f*kollie. Nothing is seeing nothing on Ethernet. USB cable to Dac on USB input. OK, Mac says Nyquist. Nyquist says 44.1. Oh, yes. Laboriously get to MIDI settings on Mac. Put in on 384KHz, 24Bit. That'll show that sucker! Stream something. There is sound but Nyquist keep saying 384kHz. Surely Apple Lossless is only to 196? Penny drops: Nyquist is like a civil servant. Only says what the boss (Macbook) is telling him to say, not what it is actually doing.

So, I listen to Brubeck and "Concord on a summer night". Not close to the vinyl but pretty good.  Compared to TIDAL/ROON it is close but actually a little smoother. Roon tells me TIDAL is feeding 44.1 FLAC (not MQA). Apple tells me nothing. I get suspicious. Somewhere in Apple Music, I find the setting. I am listening to AAC! That is MP3 for non-Apple people. How embarrassing -but I do have a cold, remember? Still, I set Apple Music to Lossless and the MIDI to 192. I don't listen, I storm to bed to die further-of embarrassment this time. I do have a cold, you know?

Lying in bed, I think: This is all good and well but now I have to get up and walk to the laptop to access the Music. I am not buying 15 m of Nordost Heimdall USB cable! Google: There is a Remote app for Apple Music! It's there: My Screen is on My other screen and I can control it from My iPhone, just like ROON, well close anyway, I get to of bed. Sure as hell, it works. ROON is drifting a little away. But, But, BUT: There is still a blinking filthy computer in close proximity to my Hi-Fi, something I have spent a lot of money to get away from.

So How does Apple Lossless sound? How the hell should I know, I have a Cold you know!

Kletsou:
Love the write-up
I to have had the privilege to see a state department floor filled with data typists (pons dames) and the young “IT boffs” who actually just changed the data reels for a living. I wonder if much has changed other than the technology…

For a long time, I had the MacBook with the glaring screen doing service as a streamer and as a TV source. Even that has change but I’m still caught in the Apple monster. I use the iPad to manage the streaming and Apple TV box as a source for TV – you can mos now load most apps on it and even check out audio reviews…

Took a while to get all the setting sorted on the iPad for the iTunes side. I am happy to say that I can confirm there is Lossless, HiRes and Apply Digital Master. They do in fact provide to me perceived different sound quality; who knows?

Fortunately, I do not have a cold and must say since COVID came around have not had one. I might be a bit more paranoid when symptoms occur as I build AI models in the medical industry. So, when a cold comes around I ask if it might not be pneumonia and apply a CURB-65 model to try and determine my mortality prediction 😊

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